The monastery at Alcobaça was the third monument included on our €15 ticket, Batalha and Convento do Cristo being the others. Each has something different to offer and we enjoyed them all, although we were a bit ‘monumented out’ after seeing all three.
Alcobaça wins the prize for first impressions – less brutal than Batalha and with a lovely square. We broke Uncle Pete’s golden rule and went for a restaurant with a view, sitting on the edge of the square in the sun for lunch. The meal was expensive and not particularly good (Uncle Pete was right), but the view, sun and warm temperature made up for it.
Alcobaça also wins the prize for the most incredible kitchen. The whole thing was tiled in 1752, floor to ceiling, which would have been a bigger task than it sounds, as the photos show…
The monastery is also home to the tombs of Dom Pedro and Dona Ines, whose love story is as well known in Portugal as that of Romeo and Juliet. He was a Portuguese prince, she his wife’s Galician maid. The two had a passionate affair and it is thought they married after his wife’s death. The King, however, feared her as a source of Spanish influence over the throne and had her assassinated. When Pedro succeeded to the throne two years later, he exhumed her body and crowned her as queen (which actually sounds a bit icky). Their elaborately carved tombs are placed end to end so, on the Day of Judgement, when they rise from the dead the first thing they see will be each other. Ah, how sweet.
The town of Alcobaça was also lovely and we would have spent more time there if we had found somewhere suitable to park for a couple of nights. As it happens, the only carpark big enough for us was a at 45º angle which isn’t conducive to sleeping without falling out of bed, so we made do with a quick walk around. As usual, D in particular was taken with the architecture…
So, Alcobaça had a great town, an amazing kitchen and a rather gruesome love story. Batalha had the best stone carving we’ve seen anywhere. But the winner (there always has to be a winner) has to be Convento do Cristo at Tomar – did I mention you should go there if you have the chance? No? Well, you should.