Who rests in the tombs of the monastery?

Jerónimos Monastery houses the tombs of some of Portugal's most famous and colourful historical figures - join us to learn more about their unique histories.

By Jerónimos Monastery

‏‏‎ Main Gate (1517)Jerónimos Monastery

King Manuel I

Born in 1469, Manuel ascended to the throne by acclamation on 27 October 1495, having been chosen in his will by his brother-in-law, João II, after the death of the latter's heir, Afonso. He was to be a figurehead of the Age of Discoveries, his reforms had a major impact on Portuguese society.

‏‏‎ ‏‏‎ by Diogo de Boitaca and Nicolau ChanterenneJerónimos Monastery

Manuel I was to pursue the policy of Iberian unification (started under Afonso V) through successive marriages with the daughters of the Catholic Monarchs (Isabel and Maria) and with Leonor, the sister of Carlos V.

Cloister, detail Medallion - armillary sphere (16th century)Jerónimos Monastery

Parallel to this he undertook sweeping reforms of the legal/administrative, education and economic systems and transforming Portuguese expansion overseas into a vast undertaking.

In addition to this, Manuel I, founded the Jerónimos Monastery and had the Tower of Belém built. He was laid to rest in the High Altar area of the church together with his second wife and queen, Maria.

Tomb of Vasco da Gama (1894)Jerónimos Monastery

Vasco da Gama  & Luis de Camões

In 1880 the remains of Vasco da Gama and the poet, Luís de Camões, were transferred to the Jerónimos Monastery. Their tombs, made by the sculptor Costa Mota are now in the lower choir of the Monastery's church. Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões  were the two most important figureheads of the Portuguese Age of Discovery. 

‏‏‎ Tomb of Luís de CamõesJerónimos Monastery

Luis de Camões

Luis de Camões wrote "The Lusiads", an Portuguese epic poem first published in 1572. It is widely regarded as the most important work of Portuguese literature and is frequently compared to Virgil's Aeneid (1st c. BC).

The son of Simão Vaz de Camões and Ana de Sá Macedo, Camões was born in 1524, and went on to study in Coimbra. He would go on to fight against the Moors in Ceuta loosing an eye in the process.

In Lisbon, a square dedicated to Luís de Camões can be found nestled between Chiado and Bairro Alto neighbourhoods.

Back in Lisbon, Camões was imprisoned in 1552 for an altercation with a functionary of the court. In 1553 he was pardoned by the king and left for India, where he took part in several military expeditions.

Luís de Camõe's importance as a poetic chronicler of Age of Discovery is displayed in Lisbon's Padrão dos Descobrimentos (monument to the discoveries), just across the road from the Jerónimos Monastery. Where he and other key figures of Portugal's the 15th & 16th naval explorations are shown facing the River Tagus.

‏‏‎ Tomb of Luís de CamõesJerónimos Monastery

It was in India according to some historians, Camões wrote the first canto of his epic poem,The Lusiadas.

If you look closely to Camões' tomb you will see a quill, a book and a harp, allegories to his life as a poet.

In 1569 he returned to Lisbon, where he published The Lusiadas three years later. He died on 10 June 1580 in misery.

‏‏‎ Tomb of Vasco da GamaJerónimos Monastery

Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama the 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer and the first European to reach India by sea.

Born in Sines, possibly in 1468. The chronicles of the day tell us that Vasco da Gama was "of medium stature, gentleman's mood, daring for any grand or risky achievement, rough when giving his orders, strong enough to be feared in any dispute, hard worker and inflexible to punish delict on behalf of justice".

Whilst the exact location of his birthplace in Sines is highly contested, it is nonetheless fitting that one of the greatest naval explorers of all time should be born in a city facing the vast Atlantic Ocean.

‏‏‎ Tomb of Vasco da GamaJerónimos Monastery

It was Vasco da Gama's daring bravery and that of his crew that made him the first European to reach India by sea. His initial voyage to India (1497–1499) marked the first time a sea route between Europe and Asia had been established, thereby connecting the Atlantic and the Indian oceans and therefore, the West and the Orient.

Da Gama's remains were brought from India to the monastery of Nossa Senhora das Relíquias near the town of Vidigueira, where they remained for three centuries. In 1880 his remains were placed in the Monastery.

Fernando Pessoa

Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa, was a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, translator, publisher and philosopher, described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century.

In Pessoa's work, there are over 70 heteronyms (imaginary alter-egos under whose name Pessoa would publish).

Heteronyms such as Álvaro de Campos, Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Bernardo Soares, not only had different writing styles but they thought differently, they had different religious and political views, different aesthetic sensibilities, different social temperaments. Through his writing Pessoa therefor conveyed the multiplicity, diversity, transmutability and identity of contemporary man.

Pessoa would often spend long periods of time in Lisbon's cafés, where he would come to write many of his works, such as this one just in Lisbon's Commerce Square.

Pessoa's remains were transferred to the Cloister in the Jerónimos Monastery in 1985; his tomb was made by the master sculptor Lagoa Henriques.

‏‏‎ Tomb of Alexandre HerculanoJerónimos Monastery

Alexandre Herculano

Alexandre Herculano, born in Lisbon in 1810, was a romantic poet, novelist, historian, journalist,  farmer, and liberal politician.

‏‏‎ Tomb of Alexandre HerculanoJerónimos Monastery

A progressive liberal Herculano fought with D. Pedro's army during the Portuguese Liberal Wars against the authoritarian absolutists.

Herculano was also a big driver of social reform in Portugal. Advocating for the decentralisation of power, through the introduction of municipal authorities and the separation of the Church from the State and playing a role in the introduction of civil code in the country.

In 1888 Herculano's remains were transferred to the Chapterhouse in the Jerónimos Monastery, which had been expressly prepared to receive him in a tomb built with public donations.

Credits: Story

Coordination:
Isabel Cruz de Almeida (Director, Jerónimos Monastery)

Text:
Jerónimos Monastery

Digital Production:
Luis Ramos Pinto (Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage, Portugal)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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