No ordinary side entrance!

A journey through one of the most important portals of the Manueline period

South Portal (16th century) by João de Castilho and Diogo de BoitacaJerónimos Monastery

The most significant portal of its time in Portugal

The shrine-like South Portal portal is huge, it's 32 metres (105 ft) high and 12 metres (39 ft) wide, extending two stories. lt is the visual centre of the Monastery's façade and the most detailed portal of the Manueline period.  Built between 1516 and 1518 by João de Castilho and his work team following a design by  Diogo de Boitaca. 

‏‏‎ South Portal - detailJerónimos Monastery

Dominating atop the portal is a statue of the Archangel Michael, chosen by King Manuel as the kingdom's guardian angel.

The central figure in the portal is Our Lady of Belém the patron saint of seafarers and the protector of sailors. She holds in her hand a cup with gifts from the Magi.

‏‏‎ South Portal - detailJerónimos Monastery

The Virgin is flanked by a multitude of statues representing the prophets, the apostles, Church notables and saints.

‏‏‎ South Portal - detailJerónimos Monastery

The tympanum, above the double door, displays, in half-relief, two scenes from the life of Saint Jerome.

One in which, in the robes of a cardinal, he removes a thorn from a lion's paw.

The other in which he pays penance in the desert.

In the spandrel between these scenes is the coat of arms of king Manuel I, the armillary sphere, and those of the Kingdom of Portugal.

‏‏‎ South Portal - detailJerónimos Monastery

Further below, between the twin doors of the church, is a statue representing Henry the Navigator as a knight in armour, a tribute to this predecessor of Manuel I who founded the Restelo Chapel and was a driving force behind the Portguese Discoveries.

South Portal (16th century) by João de Castilho and Diogo de BoitacaJerónimos Monastery

One thing is certain, this is by no means an ordinary side entrance.

Credits: Story


Text: Jerónimos Monastery

Digital production: Luis Ramos Pinto

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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