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Arrábida Monastery on the south slope of the Arrábida Hills

Arrabida Monastery, Arrábida Hills, near Setúbal

The Arrábida Monastery is located on the south slope of the Arrábida Hills, 16 km from Setúbal, and faces toward the sea.

The Arrábida Monastery is placed on 25 hectares and had its beginning on a small cell built in 1539. The construction of the Arrábida Monastery started in the 16th century (1542) and was, in the past, a Franciscan monastery, founded by Friar Martinho de Santa Maria (a Castilian Franciscan friar) who was granted the land by D. João de Lencastre (the first Duke of Aveiro), after the Friar had confessed his wish of being a hermit, devoting is calling to Our Lady of Arrábida.

The Arrábida Monastery has different areas that, in the past, were used to meditation and religious cult and consists of the Old Monastery, located on the uppermost part of the hillside, the New Monastery, halfway down, four chapels, the Garden, the Bom Jesus Shrine, five round towers, a forty cells complex, a refectory, a kitchen, a library, the quarters of the Duke of Aveiro and the houses where the pilgrims stayed.

Curiously, all of this complex looks like a village which stands out in the intense green of the Arrábida Hills.

In the Arrábida Monastery we can see pieces of ceramic and wood, masonry, painted ceilings, sculptures of saints and Christs made of terracotta and wood, as well as the tiles of the chapels and sea materials like seashells and pebbles.

When the first Franciscans arrived at the Arrábida Hills the Monastery didn’t exist yet and they lived in grottos located on the top of the Hills.

The cells of Arrábida Monastery were hewed out of the rocks and they are very small, only with the enough space for a monk move himself in the inside, not allowed to stand up.

In 1834, with the suppression of the religious orders, the Franciscans abandoned the Arrábida Monastery and, consequently, it was pillaged and vast damage was caused. In 1863, the Palmela family (Dukes of Palmela) purchased the Monastery.

In the end of the 19th century, the Duke of Palmela decide to build the western side of the Arrábida Monastery with a new area for accommodation.

In 1990, the Arrábida Monastery was bought by the Fundação Oriente and was reclassified as cultural area where many events take place.

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