Portuguese Sagas – The monastery of Santa Cruz (Coimbra)

30th of September

Last Wednesday I went with a dear friend to Coimbra. We had lunch together at an Indian restaurant. She had chicken and I fish. I love this restaurant. It is in centre close to the Tourist Bureau. A beautiful restaurant which reminds me of India. Since I have been there many times the waitress and the cooks have become friends. The food is cooked on the spot. Nothing buffet there. Just wonderful fresh food. Just as it should be.

The pity about the Chinese restaurants here is that they all adjust. Maybe everyone adjusts, I don´t know. But this is such a shame because Chinese food is wonderful but when they have added fried potatoes and fried chicken it is not Chinese anymore. At least I don´t want food like that when I go to a Chinese restaurant.

So, going through the centre of Coimbra there is a huge  church which I usually visit if on foot there. I like to play a tourist in this area.


The picture above is from Wikipedia, I hope it is ok for me to put it here. If not I will change it the next time I go to Coimbra and take a new one.

Inside the church there are tiles, blue ones, who tell a story. Every one is unique.  I wonder how the builders could make buildings like this in the year 1131? How did they manage to get to the top?

The tiles are not the only historic phenomenon. Just look at the door. Who has been inside? What is inside? Is there anything?


Who has walked through this door? The trap is used like everything else in the wonderful building. The steps, the floors, the stones, everything is marked with the steps those who lived there centuries ago, took.

Two kings are buried in the church. This was the most important monastic house outside the walls of Coimbra during the early days of the Portuguese monarchy. The monastery and the church were erected between 1132 and 1223. The monastery was granted numerous papal privileges and royal grants, which allowed the accumulation of considerable wealth, at the same time as it consolidated its position on the politico-institutional and cultural scene. Its school, with its vast library, was highly respected in medieval times and was a  meeting point for the intellectual and power elites.

King Alfonso Henriques is buried in the church. I think he is there watching over those who visit.

Nothing remains of the early Romanesque monastery.

In the first half of the 16th century, the Monastery was completely renovated by King Manuel’s order.

The whole monastic complex, the church and the tombs of King Alfonso Henriques and of King Sancho I, were rearranged and transferred to the main chapel in 1530, where they still lie in a sculptural work by Nicolau Chanterene.

I find it amazing that I can go to a church, now in the year of 2017 and visit the graves of kings from the 11th century.  I can sit there and contemplate of eternity. This is part of life. Just sitting and letting your imagination wander with the help of the beautiful blue tiles that cover every wall.

The altar, the Pipe organ which is from the 18th century, the steps, the floor, the doors, the font, everything is full of history. And the outside. My oh my, the outside is something.

After sitting for a while, wandering around, discovering something you have not seen before in this amazing church, you walk through thick wooden doors into the sunshine and from the silence into the ordinary day. Your life will never be the same if you have taken in the history you just witnessed.

Hulda Björnsdóttir



Author: ebemiede2

I do blog about different matters that interest me.

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