The small cells, corridors and sparse living space gives the visitor an insight into the lives led by the brotherhood and instills a profound impression. The interior resembles a rabbit warren and the lack of space is claustrophobic. Some of the cells were so small that monks had to carve foot holes in the walls so they can lay down and judging buy the small size of the doorways they must have been small guys at that. The vast amount of cork which was used to insulate the walls must also have been useful as protected padding. The site is small and there was only room to accommodate eight monks, the most famous of whom was Friar Honório who lived here 15 of his years in isolation and penance yet lived to the grand old age of a hundred.
Along with the monks cells the site also contains rooms for visitors, a small courtyard, a library, a dinning area adjoining the kitchen, an infirmary, two chapels and a latrine. When King Filipe I of Portugal (Filipe II of Spain) visited the convent in 1581 he famously remarked "In all of my kingdoms, there are two things I have that greatly please me, El Escorial because it is so rich and the Convent of Santa Cruz because it is so poor".
The site was designed to blend into it's surroundings and since it's abandonment nature has taken over. The overgrown foliage adding to the mystical beauty of the place. There were no attempts to create any man-made beautification but instead pay homage to natures wonderment. In places the convent's stark walls seem indistinguishable from the forests rock formations and boulders. The site is isolated, a 4.5 mile (7 km) trek along a wooded road, which only adds to the peacefulness of this site. A dramatic contrast to the maddening crowds which descend on Sintra's centre during high season. For special effect the site is notoriously often bathed in fog. The landscape surrounding the building was meticulously maintained by the resident monks resulting in the preservation of Sintra's original flora whereas else where in the forest foreign exotic plants were introduced to adorn gardens. The 19th century romantic poets were enchanted by it's beauty inspiring the likes of Lord Byron in his his poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. After the dissolution of the monasteries in Portugal in 1834 the convent was abandoned and was subsequently bought in 1873 by Francis Cook, the first Viscount of Monserrate, and later in 1949 the land was nationalised. The Capuchos Convent forms part of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra and was classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage in 1995.
Daily: 10h00 - 20h00, (last admission at 19h00)
Adult: €7.00, Concessionary: €5.50. Family €22.00, Infant 0-3 FREE.
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There are hiking trails signposted between the historic centre and the Capuchos Convent (Convento dos Capuchos).
Take the IC19 from Lisbon, IC30 from Mafra or EN9 turning off the A5 motorway to Cascais. Once you have arrived in the town's historic centre it's best to leave the car and walk to take a taxi to the Capuchos Convent (Convento dos Capuchos).
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