Alcobaça, situated on Portugal's
Silver Coast, derived it's name from the two valleys in
which it is situated - Alcoa and Baca.
The town of Alcobaça is
perhaps most famous for the imposing
monastery which dominates the centre of the historic
The monastery -
Mosteiro de Santa Maria - was constructed at the bequest of
Portugal's first king, Afonso who donated the land to
the Cistercian monks after defeating the Moors in
Construction on the
monastery began in the late 12th century and concluded
in the mid 13th century. The huge edifice was modelled
on an earlier example in Clairvaux, France.
the building seems out of proportion in it's setting,
however at the height of it's use it was home to more
than 900 monks, who farmed and cultivated the land
around the fledgling town in the middle ages.
the gothic building there are hundreds of reminders of
it's links with the Knights Templars. Masonry marks
litter the stone columns in the monastery's principal
hall. Although the abbey of Alcobaça is no longer in
use, it still attracts thousands of visitors each year.