Portugal Churches You Must Visit

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Everywhere you go in Portugual, you see churches; from small simple chapels in villages to ornately decorated cathedrals to crypts made of bones. Choosing which Portuguese chapels and churches to add to your itinerary can be a daunting task. So we sat with a few friends who travel regularly, and came up with this list of must visit churches in Portugal. We will be adding more beautiful Portuguese churches as and when we visit them, but for now here are a few must-visits.

1. Alcobaça Monastery

By Marga from Discover Portugal

Interior of Alcobaça Monastery.
Alcobaça Monastery
By Marga from Discover Portugal

Alcobaça is about a 1.5-hour drive north of Lisbon, and the sleepy town is perfect for discovering Portuguese culture and village life. There is not much to see and do, but the eye-catcher is definitely Alcobaça Monastery. The beautiful facade is hard to miss, but the interior is even more stunning. You can enter the church for free, and construction started in 1178.

To see the Monastery, you need a ticket. But Mosteiro de Alcobaça is filled with azulejo tiles and sculptures, and a visit is highly recommended! You’ll visit several rooms and can enjoy the Manueline and Baroque elements of the building. You can also find the tombs of King Pedro and Inês de Castro in the church, the Portuguese Romeo and Juliet. Surprisingly, the Monastery is much quieter than other churches and monasteries in Portugal. Buying a ticket online is unnecessary, and a visit is perfect for those who like to travel off the beaten path.

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2. Jerónimos Monastery

By Marga from Discover Portugal

Corridor of Jerónimos Monastery.
Jerónimos Monastery
By Marga from Discover Portugal

The number one church people come to see in Portugal is the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, Lisbon. The Manueline architecture makes the Monastery and church absolutely beautiful, but the history is also fascinating! Did you know, for example, that the famous pastel de nata custard cakes originate from here? Construction started in 1501, and nowadays, the church and Monastery are a well-known UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can visit the church for free, and inside, you will discover the tombs of Vasco da Gama, Fernando Pessoa, and Luis de Camões. You need a ticket to see the Jerónimos Monastery from inside, but the stunning building is more than worth it. Arrive when they open to avoid the long queue or visit the complex just before closing.

3. Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima

By Marga from Discover Portugal

Exteriors of The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima
By Marga from Discover Portugal

The most important religious site in Portugal is probably Fátima. It was here that, in 1917, three shepherd children witnessed the appearance of Our Lady of Fátima. It happened on May 13th and every 13th of the month until October of the same year. The last time, 70.000 witnessed the apparition, known as the Miracle of Fátima.

Fátima became an important pilgrimage, and throughout the years, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima became bigger and bigger. Annually, around 6 to 8 million pilgrims visit Fátima, mostly between May and October. Some shuffle on their knees, some burn candles, and others attend mass. There are several churches to visit, and Fátima is a must-see location when holidaying in Portugal.

4. Porto Cathedral, Portugal

By Stephanie from Bey of Travel

Exteriors of Porto Cathedral.
Porto Cathedral
By Stephanie from Bey of Travel

Porto Cathedral, also known as Sé do Porto, is one of the oldest and most important religious sites in Porto, Portugal. Built-in the 12th century, this magnificent structure is a prime example of Romanesque architecture. However, it has undergone various renovations and additions over the centuries, incorporating Gothic, Baroque, and Rococo elements.
The cathedral’s historical significance lies in its role as a center of religious, cultural, and political life in Porto and the surrounding region for over 900 years.

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Serving as the seat of the Bishop of Porto since its inception, the cathedral symbolizes the strong religious influence in the city’s history and development. Notably, it played a crucial part in the defense of Porto during various conflicts, including the Siege of Porto in the 19th century.

The Porto Cathedral greets visitors with a distinctive Romanesque façade, characterized by two sturdy towers adorned with intricate carvings and a captivating rose window. This façade showcases the robustness and artistry of Romanesque design.

Visiting Porto Cathedral is like taking a step back through centuries of history. From Romanesque origins to Gothic, Baroque, and Rococo transformations, the cathedral offers a comprehensive glimpse into architectural and cultural evolution.

5.Monastery Of Batalha, Portugal

By Cath from Passports and Adventures

Batalha Monastery in Portugal.
Batalha Monastery in Portugal
Pic by Cath from Passports and Adventures

The Monastery of Batalha is a magnificent church and monastery in the Leiria district of Central Portugal. It’s one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the area (apart from the monasteries of Alcobaça and Tomar), and it’s seriously impressive once you get up close. The church is free to enter, but you have to pay to check out the cloisters, and trust me, it’s worth it.

This Dominican convent was constructed in the late 14th century, and features incredible architecture, tombs, some unfinished chapels and much more. Also make sure you admire the façade of the nave when you step outside. The Monastery of Batalha is truly a marvel that I highly recommend visiting; even our kids loved visiting this monastery while exploring Central Portugal.

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This is a work in progress list of the must-visit Portuguese cathedrals. There are many that still need to be added. If you would like to contribute, ping abby@abbyshearth.com

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Pinterest images of Interior of Alcobaça Monastery and Fatima.
Pinterest images of Fatima, Jerónimos Monastery and Porto Cathedral, Portugal.

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