Thursday, July 20, 2023

Must See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Center of Portugal

Batalha Monastery, Portugal , Portugal Monasteries

We were hosted on a press tour by Center of Portugal. Tickets to the monasteries were comped in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are our own.

I and my daughter,  recently visited the Center Of Portugal on a hosted press tour.  Visiting the incredible monasteries of the UNESCO TRIANGLE was the highlight of our trip . I can't say enough about the grandeur and stunning details of these edifices.  

Convent of Christ, Covento De Cristo, Tomar Portugal


In ancient times, Portugal used to be a haven for Roman Catholic Monesteries. In the 1800's the country experienced a very brutal civil war.  At the end of the war, Portugal terminated the state sanction for its monasteries. This caused the lands and possessions of these properties to be nationalized.

Thus the reason why there are many abandoned monasteries in Portugal. However, most of them are well preserved as museums and tourist destinations. In addition, several have been remodeled as incredble hotels! We had the unique experience of staying at a Monastery Hotel . We 'll share where you can experience this too, in an upcoming article.

The 3 monasteries we visted are UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES and are called the Unesco Triangle. If you love monasteries put the monesteris in Portugal at the top of your "must-see" list!


The three monasteries of the Unesco Triange are centrally located in Portugal. You can easily drive to each one. It's best to rent a car at the Lisbon airport. The drive is 122 km; and will take 1 hour and 3o min on highway A8. 

Driving in Portugal is very easy and there isn't much traffic in the central region.  All 3 of the monasteries are a short distance from each other.


Unesco World Heritage Monasteries of the Center of Porgual cost 6 euro each to visit. However, the churches are free. You can buy a passport for all 3 monasteries that costs 15 euro. If you buy the passport it's fun to collect the stamp from each one as you enter!

Currently you can only purchase tickets onsite at the monasteries. Online sales for the tickets are currently unavailable.  If your travel to Portugal isn't imminent; I suggest checking the website before you leave.

Alcobaca Monastery

Alcobaca is famous for the largest monastery in Portugal. It's a beautiful town and village, at the instersection of the Alcoa and Baca rivers. The river is gorgeous and you will feel a peaceful vibe upon arrival. At the back of the monastery, a historic hotel was added a year ago.

The new Montebelo Mosteiro de Alcobaca hotel, retains much of the original design detail and architecture . It was an AMAZING EXPERIENCE to stay here.  I highly recommend it!

The magnificent monastery is one of the most impressive examples of Cistercian architecture in Europe. Even though  Alcobaca Monastery is 900 years old, it has preserved its set of medieval buildings. The church is the largest Gothic church built in the middle ages in Portugal.

Alcobaca Monestary, Alcobaca Portugal

It was a bucket list experience to enter this magnificent structure! The facade has designs that look like icing on a cake.  It was impressive how many rooms, hallways and arches are in the monastery. The kitchen was my favorite part of the tour. Learning about how the food was served, stored and preserved was very interesting. The courtyard was a stunning sight to see as well!

UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Alcobaca Monasatery

The story of Pedro and Ines, the most tragic love story in Portugal still inspires visits to the Monastery of Alcobaca. This story is the Porguese equivalent of " Romeo and Juliette."  Ines was a Spanish born  girl, who fell in love with the heir to the throne. The pair married in secret, but fearing her Spanish influence the king had her murdered.  We saw their ornate tombs at the monastery.

Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitoria

Batalha Monastery, Batalha Portugal, Unesco Triangle , Portugal

Next we drove 14 miles to Batalha Monastery (Monastery of Santa Maria Da Vitoria). The views from the street are just breathtaking! Across the from the monastery is a coffee shop. What a SPECTACULAR view for our morning brew.  We were in awe of the grand structure in front of us!

This monastery's great architectural value and historical signifance led to the building being classified as a World Heritage Site in 1983. The project for construction lasted almost two centuries. The Monastery of Batalha was built roughly from 1388 onwards and the last work was completed in 1566.

UNESCO Triangle, Portugal Monasteries, Batalha Portugal

Interesting fact: several prominent figures from Portuguese history are buried at the monsastery. Icluded are King Joao and his wife Phillipa, along with their famous son Henry the Navigator.

This Batalha Monastery is one of the most fascinateing Gothic monuments in the Iberian Peninsula. In August of 1385 the Battle of Aljubarrota took place, that would help prove decisive for the consolodation of the Portuguese nation. 

In Portugal is a tradition of honoring many unknown soldiers; this has been in place since April 10, 1921.  We had the honor of seeing the soldiers standing guard in silence in one of the monastery rooms. It was a very moving experience to see this!

Convent of Christ

Unesco Triangle, Convent of Christ, Tomar Portugal

The Convent of Christ ( Convento de Cristo) was my favorite of the 3 World Heritage Sites.  The site is located in Tomar and is one of the most extraordinary monuments in Portugal.  This church and castle is one of the most popular destinations in the Center of Portugal.

The city is dominated by the vast complex of Convent of Christ, standing at the top of the hill. It's a  spectacular view to witness from afar!  The convent is surrounded by the walls of the Castle of Tomar. The church and castle were built over a span of 5 centuries.

Convento de Cristo, Convent of Christ, Tomar Portugal
Main cloister of Convento De Cristo

Inside you will find one of the most brilliant examples of a church with a centralized plan built by the temple. It was later decorated with sculptures and paintings. 

The convent's 12th century Charola is so breathtaking! . The paintings are so intricate and detailed. We were in awe of the beautiful artwork.

Convento de Cristo, Convent of Christ, Tomar Portugal

Convent de Cristo,  Convent of Christ, Tomar, Unesco Triangle, Portugal

The Manueline Window is magnificent and is considered one of the most complex windows in the world. This window is hailed as a masterpiece of late Gothic Manueline architecture. It displays various motifs of scripture and references relating to Portugal's overseas expansion at the time: twisting ropes, knots, globes and crosses. Our tour guide told us the window has been under renovation for the past year. 
manueline window, chapter window, convent of christ, portugal
                                                              Manueline Window

I hope you enjoyed the tour of the UNESCO triangle of Monasteries in Portugal.  These 3 are the most popular with tourists. There are lots more churches and monasteries to explore!

Convent of Christ, Tomar Portugal, Unesco TriangleBeautiful tile detail at Convento de Cristo

If you need ideas for planning your trip check out the CENTER OF PORTUGAL website. Here you will find excellent information to visit the monasteries and beyond. In addition follow Center of Portugal Insatgram page for daily inspiraton and tips for vistiing this lil slice of heaven!


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Would you like to comment?

  1. What beautiful buildings! I'd love to go to mainland Portugal. I've been to Madeira a lot but never the mainland. It's definitely on my bucket list!

    Emma xxx

    1. Ohh I'd love to see the island of Madeira! I do hope you make it to the mainland and see the center of Portugal..its DREAMY..all of it!

  2. What a gorgeous place! Something I wouldnt have thought about as a destination, but all your photos show how lovely and interesting it is!

    1. Thanks Kym, yes these stays were all so lovely and very unique, Portugal is just beyond amazing in every way!!!

  3. This is beautiful. Lovely slip dress too.

  4. Oh wow! All 3 of these look so incredible-- inside and out!

    1. Hello JO Anne, yes they were all very epic and unique stays...thanks for stopping by and hope you visit Portugal someday!

  5. Portugal is on my bucket list. Your photos are beautiful! Love the architecture of these churches!

    Jill - Doused in Pink

    1. Thanks Jill for the kind words, I do hope you can go soon!!!

  6. Gosh, I've lived in Portugal for 37 years and I've never visited this amazing places!! I must add it to be to-do list, mustn't I?! Beautiful photos!

    1. Oh wow girl you are SO lucky to live in such an amazing country, I want to move to Portugal bad!! Its surprising you havent' see these places..DO are missing out on a " lil slice of heaven"

  7. Fantastic pictures! I've been to Portugal a couple of times but haven't explored the Unesco sites and monasteries. Thanks for linking at Is This Mutton

    1. Thanks Gail, you are so lucky to live in Europe, easy access to a lot of amazing countries like Portugal. I wish I could get EU citizenship..Id move there in heartbeat!

  8. I have never been to Portugal! Would love to though.

    1. HI Nancy, you would love it..I am obsessed with Portugal!!!

  9. It's incredible Portugal has all these amazing sights to see, and you shared so many great photos too! Thank you for sharing :)

    Thank you for joining the Weekday Wear Link up too!

    1. Thanks Mica for the link up and for reading my post! Valerie

  10. Oh my goodness, the monasteries are beautiful! I enjoyed this article and information. Your photos are stunning!
    Visiting today from PoCoLo.

    1. Awe thanks so much for your kind words, yes the monasteries are stunning- thank you!