The Convento dos Capuchos is an austere Franciscan monastery that is set amidst the dense forests and giant granite boulders of the Serra da Sintra National Park. The monastery was constructed to have minimal impact of natural surroundings and this simplistic design was far removed from the opulence and grandeur of Sintra.
Massive bolders and ancient trees of Capuchos
Capuchos provided the monks who resided there a quiet and reflective atmosphere and this peaceful ambience awaits visitors who make the effort to travel to this isolated location. Capuchos is far from the common tourist routes but those who know Sintra regard it as one of the best historical monuments of the region.
Capuchos is know as the cork monastery, as cork was the only decoration
The Convento dos Capuchos was a harsh and isolated religious monastery that is situated within the Serra de Sintra National Park. The remote location of the religious complex allowed the residents complete segregation from the outside world, while providing them the most meagre comforts. The 8 small monk quarters resemble cells rather than places of meditation or reflection, with stone beds and little protection from the cold winters.
The collection of small chapels, retreats, quarters and kitchens are all connected by narrow cave like passages while the landscape of giant boulders and dense forest all adds to the somber atmosphere. The unique monastery of Convento dos Capuchos is a highly recommended attraction of Sintra and is set at odds to the wild extravagance exhibited elsewhere in the region.
The chapel beneath the huge bolder
The entrance fee is €7.00/€5.50 (adult/child) and there are 1 hour guided tours for €10. Typical visits last between one to one and half hours. The Convento dos Capuchos is open every day from 9:30 until 20:00 (summer season) 10:00-17:00 (winter). Further information regarding opening times and entrance fees can be consulted at the Parques de Sintra website:
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Generally the Convento dos Capuchos is visited on the second day of exploring Sintra and is combined with the Quinta da Regaleira and Palacio de Monserrate, while the first day is spent visiting the Moors castle and Pena Palace. The Convento dos Capuchos are 7km to the west of Sintra and the only method to reach it is by rental car or bike as there are no public transport options. The route follows the N375 west out of Sintra then after 4km turns left, from here it is signed.
The Convento dos Capuchos Sintra was founded in 1560 and the oldest remaining section is the Chapel of Santo António which was constructed in 1580. The complex was given a royal blessing 1581 by King Filipe I and this was the year that the encircling wall was also constructed.
The cave where Friar Honório resided in for 15 years
The most famous monks who lived in the Convento dos Capuchos was Friar Honório who spent 15 of his years in isolation and penance but lived to the grand age of 100. The complex reached a maximum of occupancy of 8 monks but the entire site was abandoned after religious orders were abolished from Portugal in 1830s.