Chapter 7 The Monastery

Alcobaça Monastery

It’s a warm Tuesday in June and few tourists are in Alcobaça. If it were August, Dad says the cidade[1] would be packed. We walk in front of the monastery.

“What do you think?” Dad asks.

“It’s huge,” I say as I spin around a couple times.

“The largest church in Portugal and one of the largest in Europe.”

“Take a picture of me in front of it.”

He uses my iPhone to take a picture. Mom bought it for me before I left. I use it to Google facts about Portugal in the evening and take pictures by day.

“OK, let’s go in,” Dad says.

We climb the massive steps of the 17th century baroque architecture facade built on the original 800 year old church.

The woman security guard looks up at us.

“You need to buy your tickets at the kiosk first. Then you can view the entire monastery,” she says.

My pale skin without a trace of a tan betrays my northern heritage. I’m an estrangeiro[2].

“Hey Pete, you notice she spoke English with a slight British accent. They learn English in grade school and they take standardized exams administered by Cambridge University. Service people and professionals speak English in Lisbon and the Algarve. That means we have to be careful what we say concerning Portuguese people because they will understand us. I looked up EU stats and thirty-four percent of adults know English in Portugal. That’s more than any other European romance language country, even Spain, France, or Italy,” mini-drones Dad.

We buy our tickets, take the brochures showing us what is in here and turn to the left.

“Wow, this room is neat. What is it?” I ask.

“It’s the Sala dos Reis,- the room of the kings,” Dad reads from the sign.

I pull out my iPhone and take a panoramic of the room.

Next, I take the glasses case from Dad, pull out the glasses and take a glance around. “I don’t see auras,” I say.

“No fossils in here, only statues,” Dad says. And we turn to leave the room.

Sala dos reis
Sala dos reis,- the Room of the Kings

“Wait. If these are the Kings of Portugal, which ones are buried here?”

Dad looks at the guide and says, “Afonso II, Afonso III and their queens. Then we have Pedro I and his lover, Inês.”

“They’re part of the House of Burgundy. The Sala contains statues of most of the Kings of Portugal. The entire House of Burgundy, beginning with Afonso I, is on the right over there.”

We walk over to the corner. “This is his son, Sancho I,” Dad says and looks up. “Wikipedia says, they’re both buried in Coimbra at the Monastery of Santa Cruz.”

“Next to Sancho I is Afonso I’s grandson, Afonso II, who is buried here. Beside,  Afonso II is his oldest son Sancho II, who was forced off of the throne by his younger brother Afonso III, who is next and buried here. Sancho II fled to Castile and is buried in Toledo, Spain.

Afonso III’s son, Dinis I, took over from his father by force. Dinis I is Afonso I’s great-great-grandson. Dinis’ son Afonso IV was Pedro’s father. Dinis is buried at the Monastery of Saint Dinis in the city of Odivelas, near Lisbon and Afonso IV is buried at the Sé[3] in Lisbon.

Then the next Burgundian King, Pedro I is buried here. His son is Fernando I and the last king of the House of Burgundy. After Fernando there was a civil war since Fernando did not have a son who lived beyond childhood. Fernando married off his daughter to the King of Castile. The nobility of Portugal didn’t want to be ruled by a Castilian king and that is why the civil war,” I tell him.

“Let’s do this in order, start with Afonso II and end with Pedro,” my dad suggests.

“Let’s enter the church to visit the tombs,” I say.

I bend my head back and face up.

“Dad, the ceiling must be fifty feet up. And gaze at how much light is in here.”

“The air is cool even though it’s above thirty degrees Celsius outside,” Dad says.

“Let’s walk to the end where the tombs are.” I’m leading the way as always.


[1] cidade – city

[2] estrangeiro – Stranger from outside the country.

[3] Sé – The largest and most important cathedral of a city.

Chapter 8 Kings and Queens

One thought on “Chapter 7 The Monastery

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