Convento dos Capuchos

sights / Religious

Convento dos Capuchos information

Sintra , Portugal
+351 219 237 300
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adult/child €7/5.50
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Hidden in the woods is this bewitchingly hobbit-hole-like convent, which was originally built in 1560 to house friars who lived in incredibly cramped conditions, their tiny cells having low, narrow doors. Byron mocked the monastery in his poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage , referring to recluse Honorius who spent a staggering 36 years here (before dying at age 95 in 1596).

It’s often nicknamed the Cork Convent, because its minuscule cells are lined with cork. Visiting here is an Alice in Wonderland experience as you squeeze through to explore the warren of cells, chapels, kitchen and cavern. The monks lived a simple, touchingly well-ordered life in this idyllic yet spartan place, hiding up until 1834 when it was abandoned after all religious orders were abolished.

You can walk here – the monastery is 7.3km from Sintra-Vila (5.1km from the turn-off to Parque da Pena) along a remote, wooded road. There is no bus connection to the convent (taxis charge around €35 return; arrange for a pickup ahead). Well-worth-it audio guides are available for €3.