Central Portugal: Alcobaca, the Coast, and a Fish

Today’s main objective was the monastery at Alcobaca.


Here we’re rewinding back to the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques (the one who declared Portugal independent in 1139). In 1147, he defeated the Moorish stonghold of Santarem (which is further South) and had this monastery built at Alcobaca for the Cistercians to commemorate the victory. This is another pale limestone church with high ceilings, but the windows here are much plainer glass. Having said that, our book tells us that it’s Portugal’s largest church, so what it lacks in colour it makes up for in size….


There was all the usual monkery business, but the best part for me was the kitchens. A river was diverted to provide a constant water supply, the chimney was absolutely huge, and they had a row of sinks of a size we would today associate with Victorian cast iron baths….



Alcobaca is apparently well known throughout Spain and Portugal for the tragic love story of Pedro 1 and Ines de Castro. Pedro 1 was the 4G grandson of Afonso Henriques and the grandfather of Joao 1 (the one who married a Lancastrian and produced Henry the Navigator). To cut a long story short, Pedro’s father King Afonso IV was a bit concerned about the family of Ines, and feared that if Pedro got too involved with them it could draw Portugal into a civil war in neighbouring Castile. So he did the obvious thing and had her murdered in 1355….. Pedro, none too chuffed, made sure that he and Ines ended up side by side in elaborate tombs. Then in a 1950s tidy-up they were moved so that now they’re on opposite sides of the (very large) church. Oh well… maybe it just wasn’t meant to be….


We then headed to the coast and visited Nazare, which is clearly a popular resort in the summer.


Our stop for the night is by another beach…..


In other news, Mark has this evening tried swordfish for the first time (it was somewhat forced on him – we visited a supermarket where none of the meat looked in the  slightest bit attractive but the fish counter was fab….. so given that he’d already decided that he was willing to try swordfish….). He claims he liked it (it was a plain swordfish steak with chips and veg). I think he must’ve done as he then spent half an hour musing over what he’d have it with next time. He is going with rice and a spicy salsa…


Mark’s parting comment on the subject of swordfish: “I don’t think it’ll ever replace Spam but it’s alright”.


  1. Wells senior, of the NORI Nutters is not passedit he was on the climbing wall 2 weeks ago. He is catching up on your blog with Olive, We had our 1st night in our van at Bedgelert, we would have been better in the boat, road flooded rain horizontal/ van needs tweeking but no major problems, have a good xmas will catch up on your adventures.
    love Dad Rusty Olive and Tarran


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