Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Alcobaça - amazing monastery

Some postcards seem to be just ordinary postcards. But some hold much more - a new place, and a new story. This postcard comes from a town of Alcobaça in Portugal. The Alcobaça Monastery (Portuguese: Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça) is a medieval monastery located in the town of Alcobaça, in central Portugal.

Some history and a love story:

In the 12th century Alcobaça became the site for the construction of the Portugal's largest church. In the month of March in 1147, the fledgling King, Dom Afonso Henriques defeated the Moors by capturing the city of Santarem. As a suitable memory to this splendid victory he vowed to build a magnificent home for the Order of Cistercians. It took another 76 years before this task was completed. The monarchy continued to endow the Monastery of Alcobaça with further construction, and 60 years later King Dinis built the main cloister but it was only in 1252 that the Monastery was inaugurated within the church.

In the church are the tombs of King Pedro I and his murdered mistress, Inês de Castro. Forced at an early age by royal duty he had to marry Constanza, the Infanta of Castile, in 1336. She died in 1345, and created the opportunity for Dom Pedro to escape with his true love and live in the city of Coimbra. King Alfonso IV, his father, believing that the family of Inês to be a threat to his own kingdom, had her murdered. Shortly after the death of his father, Dom Pedro declared that he had married Inês in a prior secret ceremony in Braganca, promptly taking revenge on the killers in a very gruesome manner and exhumed her body. He presented the embalmed corpse at court with a crown on her head and demanded that all his courtiers kneel and individually pay homage to her decomposed hand. Their ornate tombs have been facing each other for 650 years (!) and on Judgement day, his first sight would be of his beloved Inês."

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