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Convento dos Capuchos – The abandoned monastery outside Sintra – Portugal

Convento dos Capuchos – The abandoned monastery outside Sintra – Portugal

  • In the middle of the forest near Sintra, lie the ruins of the old monastery Convento dos Capuchos. Abandoned and overgrown, it still shows the extremely simple life that the monks here lived.
Convento Dos Capuchos - Portugal

In the middle of the forest between Sintra and the Atlantic coast, lies the ruins of the old monastery Convent dos Capuchos (Convent of Santa Cruz). The monastery was built in the middle of the 16th century in a miserable place in the forest, filled with large stones and far from civilization. Here 8 monks lived in incredible poverty and simplicity, without access to any kind of comfort.

When King Philip II visited the monastery in 1581, he is said to have said that in all his kingdoms, there were two things he valued most: El Escoril, because it was so rich and Convent of Santa Cruz because it was so poor. To me, that says something about how the monastery must have looked 500 years ago.

Convento Dos Capuchos

The monastery is completely built in stone, partly built into the surrounding rocks and mountains. Through very small corridors and passageways, it is now possible to visit the old cells where the monks lived. It is no exaggeration to describe this place as extremely spartan and simple. Small, narrow doors lead into the very small bedrooms with the tiny little windows for light. It is hard to imagine that the monk who lived here the longest lived here for 36 years. I probably wouldn't have managed 36 minutes. The body really crawls with discomfort to walk in these narrow little dark corridors.

In the ceilings, over the walls and in every crack there are still traces of the cork that over the centuries sealed the monastery and protected against both cold and moisture. The large amount of cork has even given the monastery its nickname - "the cork monastery".

Convento Dos Capuchos
Walls and ceiling covered with cork

The monastery was inhabited until 1834, when in a turbulent historical time all religious communities were banned. The monks were divided and the monastery was abandoned. Over the years, nature has slowly taken over the building and everywhere over the walls and stairs moss, grass and flowers now spread like a thick carpet.

Today, the Convento dos Campuchos is owned by the state and part of Sintra's cultural area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. Over the years, the monastery has been partially demolished, but through state protection, further decay has been stopped. Walls have been boarded up and corridors secured for tourists.

How do I get to Convento dos Capuchos?

We actually found here by chance, when we went to Cabo da Roca in Sintra. The monastery is located in the forest on a minor road, about 1 mile from Sintra (takes about 20 min).

Convento Dos Capuchos

How much does it cost to visit Convento dos Capuchos?

The monastery is part of Parks of Sintra and the more of their seats you buy tickets for, the more discount you get. So, for example, if you also plan to visit the Palace of Pena and the Moorish Castle, you get a 6% discount on the total ticket price.

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Normal price for Convento dos Capuchos before any discounts is 7 Euros per adult and 5,50 Euros per child (between 6-17 years).

NOTE: There is no service here except for ticket sales and toilets, so bring water and don't come here hungry!

Today's super tip!

If you are also going to Palace of Pena, there is a back road to this park from the monastery, with parking near the entrance to Chalet of the Countess of Edla. Much fewer cars and tourist buses than via Pena's main entrance, but a bit further to walk. If you also pre-purchase all tickets at the monastery, you will avoid queuing for tickets at the castle. So win win!

Do you want to read more about Portugal? Check out my Portugal page

Have you been here? What did you think of the destination?
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Read comments (4)
  • Oh, how exciting (and damn, we didn't know that when we passed by there last summer). After Cabo da Roca, we went directly to the Algarve coast to spend more time there. But I'll put this tip behind my ear for next time =) Love abandoned places, in France we visited abandoned churches, very exciting! And in Luxembourg we did a castle tour and visited the seven castles in the valley of the seven castles, both habitable and ruins. But we found my absolute worst abandoned place in the Azores, the multi-star hotel that was left to wind and wave only:

    • Ghost towns and abandoned places are what I love to photograph the most! There is something a little fateful and creepy about forgotten coffee cups and overgrown moss-covered stairs. I had NEVER heard of this hotel in the Azores! You can count on me writing that tip down as a must visit when/if we go to the Azores – at least from the outside! Have you been to Bodie?

  • What an interesting place! It would definitely not have been something for me who has a fear of cells. ;)

    Must say your blog is incredibly well written! There are so many blogs that fail in the language. It is a pure pleasure to read yours! Also, you have very nice pictures. I will stay here! :)

    • Thank you please please!! Will be so incredibly happy for your kind words! Made my day! :D

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