Hidden in the woods is the Franciscan monastery Convento dos Capuchos, built in 1560. A Visit to the convento is definitely worth it, it gives you the feeling as if you ended up in the movie Alice in Wonderland.
The convento is often skipped by the tourists, which we think is completely unjustified. Not only is it special to see the monastery and the good condition it is in, but also the mountains around it and the beautiful view are more than worth it.
From the parking lot you’ll walk for just over 10 minutes before you reach the monastery, via a gravel road. After you pass a statue, you enter the monastery. Once you have entered the monastery, do not forget to bow your head if you are taller than 1 meter.
Sober life of the monks
The eight monks who lived here were stripped of wealth and lived in poverty. They slept on the ground and followed a strictly vegetarian diet, mostly from their own garden. The monks lived in this sober environment because they believed that they could only surrender to the spiritual world after they completely abandoned the materialistic world. They were in possession of three things: a habit, a Bible and an image of a saint of choice.
As I wrote, if you are more than a meter tall watch out that you don’t hit your head when you visit the residential parts. The doors are often no higher than 1 meter, the rooms are small. The walls and ceilings are covered with cork from the surrounding cork trees.
There are many rooms in the monastery, the monks (also known as capuchos because of their pointed hats) had their own infirmary, library, room where religious songs were sung, separate room for a pupil monk, dining room with kitchen and eight convent rooms that were only accessible to the monks. There was no bed in their room, they slept on a plank with straw. There was also a church with an altar.
The monks had a space to receive pilgrims who could stay overnight. Pilgrims could drink at the fountain outside.
Outside the monastery
When you have visited the monastery, I advise you to take a walk around. It is not a large area for walking, but there are still a number of interesting sights.
On top of the mountain you will find Capela do Senhor Crucificado, a chapel where the monks could meditate and remain silent. If you walk down again (past the monastery) you will pass the vegetable garden. The monks were self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. They received eggs and fish from the residents in the area. There are various flowers, trees and plants at the monastery. When buying a ticket to enter the Convento, you get a map with the flowers and plants pointing out.
If you have difficulty walking, a visit to the convento can be a challenge. It is a 10-minute walk from the parking lot to the monastery and inside the monastery are a lot of steps.
How to get to Convento dos Capuchos
It’s hard to get here to with public transportation.
From Lisbon, take the train to Sintra. If you don’t want to walk, take a taxi. There is a bus through the Pena (bus 434) but it does not stop at the Convento. You can get off at the palace, from here it is still a 2 hour walk. You can also choose to walk from the station in Sintra, but that will take you at least 2 and a half hours.
Address: Coordenadas GPS
38º 46’ 58.48” N 9º 26’ 8.86” W
Openings hours: 09:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Car: go by car! From Lisbon you take the IC19 to Sintra. Follow the route to the historical center of Sintra, where you will see a sign to the convento. From the historic center to the convento, the first part is especially exciting. One hairpin bend after the other, fasten your seatbelts and drive! Be careful because people are walking on the road and / or you meet cyclists. Once past the palace it is less exciting but you are almost there (about 10 minutes from here).