In 1153, D. Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, granted to the Order of Cister one territory of about 44.000 hectares. This huge scarcely populated territory was the ideal for the agricultural vocation of the Cistercians, who sought isolated areas, rich in water and fertile soils. This way the king also ensured a quick occupation of the recently conquered territory from the Moors.
The architectural plan is based on the characteristics of the Clairvaux Abbey in Champagne-Ardenne region (France), founded by Bernard of Clairvaux, it follows the philosophy of austerity and simplicity defended by St. Bernard.
The works began in 1178, starting with the church that would become the largest existing Gothic abbey in Portugal. We highlight the king's tombs of D.Pedro (1357-1367) and Inês de Castro, unique pieces of Gothic sculpture in Portugal.
The enlargements and reconstructions continued until 1770.
The importance of the Monastery of Alcobaça evolved into a growing cultural, religious and ideological thinking. Its monumentality is its architecture.
It's the first test of Gothic architecture in Portugal: a model that was not ready for its time and that continuity only was reproduced much later, working as a pole almost isolated, a white jewel in the landscape.