Thursday, 13 December 2007
An important event in Lisbon
All 27 EU members Head of State gather here today at the Jeronimos Monastery located at Belem,district of Lisbon to sign and celebrate the modified EU Treaty that has been aproved a month ago by its members.
This magnificent monastery is the most prominent monument in Lisbon and has been classified in 1983 together with the nearby Tower of Belem as World Heritage by UNESCO.
Originally ,the house for the Hieronymite monks was built on the same site of Ermida de Restelo,a hermitage that was founded bi Henry the Navigator at about 1450.It was at this hermitage that was already in bad state of degradation, that Vasco de Gama and his men spent the night in prayer before departing for India in 1497.
The existing structure,was started on the orders of King Manuel 1 (1515-1520)to commemorate Vasco de Gama´s sucessful return from India.It was originally meant as a church for burial of the House of Aviz but also ,it became a house of prayer for seaman leaving or entering port.
Construction begun in 1502 and it took 50 years to complete.
The Venue: Where the signing of the EU Treaty will take place
The cloister had its religious as well as representative function by its decorative ornamentation and the dynastic symbolic motives,such as the armillarium,coat of arms,and the Cross of the Order of Christ,showing the growing world of power of Portugal.
This photo show the beautiful main entrance door of the church,with the madonna of Belem stands on a pedestal
Interior of the church
Diogo Boitac,the first architect of this beautiful monastery,laid the foundation for this three aisled church with five bays under a single vault,a clearly marked but only slightly projecting transept and raised choir.The aisles and the nave are about equal height in the manner of a hall church.Boitac built the walls of the church as far as the cornices and then started with the construction of the adjoining monastery.
The monastery withstood the Great Lisbon Earthquake in 1755 without too much damage. But when the building became vacant in 1833 by the abolition of religious order in Portugal,it began to deteriorate to the point of almost collapsing. A cupola was later added to the southwestern tower.