Convent of the Capuchos
- Lavish guide to the sumptuous interiors of this palace, recreating the atmosphere of the final years of the Portuguese monarchy
The Convent of Capuchos (or ‘Cork Convent’) is one of the most interesting religious constructions in Portugal. Situated in the mountains of Sintra, just outside Lisbon, it was founded in 1560 by D. Álvaro de Castro, son of D. João de Castro, India’s Viceroy. This convent became famous for its construction and the extreme poverty of its living conditions, and is a wonderful example of Christian austerity in its simplicity of decoration and meagre materials and space.
The tiny friars’ cells, in which it is impossible to stand upright or to sleep fully stretched, are hewn out of the solid rock and were insulated against cold and damp with layers of cork. Of note in the chapel is the inlay work in the altar, some 17th-century frescos by André Reinoso and an 18th-century frontispiece of azulejos.
The woods surrounding the convent have survived as probably the most significant testimony of former Sintra forest with sub-Mediterranean vegetation, including oak trees, ferns, moss and climbing plants.