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Alcobaca Monastery

Coimbra, Portugal

The complex of Alcobaça Monastery is one of the most notable and best conserved examples of Cistercian architecture and spatial philosophy.

Alcobaça was the last abbey founded in St. Bernard's lifetime and the first wholly Gothic building in Portugal. The abbey was founded in 1153, when King Afonso Henriques donated the land to Bernard of Clairvaux (St. Bernard).

Construction work on the building as we see it today only began in 1178 and lasted several decades, which is understandable considering the absolutely exceptional dimensions of the project.

The religious brotherhood occupied the already completed buildings in1223 and followed a programme of prayer and manual work ("ora et labora").

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