The Arouca Monastery, founded in honor of S. Pedro, was in its origin a Benedictine monastery of Romanesque style (10th century), and was rebuilt and expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1210 Sancho I, the second king of Portugal, gave it to his daughter Mafalda and in 1224, under her responsibility, the monastery began to be governed by the Cistercian Order. Mafalda lived in this monastery and was buried here, being undeniable the worship devoted to her in this region, known as the land of Santa Mafalda. With a vast heritage, the Arouca Monastery became one of the most important Portuguese women’s monasteries up to its extinction in 1886.
It is currently classified as a National Monument. Inside you can visit the church with its majestic combination of the high altar, the tomb of Queen Santa Mafalda, eight chapels, stained glass windows, the nuns’ choir and an impressive baroque stalls with 104 customized seats. The Pipe Organ is worth noting, it is a rare example of its kind in our country. Outside, the beautiful gardens of the cloisters give access to the Chapter House, the kitchen and the wonderful Sacred Art Museum, one of the best of its kind in the Iberian Peninsula. The convent sweets, an heritage of the monastery nuns, are still baked in Arouca, keeping the Cistercian culture alive and delighting the connoisseurs. The “Bola de São Bernardo”, “castanhas doces” (sweet chestnuts), “roscas de amêndoa” (almond sweet), “manjar de língua” and “morcelas doces” are some of the delicacies that you should taste! The festivities in honor of Santa Mafalda are held on the 2nd of May.
Monuments classification: Nacional Monument
Access to the point of interest: by car; easy