ARCHITECT, Portuguese
(active after 1501 in Lisbon)

View of the cloister

begun 1501
Hieronymite monastery, Belém near Lisbon

The Hieronymite monastery of Belém, together with the nearby Torre de Belém, is architecturally and ideologically the masterpiece of the reign of Manuel I (reigned 1495-1521). They together present a noted example of Manueline architecture.

The "Manueline" style is a particularly rich and lavish style of architectural ornamentation indigenous to Portugal in the early 16th century. Although the Manueline style actually continued for some time after the death of Manuel I, it is the prosperity of his reign that the style celebrates. The profusion of dense ornament in Manueline architecture owes some debt to the contemporary Spanish, to the Flamboyant Gothic style of northern Europe, and to a revival of Moorish style.

The cloister of the monastery represents a high point of Manueline architecture on the threshold of the Renaissance. The square two-story layout has six bays vaulted with net vaults in every wing, four bays having broad, deep arcades punctuated by weighty buttresses. Whereas in the interior of the cloister Late Gothic forms predominate, on the sides facing the cloister Plateresque motifs come to the fore. The overall impression points already in the direction of the Renaissance.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.