Are you looking for the best sanctuaries in Portugal? Then you’re in the right place because this list brings together the best sanctuaries in Portugal, which you should visit at least once in your life. Portugal has an unparalleled artistic, historical, and cultural past. And these must-see sanctuaries in Portugal are perfect for architecture lovers, history buffs, and cultural travelers. From Baroque masterpieces to modern monuments, discover some of the most visited sanctuaries in Portugal!
The Sanctuary of Penha is a Marian shrine located on Penha Mountain, the highest point in Guimarães. Designed by the architect José Marques da Silva, it was built between 1930 and 1947. Nowadays, the Sanctuary of Penha is considered one of the most emblematic works in Guimarães. But this “sacred place” on Penha Mountain is much more than a Catholic temple. In reality, it’s made up of chapels, caves, statues, fountains, boulders, viewpoints, gardens, parks, and many other structures!
Did you know that the Braga Cathedral is older than Portugal? Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the religious temple began to be built at the end of the 11th century – long before any other Portuguese cathedral! Although its architecture is primarily Romanesque, you can admire elements in other styles, such as Manueline and Baroque. To the left of the building, there’s the Treasure-Museum of the Braga Cathedral, a museum of sacred art where artifacts and relics from different centuries are exposed!
The Monastery of Alcobaça (or the Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Alcobaça) was the first major structure in Gothic architecture to be built in Portugal. The works began in 1178 and were carried out by Cistercian monks. The Monastery of Alcobaça is also the resting place of King Pedro I and Inês de Castro, the protagonists of the most famous (and tragic) Portuguese love story. Located in the Church’s transept, their tombs are true masterpieces of Gothic sculpture!
The Monastery of Batalha, officially the Monastery of Saint Mary of the Victory, is a Manueline-style monument that was built by King João I. Located in the town of Batalha, in the Leiria district, it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary after the Portuguese victory in the Battle of Aljubarrota! The Monastery of Batalha was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983 and declared one of the “7 Wonders of Portugal” in 2007. In addition, it gained the status of National Pantheon in 2016!
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is a religious temple located in the Barri de La Ribera, in the historic center of Barcelona. In addition, it’s one of the best-known basilicas in the Catalan capital, after the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. Built between 1329 and 1384, the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the Catalonia region. And if you think the main façade is impressive, wait until you see the grandeur of its interior!
The Convent of Christ in Tomar was one of the first Portuguese monuments declared World Heritage. Founded by the Templars as a symbol of the Reconquista, its construction began in 1160 and lasted more than 500 years! As a result, the Convent of Christ incorporated different architectural styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Mannerist, and Baroque. With the extinction of the Order of Solomon’s Temple, the castle was handed over to the Order of Christ, adopting its current name!
The Jerónimos Monastery (in Portuguese, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), officially the Monastery of Santa Maria de Belém, is a Manueline-style monument that was built by King Manuel I. Situated in Belém, one of the most touristy areas of Lisbon, it’s the most visited cultural space in Portugal. The Jerónimos Monastery was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983 and declared one of the “7 Wonders of Portugal” in 2007. In addition, it gained the status of National Pantheon in 2016!
The Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart (in Catalan, Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor) is a minor basilica located in the Tibidabo mountain, a few kilometers from the center of Barcelona. Constructed in the first half of the 20th century, the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart combines elements of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Romanesque, and Neo-Byzantine architecture. And despite being designed by the Catalan architect Enric Sagnier, this Catholic church was completed by his son Josep Maria Sagnier!
The Pantheon in Rome was designed by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa between 25 and 27 BC, as a temple dedicated to the main gods of Roman mythology. And, since then, it has become one of the most important symbols of the city. Rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian between 118 and 125 AD, the Pantheon is the best-preserved monument in Ancient Rome. Unlike current archaeological sites such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, or the Imperial Forums, the Pantheon in Rome has remained almost intact over time!