Alcobaca is a city in the Oeste Subregion region in the centre of Portugal. It is most known for the cathedral built by King Alfonso commemorating the conquest of the Moors in 1147. Over time, the church expanded into the gothic-style Monastery of Alcobaca, which played a large part in shaping modern day Portugal and Portuguese culture. The architecture of the monastery spans several eras, from a 17th/18th century Baroque facade to 12th century arches inside the cloisters to the intricately carved 14th century tombs of Dom Pedro and his mistress Dona Inês de Castro, Alcobaca’s most famous tragic love story.
Modern-day Alcobaca lies just off the coast, at the confluence of the Baca and Alcoa rivers, from which it takes its name. The main attraction in town is the monastery and its many outbuildings, as well as the stream that they redirected to flow into the kitchen for fresh water. While much of the town’s attractions are religious based, you shouldn’t miss the Museo do Vinho, a museum dedicated to the viticultural and political history.
Budget hostel accommodation in Alcobaca is found in and near the city centre. There are only a few, but all hostels are within walking distance of the city centre and main entertainment streets. Don’t expect the hostels in town to be party hostels with a crazy crowd; most are family run and quiet, albeit spacious and well-appointed.
Nearby attractions include the small fishing town and popular holiday resort of Nazare, and several more monasteries that commemorate various battles against Moorish and Castilian invaders. The most famous is the Monastery of Batalha, which was built following the battle of Aljubarrota. The location of the most famous vision of the Virgin Mary, Fatima, is also nearby and often filled with Catholic pilgrims. Further south is the Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros, known for its extensive Grutas de Mira de Aire cave system.
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