The Convent of the Capuchos may or may not make your Sintra shortlist, but should it?
This sight was the one place that we couldn’t seem to make work over three different trips and about 6 days combined in Sintra. Finally we were able to visit, and I have all the tea!
Is the Convent of the Capuchos Worth Visiting?
Before we get started for real: Should you even visit the convent?
Capuchos Convent is absolutely worth visiting. If you can make it work, you won’t regret it.
Should you skip other sights in Sintra to see the convent? Maybe not. There is just so much to see in Sintra, and it’s easier to combine almost any of the other attractions with one another. The convent is very much on it’s own.
The biggest plus to visiting the convent, is that it is much less visited than the other Sintra sights.
Almost none of this attraction is accessible, and strollers are not allowed, so that may make a difference in your decision.
How to Get to the Convent of the Capuchos
The best way to get to Convent of the Capuchos is with Uber or Bolt. There is no public transit that actually goes all the way to the convent. You can get a public bus, but you will still need to walk the last 25 minutes.
In Sintra your legs will already be tested, so it’s best to sit while you can!
An Uber cost us 9 Euros to get there, and 11 Euros to get back. As of very late in 2023, Uber really doesn’t know the road to the convent, so it is undercharging for a 30 – 40 minute ride. We tipped a little bigger to make up the difference.
Considering that a public bus is 3 Euros per person each direction, Uber is barely more expensive, and much faster.
There is an advertised Hop on Hop Off Bus in Sintra, but do not take this bus, particularly in the off season. It doesn’t run as advertised, and you may end up on the public bus anyway. For example, we visited at the end of November, and while tickets were for sale online for this bus, and we didn’t see one the whole day.
What is There to See at Convent of the Capuchos?
We were pleasantly surprised by everything there was to see at the Convent! I had only ever seen photos of a few mossy rocks and caves, and had no idea that there was still a monastery standing there.
You can download a map of the Convento dos Capuchos for free on the Sintra Park website.
Courtyard of the Crosses
The first place that you will see after you head down the gravel path to the convent, is the Courtyard of the Crosses.
This simple courtyard is centered around a large tree, and features three crosses representing Golgotha.
Boulder Gate is the formal entrance to the convent. You climb a few stairs between mossy stones and pass a bell.
This is a great spot to take an other-worldly picture.
Courtyard of the Bell
There are two paths around the pile of stones and the crucifix, and this is meant to symbolize free will. We hadn’t read that at the time, and didn’t properly contemplate the paths we took. Oops!
Courtyard of the Fountain
Adjacent to the Courtyard of the Bell, is the Courtyard of the Fountain. Here there is a fountain (of course) and a large stone table and booth.
Entrance to the Monastery
At the entrance to the Convent, there is a door to your left that leads to the church. This is where you are meant to start your visit, but first turn around and go to the right.
The Chapel of the Passion of the Christ
We totally missed this little room! We went through the church and followed the visit through the convent, not realizing that we would not exit back here.
There are some beautiful azulejos (Portuguese blue and white tiles) in this room, so make sure you see it!
Inside the Convent of the Capuchos
The interior of the convent features loads and loads of cork! The ceilings, doorways, and windows are all lined with cork. The result is a truly quiet atmosphere that you notice as soon as you step inside.
The church at Convent of the Capuchos is one of the largest rooms. It is built under a stone, and features a marble altar.
The Choir was one of my favorite rooms. You could almost picture it as a cozy cafe today. The cork in here even covered the seats.
These little rooms were the living quarters for the monks. The low and narrow doorways required a bow of humility in order to enter.
You can see the little hallway and the washroom from the dormitory. Originally I thought it was a super cute room, so of course it ended up being the toilets!
Don’t worry, the monks used holes cut into stone, but there is a real WC with flush toilets on the grounds.
The little bathtub and water reservoir still have natural water flow from the hill!
The outdoor hallway to the toilets was one of the prettiest spots in the convent.
The kitchen is pretty simple. It’s a small room featuring a sink and stove area…
As well as a pass-through for sending food into the dining room.
The Dining Room
The dining room was used while seated on the floor. A stone slab was donated to the monks by Cardinal King Henrique so that they could have a table.
The library was chosen as it has the most natural light in the whole convent, which is pretty shocking because it’s still quite a dark room.
Don’t forget to take a picture from the window here! It has a great view.
The Infirmary features two cells for the sick, as well as a pharmacy/dispensary.
In the same hallway as the Infirmary, are the rooms for visiting friars or monks. It’s interesting that they were placed so close to the ill, but maybe that’s why they were visiting?
The Upper Room
Finally, above the visitor’s quarters and the infirmary is the Upper Room. There was no signage in this room, and the map doesn’t provide an explanation.
I am thinking that it was a special meeting room, like the upper room in the bible where Jesus had the last supper. Arguably this should have been the library, because it appears to actually have the best light in the convent.
The Chapter House
The last room inside the main part of the convent, is the Chapter House. This room was where the community met. Inside there are some azulejos and a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows.
The main courtyard behind the convent is the cloister. This was a private space for the monks to gather.
This is a great place to take pictures of the whole convent from the outside.
Door of Death
Adjacent to the cloister, you can find a back hallway that leads to the convent entrance. Here you will find a couple of statues, and what is known as the door of death.
You can pop in here for a second, but don’t leave just yet! There is more to see in the back yard.
Hermitage of Our Lord of Gethsemane
This little outbuilding contains more Portuguese tiles, and looks like a chapel.
Hermitage of “Behold the Man”
This little outbuilding is located up the hill behind the convent. The door is closed and you can’t see much inside.
There is an image of Christ and the words “Behold the Man” or “Ecco Homo” in Latin.
Chapel of the Crucifixion
We actually missed this spot because we didn’t reference our map and confused it with the Hermitage Ecco Homo. It is quite a little hike up into the woods. I believe it is a clearing in the boulders, and not an actual building of any kind.
Cave of the Friar Honorius
The final spot that we missed, which is also deeper into the convent grounds, is the Cave of Friar Honorius. This is where the namesake friar decided to get some seclusion away from his dormitory cell.
I have no doubt we will be back to the convent at some point, and hopefully have fresher legs for exploring more thoroughly!
Gardens, Toilets, & Exit
Following the outside areas, the path will take you down to the garden area. Here you will find a small fountain with more azulejos, a seating area, and the garden house which now contains the WC.
Tips for Visiting the Convent of the Capuchos
Here are a few tips for visiting the convent, that may not be obvious.
Wear Good Shoes
Like many of the sights in Sintra, the Capuchos Convent is a lot of walking. There are lots of tight little stairs, slippery outdoor areas, and steep hills. You will not want to be wearing flip flops if you visit here.
Have Cell Service
As I mentioned earlier, you will probably want to take Uber or Lift to and from the convent. You should make sure that you have cell coverage so that you can order a ride. You will also need cell service to download the map.
Prepare for a Couple of Hours
Silly us, we went into this visit pretty blind. We didn’t realize there was so much to see! Plan to be here for a couple of hours, especially if you want to take pictures and videos.
This would be a great mid-day stop if you are visiting Sintra during high season. It will be far less busy than the more famous spots like Quinta da Regaleira or Pena Palace.
Hours and Admission for the Convent of the Capuchos
Current admission for the Convent is 7 Euros for adults, and 5.50 Euros for kids and seniors. 5 and under gets in free.
Daily hours are from 9 am to 5:30 pm, with the last entry being at 5 pm. I believe in the summer it is open one hour later, but it’s better not to leave it to the last minute just in case.
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