In 1560, Dom Álvaro de Castro ordered that this unusually structured convent be built for the Capuchins. The construction used cork so extensively that the building is sometimes known as the cork monastery.

The convent is in a secluded area 7.3km (4 1/2 miles) from Sintra. You walk up a moss-covered path and ring the bell, and a guide will come to show you around the miniature cells. Today the convent seems forlorn and forgotten. Even when it was in use, it probably wasn't noted for its liveliness. The Capuchins who lived here, perhaps eight in all, had a penchant for the most painstakingly detailed work. For example, they lined the monastery walls with cork-bark tiles and seashells. They also carved a chapel out of rock, using cork for insulation. Outside there's an altar fresco in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. In 1834, the monks suddenly abandoned the convent, most likely to escape the crowded, primitive conditions in which the harsh environment forced them to live.

There's no bus service; if you're not driving, take a taxi from Sintra's main square.

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