Jerónimos Monastery: first person to spot the phallic gargoyle wins a free corn dog


Do yourself a favor and go see Jerónimos Monastery, a Manueline-style UNESCO World Heritage Site just outside of Lisbon.  Do yourself another favor and get there early.



HOB and I did arrive early, though not early enough to avoid a giant line.  While this was annoying and the catalyst of predictable marital discord (why, why why is HOB so slow in getting out in the morning?) at least it gave us a chance to eat the sandwiches we packed.



It also gave us time to study the façade.  I particularly enjoyed this sculpture of St. John, who seems to be holding one of those supermarket lamb cakes that come out before Easter.

The Monastery is in two parts: a church and a cloister.


The church is pleasing and the Manueline ribbed vaulting is more delicate and less like flamboyant celery than that of a Gothic cathedral.

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Architect Santiago Calatrava must certainly modeled his delightful Lisbon train station, Gare do Oriente, after the vaulting in the monastery’s church.


A couple of kings are buried in this tomb, held up by elephants which reference “exotic” lands reached by Portuguese explorers during the Age of Discovery.


Not that the church is shabby, but the cloister of Jerónimos Monastery is real reason tourists are lined up outside, arguing with their pokey spouses and stress-eating sandwiches.  It’s hard to understand how such a fancy place was made for monks from the Order of St. Jerome.  Wasn’t St. Jerome a hermit who lived in the desert and was all emo, beating his chest with a rock and pulling thorns from the feet of lions?  Are hermit monks secretly living in cloister-palaces?  I don’t get it, but I sure did love looking at it.


Every carving in the cloister is different—here’s a Green Man.


Hmmmm….a chopped wood motif?


This one reminds me of Romanesque stone carving, though it was made several hundred years after the Romanesque era.

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The two-tiered cloister is Manueline on bottom and early Renaissance on top. Here’s HOB enjoying a view of

A) the architecture


B) the aggressively phallic gargoyles.

I’m awarding a free corndog to the first person to identify the most phallic gargoyle.


Is it the cricket?  Well, maybe, but the eye is a little left of center.


The dragon, though ribbed for her pleasure, is probably not it either.


Emaciated froggy-penis says “Choose me!”

And here it is, the most phallic gargoyle of Jerónimos Monastery, the one, the only, the Phallic Fang Piggy:


Winner! Winner!  Corn dog dinner!


How we got to Lison: train from Porto.
Where we slept: 36for2. Price: €55 for a double. Recommended: yes.


  1. Brings to life all those medieval mutterings about monks and their life of luxury…if you exclude getting up at all hours to toddle down to the church for the offices.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Poverty, chastity and obedience….hmmmm???


      1. More like hunting, boozing and whoring….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to add that besides conquerors and kings The Jeronimos monastery also has the grave of my all time favourite poet. Fernando Pessoa. not many poets I know get such brilliant resting places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking a lot about Pessoa’s “Ah, the first days at cafes in new cities” when we were in Portugal.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know another railway station by the architect Santiago Calatrava, namely the Guillemins station in Liège, Belgium. Like his Lisbon station, the one in Liège has a big roof but is open to the winds on all sides. This might be all right in Portugal, I suppose, but in Belgium it gets awfully cold and windy when you have to wait for a train on a stormy winter night.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, that station looks like a stingray! Stunning, but I can imagine a more practical station is desired in the winter.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great photos and commentary. Had such a laugh as I read your post.
    Your photo of St John carrying his supermarket goodies reminded me immediately of a photo I have of a statue of a saint outside the main cathedral in Palermo, where he appears to be giving all who walk by the finger!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL How did I miss that statue! Please post a pic.


  5. What a gorgeous place even with the lurid gargoyles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah and like any gorgeous place the effort to try to see everything during the short time we had was exhausting—-good problem to have, that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One of the best of the many “first world problems.”

        Liked by 1 person

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