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A tour of Serra do Pilar Monastery in Gondomar

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By João Silva

As I walk through the gates of the Serra do Pilar Monastery, nestled in the heart of Gondomar, I’m instantly transported to another era. This isn’t just a tour; it’s a journey through time.

The monastery, a stellar example of Portuguese architecture, stands as a testament to the rich history that permeates every corner of our beautiful country. Its strategic location, overlooking the Douro River, has made it a silent witness to the many changes that have shaped Portugal over the centuries.

As a child, roaming the vineyards of Alentejo, I was always fascinated by the stories etched in ancient stones. Today, as I explore the monastery’s corridors, I can’t help but feel a similar sense of wonder. The walls here speak of devotion, artistry, and the unyielding spirit of the people who built them. 

The highlight of the tour is undoubtedly the cloister, a harmonious blend of strength and elegance. Its circular design, unique in Portugal, echoes the circular paths of the Almendres Cromlech, another architectural marvel close to my heart. Standing here, I’m reminded of the summer solstice celebrations at Almendres, where the alignment of the stones with the sun seems almost magical.

The monastery’s history is not just about religion; it’s about resilience. During the Siege of Porto in the 19th century, it played a crucial role, a reminder of the enduring spirit of the Portuguese people. This resilience resonates with my own experiences during the difficult times our boutique hotel faced.

As the tour concludes, I’m left with a deep appreciation for the layers of history that define not only the Serra do Pilar Monastery but also our diverse and rich culture. It’s a culture that, like the monastery, has stood the test of time, evolving yet holding steadfast to its roots.

In the heart of Gondomar, the Serra do Pilar Monastery stands proud, a beacon of our past and a guidepost for our future. And as I bid it farewell, I carry with me memories that will linger long after my footsteps have faded away.

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