Kontakt Photo Missions #02:
Convent of the Capuchos, Portugal

April 30th, 2021 – In November of 2019, after visiting family in Europe I stopped to visit Portugal for the first time on the way home.  A friend of mine told me one her favourite places near Lisbon was the Convent of the Capuchos just outside of Sintra.  I decided to capture some photos and was blown away by the rawness and serenity of the whole place.  It’s an austere Franciscan monastery that was founded in 1560 and provided monks complete segregation from the outside world so they could meditate and reflect in the most meagre of comforts. 

Anti-clerical reforms led to the banning of many Portuguese religious orders in 1830 and the convent was abandoned for over 200 years.  The simplistic medieval design incorporated pre-existing natural features and over time surrounding vegetation grew over the buildings making it one with nature.  The textures on the old stone structures were stunning, from the orange roof tiles to deep green moss to the rusty lichen made colours really stand out everywhere. 

The convent’s remote location within the Serra de Sintra National Park is off the common tourist path.  It’s basic design is the complete opposite of the rest of Sintra which thrives on luxury and grandeur. ‘Capuchos’ means cork, which was applied profusely as a finishing and decorative material.  It was found in abundance in the surrounding woods and the monks used it to line the walls, doors and roofs to protect against the elements.  

There are eight small monk quarters inside the convent with stone beds, with small windows as the only source of light.  The doors and windows were fascinating and I played with contrast between the light and dark in this set featuring the primal living quarters.

There are lot of paths and walking trails around the convent and after being in the city this place felt like a true getaway.  Nature is taking over everywhere and the fresh ocean fills your lungs from the coast.

If you’re in Portugal I highly recommend visiting Sintra and this old monastery.  It feels like a time capsule from medieval times and really shows you how dedicated these monks must have been to their faith.  This quiet escape was definitely good for my soul as well.

Look for more Kontakt Photo Missions in the coming months. We’re working on the Kontakt Print Shop where you will be able to buy photo prints, in the meantime contact us directly for Print Options & Pricing!

Copyright Adam Bialo | Kontakt Films | 2021
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