Today was my last free day in Lisbon before I return to my current home city, so I asked my father to visit a fairly unsought monument near the small, antique town of Sintra. It’s called the “Convento dos Capuchos” (Capuchos Convent) and has been nicknamed the “Convent of Cork“.
It was abandoned in the 1800s when the monks were kicked out of their dwelling, and was only picked up by a private firm 12 years ago and opened up to tourists. Before that, it had been left abandoned to nature and its spirits for almost 200 years. The nickname comes from the fact that all the furniture, doors, window and door frames and all other accents are made from unrefined, pure cork, drawn straight from the trees and applied to the building.
The doors and hallways are freakishly short, even for someone like me (165cm tall) and you have to either walk on your knees or with your back bended fully down to be able to cross into and out of rooms. Stairways are almost too narrow to climb and the entire building is an indoors labyrinth of endless tiny rooms of stone and cork. There is still a full bench made of cork and all the cupboard doors are there, but there is no actual furniture (beds, etc).
The landscape is beautiful and worth a visit in itself. The convent is not at all like other convents, it seems like a tiny village built for dwarves in the middle of rocks and trees, as if hiding from the real world. It is not an imposing building – it’s a hideout. Needless to say, I fell in love with it – like something straight out of a Lovecraft novel.