Chosen as the royal pantheon by King Manuel I and financed by the fabulous wealth that came from trade with India, the monumental Jeronimos Monastery is a brilliant synthesis of late-Gothic and early Renaissance styles. (You’ve heard me talk about Manueline architecture and design earlier. In this building it reaches its apotheosis) Begun in 1501, it’s also an example of unquestionable technical mastery; especially in the elegant and bold ribbed dome that covers the entire church and the graceful double arches and extravagantly carved columns of the interior cloister. Standing at the entrance to Lisbon harbor in Belem, the monastery is a testament to Portugal’s continued belief in the Age of Exploration. Inside the main door of the church is another manifestation of that faith: the tomb of Vasco da Gama.