The surrounding countryside of Serra d’arie and Candeeiro are famous for their wines — it would be remiss not to try them
True To His Word
Batalha means battle in Portuguese, which is appropriate: this town was founded by King João of Portugal to pay homage to his victory over the Castillians at the Battle of Aljubarrota. In one blow he put an end to the crisis of the Portuguese Interregnum in 1385. Prior to the battle the King made a vow to the Virgin Mary that, if he triumphed, he would built a monastery in her honour. He stayed true to his word. Although Batalha itself is only a small, unassuming town, it has became a great attraction by virtue of the magnificent Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória.
A Backhanded Compliment
It took Portugal’s finest craftsmen almost two centuries to erect Batalha’s monastery. It is mainly Gothic in style, but it incorporates certain Manueline elements too. It is in fact an early example of Manueline design: its wondrous Royal Cloister and seven unfinished chapels holds some of the first nautical motifs recorded that typify the Manueline style. Indeed those seven chapels are unfinished because the masons were extracted mid-project to work on the Mosterio de Jerónimos in Lisbon, which is perhaps Portugal’s most famous Manueline design.
The Great, Perhaps the Good
Inside, tombs are dedicated to the great and the good, or perhaps just the great, of Portuguese history. Lying stone figures of King João and his English wife Philippa of Lancaster clasp hands for eternity in the Chapel of Founders; nearby lies the tomb of their famous son, Henry the Navigator. Another part of the monastery is dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the World Wars, thus linking the thread of time through lives spread over the centuries.
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