Monastery of Batalha
The Monastery of Batalha is a Dominican convent and a masterpiece of Gothic art. Its late Gothic architecture is intermingled with the Manueline style. The ornate convent has been put up in limestone. It amazes the onlooker with its profusion of gables, spires, pinnacles and buttresses.
The convent was built to thank the Virgin Mary for the Portuguese victory over the Castilians in the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. It took over a century to build, starting in 1386 and ending circa 1517, spanning the reign of seven kings. It took the efforts of fifteen architects.
The Monastery's Founder's Chapel (Capela do Fundador) became the first royal pantheon in Portugal. It holds the tombs of king João I and his wife Philippa of Lancaster, and their sons prince Dom Pedro, Henry the Navigator, Dom João and Dom Fernando.
Visit December 2012
This monastery lies at the heart of the town of Batalha. It borders a large square, where during the Saturday afternoon that I visited people were enjoying themselves on rollerskates and loud Christmas songs were played. There are also many cafés and souvenir shops, a sign that this is well on the tourist trail. The building itself is colossal. It is made out of stones in a rare yellowish colour, added by lots of grey on top from dirt. The pigeons love it too.
The first thing I did was walk around it slowly. It is an impressive but also weird construction. The seemingly endless decoration scheme is really over-the-top. Just as with the Hieronymite Monastery in Lisbon, I cannot say that I am becoming a big fan of this Manueline style.
Near the front end there’s a huge black equestrian statue, commemorating the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385 – which is why the construction of this monastery was started at all. The main portal also has the most beautiful carvings of little angels, saints, kings and other holy men.
The interior of the church is much more sober. Only the stained glass windows lighten up the atmosphere. Although entrance to the church itself is free, I bought a ticket for 6 EUR to see the rest of the monastery. The cloisters however I found unremarkable, especially after having seen those at the Hieronymite Monastery the day before. I ended up at the Capelas Imperfeitas, clearly a later addition. I could only look at them from a fair distance, as the entrance was closed due to a slippery floor. Finally I was back at the front entrance of the church again, where directly to the right just after entering lies the Capela do Fundador. This is the royal mausoleum, with tombs placed in the walls and that of one royal couple (king Joao I) in the center. Just as the Capelas Imperfeitas, this space has some undefinable touches of Indian architecture (maybe it's the curvings, or the elaborate decoration).
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|ivan mandy (Philippines):|
I loved Alcobaca for her grand simplicity, a perfect combination with the delicate beauty of the church at Batalha. After getting all cathedraled-out in Spain, Alcobaca and Batalha sure proved to be welcome change from all the artistic excess of Portgual next-door neighbor. I loved all those fantastic traceries inside the church and its just too bad that 600 years on, this church isnt finished yet!
| Date posted: September 2006|
|Frederik Dawson (Netherlands):|
Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitoria is another royal monastery built as a symbol of victory over Spain similar to the one in Alcobaca, but these two monasteries are totally different in style as Alcobaca is pure gothic and Batalha is unique Manueline.
Batalha monastery is very beautiful with stone carving in Manueline style and one of the best after the Monastery in Belem. The Royal Cloister's arches are one of the prettiest I ever seen, but the real jewel is the famous "Capelas Imperfeitas" which is the royal mausoleum which reminded me to India's amazing stone carving! Seeing Batalha is a great joy to see the exceptional work of art and one of my favorite places in Portugal.
For historical interest, this monastery is the resting place of Prince Henry, the navigator who played a major support for discovery age. His tomb is in the “Capela do Fundador” room right next to main entrance.
Batalha monastery also has the tomb of unknown soldiers from WWI so this place is very important for Portuguese army and you can see some ceremonial guards walk around the area. So please show some respect when seeing this place.
| Date posted: August 2006|
|Ismenia Silveira (Canada):|
When I visited in 2002 there was a wedding in progress. The choir's voices were surreal. A visit during a mass would be worthwhile for the opportunity to hear the incredible acoustics of the cathedral. The sound was unforgettable as was the monestery. It is well worth the visit especially for anyone wishing to learn more about Portugal's history and architecture. The unfinished chapel/tomb is the last stop on the tour and well worth the effort. It's beautiful.
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