Batalha Abbey (Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória)

Batalha Abbey (Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória)

Eleven kilometres (7 miles) South of Leiria and 120 km (75 miles) north of Lisbon, lies the Batalha Abbey, or the Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória. It is one of Europe's finest Gothic masterpieces and the supreme achievement of Portuguese architecture. Batalha translates as "Battle". The title refers to the Battle of Aljubarrota, in which the Portuguese proved victorious over the Castilians in 1385. Before the battle, King João I made a sacred vow to the Virgin Mary. He promised to construct a mighty Cathedral if she granted him victory.

Since 1383 there was a dispute over the succession of the Portuguese crown after King Ferdinand I of Portugal died without male heirs. The country plunged into a civil war in which Castile became embroiled. A crack contingent of English longbow archers had played a significant role in the victory at Aljubarrota. In 1386 both countries willingly signed the Treaty of Windsor, a true and permanent league of friendship. As part of the agreement, Dom João married the daughter of John of Gaunt, Philippa. A reference to the pinnacle battle can be found in front of the southern façade in the guise of an equestrian statue of Nuno Alvares Pereira, the king's commander at the battle.

THE HISTORY OF BATALHA

Batalha Abbey (Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória)
Construction began soon after in 1386 and took over a century to complete, spanning the reign of seven monarchs. The building encompasses the changes in architectural style during this period, such as Rayonnant Gothic and Manueline, in addition to the influences from fifteen different architects. The initial plans were drawn up by master architect Afonso Domingues who continued up to 1402. His work can be admired all over the site, including the Claustro Real cloister and the Sala do Capítulo (Chapterhouse). There are influences of English Gothic in his style that might be a deliberate recognition of the English troops who fought at Aljubarrota.

Domingues was followed by Huguet from 1402 to 1438 who added a more flamboyant style common during the late gothic period, as well as English styles brought from his land of birth. This is most evident in the main façade, the dome of the square chapter house, the Founder's Chapel, the basic structure of the Imperfect Chapels and the north and east naves of the main cloister.
Batalha Abbey (Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória)
Between 1448 and 1477 the task of building the abbey fell to Fernão de Évora who added the Cloister of Afonso V. His successor, Mateus Fernandes the Elder, added most of the Manueline flourishes around the portals and windows, most notably in the Capelas Imperfeitas. The enormous effort of building Batalha Abbey finally came to a halt in the mid-sixteenth century when João III decided to put all his efforts into the construction of the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, Lisbon.

During the period of construction, it was the burial site of the Aviz dynasty of Portuguese royals. The abbey survived the 1755 earthquake unscathed only to be sacked and burned by invading Napoleonic forces in 1810. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1834, the Dominicans were expelled. The church and convent were abandoned. After four years of neglect, King Ferdinand II had the foresight to restore the complex, a process lasting 60 years. Batalha Abbey was finally declared a national monument in 1907. In 1983 it was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites.

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The Exterior

What's striking about the abbey is the abundant use of decorative elements applied to its design such as the fleur-de-lis pattern in the balustrades and the crockets on the pinnacles along with the incredible craftsmanship found bordering the portals and windows. The subtle use of pilasters, tall narrow gothic arched windows and prominent vertical features give the impression the whole structure is reaching heaven.

Entrance is gained through the west façade and it's well worth stopping to admire the carvings that adorn this portal. Flanking the entrance are sculptures of the twelve apostles, all with unique features. Within the stepped archway are several sculptures representing biblical kings and queens, prophets and angels holding musical instruments from the Middle Ages. In the apex of the arch in high relief is a statue of Christ in Majesty accompanied by the Evangelists.

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“Batalha

Batalha Abbey (Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória) - Aerial Shot

The Interior

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Founders' Chapel (Capela do Fundador)

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Founders' Chapel (Capela do Fundador)

If you turn right as you enter the church you'll enter the Capela do Fundador or Founders chapel. It is this room where the English Perpendicular style makes its most prominent appearance. Completed in 1434 it was designed by the English architect Master Huguet, who is thought to be in the service of Queen Philippa of Lancaster. The chapel's floor plan consists of an octagonal space buttressed by eight piers inside a square and served as Portugal's first royal pantheon. The ceiling consists of an eight-point star-shaped lantern under which is the enormous joint tomb of King João I of Portugal (d.1433) and his wife Philippa of Lancaster (d.1415). Their hands clasping each other for eternity, a symbol of love and the close alliance between Portugal and England.

Outside the octagonal on the southern walls of the ambulatory are recessed arches that contain the tombs of the youngest sons of João and Phillipa together with their spouses.

Main Church

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Main Church

When Huguet inherited the task of building Batalha from Afonso Domingues he raised the nave to its present dizzy height of 32.4 metres. As popular with Gothic cathedrals the central nave, the longest in Portugal, is narrow and the ceiling is rib-vaulted, supported by compound piers. The room is lit by ten stained-glass windows, possibly the first in Portugal, the oldest of which date back to the 1430s.

The two side naves are narrower and lower than the central nave. They lead to the transept, where, at the centre of the crossing, one finds a modern high altar before the chancel proper. The chancel consists of five polygonal chapels, whereby the central chapel is higher and deeper than the four side chapels. In contrast to the rest of Batalha, the church feels more austere but no less impressive.




Royal Cloister (Claustro Real)

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Royal Cloister (Claustro Real)

The Royal Cloisters were built in the Gothic style in the late 1380s, Manueline embellishments were added a century later. Typical Manueline symbols such as plants and flowers from the newly discovered lands and seafaring motifs carved in every arch illustrate the variety and excitement of Portuguese art during the Age of Discovery. Supporting intricate arcade screens within the arches are spiral colonnettes adorned with emblems of D. Manuel I, the Cross of the Order of Christ and the armillary sphere.

One feature worthy of close inspection is the Lavabo (Lavatório), or washbasin located in the northwestern corner of the Claustro Real. It takes the form of a triple-bowl fountain created by Mateus Fernandes.






Chapter House (Sala do Capitulo)

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Chapter House (Sala do Capitulo)

Off-shooting the Royal Cloisters is the impressive Chapterhouse (Portuguese: Sala do Capitulo) with its magnificent star vaulted ceiling which spans an incredible 18 square metres and rises to a height of 20m (60ft) without any central supports. The design was radical at the time of construction and following two initial ceiling collapses only condemned prisoners were used as construction labour. On completion, its designer Afonso Domingues spent the night under the ceiling once the scaffolding was removed to prove its integrity. On one wall is a marvellous stained glass window that dates back to 1508 and depicts scenes from of passion.

Inside this colossal space, two Portuguese sentinels guard the tombs of the Unknown Warriors, one killed in France during the Great War and the other in Portugal's colonial wars in Africa. More information of these men can be found on the opposite side of the cloister where the refectory houses a military museum in their honour.


Unfinished Chapels (Capelas Imperfeitas)

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Unfinished Chapels (Capelas Imperfeitas)

Adjoining the choir of the church but only accessible from outside the main complex is the octagonal structure known as the Unfinished Chapels or Capelas Imperfeitas. Dom Duarte, the eldest son and successor of João and Philippa, commissioned them in 1437 as a royal mausoleum for himself and his descendants. However, only he and his wife Eleanor of Aragon are buried here. Huguet originally built the structure but successive architects made alterations.

Most notable of whom was Mateus Fernandes who applied his mastery of the Manueline style to alter the space beyond recognition. Fernandes' main portal rises a staggering fifteen metres and every centimetre is carved with a honeycomb of mouldings: floral projections, linked chains, clover-shaped arches, strange vegetables and even crawling stone snails. The upper floor of the rotunda is equal in magnificence to the portal, designed by Diogo de Boitaca. The huge buttresses are ornately decorated and were intended to support a vaulted ceiling however construction was abandoned a few years later in 1533.

Afonso V Cloisters

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Afonso V Cloisters

Compared to the exuberant style of the Royal Cloister (Claustro Real) the Afonso V Cloister appears somewhat austere, unlike the former it never received additional embellishment and retains its original gothic form. It was constructed in the latter half of the 15th Century by master builder Fernão de Évora and was one of the first in Cloisters in Portugal to be built on two levels. The keystones in the vault carry the coat of arms of Dom Duarte I and Afonso V.

October to March, Daily: 09h00 - 18h00
(last admission at 17h30)
April to October, Daily: 09h00 - 18h30
(last admission at 18h00)
Adult: €6.00, Combined Ticket: Alcobaça, Batalha, Convento de Cristo: €15.00, Concessionary: €3.00, Child under 12: FREE, First Sunday of each month: FREE.
Lisbon Card Lisbon Card: FREE
Largo Infante Dom Henrique, 2440 Batalha, Portugal. | 39° 39' 34.7"N | 08° 49' 30.5"W
+351 244 765 497
bilhetesgrupo@dgpc.pt |  Website

AMENITIES

There are plenty of various types of eateries in close proximity of the Abbey.

There are toilets in the abbey in various places.

There is free car parking both to the North and South of the monastery. Buses should park to the South of the monument (private parking) or East (next to the multi-use pavilion).

The building is fully accessible for those with reduced mobility and wheelchairs and an escort is available, if required.

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2-Day Sacred Portugal Trip: Fátima, Batalha, Nazaré and Óbidos, from Lisbon

Fátima, Batalha, Nazaré, and Óbidos Day Tour

Explore Portugal’s rich cultural and religious history on this full-day tour from Lisbon. Visit Fátima, one of the world's largest pilgrimage sites and its huge modern church, Batalha and Nazaré. Explore the historic village of Óbidos.

Pick-up will be at your hotel or accommodation in Lisbon. If your hotel is in the Alfama, Bairro Alto, or Baixa de Lisboa areas or your hotel is difficult to access by car, then an alternative pick-up location will be arranged.




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Fátima, Batalha, Nazaré and Óbidos Full Day Private Tour

Fátima, Batalha, Nazaré and Óbidos
Full Day Private Tour

Escape the metropolitan bustle of Lisbon in favour of the rural tranquillity of four nearby cities on a private full-day tour to Fátima, Batalha, Nazaré, and Óbidos.

Absorb the sacred ambience of the Monastery of Batalha; admire the coastal charm of Nazaré's beaches; and hear of the mysterious apparitions said to have occurred at Fatima. Gain a fascinating perspective of the region surrounding Lisbon from your expert guide on this enriching tour.


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Fatima, Batalha, Alcobaça, Nazare and Obidos: The Blue West

Fatima, Batalha, Alcobaça, Nazare and Obidos: The Blue West

Depart from Lisbon and arrive at Fatima, to experience the spirituality of its Sanctuary. Visit Batalha Monastery. Discover Alcobaça Monastery, a World Heritage site with astonishing medieval gothic architecture. Inside listen to the most beautiful love story of medieval times. Explore the small and charming town of Nazaré. Discover the beach where the intense blue transforms itself into gigantic waves! Finally, the town of Óbidos will open its doors to you in all its intense beauty. Enjoy the architecture, the small streets and the medieval castle. During the tour, try the famous Ginjinha, a local liquor.

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Batalha Town

Batalha Town
This little town is only on the tourist map because of its magnificent internationally famous Dominican abbey. Most visitors arrive by tour bus and leave without experiencing Batalha town. Yet for the savvy traveller, Batalha makes a great base for venturing out from. The town lies in the Lena valley in the Leira district north of Lisbon and in a day-tripping distance of Alcobaça, Fatima, Leira, Óbidos, Peniche and Nazaré. Once the tour buses leave the cafés and restaurants which border the abbey can give you more time and personal service.

Ponte da Boutaca
This present construction replaces the original built by Diogo Boytac and from whom the bridge acquired its name. A French artist who contributed to the construction of the monastery here in Batalha as we all as Jeronimos in Belém. Its six gothic arches spans the river Calvaria and was built in the second half of the 19th century incorporating the Revivalist and neo-Gothic styles. It is the only bridge in the country that still has its toll road houses intact and now houses collections of local arts and crafts. It was classified as a building of public interest in 1982 and is included in the special protection zone of the Monastery of Batalha.

Igreja Matriz da Exaltação de Santa Cruz
Somewhat overshadowed by the magnificent Abbey the Igreja Matriz da Exaltação de Santa Cruz church is still worth a glance over if you're passing by. Its most impressive feature is the ornate Gothic come Manueline portal. It was built in 1540 to serve the construction team working at the Abbey. The interior is quite austere with the altar carved from local marble.
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Suggested Hotels

Hotel Residencial Batalha

Hotel Residencial Batalha ★ ★ ★

The Residencial Batalha has a privileged location right in the downtown area of Batalha, with some rooms having views of the Monastery. The Residencial Batalha offers their customers high quality serves whilst enjoying a relaxing stay.

Largo da Igreja, Apartado 134, 2440-976, Batalha, Portugal.
39º 39" 29.8' N | 08º 49" 25.8' W | +351 244 767 500 | info@hotel-batalha.com

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Casa do Outeiro

Hotel Casa do Outeiro

This small family-run boutique hotel can be found 100 metres up a side street away from the hubbub of town. The hotel comprises a swimming pool, 15 comfortable rooms, all with air conditioning and a terrace. Very bright, clean and contemporary with staff who go that extra mile to ensure your stay is as peaceful as possible.

Rua Carvalho do Outeiro 2, 2440 Batalha, Portugal.
39º 39" 24.7' N | 08º 49" 25.6' W | +351 244 765 806 | geral@hotelcasadoouteiro.com

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Mosteiro do Leitão

Mosteiro do Leitão

As its title suggests this restaurant specialises in Leitão (suckling piglet) that is cooked in their house style to perfection. If you're not a porky type of person don't be put off because there are plenty of other options on the menu to choose from, all of which are of equal quality and tastiness. Popular with locals the staff are as attentive as possible and at hand for recommendations and wine pairings.

Daily: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 23h00
38 Casal da Amieira, Batalha 2440-477, Portugal. | 39º 38' 55.4" N | 08º 50' 23.0" W
+351 244 767 853 | mosteirodoleitao@gmail.com |  Website | Facebook


Mosteiro do Leitão

Burro Velho

A traditional and unpretentious restaurant that is respected for the quality of its produce and the quality of service provided. Set overlooking the Monastery of Batalha, the Burro Velho Restaurant offers a relaxed atmosphere of comfort and good taste, an ideal setting to enjoy the best of traditional food, prepared with creativity and with ingredients carefully selected and cultivated, (often by organic farming).

Although the Burro Velho (old donkey) isn't himself on the menu there are plenty of tempting dishes of fish, meat and seafood. Be sure to try their Octopus Rice, several recipes of Cod Fish, and, of course, the famous house style steak.

Daily: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 23h00
Rua Nossa Sra. do Caminho nº6A, 2440-121 Batalha, Portugal. | 39º 39' 33.8" N | 08º 49' 28.3" W
+351 244 764 174 | geral@burrovelho.com |  Website


Maria Petinga

Maria Petinga

This charming boutique deli and café is an ideal place to sample the nerdy produce the local area has to offer. What could be better than to sit, relax and enjoy a platter of cheeses, hams and salami wash down with some great local wine.
Daily: 10h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 23h00
Rua António Maria dos Santos, nº6 B/C, 2440-114 Batalha, Portugal. | 39º 39' 29.0" N | 08º 49' 28.4" W
+351 244 764 174 | geral.mariapetinga@gmail.com | Facebook

Batalha is 114km (71 miles) North of Lisbon Portela Airport Website

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Take the N1 and A1 roads North from Lisbon.

Latitude - 39º 38' 55.4" | Longitude - 08º 50' 23.0"

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Take the urban train service (comboios urbanos) to Lisbon's central train station Rossio.
• Azambuja/Lisboa/Sintra line Timetable

Then take the intercity (Intercidades) train running North from Lisbon to Fátima,
• Linha do Norte Timetable

or take the regional (Regionais) train running North from Lisbon to Leiria.
• Linha do Oeste Timetable

Trains of Portugal Website

Rede Expressos run services to Batalha from Lisbon Sete Rios coach startion and takes about two hours. Website
Rodoviária do Lis run services to Batalha from Leiria and takes just over ten minutes. Website