This Gothic masterpiece MONASTERY OF SANTA MARIA DA VITORIA or Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitoria, is a UNESCO World Heritage monument.
Building began in 1388, after King Joao I made a vow to the Virgin Mary that he would build a magnificent monastery, if she granted him a victory over the Castillians in the Battle of Aljubarrota. Of course, they were victorious as the Monastery was built.
The exterior of the Monastery has innumerable Pinnacles, buttresses and balustrades above Gothic windows. The front Portal is decorated with statues of the twelve apostles in intricate and wonderful Gothic style.
The Monastery took two centuries to build - 1388 - 1517 - during the reign of seven Kings. Construction required an enormous effort, using huge resources of men and materials. New techniques and artisitic styles were used - Rayonnant Gothic - Flamboyant Gothic - English Perpendicular - Manueline style.
Admission is free on Sundays and Holidays until 2:00 p.m.
Free for children up to the age of 14
Closed on January 1, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, May1 and Christmas Day
In the FOUNDER'S CHAPEL or CAPELA DO FUNDAFOR, are the tombs of King Joao, his Queen, Philippa of Lancaster and of their younger sons, including their more famous, yet never crowned son, Prince Henry the Navigator. The carved figure of Joao lies peacefully with his hands held.
Above, is the amazing Star Vault of the Founder's Chapel (circa 1434).
Also, in the vast Gothic Interior are exceptionally beautiful stained glass windows.
The Chapel was Built between 1426 and 1434.
Strangely enough, I think my most favourite part of my visit to Batalha Monestery, is the fascinating UNFINISHED CHAPELS or CAPELAS IMPERFEITAS.
The Chapel was originally meant to house the tombs of the family of King Duarte and his heirs. But he and his Queen Leonor of Aragon are the only ones buried here.
The Chapel is only accessible from the outside. A magnificent Gothic doorway almost 15 metres (50 feet) high with Manueline decoration, accesses the roofless Unfinished Chapel.
Open to the sky, Seven Chapels branch from an octagonal rotunda, divided from each other by carved incomplete pillars, which are decorated in Manueline style and carved in stone. The massive buttresses were designed to support an unfinished dome.
I guess, I was just amazed at the wonderful detail here, especially the Manueline style of decoration and the intriguing story behind why it wasn't finished. It seems construction was abandoned when workers were taken to Lisbon to build Jeronimos Monastery.
The ROYAL CLOISTERS were first built in Gothic style in the late 1380's, but Manueline embellishments were added a century later. Typical Manueline symbols such as flowers of newly discovered lands and seafaring motifs are carved in every arch.
Plaque in the Cloister area reads:
King Joao I Cloister or Claustro de D, Joao I
"The construction was begun in 1386, following the original plan of Afonso Dominiques. It was concluded in 1515, in the Manueline style by Mateus Fernandes
Favorite thing: Situated in the northwestern corner of Claustro Real, the LAVABO, the work of Mateus Fernando, is a thing of beauty and harmony and also another one of my favourite parts of the Monastery. It consists of a fountain and two smaller basins above. This finely sculpted Lavabo was used for ritual washing.
Favorite thing: An EQUESTRIAN STATUE of Nuno Alvares Perreira, the King's commander at the Battle of Aljubarrota, stands before the southern facade of the monastery. It's the first thing we saw when we began our approach to the magnificent monastery.
Favorite thing: In the Founder's Chapel, João I and his English queen, Philippa of Lancaster (daughter of John of Gaunt), lie in peaceful repose, their hands entwined on their stone effigies beneath an exquisite octagonal lantern. Prince Henry the Navigator's tomb is near that of his parents. His fame eclipsed theirs even though he never sat on the throne.
Favorite thing: The church in the shape of a Latin Cross, three navesands at the head of the nave, four side chapels stand on either sides of the high-altar. The master craftsman Huguet was responsible for the construction of the vaults, the Founder’s Chapel, the King Duarte’s Pantheon (Unfinished Chapels), and he also left the mark of flamboyant gothic's decoration.
Favorite thing: The western porch, ornamented by a tangled mass of Gothic sculpture of saints and other figures, sits beneath a stained-glass window of blue, mauve, and amber. The windows are of exceptional beauty and are best enjoyed on a sunny day. As windows were damaged over the centuries, various artisans have replaced them in their original 16th-century Manueline detail.
Favorite thing: In 1385, João I vowed on the plains of Aljubarrota that if his underequipped and outnumbered army defeated the invading Castilians, he would commemorate his spiritual indebtedness to the Virgin Mary. The result is the magnificent Monastery of the Virgin Mary, designed in splendid Gothic and Manueline style.
Favorite thing: Stunning filigree designs ornament the coral-stone entrance to the seven unfinished chapels. The capelas, under a "sky ceiling," are part of one of the finest examples of the Manueline style, a true stone extravaganza. Construction was abandoned so workers for Manuel I could help build his monastery at Belem.
Favorite thing: Our first sight of it was from the road driving by and we immediately knew we were in Batalha. I love the vast space that surrounds the cathedral. Often, a cathedral is crowded into a busy corner of a city and it's hard to get a great view of it unless you own your own helicopter! With Bathala's church (which is actually known as the Battle Abbey, or Mosteiro da Batalha), you can walk all around the structure from enough of a distance that you can really appreciate the whole thing in one look before stepping closer to savor the details.
Favorite thing: Marrying Gothic style with Manueline is a dream for me. I have always loved the ornamentation of High Gothic architecture and when it's combined with the flamboyance of Manueline, it is really impressive. The abbey is loaded with incredible carvings, gargoyles, pinnacles, statues, tombs, windows, pillars and flying buttresses. This photo shows some of the detail in the Royal Cloisters.
Favorite thing: Sentinels and the glow of an eternal flame guard the two tombs of Portugal's Unknown Soldiers from World War I. In one part of the quadrangle is the Unknown Soldiers Museum, which houses gifts to the fallen warriors from the people of Portugal and other countries. Beyond the crypt are the remains of the old wine cellars.
Favorite thing: It's classified in UNESCO's International Heritage list. Was built in 14th-16th centuries to commemorate the battle in 1385. King John I promised to Virgin Mary to dedicate a temple to Her if he overcame the invader in this battle, decisive for consolidating the independence of Portugal and bringing the new dynasty of Avis to the throne.