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Leave a little piece of your heart in a monastery in the Portuguese hinterland

Bijgewerkt op: 9 feb.

Batalha is the name of a small village in the district of Leiria, between the cities of Lisbon and Porto. Batalha literally means "battle" and this place is undoubtedly linked to a battle, the battle of Aljubarrota fought between the Portuguese sovereign against the Castilian troops in 1386. Following the victory of the Portuguese troops, the sovereign João I wanted to thank the Virgin Mary and so he commissioned a building dedicated to her which took the name of the Santa Maria da Vitória convent. This monastery is a masterpiece of Portuguese Manueline Gothic architecture and its construction lasted two centuries, in fact it ended in the second half of the 16th century.

Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória in Batalha
Despite the numerous interventions by more than ten architects and the long works, the building is still partly incomplete even if you wouldn't tell it at first glance

Originally there was a building of the Dominican friars. To construct the imposing building, a light stone was used which over time took on an almost yellow ocher colour, the Porto de Mós stone. The details are everywhere, even if you glance at it randomly you will discover a leaf of some plant or a small face looking at you. Inside you lose your breath and feel carried upwards by the height of the main nave and the choir which extend towards the sky for 32 metres.

The sun's rays penetrate the east side, illuminating the building

If you go in the morning on a sunny day you will feel as if you are immersed in a celestial reality given by the sun's rays that pierce the colored Gothic windows which reflect all the colors on the front and on the floor.

The reflections of the colors of the stained gothic windows

A unique experience that made me shiver again at the thought that such man-made beauty and mysticism could exist.

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