UNESCO Heritage Site: Mosteiro da Batalha

Batalha Monastery — the burial church of Portuguese royalty.

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It took over a century to build, with fifteen architects adding their influence along the way. Work began in 1386. The Gothic style was new to Portugal and required unprecedented manpower and work techniques. Once it was finally finished in 1516, the construction had spanned the reign of fifteen kings. Is it any wonder this became a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

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Actually, the construction of the monastery was never finished. A convent was being added but the project was abandoned in order to focus on the construction of the Jerónimos Monastery in Belem.

What remains is absolutely magnificent. The unfinished chapels, exposed to the elements and filled with fly-by birds, seems surreal. It’s almost criminal to think that this majestic architecture isn’t carefully preserved. Even odder to realize that King Duarte’s tomb is here in this unfinished chapel.

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When you walk in, you have the option to buy a ticket into the chapel, cloisters, and unfinished chapel for €6. You’re welcome to see the main sanctuary for free, but I recommend splurging on the ticket. The burial chapel and cloisters are exquisite, and seeing the soldiers guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier is quite sobering.

The visit naturally starts in the burial chapel toward the entrance to the monastery. The octagonal room contains the combined tomb of King John and his wife, Queen Philippa, with the tombs of their children lining the side walls.

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Further on, you enter the cloisters, which was one of the most serene settings I’ve ever encountered. If I’d had a book and unlimited time, I might never have left.

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The Batalha Monastery does not attract the big crowds that other sites near Lisbon do, but it is well worth the visit. Far from the madd(en)ing crowd of Pena Palace, I enjoyed the quiet and solitude of this architectural gem.

Do you seek out UNESCO World Heritage Sites when you travel?

20 responses to “UNESCO Heritage Site: Mosteiro da Batalha

  1. Definitely a cool stop! UNESCO Sites are some of the best places to visit, some of them are fairly unknown and you can learn so much about the history and culture of a place. I would love to visit them all! 🙂

  2. Holy cow. My jaw literally fell open (like I was walking out there myself) when I got to the outdoor cloister photo. I love gothic architecture and then the color contrast-not only of the gold and black but the green grass and the blue sky. A gorgeous, dramatic photo. This sucked me in right away and is something I have to see!

  3. Oh I would definitely visit this cathedral from Lisbon. I love cloisters – much prefer them to the inside of cathedrals because they are so open, calm, and mix architecture with nature. These cloisters look just stunning!

  4. There are so many UNESCO sites which means so many are unknown and hardly visited which is right up my alley. I love the architecture and beautiful colors here. Can’t wait to go to Portugal one day and going to keep this spot in mind!

  5. I love learning about new UNESCO World Heritage Sites!! Each one is so fascinating, and Batalha Monastery is no different. I was surprised to learn that it was unfinished — reminds me a bit of the Unfinished Church over in Bermuda. I’d pay just to see the cloisters here alone — so gorgeous!!

    • At first, I thought, “do I really need to see unfinished chapels? But they were gorgeous! I am still stunned that all that architectural beauty remains exposed to the elements.

  6. Looks more like a castle than a monastery. It’s a good thing that it has been made into a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Architecture of the place is really grand. Indeed the Portuguese royalty knows their thing!.

  7. What a gorgeous spot! I missed this one – such a shame because I love UNESCO sites and especially old churches. So interested it was never finished. All open in the sunshine like that certainly make it less gloomy – and better for photos!

  8. I have been here and agree that it is impressive! I love architecture and this place was so beautiful. Being part Portuguese I always feel twinges of pride when I visit places like this!

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