Batalha Monastery
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The Tomb of Prince Henry the Navigator
In the center of the Founder's Chapel of the Batalha monastery of Santa Maria da Vitoria, you will find the tombs of King John I and his wife Queen Philippa of Lancaster. Their sons' tombs are also there. One of their sons was Prince Henry the Navigator. Henry was born in Oporto in 1394 and I visited his birthplace while in that grand city which is Portugal's second largest. Henry was always interested in the sea and navigation. His father appointed him governor of the province of the Algarve and he founded a school of navigation and an observatory in Sagres. Sagres is located at the south western tip of the Algarve. It is a wild and beautiful rocky outcrop. There are remains of Henry's school there. I stood on the grounds as the wind whipped the area on a sunny day. You could almost see the caravels coming into the near-by ports their sails snapping in the wind. The maritime trade started by Prince Henry the Navigator enabled Portugal to become a wealthy world power (14th to 16th centuries). The ship he designed called the caravel was lighter and faster than vessels of the time. Because of Henry's work, other navigators explored the seas and discovered many new sea routes. The Prince died in 1460 and left a very impressive legacy. Henry's tomb is a large marble structure and is marked. I went up to the tomb that is beautifully preserved in Batalha's chapel. There is a lot of history in that chapel. When in the monastery, don't miss the Founder's Chapel.
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