Batalha Monastery

Largo Infante Dom Henrique, 2440 Batalha, Portugal

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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The Tomb of Prince Henry the Navigator

One of our side trips from Fatima was to the Monastery of Batalha. When we arrived at Batalha, we were once again awed by the beauty and architecture of this immense battle abby that we had seen years before. Outside in the huge courtyard you see a statue of a General on his horse. This is the statue of the famous Nuno Alvares Pereira. The coat of arms of the Pereira family is displayed on the base of the monument.The family was one of the most important Portuguese families of 14th century Portugal. The Battle of Aljubarrota took place on August 14, 1385. The Portuguese troops commanded by the King John I of Portugal and his General Nuno Pereira fought the Castilian army led by their King. The Portuguese defeated the Castilians through the brilliant military plans of the General. In thanksgiving for the victory, King John I ordered a monastery to be built at Batalha in honor of Our Lady. The victory was an affirmation of Portugal as an independent Kingdom. The impressive statue is a prelude to the abby itself. When visiting Batalha and the abby, don’t forget to look for this grand monument.

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