Friday, 22 June 2012

Majestic Monasteries

Day 60 21.06.12 Batalha and Alcobaca

We got on the road mid-morning to head for Batalha.  Only a short 20 minute drive away Batalha is the home to a magnificent monastery.  We parked up nearby in and (shock horror) had to pay for parking!  Don’t worry though it was only 40 cents for two hours! 

Batalha monastery, Portugal

Tombs in Batalha monastery, Portugal
Monastery in Batalha, PortugalThe monastery certainly lived up to expectations and was utterly breath-taking.  The statue outside was ginormous and some of the detailing on the building utterly brilliant.  Entry into the main part of the monastery was free and the architecture surprisingly functional and stern-looking.  This harsh setting with very at odds with the light coming through the stained glass windows casting bright coloured lights all over the floor like a cheesy disco! 

Stained glass windows in Batalha monastery in Portugal
The tomb room off the main centre was awe-inspiring.  We had been in there for about two minutes before I realised I was wandering around with my mouth open I was that impressed!  Sadly my pictures don’t really do the sheer scale of the room much justice but hopefully you can see how small the people look in the setting and get an idea of its magnitude! 

The stone work on the tombs was wonderfully intricate and the detailed domed ceiling was an amazing sight.  Again the stunning windows cast colourful lights all over the otherwise sombre room.  It truly was a phenomenal place that I won’t forget any time soon!    

Domed ceiling in Batalha monastery Portugal

Batalha monastery Portugal

We decided against paying to look around the rest of the place as our next stop for the day was another monastery over in Alcobaca.  Lovely as Batalha was, there isn’t a lot else there aside from the cathedral and since the parking wasn’t free we’d found somewhere else to spend the night.

Alcobaca monastery, Portugal
Alcobaca was another half hour drive south.  The large car park we’d planned to stay in turned out to be on a huge slope (not ideal for sleeping) so we parked up beside a nearby school in a much flatter spot!  The views on the way into Alcobaca and indeed from the town itself are wonderful.  It’s so green around here surrounded by huge sweeping hills covered in pine forests.  The monastery isn’t the same scale as Batalha but is still mightily impressive.  The tombs inside again have some incredible detailing and some of the architecture inside in superb (more pictures from Batalha tomorrow as I’ve kind of filled this post up already!)  After the monastery we ventured up a hill on the far side of town to see some castle ruins and make the most of the fantastic views over the town.  Alcobaca is a really laid back place, that is better maintained than most of the Portugal we’ve seen so far and it’s setting is just amazing.  

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