Batalha Monastery

Batalha Monastery
Batalha Monastery

The Convent of Santa María de la Victoria is closely linked to some important key events in the development of the Kingdom of Portugal. In fact, it was a work promoted by King Juan I of Portugal after the decisive battle of Aljubarrota in 1385, in which the Portuguese armies faced those of Castilla, defeating them and taking a decisive step towards their independence. Hence the name of the monastery of Santa María de Victoria, although it is better known as Batalha Monastery.


Batalha Monastery

The convent was entrusted to the Dominican order, which together with the Franciscans, are largely responsible for the expansion of Gothic architecture in Portugal. And the work of the part of the church itself fell to the master Alfonso Domingues who began it in 1388 and was clearly inspired by a nearby Cistercian monastery. The one from Alcobaça.

In other words, what Domingues designed is quite faithful to the essence of early Portuguese Gothic, closely related to Cistercian architecture. Hence the church with three very long naves that become five at the transept and at the chancel, where there are another five very deep chapels, all of them straight, except for the central one, which is polygonal.

However this master builder died in 1402 and by then the roof of the temple had not been made. Sowith the arrival of Huguet, the second head of the work, it was decided to change the initial approach and it was then that the central nave was made taller than the lateral ones, so that the nave The central one could be illuminated directly, thus following an influence seen far away, in English Gothic temples of the Perpendicular Style.

Maestro Huguet himself was the one who designed the facade of the church, as well as the first cloister, which is the closest to the temple and also the largest that this monastery has. In addition, at the same time the chapter house would be built with a beautiful star vault whose ribs come directly from the walls of the room. And Huguet also designed the funerary chapel of King Juan I, founder of the convent, which is located to the right of the main façade and has a square floor plan, although inside its shapes resemble an octagon.

This is not the only funerary chapel in the Batalha Monastery, since years later, another king, Eduardo I who died in 1438, had his own built with larger dimensions, in the form of a large roundabout with 8 radial chapels, located adjacent to the head of the church.

And there would still be more additions to the monastery throughout the 15th and early 16th centuries. It would be then that a second, smaller and more austere cloister was incorporated. Just as the master builder Mateu Fernandes made the great monumental gate of the complex. And later other additions were made, but not in styleGothic, but rather with the forms of the incipient Manueline style, the quintessential Portuguese art and which has one of its great references in the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon.

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