Batalha Monastery - Unesco World Heritage 1983 - 2023
The Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, also known as Batalha Monastery, is undeniably one of the most beautiful works of Portuguese, and European, architecture.
This exceptional architectural complex was built to fulfil a promise made by King João I in gratitude for his victory at Aljubarrota, a battle waged on 14 August 1385 that secured him the throne and ensured Portugal’s independence.
João I donated the monastery to the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), which retained possession of it until the abolition of religious orders in 1834.
Batalha Monastery, construction of which began in around 1387, is the result of a unique fusion between monumental architecture and traditions of monumental painting, particularly stained glass, developed both in Portugal and in other countries in central and western Europe.
Works continued for more than 150 years, through various construction phases. This lengthy period explains the existence of (predominantly) Gothic solutions, as well as elements of Manueline and touches of Renaissance style in its artistic proposals. Various additions were introduced to the initial project, culminating in a vast monastic complex that currently holds a church, two cloisters with annexed outbuildings and two royal pantheons, the Founder’s Chapel and the Unfinished Chapels.
Batalha Monastery is among the largest and most innovative constructions of the Iberian kingdoms of the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period, and from its foundation to the present day has been a strong symbol of cultural and political identity. One of its highlights is the Founder’s Chapel, the First Royal Pantheon, where the "Illustrious Generation" were buried.
Having been subject to a restoration and conservation programme from 1840, coordinated by engineer Luís Mouzinho de Albuquerque, which saved it from imminent ruin and allowed its artistic and architectural splendour to be retained, the monument was later incorporated into the Public Treasury and is now under the administration of the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage.
As a vibrant space of culture, tourism and devotion, among the most visited in the country, Batalha Monastery is a point of reference in world heritage, as confirmed by the millions of visitors who over the years have been lucky enough to admire it.
A National Monument since 1907, it joined the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983, and has been the National Pantheon, at the decision of the Assembly of the Republic, since 2016.
Director of Batalha Monastery