Batalha Monastery, formally known as Mosteiro Santa Maria da Vitória, is a convent in Batalha, Portugal. It is a fabulous example of Gothic architecture in Portugal, and certainly a great source of national pride. The profusion of spires, gables, buttresses and pinnacles are a remarkable sight against the backdrop of cerulean sky. The Dominican convent was built in honor of the Virgin Mary for her help in the Portuguese battle against the Castilians. The fight for Aljubarrota on August 14, 1385 was a critical victory, putting an end to Spanish designs on the Portuguese throne.
Constructed between 1386 and 1517, seven successive kings held the throne and fifteen consecutive architects oversaw its building. The ornate convent is constructed of limestone, and has aged to a warm ochre. The decorative moulding surrounding the grand entrance depicts seventy-eight statues of Old Testament, angels, prophets, kings and saints, carved into six rows, each under a canopy. The outward bevel around the door that makes it appear larger on both sides has sculptures of the apostles. The tympanum, a semi-circular decorative wall surface over the entrance bounded by an arch and lintel, shows Christ enthroned under a baldachin with the Four Evangelists.
The Unfinished Chapels show the monastery was never completed. The octagonal structure attached to the choir can only be entered from outside. King Duarte I commissioned it in 1437 as an additional royal mausoleum, but only he and his wife are buried there.
An earthquake in 1755 caused some damage, but much more was inflicted in 1810 and 1811 by Napoleon’s troops, who robbed and set fire to the monastery. The Dominicans were forced from the convent in 1834, and the church was abandoned. King Ferdinand II began restoration in 1840 to the heavily damaged convent, saving this national monument from ruin. The renovation took over 60 years and the convent subsequently became a museum. In 1983, UNESCO added the Mosteiro da Batalha to its World Heritage sites.