Batalha Tourist Attractions
The unpretentious little town of Batalha (altitude: 70m/230ft), in a fertile basin of the Lena valley between Lisbon and Coimbra, would probably attract scarcely a visitor were it not for its internationally famous Dominican abbey.TownscapeNowadays Batalha is well equipped to cater for its visitors. Close to the abbey, around the newly built pousada, there can be found a small shopping center and various cafes, with a permanent market on the square behind the abbey.Apart from the abbey Batalha also boasts a number of 17th/18th C. houses and the parish church of Santa Cruz (1512), which has a superb doorway.
One of the largest abbeys in Portugal, Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória was established in the 14th C. Highlights include the Gothic church, the Chapterhouse, and the Royal Cloister.
Alcobaça (altitude: 42m/138ft.), about 20km/12mi south of Batalha and known by the Romans as Eburobriga, is charmingly set between two little rivers, the Alcoa and the Baça, below the ruins of a Moorish castle. Its principal attraction is its magnificent Cistercian abbey.Alcobaça is the cultural and economic heart of a large and fertile agricultural region (fruit canning), first brought under cultivation by St Bernard's monks in the 14th C.The town is noted for its blue painted pottery which, with other handicrafts, can be found on sale in the square fronting the abbey.
Begun in the 12th C, Real Abadia de Santa Maria de Alcobaça has long been one of the most prominent abbeys in Portugal. Monks have tended orchards here for centuries.
Aljubarrota, 7km/4.5mi further along the same road from the Museu Nacional do Vinho, is the scene of a famous battle on August 15, 1385 in which a Portuguese army commanded by Nuno Alvares Pereira won a decisive victory over the Spaniards. In token of thanksgiving King Joao I founded Batalha Abbey. The town has a number of handsome 17th and 18th C. houses and the church of Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres (originally Romanesque; the 13th C. doorway still exists).
Termas da Piedade
Termas da Piedade is a little spa 2km/1.25mi north of Alcobaça specializing in cures for diseases of the stomach and intestines.
5km/3mi north of Alcobaça the former monastery at Coz is open to visitors; the Manueline doorway is 17th C.
Grutas de Alvados
About 10km/6mi southeast of Porto de Mós lie the Grutas de Alvados. These caves with curiously shaped dripstones and subterranean lakes were discovered in 1964.
Grutas de Santo
The Grutas de Santo Antonio is about 1km/0.75mi away from Mira de Aire. This cave system stretches over an area of 6,000sq.m/1.5 acres; the largest single cave measures 80 by 50m/260 by 160ft and is 43m/140ft high.
Grutas da Moeda
The Grutas da Moedan are near Sao Mamede, 15km/9.25mi southeast of Batalha (via the N356). In these caves, which were discovered by two hunters in 1971, visitors can enter for a distance of 350m/385yd.
Grutas de Mira
Near Mira de Aire a flight of steps leads down into an underground system, the Grutas de Mira or Grutas dos Moinhos Velhos; the return is by elevator.The Grutas de Mira are caves that are reputed to have been home to a species of dinosaurs in the past.
About 5km/3mi southwest, on the edge of the battlefield of Aljubarrota, the little chapel of Sao Jorge was built on the spot from which Nuno Alvares Pereira directed the conflict. At the entrance to the chapel there still stands a jug of fresh water, originally set there for the thirsty warriors.
Porto de Mós
On the slopes of an isolated hill above the Rio Lena, 9km/5.5mi south of Batalha Abbey, is Porto de Mós, dominated by a massive castle, the origins of which go back to the ninth century. After recovering the castle from the Moors King Sancho I had it restored, but much of it was again destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. Since then it has been restored on a number of occasions, most recently in 1956. From the castle there are magnificent panoramic views.