In 1385 King João I of Portugal declared that he would have a monastery built in honor of the Virgin Mary if his army was able to defeat the much larger army of the Castilians. He was successful, and Portugal gained its independence from Spain. The king had the Batalha Monastery built for the Dominicans, though it took almost two centuries to complete. Today visiting the monastery is a popular day trip from Lisbon.
The west facade has intricate stonework and Gothic windows. This side of the building overlooks a grand plaza. The western portal has many Gothic sculptures including Christ, angels, saints, and other biblical figures. Next to the doors of the church are free-standing statues of the 12 Apostles. Inside the nave has three aisles and many stained glass windows that are beautifully illuminated on sunny days. The tombs of King João I and his wife Philippa of Lancaster (England) can also be found here. At one end of the building are seven unfinished chapels which provide an interesting look at medieval construction.
The Batalha Monastery is located at Largo Infante Dom Henrique. The monastery is often visited as a day trip from Lisbon and can be reached by bus in about two hours. Opening hours are 9am to 6pm October to March, and 9am to 6:30pm April to September. Admission is 6 euros.