VISITING THE LOCAL CATHEDRALS AND MONASTERIES AROUND NAZARE
There is no getting around it – this region is rife with ancient Cathedrals, Monasteries, Castles and Convents. Within an easy driving distance of Nazaré there are many charming small towns and villages and it seems that each has its own magnificent historical architectural site.
What follows are pictures and descriptions of some of those that we were fortunate to visit in our travels.
CONVENT OF CHRIST, TOMAR
Approximately one hour from Nazaré is the town of Tomar. The town was originally born within the walls of the Convento de Cristo, which was constructed in the late 12th Century. In its past, the Convent was connected with the Knights Templar.Following its construction in the late 12th Century, Tomar was transferred to the control of the Knights Templar and it stood as a primary defense to the invasion of the Moors.In 1983 the Convent was listed as a World Heritage Site.
The famous round church (rotunda) of the castle of Tomar was also built in the second half of the 12th century. The church, like some other templar churches throughout Europe, was modeled after the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, which was believed by the crusaders to be a remnant of the Temple of Solomon. [Courtesy of Wikipedia.]
THE SANCTUARY OF FATIMA
Since the early 20th century, Fátima has been associated with events in which three local children, Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, purportedly saw visions of a woman known as Our Lady of Fátima, since believed by the Catholic Church to be the Virgin Mary. On 13 May 1917, whilst guarding their families’ sheep in the Cova da Iria, the children first claimed to have seen an apparition of a “lady dressed in white” and shining with a bright light.The local bishop investigated the events and determined that the apparitions were worthy of belief. The site was marked by a cross erected by locals. In 1918 they built a small chapel, built from rock and limestone and covered in tile. It was 3.3 metres (11 ft) by 2.8 metres (9.2 ft) length, and 2.85 metres (9.4 ft) height. It became a centre for Marian devotion, receiving names such as a fé de Fátima, cidade da Paz (“the faith of Fátima, City of Peace”), or Terra de Milagres e Aparições(“Land of Miracles and Apparitions”).The chapel has since been enclosed within a large basilica and sanctuary, part of a complex including a hotel and other facilities. In 1930, the statue of Our Lady in the Chapel of Apparitions was crowned by the Vatican. [Wikipedia]
The Batalha Monastery was built to thank the Virgin Mary for the Portuguese victory over the Castilians in the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385, fulfilling a promise of KingJohn I of Portugal. The battle put an end to the 1383–85 Crisis.It took over a century to build, starting in 1386 and ending circa 1517, spanning the reign of seven kings. It took the efforts of fifteen architects (Mestre das Obras da Batalha), but for seven of them the title was no more than an honorary title bestowed on them. The construction required an enormous effort, using extraordinary resources of men and material. New techniques and artistic styles, hitherto unknown in Portugal, were deployed. [Wikipedia]
Our day was long and we walked a great deal in exploring these magnificent buildings and reading up on the rich history of the region. We both looked forward to returning to Nazaré and our comfortable accommodation at Quinta das Rosas.