Batalha doesn't ring any bells for most of the foreigners, but it is incredibly important for the Portuguese whose nation's fate was defined in the region on 14th of August 1385. After visiting it, I believe that it should appear on a map of any traveller thinking about getting to know Portugal.
Geography and transportation
Batalha is located only 11km from Fatima, 16km from Alcobaça, 18km from Nazaré, and 40km from Óbidos. The easiest way of getting there is of course by car, it's Portugal that we are talking about!, so copy the GPS coordinates: N: 39°39'31.54", W: 8°49'35.50" . For those without their own four wheels there are train connections Lisbon-Tomar, and from there you can travel to Batlha by bus. There's also a bus line connecting Batalha with Lisbon.
Batalha means a battle, an epic one. The defining moment about which I wrote a few lines above was exactly that: a clash between Portuguese and Castilian forces (importance of that resembles in Polish eyes the one of the Battle of Grunwald). The event came to history as the Battle of Aljubarrota, taking its name from a nearby village. Winning king John The First paid homage to the victory by founding the town of Batalha and its Monastery which was given to the Dominican order. The monks controlled the place for centuries since.
The main attraction of Batalha is exactly its Monastery. It is a Gothic sight to behold [the prettier half of Wandering Sloths thought immediately of Hogwarts], both from the outside and inside. The construction took 150 years and this human commitment is clearly visible in the artistry of every detail. Its basilica is by far my favourite church in the country. Inside I felt as if I would be walking through a man-made forest created out of stone and light, truly magnificent! No wonder that it was recognized by UNESCO.
Architecture is not Monastery's only feature, the other things are stories enchanted in the Basilica walls, but those I will let you discover yourself!
Should you be planning a trip to Batalha, think about coming there in the afternoon, to enjoy the Monastery bathed in light, stay in its proximity for a dinner – using welcoming, chilled atmosphere of the town itself – and then enjoy its beauty by night.