Óbidos and Fátima
The delightful town of Óbidos, with white houses adorned with bougainvilleas and honeysuckle was captured from the Moors by the first king of Portugal in 1148. From then until 1883, the town of Óbidos and the surrounding land was always the property of the queens of Portugal. Encircled by a ring of medieval walls and crowned by the Moorish castle rebuilt by D. Dinis, which is now a pousada, Óbidos is one of the most perfect examples of our medieval fortress. It s in olden times, the town is entered through the southern gate of Santa Maria, embellished with eighteenth-century azulejo decoration. Inside the walls, which at sunset take on a golden colouring, one can sense a cheerful medieval ambience of winding streets, old whitewashed houses bordered with blue or yellow, Manueline embrasures and windows, reminding us that King D. Manuel I (sixteenth century) carried out major works here, and masses of colourful flowers and plants. You can also visit the Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria (Parish Church of Santa Maria), the pretty Capela de São Martinho (Chapel of S. Martinho) and, outside the town walls, the Igreja do Senhor da Pedra (Church of the Senhor da Pedra).
Between óbidos and Fátima, a great recommendation is a visit to two of the most important monasteries in Portugal: monastery of Alcoçaba and monastery of Batalha. Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, in 1989, the magnificent monastery of Alcobaça is one of the finest and most impressive examples of Cistercian architecture in Europe. Although it was built almost 900 years ago, the monastery still preserves the set of its mediaeval buildings. The church is the largest primitive Gothic church built in Portugal in the Middle Ages. The monastery was built at the same time as the foundation of Portugal as a nation, and also shares some of its history. The Cistercian Order was founded by the Portugal’s first king, D. Afonso Henriques, following the donation of lands in Alcobaça in return for victory over the Moors during the conquest of Santarém. In the façade of the monastery, only the Gothic portico dates back to the original design. The graceful statues of São Bento and São Bernardo, located either side of the portico, contrast with the Baroque frontispiece and the bell towers that were added in the 18th-century. Upon entering the monastery, the grandiose central nave, stripped of any adornments, produces a sensation of elevation and spirituality. In the centre of each transept, we can see two masterpieces of mediaeval statue work.
The monastery of Batalha is one the most fascinating places in the Iberian Peninsula. Its architectural value and historical significance spurred the classification of the monument as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The construction included seven reigns of the second dynasty (1385-1580) and involved a large team of master masons of a high level, both national and foreign, that were initially directed by Afonso Domingues, until his death, in 1402. During this period, part of the church and the royal cloister were erected. The monastery houses the most important nucleus of Portuguese medieval stained glass windows, which can be admired in the Chapel and the Chapter Hall. The central nave of the church stands at 32.5 metres and rests on eight columns on either side. In addition to the chapels and the cloisters, the monastery's dormitory, dining room and kitchen can also be visited.
With its origins deep in history, it was during the Arabian occupation that this settlement developed and was named. According to legend, during the Christian Reconquest, the Templar knight Gonçalo Hermingues, also known as Bringer-of- Moors, fell in love with Fátima, a Moor captured in the course of an ambush. Reciprocating the love, the young woman converted to Christianity and adopted the name Oureana. In the sixteenth century, the settlement became a parish in the collegiate church of Ourém within the Diocese of Leiria. Its subsequent development dates from the events known as the Apparitions of Fátima, in the early part of the twentieth century. It has become one of the key centers for the Cult of the Virgin Mary in Portugal and has been recognised world-wide by the Catholic Church. The first apparition took place in 1917, in Cova da Iria, at the site of the current Sanctuary. The most important celebrations are held on 13th May (including the Candlelit Procession on the night of the 12th and the Farewell Procession closing the event on the 13th) and 13th October. Furthermore, the 13th of every month between these two dates is also a day of devotion. In the gardens of Casa de Lúcia, there is a monument commemorating the second apparition of the Angel of Peace and the end of the Via Sacra which begins in the Sanctuary. Along this route, there are 14 chapels donated by Hungarian Catholic refugees in the West. Of particular note is Valinhos, 400 metres from the village where monuments commemorate the fourth apparition in 1917 as well as the place chosen by the angel. Here, in 1916, the shepherds saw the Angel of Peace for the first and third times.
Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Rosario
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