In 1383, Portugal faced a deepening crisis. King Ferdinand I had died after losing two sons in 1380 and 1382. He left in his stead his 10-year old daughter, Beatriz, who had married King Juan I of Castile only five months before. On his wife's behalf, King Juan pressed her claim to rule Portugal. The country's aristocracy feared it would be absorbed as part of the Spanish Crown. Beatriz's illegitimate uncle, Joao who was then the Grand Master of the Military Order of Aviz became King of April 1385. Castile invaded Portugal, with the support of his allies from Aragon, Italy and France. King Joao prepared to meet his enemy with the support of the English, whose help was secured by Joao's marriage to Philippa of Lancaster. The alliance of 1373 between Portugal and England has been cited throughout the subsequent six centuries by both sides.
|Nuno Alvares Pereira|
Construction at Batalha started in 1385 and ended in 1517. King Joao, his Queen Philippa, and their sons Pedro, Henry the Navigator, Joao the Younger and Fernando are buried there, in addition to other monarchs. While it suffered some damage in the 1755 disaster, it was only until the mid-1800's when the monastery was abandoned. After its restoration, Batalha became a UNESCO heritage site.
I'm amazed that a site bearing a Moorish name is also home to pilgrimage for Portugal's Christians. The names supposedly derives from that of a Moorish princess, who after being captured, converted to Catholicism and married a Christian count. In 1917, Fatima gained attention because of the apparition of Mary, mother of Jesus which appeared to three children, 10-year old Lucia Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The siblings died two to three years later, but Lucia survived until 2005, during which time she became a Carmelite nun. The sight of penitence and devotion by pilgrims arriving at Fatima on their knees fascinated me. They had a long way to travel between the entryway and the shrine. On opposite sides, the new and old cathedrals of Fatima tower over their heads. Some pictures from Fatima:
|Old cathedral of Our Lady of Fatima|
|Inside new cathedral of Our Lady of Fatima|
|Statue of Pope John Paul II at Fatima|
|View of Nazare from the cliffs|
According to legend (or our guide Pascoal), a medieval monk brought a tiny statute of the Virgin Mary from Nazareth to this little Atlantic coastal area, from which the name of Nazare derives. I was surprised that the women of Nazare wear seven skirts - no explanation was provided for why. I stopped at a little grotto, called a chapel, atop a nearly sheer rock face. Going down the steps to see the statue that came from Nazareth, you have to duck your head a little or risk banging it into the stone ceiling. Not for the claustrophobic! The rocky crag has another legend associated with it. A 12th century nobleman was hunting a deer near the edge of the rocks and when it disappeared over the cliff, he almost followed. He prayed to the Virgin Mary to save him and his devotion helped him survive. Too bad about the deer.
|Nazare on the Atlantic|
|Obidos' medieval rampart|
Lastly, Pascoal took us to the medieval town of Obidos, which had the feel of Segovia's walled enclosure, but somewhat less majestic. The whitewashed houses and their terracotta roofs line narrow, cobblestone streets, all in the midst of 13th century walls. There had been settlements at Obidos since the Roman times, which passed into the hands of the Visigoths and then the Moors, until 1148. In Obidos, I had this sickeningly sweet liqueur from the ginga berries, in a chocolate cup. It was an extremely sweet ending to a memorable trip. Driving back to Lisbon, I reflected on the journey. I doubt it will be another 10 years before I'm back in Portugal, or Spain, to experience more of the cultural beauty each country has to offer. Thanks for visiting the blog and sharing my journey.