The Monastery of Batalha (aka the Monastery of Saint Mary of the Victory) is a Dominican convent in Batalha, Portugal. It was built in commemoration for the Portuguese victory over the Castilians in the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. It also served as the burial church for the 15th-century Aviz dynasty of Portuguese royalty.
The Monastery of Batalha is one of the best and original examples of Late Flamboyant Gothic architecture in Portugal.
The construction of the monastery took place between 1386 and 1517, spanning the reign of seven monarchs. Fifteen architects undertook the project, beginning with Afonso Domingues who worked until 1402. The main plan and several structures in the church and the cloister belongs to him. His style was essentially Rayonnant Gothic (13-14th century French Gothic Architecture characterized by spatial unity and larger windows). However, there are also elements from the English Perpendicular architecture.
The subsequent architect, Huguet, introduced the Flamboyant Gothic style (characterized by double curves forming flame-like shapes in the tracery). It is possible to observe this style in the main façade, the dome of the square chapter house, the Founder’s Chapel, the basic structure of the Imperfect Chapels and the north and east naves of the main cloister.
King John I ordered Huguet to build the square Founder’s Chapel (1426- 1434) as the first royal pantheon in Portugal.
The architecture of Founder’s Square is a perfect mixture of Flamboyant Gothic and the English Perpendicular style. This over 19 m square room is especially notable for its star vault lacking a central support. It was a highly daring idea at the time and was completed after two failed attempts. According to the rumour, Huguet spent the night under the vault to silence his critics after finishing the construction. The joint tomb of King John I of Portugal and his wife Philippa of Lancaster also stands under the star vault.
In addition to the small damage after the earthquake of 1755, the Napoleonic troops sacked and burned the complex in 1810 and 1811. Moreover, the Dominicans were expelled from the monastery in 1834, and the complex fell into ruin.
As a result, king Ferdinand II of Portugal started a restoration project to save this Gothic architecture in 1840. The restoration lasted till the early 20th century. Finally, it was declared a National Monument in 1907 and was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites in 1983.