On Monday, November 27 I paid two major visits: The first, the castle of Montemor-o-Velho whose majestic ruins go back to the 11th century blocking the Moors installed in Estremadura. The church has retables of the school of Coimbra, I give the remarkable details of them.
The second, a few kilometers further was Conimbriga the ruins of a Roman city founded at the 1st century of our era. The trip shows the ingeniousness of the Roman architects who invented the thermal baths with an under floor heating. The mosaics are among most sumptuous of the Iberian peninsula such as for example that with the Swatiska. The museum exhibits some beautiful pieces coming from the excavations. I bivouacked on the spot
On Tuesday, November 28 was a small driving morning and visit in the rain and in the cold. I thus stopped in Pombal to see the castle built by the Templars to dam up the progression of the Arab invasion. It is much less impressive than that of Montemor-o-Velho though it was one of the first to have a keep. The rain not ceasing falling I decided to remain on the spot beside the cemetery whose inhabitants are peaceful and discrete, calm night assured.
Wednesday, November 29 was still a short driving day, the distances in Portugal are never very big. The town of Leiria was at the time of the first king of Portugal, Alfonso-Henriques, the southern border of his kingdom. He made build a strong castle against the Moors before reconquering Santarem & Lisbon and then it fell in disuse and ruin after the Reconquista from the two above mentioned cities. It was restored in 14th then in the 16th century to fall again in ruin. While entering the keep dominates the site with on its right the church Nossa Senhora da Pensa with an elegant Gothic chorus as well as an manuélin arcade vis-a-vis the keep. The royal palace is equipped with an imposing room of reception giving on a gallery with arcades dominating the old city. In the keep an exhibit shows arts of the Middle Ages. Then I strolled in the lanes of the cheap hurdy-gurdy on a tour of picturesque monuments. I bivouacked on a carpark. It was a beautiful sunny and hot day.
The monastery of Batalha, of the battle, dedicated to the Virgin was built according to the wow of Jean d'Avis in the event of victory at the time of the battle in 1385 on the plateau of Aljubarrota against the more Spanishs. It is registered with UNESCO, here, as masterpiece of Gothic and manuélin art. It is characterized by the absence of bell-tower, according to the rule of Dominican, as well as by the unfinished octagonal vaults. On the right of the entry of the church the Capela do Fundador owes its name with the tombs of king Jean and of his wife, it is lit by blazing windows. The claustro Real is the example of the harmonious fusion of the Gothic and manuélin styles by the rubble filling manuélin of the arcades. The Sala do Capitulo is dedicated in memory of soldiers fallen to the honor fields during the Great War, WWI. The basin, Fountain, are typical monasteries and are used now as feeding the pigeons. Capelas Imperfeitas, behind the bedside of the church, introduced by a splendid manuélin gate are of octagonal shape, they were to receive the tombs of the descendants of king Edouard 1st. I bivouacked on the carpark.
On Friday, December 1 was still a short morning of road after a night during which the temperature fell to -2°C. As in Batalha the sun illuminates the frontage in the afternoon. Alas the sky was leaded with some parsimonious breaks. The monastery of Alcobaça is also registered with the world heritage of UNESCO, here. The church is the vastest in Portugal with a Cistercian nave among the highest ones. The transept shelters the tombs of Ines de Castro and Pierre 1st. The two tombs are sumptuously carved. The tomb of Pierre curiously shows a wheel at its bedside which is not without pointing out the wheel of the life of Buddhism, indeed archeologists think that it is the scenes of the life of Ines and Pierre. That of Ines presents a crucifixion at the bedside with a virgin of pain at the bottom of the cross, evoking the end-of-life of Ines assassinated on the order of the king Alphonse IV. She became later after the sacring of Pierre the dead queen of Portugal. The monastery, very vast, offer the visitors the various rooms of life of monks, the cloister, the chapter house, cooks and refectory without forgetting the wash-hand basin as well as the dormitory. I had stationed my truck on a small carpark close to the monastery.
On Saturday, December 2 on the way towards Tomar I could not stop in Fátima, here, to see the manifestation of the faith of Portuguese for the Virgin Mary who appeared on May 13th, 1917 to three young shepherds, during the First World War. This appearance was concretized by the construction of the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Fátima of nobaroque style with a 65-meters high tower. Southwards of the esplanade the church da Santissima Trindade was devoted in October 2007, it can accommodate 9000 faithful. The esplanade can contain more than 300,000 pilgrims. As I saw, there is impossible to remain insensitive with the piety of people who traverse the esplanade on knees to the vault of the appearances. I bivouacked on one of the many immense carparks near to the sanctuary.
On a hill overlooking Tomar on Sunday, December 3 I visited Convento de Cristo inserted in a strong castle built by the Templars into the 12th century. The convent is registered with the world heritage of UNESCO, here. It is the largest monument of manuélin style in Portugal whose window of the bedside of the church is the prototype. Its construction extends from 12th to the 17th century gathering a patchwork from styles, Roman, Gothic, manuélin and Renaissance. The gate is partially hidden by the old chapter house and is next to the Rotunda of the Templars, Charola back Templários. The latter was built at the 12th century of polygonal shape it contains an octagone with eight pillars surrounded by an ambulatory whose walls are covered with paintings of the 16th century. The photographs imperfectly return the strangeness and the beauty of this construction. The second characteristic of the convent is the window at the bottom of the church in the extravagance of the manuélin style. The guidebook details the conceptualization represented, a piece of choice for scholars. The conventual unit does not comprise less than six cloisters of style of the various times of construction. The dormitory is composed of cells opening on an immense cruciform corridor with only one wash-hand basin for ablutions. The refectory is consequently and is next to the conveniences. This monastic complex is fed out of water by an aqueduct. I attended a concert of wind instruments. While wandering in the city I found a bivouac on a carpark in a city of dwellings.