Built by order of Portuguese king John I, the Monastery of Batalha celebrates the victory of the Portuguese over the kingdom of Castile on the Battle of Aljubarrota, in 1385. Its construction began in 1386 and was only completed in 16th century. It was home for Dominican friars and is currently a UNESCO World Heritage site. The monastery stands out for its combination of Gothic features (outer walls and façade) with the Manueline or late Gothic style (the Royal Cloister). The monastery's construction led to the growth of the town of Batalha and presently it is one of Portugal’s most important national monuments.
This building was declared a World Heritage Site in 1989 and its history goes back to the 12th century, when the Abbey of Santa Maria de Alcobaça was founded. It was a residence for the Cistercian monks between the 13th and 19th centuries and the monastery stands out for its architecture and historic landmarks. The church of the Monastery of Alcobaça is 100 metres long and is the largest Gothic style religious building in Portugal. It also contains the tombs of D. Pedro and Inês, a tragic couple of Portuguese history. Other highlights include the Baroque façades and an enormous 18th century tile covered kitchen.
South of Lisbon, near the cities of Setúbal and Palmela, the magnificent Arrábida mountain range stands over the Sado river estuary. This is one of the country’s most important nature reserves and here we find natural wonders such as Fenda do Creio, an ideal spot for rock climbing, and the Portinho da Arrábida beach, known for the clearness of its waters and the immense beauty of the surrounding landscape. Other landmarks include the Convent of Our Lady of Arrábida, built by Franciscan monks during the 16th century.
On the Sado river’s south bank is a peninsula that stands out for its long sandy beach and Mediterranean woodland. Tróia is a favourite destination for Lisbon and Setúbal citizens and attracts many tourists as well. The dunes are washed by the Sado estuary and the Atlantic Ocean, extending all the way to Comporta beach, further south. Besides the obvious attractions — beaches and tourist accommodations — Tróia also includes local Roman ruins and a marina where you can catch a boat, go out on the sea and enjoy dolphin watching!
The coast north of Lisbon is filled with small surfers’ paradises. Guincho beach stands out for its proximity to the Sintra mountain range and the constant wind that pushes the waves, while the beach in Ericeira (Mafra), with its rock cliffs, is nowadays part of the international surf competition network due to its extraordinary conditions. In the city of Peniche and nearby village of Baleal, you find not only waves but also long beaches and cliffs covered in beautiful local plant life. Finally, nothing beats discovering Nazaré — a typical fishing village that became worldwide famous when Garrett McNamara surfed a 30 metre wave!