From Marinha Grande to Batalha

At the heart of the pine forest planted by King Dinis' command, find the capital of glass, the forest bordering beaches and magnificent historic landmarks such as the Batalha Monastery.

Start your tour at Marinha Grande. The capital of glass, in the heart of the pine forest, the development of the industry is due to this valuable forest resource. The manufacturing began in 1748, with the transfer of a small factory in Coina, run by John Beare, who came to Leiria pine forest in search of a cheaper fuel. Yet, it was the Englishman William Stephens, who, in 1769, greatly increased the industry by acquiring the small existing facility, expanding it and using the best methods of those times for the practice and teaching of this art. With the support of the Marquis of Pombal, he could finish the works and hire four English glassware masters and five Genoese workers. As an outcome of this small industrial revolution, the major attractions of the city are the glass factories, especially the Stephens Brothers Factory & School, the Pombaline buildings, the Museum of Glass of the Santos Barosa Factory, in addition to the National Forest. After a trip amidst pine trees, you reach the beautiful beach of São Pedro de Moel, where you can visit the House-Museum of Afonso Lopes Vieira, and the Penedo da Saudade, on the site of Farol. Or you can go north to the beach of Vieira de Leiria, land of fishermen practicing the 'xávega' art (a peculiar way of fishing), with its typical wooden houses on the shore and traditional boats, almost extinguished in our country. Leaving São Pedro de Moel towards south, via the ancient port of Paredes de Vitória and across the high dunes, you will reach Pataias. After Martingança, it follows an important area where cement manufacturers are located, in the center of which are Maceira and the Museum of Cement. Step back slightly, taking the road that passes in Maceirinha (EN 356), and in few kilometers you will reach Batalha. The town developed from the setting of craftsmen hired to build the monastery, and it worth a visit. However the closing jewel of this tour is the masterpiece of Portuguese Gothic architecture, classified as World Heritage by UNESCO - the Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, erected in the fourteenth century by King John I, in fulfillment of a vow made to the Virgin and as a celebration of victory over the Castilian armies (1385), in the famous battle of Aljubarrota. In their workshops, craftsmen stonemasons were trained and later they would show their mastery in Jeronimos and other major national monuments. Over more than a century, from 1388 until the beginning of Five Hundred, great masters such as Afonso Domingues, the Catalan Huguet, Martin Vasques, Mateus Fernandes, João Rodrigues and João de Arruda attended them. During a first period, they built the church, the main cloister, with the chapter hall, refectory, kitchens, the monks' chambers and the Chapel of the Founder. Being the Pantheon of the House of Aviz, this was raised between 1426 and 1434 under a beautiful, six-pointed star shaped dome. King Duarte added to it the roundabout behind the headboard; King Afonso V, a cloister. Under King John II the works were interrupted and only taken up by King Manuel I, until the start of the construction of Jeronimos. The most eloquent part of the complex is the church: 80 meters long, 22 wide and an impressive 32 high, with a doorway surrounded by biblical figures, the light being filtered through 66 stained-glass windows. The Imperfect or Unfinished Chapels are the ex-libris of the monastery – a magnificent , most perfect but unfinished work. Designed to become King Duarte's Pantheon, in 1435, by Boitaca, they have a Manueline decor by Mateus Fernandes, and an impressive portico leading to the interior octagonal courtyard, where converge the radial chapels.

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