Travel: Mosteiro Batalha

As we continued our day, we went to visit the famed Battle Monastary (Mosteiro Batalha), so named due to a vow given to the Virgin Mary, that should the outcome of a dire-looking battle be victorious, the king would erect a monastery devoted to her. Today, we know this battle as the 1385 Battle of Aljubarrota and the ruler as King John I of Portugal who won a Portuguese victory over the Castilians.

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The monastery itself, took over a century to build and was continuously in construct during the reign of seven kings. Officially, fifteen architects participated in its design. The employed artistic style and complexity of the structural stability were ahead of its time.    The majority of the structure is done in the Gothic Style, but gave way to the Manueline style in its final years of construction.

I have used these expressions quite a few times in recent days, and even I don’t clearly understand the subtle differences between both. The following will be my attempt to illustrate the main features of each.

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The gothic style is an evolution of the older Romanesque style and emphasizes the use of verticality and light. So classic buildings vie away from solid walls and embrace stone skeletons that involve clustered columns, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses.

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A defining characteristic is a ogival arch. Structurally a pointed arch helped vault spaces that had irregular plans, or brought transverse vaults to the same height as diagonal vaults. Additionally, gothic vaults tend to employ irregularly shaped polygons. This is advantageous because rather than being circular, orthogonal shapes provide clear load paths for the weight to distribute amongst the bearing pears and columns.

Gothic churches also tend to be extremely tall; this verticality suggests an aspiration to heaven. This is emphasizes through the use of towers and spires projecting to the sky as seen on the exterior.

The Unfinished Chapel

The Unfinished Chapel

The Manueline style is also known as a Portugese late-gothic style is evident in many late medieval buildings. Classic elements include intricate stonework with incorporates ship elements such as spheres, anchors, and chains. It also embraces use of items from the sea such as sea shells, pearls, and strands of seaweed.

 

2013-04-08 11.22.292013-04-08 11.26.03Additionally, symbols of Christianity such as the cross of the Order of Christ are prominently features. botanical motifs also play a role. The discoveries of newly discovered lands can subtly seen as well.

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