Central, Portugal

Five locations within Central Portugal are featured in this gallery. Along the way you will marvel at ancient monasteries, explore a Moorish castle and visit the site of a Marian apparition at Fátima.

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Children Experienced Marian Apparition in Fátima, Portugal

These statues of three shepherd children are Lúcia dos Santos with her cousins Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto who experienced a Marian Apparition in 1917 at Fátima, Portugal. This vision of the Virgin Mary has been heralded by the Catholic Church since 1930. In fact, Pope John Paul II credits his failed assassination attempt on this feast day in 1981 to the original miracle and gave the bullet to Santuário de Fátima.

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1 Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima in Portugal

Behind this gilded Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. These are two of the shrines at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima that celebrates when the Virgin Mary entrusted shepherd children with three visions: one regarding hell and the second that predicted WWII. The third was not written down until 1944 and was sealed by the Vatican until 2000. It predicted the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.

Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima Rosary R. da Rainha Santa Isabel 26, 2495-401 Fátima, Portugal
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2 Basilica of Nossa Senhora de Rosário in Fátima, Portugal

On May 13, 1917, the Blessed Mary appeared to three children while they tended their sheep in a field called Cova da Iria. This same apparition occurred for the next five months until about 70,000 people witnessed the last occasion. Through this colonnade arch is the Basilica of Nossa Senhora de Rosário which honors the miraculous apparitions that occurred at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima.

Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima Rosary R. da Rainha Santa Isabel 26, 2495-401 Fátima, Portugal
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3 Basilica of Nossa Senhora de Rosário Altar in Fátima, Portugal

Behind the high altar in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary is a painting called Message of Our Lady of Fátima showing how she appeared during the 1917 Marian Apparition. She is surrounded by three contemporary popes. Above the artwork is a sculpture of the Virgin Mary descending form the heavens.

Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima Rosary R. da Rainha Santa Isabel 26, 2495-401 Fátima, Portugal
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4 Colonnade at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima in Portugal

During every anniversary of the original 1917 appearance of the Our Lady of the Rosary, particularly on May and October 13, up to a million people make a pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal. Many of them stand along this colonnade and plaza during the religious ceremonies.

Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima Rosary R. da Rainha Santa Isabel 26, 2495-401 Fátima, Portugal
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5 Batalha Monastery Lateral View in Batalha, Portugal

This side view of the Monastery of Santa Maria de Vitória allows you to admire all of its splendid Gothic features which were constructed with limestone that has yellowed with age. You can see why it took about 130 years to build. This Dominican convent was finished in 1517 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Largo Infante Dom Henrique, 2440 Batalha, Portugal
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6 Batalha Monastery Main Portal in Batalha, Portugal

In appreciation for winning the Battle of Aljubarrota and becoming the King of Portugal in the late 14th century, John I formed the town of Batalha (which means battle) and commissioned the Monastery of Santa Maria de Vitória in praise to St. Mary for his victory. Below the gorgeous lattice window is an archivolt over the main portal that contains 78 delicate Biblical carvings.

Largo Infante Dom Henrique, 2440 Batalha, Portugal
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7 Equestrian Statue of Nuno Álvares Pereira in Batalha, Portugal

This equestrian statue of General Nuno Álvares Pereira commemorates his decisive win in 1385 over the Castilians during the Battle of Aljubarrota. As a result of his military victory, he was canonized as a saint and John I gained title to the Portuguese crown. His reign established the second dynasty of royalty known as the House of Aviz. The descendants of João I remained in power until 1580.

2440-108 Batalha, Portugal
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8 Batalha Monastery Dome in Batalha, Portugal

At the top of this 106 foot dome with its elegant ribbing are ten stained glass windows that bathe the nave of the Batalha Monastery with colorful beams of sunlight. Most of these windows date back to the 1430s, over 80 years before this church was completed.

Largo Infante Dom Henrique, 2440 Batalha, Portugal
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9 Tomb of King John I in Batalha, Portugal

This sepia-toned photograph is of a carved statue of King John I showing him at peace in death above his tomb which he shares with his wife, Philippa of Lancaster, in the Founder’s Chapel inside the Batalha Monastery. He was Portugal’s king from 1385 until he died in 1433.

Largo Infante Dom Henrique, 2440 Batalha, Portugal
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10 Alcobaça Monastery and Church History in Alcobaça, Portugal

During the Battle of Ourique against the Moors in 1147, Afonso Henriques promised that if he won he would build a magnificent monastery and church for the Cistercian Order of monks. Known as “The Conqueror,” Afonso I became the first king of Portugal but would not live long enough to see the Monastery of St. Mary finished in 1223 and the church completed 29 years later.

2460-018 Alcobaça, Portugal
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11 Alcobaça Monastery Church Entrance in Alcobaça, Portugal

This exquisite gothic façade of the Alcobaça Monastery’s church was built in two stages. The rose window above the main entrance was finished in 1252 while the two bell towers and the statues in the niches were added in the 18th century. This architectural gem is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2460-018 Alcobaça, Portugal
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12 House of Aviz Coat of Arms in Alcobaça, Portugal

Above the tympanum of the Alcobaça Monastery church is the Portuguese coat of arms. The current one still has the seven castles but what makes this one historically significant are the two angels. This symbol was only used by a dynasty of kings known as the House of Aviz. During their rule from 1385 until 1580, Portugal rose to a world power.

2460-018 Alcobaça, Portugal
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13 Alcobaça Monastery Church Crypt in Alcobaça, Portugal

Inside the Alcobaça Monastery church are several crypts of Portuguese royalty plus the assassinated mistress of King Pedro I. Many of these monuments are very ornate in sharp contrast to the church’s austere interior. On the left is the tomb of King Afonso II who reigned from 1211-1223 and, on the right, is Afonso III whose rule ended with his death in 1279.

2460-018 Alcobaça, Portugal
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14 Children in Playground in Alcobaça, Portugal

These small children are having fun on swings and a roundabout in an elementary school playground. They live in Alcobaça, a city of about 16,000 Portuguese located in the Oeste Subregion along the country’s western coast which is defined by the Atlantic Ocean.

R. Dom Pedro V 18, Alcobaça, Portugal
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15 Fortified Wall Surrounding Óbidos, Portugal

Óbidos is a very small town of about 3000 Portuguese along the country’s western border facing the Atlantic Ocean. Its name is from the Latin word for fortified city which is appropriate because it is surrounded by a defensive wall that was originally built by the Moors in the 8th century.

Estr. da Cerca, 2510-999 Óbidos, Portugal
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16 Moors Castle in Óbidos, Portugal

The Óbidos Castle was first built by the Moors during their occupation of Portugal starting in 713 AD. It was reclaimed by King Afonso Henriques in 1148. The Medieval citadel and its surrounding walls were then rebuilt and enhanced during the 13th, 14th and 20th centuries.

Estr. da Cerca, 2510-999 Óbidos, Portugal
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17 Óbidos Castle Keep in Óbidos, Portugal

A “keep” is a fortified tower that was built within a castle during the Middle Ages. This one, which is part of the Óbidos Castle, was constructed in the late 14th century by Portugal’s King Ferdinand I who was also called “The Handsome.” He was the last to reign from the Portuguese House of Bugundy which led to the 1383-1385 Crisis until John I won the Battle of Aljubarrota and began the House of Aviz dynasty.

Estr. da Cerca, 2510-999 Óbidos, Portugal
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18 Carriage Outside Church of Santa Maria in Óbidos, Portugal

The streets of Óbidos, Portugal, are mostly cobblestone so it’s best to see this Medieval town by foot or, when you get tired, go for a horse carriage ride. This driver is waiting outside the Church of Santa Maria which is the site where the arranged marriage of King Afonso V to Princess Isabella of Coimbra was celebrated in 1441. What made this event significant is that they were cousins and he was ten and she was only eight years old.

Praça de Santa Maria, 2510-217 Óbidos, Portugal
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19 City Gate Azulejo in Óbidos, Portugal

An azulejo is a type of earthenware tile that since the 15th century was usually decorated with figures and then glazed before becoming an architectural element. This art form was introduced in Portugal by the Moors. This blue azulejo called Niche Faïencée is over the Porta da Vila city gate in Óbidos.

R. Josefa de Óbidos 2, 2510-001 Óbidos, Portugal
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20 Sanctuary of Our Lord Jesus the Stone in Óbidos, Portugal

The Senhor Jesus da Pedra, which translates to the Sanctuary of Our Lord Jesus the Stone, was built in 1747 and named after a farmer discovered a stone cross of Christ in a field which resulted in rain after a long drought. From the outside, this baroque, hexagonal shaped shrine looked abandoned but later research revealed that the façade was never finished.

Largo do Santuário, 2510 Óbidos, Portugal
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21 Pousada of Dona Maria in Queluz, Portugal

During the 18th century, Queen Maria and her husband, Peter III, began construction of their summer palace in Queluz, Portugal, and also had this pink building designed to house their servants and guards. It is now one of 44 historic hotels in Portugal under the management of the Grupo Pestana Pousadas.

Largo Palácio de Queluz 2745-191, Queluz, Portugal
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22 Pousada of Dona Maria Clock Tower in Queluz, Portugal

Torre do Relógio is the name of this 18th century clock and bell tower on a pink, baroque building that is now a luxury hotel in Queluz, Portugal. It used to be the annex of the National Palace of Queluz which was nicknamed the Portuguese Versailles.

Largo Palácio de Queluz 2745-191, Queluz, Portugal
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