September 14 - Visit to Tomar, Fatima, Batalha and transit to Coimbra
We left Vila Vicosa at 8 on the road to Tomar. At a rest stop in a little town a picture of a weathervane (166). Then we got to the Tomar and the Monasteiro or Convento de Christo. This was founded in 1162 as the home of the Templars and was the home of the Order of Christ which took over in Portugal after the Templars were suppressed. It was expanded when Prince henry the Navigator was governor in the 15th C and even more under D Joao III in the 16th C. The Charola, or Rotunda (167 - 170), was the original Templar church and is in the form of a 16 sided drum. It is based on the rotunda of the Holy Sepulcher and has a central octagon of altars about which the Templars formed on horseback. The former royal quarters are in ruins (171) and there are a multiplicity of cloisters. A major feature is the Manueline window (174, 176, 179). It was raining fairly heavily while we were inside the Convento but it slackened after we left. BMB bought delicious ripe figs from a vendor where the bus was parked.
Then we drove into the center of Tomar for lunch at a restaurant on an island in a park. It was quite beautiful (181 - 185). Lunch was Potato soup with greens, cod with mashed potatoes, and pudding with ground almonds. Then we left for Batalha but made a stop at Fatima for a photo op (186).
The Dominican Abbey of Santa Maria de Vitoria at Batalha is a masterpiece of Portuguese gothic architecture. It commemorates the victory over the Spaniards at Aljubarrota in 1385 and was begun just three years later (186a - 199). It also holds the tombs of the Portuguese Unknown Soldiers from WW I (200) and we saw the changing of the guard. Not as impressive as Arlington. Finally, we saw the unfinished chapels behind the high altar which were left after King Duarte took a greater interest in another monastery.
After that we bussed on to our new posada at Coimbra, Quinta dos Lagrimas (202 - 206). This was an 18th C manor house and is named after the story of Ines de Castro, the lover of Pedro I who was stabbed to death here in 1355. He was the son of Alfonso IV who had her stabbed from fear of her family's power after Pedro lived with her after the death of his wife. When Alfonso died and Pedro became king, he had her exhumed, crowned, and made his court kiss her decomposing hand. He also tore out the hearts of her killers. Fig 206 is a modern version o f the lady, presumably after death. The grounds of the pousada were very extensive and we never found the fountain relating to this story. Dinner here was very good, pea soup, chicken, and another strange dessert called "nurses stomachs".