The wonders north of Lisbon

In a few days Lisbon will be hosting the mega event that announces the new Seven Wonders of the World. The Unfinished Chapels portal of Batalha Abbey Portugal will also be announcing the results of its nation-wide vote for the country’s own seven wonders. As I mentioned in a previous post, I voted for both the world and the Portuguese wonders, and the current publicity for the event led to a personal desire to visit a couple of the candidates on the Portuguese list.

So I got on the road from Lisbon and headed to the center of the country. My first stop was Batalha and its famous abbey. This World Heritage monument will undoubtedly rank among Portugal’s seven. It had been a while since I visited it, and now after seeing other similar Gothic cathedrals throughout the world, I can say with certainty that the World Heritage status for this particular Gothic construction is quite merited. The gigantic intricate portal of the “unfinished chapels” alone is a stonework masterpiece, and the cloisters that also mix the singular Manueline decoration make a trip here worth it for those who enjoy visiting architectural wonders.

The intricate architecture of Tomar Convent Further north, but not too far away, is Tomar and its even more exceptional Castle and Convent of Christ. Here too, the Manueline mixes with other architectural styles, and one of its windows is officially a Manueline masterpiece. Just like Batalha, UNESCO recognized its architectural and historical significance (it once was the headquarters for Prince Henry the Navigator’s Knights Templar), and declared it a World Heritage Site. Just as outstanding as the Manueline window is the eight-sided chapel or “charola.” The magnificence of its decoration surely is one of Portugal’s highlights, and should also make it to Portugal’s top seven wonders.

In between the visits to these monuments, I stayed at the Pousada of Ourem. Of all the pousadas I have stayed at (which I also mentioned in a previous post), this one was the one that failed to impress the most. The pool at Ourem Pousada I have gotten used to the outstanding features of other more historical and better-designed pousadas, so this one (built into a series of medieval houses by the ruins of the castle of Ourem) just felt like any regular hotel. Still, it is perhaps the best choice for those touring the center of the country and who wish to visit Fatima, Tomar, and Batalha (you can have more information about this pousada and even book it here at GoLisbon.com).

The outcome of the world-wide 7 Wonders vote (as well as Portugal’s) will be announced this weekend, July 7th, and will have Hollywood guests such as Hillary Swank and Jennifer Lopez. I also hope to hear Batalha Abbey and Tomar’s Convent announced on stage as part of Portugal’s main wonders.

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