Today we explored over 2,000 years of Portuguese history as we continued on our journey north.
First we went to Batalha to visit the grand Monastery of Santa Maria, also known as the Church of Our Lady of Victory.
Built of limestone, the church was started in 1388 and finished in the 1500's.
We toured the Founder's Chapel with the double sarcophagus of John and Philippa holding hands.
One of the more unusual features is the Unfinished Chapel.
Only the walls, support pillars for the ceiling and the tomb of King Duarte and Queen Leonor have been completed. Manuel I added an elaborately carved doorway in the 1500's, but succeeding kings didn't care to spend the money for a roof.
We arrived around 11:30 and a major mass was in progress.
While everyone was outside, I took the opportunity to go into the Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima.
I also went in the Church of the Holy Trinity, built in 2007 by Pope John Paul II. It can hold 9,000 devotees, 10 times the number in the basilica. The design is modern and multicultural.
We left Fatima around 1:30 and drove about 1-1/2 hours to Coimbra. Actually, we were outside of Coimbra at Roman ruins. This area has been inhabited since before Christ, but the Romans had a major city here (Conimbriga) beginning in the first century until the fall of the empire.
We were quite impressed by what we saw. Only about 10% of the ruins have been uncovered, but we could indentify what was left of homes, shops, and baths from the second and third centuries.
I was most impressed by the numerous mosaic floors that were still intact. And many of the designs are so intricate.
We also visited a museum which had some excellent artifacts, including these sewing utensils and loom weights.
From here it was a short drive to the city of Coimbra for our 2-night stay. We checked into Coimbra Riversuites and several of us walked around the town.
Then we had dinner as a group at Solar do Bacalhau, with lots of good Portuguese wine.