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A Plethora of Monuments-Queluz, Mafra, Alcobaca, Batalha, Tomar-Which to Choose

A Plethora of Monuments-Queluz, Mafra, Alcobaca, Batalha, Tomar-Which to Choose

Jul 13th, 2007, 03:52 AM
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A Plethora of Monuments-Queluz, Mafra, Alcobaca, Batalha, Tomar-Which to Choose

There seem to be many wonderful palaces/monasteries/churches in the Lisbon area. We plan to see the major ones in Lisbon and also Sintra, but I'm wondering at what point we will feel saturated and wish that we'd spent time in other ways.

Queluz, Mafra, Tomar, Alcobaca, Batalha-How similar are these? Do some have better tour information than others? I'm most interested in history and sumptuousness of the interior (e.g. painted ceilings, funiture), not the architectural detail of the exterior.

After reading about them, the first three appeal to me more than the last two, but the latter are listed as World Heritage Sites. What are your thoughts?
stillhouse is offline  
Jul 13th, 2007, 05:29 AM
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Hi, stillhouse

I think you're right to worry about monument-overload. One thing to offset that would be to combine a couple of monument visits with a trip to the beach, a nice little town, etc. For instance, Alcobaca is close to Nazare. Sure it's touristy, but the beach is beautiful and you can ride the tram up to the upper city and get some wonderful views.

Similarly, you might want to combine a visit to Tomar with a visit to the little castle at Almoroul. It's on a tiny island sitting out in the Tejo River, there's a man with a little boat that chugs over to drop you off and lets you explore till you're ready to go back, and there are several nice riverside restaurants/cafes nearby.

And a visit to Mafra could be combined with a stop at Ericeira, a once little fishing village now fairly heavy on the condos, but it has a nice downtown core and the beach is very nice in the vicinity.

That said, if I were choosing three of the five you mention, I'd go for Queluz, Alcobaca,and then either Tomar or Batalha. Queluz is a must-see in my opinion. Completely furnished, lots of whimsical rooms, period furniture, and a beautiful tiled canal outside where the royals once boated, I think.

Alcobaca's is in a nice village, and the tombs of King Pedro (?) and his lover are beautiful (I'm not the historian in the family, so I may have the name wrong).

I have always thought that the interior of the church at Batalha is one of the most beautiful gothic places I've been to. I have a memory of standing there in the very high arched room with the rays of sun cutting in, it was georgeous. But the highway runs right outside, very close, and the town is kind of overtouristed. But I think it's beautiful.

Others have given their opinions of the Tomar monastery. It's huge, and in my opinion, some of the cloisters are desolate and dusty, but there are many pretty spots as well. The view down to the town is quite nice, and the town itself is pleasant.

My own opinion is that Mafra isn't too interesting, my memory is that it's big and square and imposing and not very beautiful (it gave me the same impression as the Escorial outside of Madrid, but on a smaller scale). I know it's an important monument, but this is just my opinion.

As far as tour information, we usually relied on our own Michelin green guide and found it quite sufficient. There are usually guided tours available, though English language tours will be more sporadic. Also, I think that some of the places (Queluz is one if my memory is right) have those laminated cards in multiple languages that explain the points of interest in the room you are in.

Hope this helps, lucky you, going to Portugal! LR
lreynold1 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2007, 06:16 PM
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Thanks! Those are great suggestions.

For some reason, this post didn't show up on the Portugal board, although I'd swear I selected Portugal when I originally posted. Anybody know how I can check?

stillhouse is offline  
Jul 13th, 2007, 06:37 PM
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Queluz is wonderful for the azulejos, Mafra is gigantic, Tomar has the best manueline architectural details, Alcobaca is a lovely simple cloister and church, Batalha is over gaudy but exquisite. In other words every one of those sites in Portugal has its own strengths. I would hate to miss any of them. I do not consider seeing the buildings as being 'overload' in any way. Going on a tour through the entire building might be in some cases. I have distinct and wonderful memories of each of those places from 1985 first trip to Portugal when we first saw them, each on a different day, up to our last trip about three years ago, when everything in Portugal was still very special. Lucky you, as someone said, to be able to go to see these gems.
betsys is offline  
Jul 13th, 2007, 08:12 PM
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LR. It is Pedro and Inez. And I guess the romantic in me would not skip this particular place.

I leave opinions to those who know Portugal better than I. But, I chime in on the lucky you bit.
Sher is offline  
Jul 14th, 2007, 04:55 AM
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if you are interested in sumptuosness of the interior go to Queluz, first then Mafra. Queluz is a palace,furnished,etc, portuguese barroc. Mafra is a huuuge convent (agree with Irey). Batalha and Alcobaca are very near may be 2 miles. They are really beautiful.
In Alcobaca you can shop exquisite china from Alcobaca(blue) and from Conimbriga (with litle draws,imitating old pieces)
The story of D.Ines: D.Ines de Castro came to Portugal as lady in wait(is this the name?)of a spanish princess who went to marry D.Pedro (still a prince), but Pedro and Ines fell in love. Pedro told the king that he wanted to marry Ines, not the spanish princess. So, the king waited until a day which Pedro wouldn't be there and ordered assasins to kill her and her children.When Pedro became king he tortured the assasins by cutting their tongues and eyes out. Unburried Ines and ordered everyone to kiss her hand and made her his queen.
maia_was_here is offline  
Jul 14th, 2007, 06:34 AM
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I preferred Tomar to Batalha because it is more than a church. It includes a vast complex of courtyards and hallways, you can visit the kitchen and refectory, and it gives a good sense of what a monastery was like and how it grew over a couple of centuries.
Michael is offline  
Jul 14th, 2007, 08:02 AM
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If you go to Tomar which is very near too.+-3 miles from Batalha, and if you like sweets, give a try to "Fatias da china" and Tigeladas ....uhmmmm so good.(tigeladas are not from tomar they are from abrantes, not far away.Portugal is so small everything is near...)
The convent has a great view since it's up in the ill.
Go and see them all, they are almost together
maia_was_here is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 06:33 AM
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If you are more interested in decoration rather architecture, go to Queluz and Mafra. Of those, the least unique is Alcobaca, and I personally love the outstanding architecture of Tomar. Mafra is often overlooked but it's worth it (there's a fascinating room decorated with everything from hunting, from animal skin to antlers!).
You can have pictures of the interior of Queluz here: www.golisbon.com/portugal/cities/queluz.html

and more Mafra and Tomar information:


You'll love Sintra (I'm sure you've already placed Pena Palace on your list, but don't miss the National Palace too!)

SonOfLusus is offline  
Jul 19th, 2007, 09:54 AM
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Also take a look at
for info on Tomar and the region
omostra06 is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 05:48 AM
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I just returned from Portugal. I did a full day Greyling tour to Obidos, Alcobaca, Nazare, Batalha,and Fatima.
Obidos is charming. The church is Alcobaca is worth seeing. Despite its baroque facade, it is an excellent example of early gothic and the story of Pedro I and Ines is an added bonus.
The church is Batalha is stunning. It is the highest gothic church in Portugal. A beautiful founder's chapel and cloisters make it a must see. Nazare was a lunch stop but still a beautiful view of the Atlantic. Fatima was ok just to have been able to visit the other places.
eurofanman is offline  
Aug 7th, 2007, 12:23 PM
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Hi Eurofanman, Did you take this tour from Lisbon? Do you recall the name of the company, cost, and where you met them? Thanks so much! pp
peppermintpatti is offline  
Sep 29th, 2007, 12:00 PM
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It was a Greyline tour. I booked it online in the U.S. and then called to verify pick-up time a couple of days before the tour.
eurofanman is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 03:18 AM
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the tourism office in tomar offers free guided walks of the city, taking in a lot of the most important buildings and monuments, there is also a guide/ leaflet available in English.

anyone interested in roman remains there is a dig going on at the moment in Tomar and is daily uncovering intersting finds.
omostra06 is offline  

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