This December marks 40 years since UNESCO awarded the classification to the Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, built by D. João I in Batalha.

Despite this, the main threat to the integrity of the monument remains: “Traffic on the IC2, mostly heavy trucks”, points out Joaquim Ruivo.

The constant traffic just a few meters away is “the biggest problem we are facing” the Monastery. In addition to being “an attack on the heritage landscape”, minimised with a wall in 2018, it is, “above all, due to the load of polluting gases that, naturally, accumulate on the facades of the monument”, he tells the Lusa agency.

The person responsible recalls studies by engineer and professor at the Instituto Superior Técnico Luís Aires-Barros, who in 2001 “already drew attention to the loss of the monument's orange patina”, common “in ancient Mediterranean environments”.

“Its replacement with a blackened patina reveals the progressive and consistent deposition of polluting gases on the facades of the monument”, he notes.

The alternative involves measures such as “exempting heavy cars from toll on the A19, preventing their passage on the IC2 50 meters from the monument”, which will be decisive in “preserving the health” of the monastery.

Meanwhile, the Monastery is preparing to receive improvements in 2024 under the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR).

In January 2024, treatment and rehabilitation work will begin on the roofs of the Chapter Room.

In the first quarter of 2024, work is underway on cleaning and treating the stone and stone elements on the interior and exterior facades of the Imperfect Chapels and the rehabilitation of the gardens of the Royal Cloister.

By the end of June, the interior electrical installation is expected to be requalified, with the removal of the Transformer Station and, throughout 2024, the Wi-Fi network will be installed in the visiting circuit and multimedia projects related to augmented reality and reading systems with QR Code and georeferencing.

Still for the future, the director would like the creation of the public business entity Museus e Monumentos de Portugal - which begins operations on the first day of 2024 - to allow “more resources for the monument”, corresponding to the revenue generated in Batalha.

These funds are necessary for cultural programming, but, above all, for preventive conservation, ensuring that the monument “is exemplary from the point of view of conservation and rehabilitation”.

The director also hopes that the new Community Support Framework will include a series of works, such as “the complete cleaning of the monument's facades”, and also the rehabilitation and requalification of the auditorium, the upper floor of the Afonso V Cloister, library, documentation center, elevator or new toilets.

In 40 years of UNESCO classification, the Monastery has achieved “international recognition as an absolute masterpiece of Gothic art”.

Only surpassed by the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower, the Batalha Monastery is the third most sought after monument nationally, being “an almost obligatory place to visit, in the context of the great international tourist circuit”. At the same time, it maintains “close links with the surrounding community”, assuming itself as an “important contribution to the national cultural and scientific dynamics”, concludes the director.