A small town amidst the hills of the Leiria area, Batalha only became a place of any significance upon the building of its magnificent monastery, now honoured with UNESCO World Heritage status. This gigantic pearl of Gothic architecture occupied Portugal's most accomplished tradesmen under Royal command for the best past of two centuries. It was built to celebrate the Portuguese victory over the Castillians in the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385, thus keeping a vow made by King João I to the Virgin Mary prior to the momentous conflict. The illegitimate brother of the dead, heirless king, João's right to the throne of Portugal was challenged by the then Spanish king Juan. Outnumbered and ill equipped, he feared the worst and prayed for assistance from the Virgin. Once victorious, he built and named the monastery in her honour - Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória.