Joined February 2017 Message
  • Day34

    Fado

    May 27 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Fado is traditional Portuguese music whose history is difficult to trace. This singer described it as coming from those loved ones of sailors left behind when they went to sea. She connected the Portuguese word saudade to the music. Most simply, saudade means longing. She said it's more than that: it is the deep sense of having lost and missing something profoundly important to the artist. Saudade is soul deep.
    The singer is accompanied by 2 guitars played by father and son. The closer one is a Portuguese guitar. The farther one is what we are used to seeing as a guitar
    Here is a snippet. The site limits videos to 60 seconds. So I have to cut it off.
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  • Day33

    Sagres and CSV

    May 26 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Sagres and Cabo São Vincente are the extreme southwest corner of continental Europe and the western end of the Algarve. The region is associated with the Portuguese age of discovery. The shoreline here is cliffs that are about 75 meters high. And facing the North Atlantic, this is a center of surfing.
    The 1st several picture are at Cabo São Vincente, about 6 km from Sagres. The 1st 2 pictures are of the cliffs. Needless to say, this is about as close as I was willing to get. The 3rd picture looks across the top of the cliffs and native vegetation to the lighthouse in the distance. The 4th picture is of the native Algarve the way most of the region looked before development.
    The 5th picture looks across a small local fortified site about halfway between CSV and Sagres. The lighthouse is visible in the background.
    Sabres is closely associated with Prince Henry, aka the Navigator. He was the lord of the manor of this part of Portugal. As such, this region is closely associated with the age of discovery.
    Perhaps the most interesting site here is the Fortaleza de Sagres that is directly connected to Prince Henry. The 6th picture is the approach to the fortress. Like much of the region, the fort was seriously damaged in the 1755 earthquake. So what you see is a restoration. The large circle in the 7th picture is in the fort and is likely a large compass (some argue for a sundial). The is where Henry was known to have his school of navigation. The 8th picture is in the chapel of the fortress.
    The 9th picture looks from the fortress to the town of Sagres and its beach. The last picture is of the Sagres fishing harbor and marina.
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  • Day32

    Lagos

    May 25 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Lagos is one of the larger cities in the Algarve, the southern portion of Portugal along the Atlantic where the shore faces south. (NB. All words and place names in Portuguese that begin with Al- are remnants of the Moorish/Arabic period of Portugal's history.)
    Lagos is an important tourist city with it's weather, beaches, scenery and more. In fact, I was told that 75% of the local workforce is involved with tourism, either directly or indirectly.
    Historically, Lagos held more importance than tourism. It was held at various times by the Celts, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Christian royalty. Lagos was a major port during the age of discovery, and Prince Henry the Navigator had his primary residence locally. Also, there was a shipyard here, and Lagos was a center of the slave trade.
    The 1st picture is the main square with it's modern statue of Dom Sebastião. He became king at age 3, and was killed in action during an ill fated crusade against Morocco.
    Near Dom Sebastião is the local market. The 2nd picture is the ground floor which is a fish market that sells the catch of local fishermen. Upstairs in the 1st floor are fruits, vegetables, and other goods. Up top is a restaurant.
    Across the way from the market is the local harbor and marina. The 3rd picture is the view from the market restaurant.
    The 4th picture is the reconstructed fortress that protected the town, primarily from pirates. And the city was walled, most of which is gone. The 5th is a portion of what remains of the wall, taken from the outside in a garden full of specimen trees from around the world, refecting Portugal's maritime history.
    The 6th picture is an example of street art here. The city has a program of approving street art . This one is interesting as it appears 3 dimensional with layers reflecting successively later periods of history.
    The 7th picture is said to be the most photographed building in Lagos. It has art nouveau tiles with a painted border at the top. This was the style among the rich.
    The 8th picture is a water house. When the city upgraded it's water system, several of these houses were built to provide water to the people of the city. I'm told these were still in use well into the 20th century.
    The last 2 pictures are typical street scenes: one showing one example of the interesting way many of the pedestrian streets are paved; and the last of a random street in the old town, this one with a blooming jacaranda tree.
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  • Day29

    Quinta de Regaleira

    May 22 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    The term quinta often refers to a farm, but more accurately, it refers to an estate or rural property with an historic building such as a palace. That is what Quinta de Regaleira is.
    While the quinta has a longer history, what is here now dates to the very early 20th century. Carvalho Monteiro set out to build a place intended to befuddle visitors. His interest in the esoteric, from alchemy to Masonry, the Rosicrucians and more that is incorporated throughout does accomplish his goal.
    The 1st picture is the wildly decorative palace with its turrets, gargoyles and more. Most of the palace interior isn't open to visitors, but the 2nd picture is a sample of what is open. The 3rd picture looks over some of the extensive gardens on site. This was taken from a balcony at the palace.
    The 2nd building of significance is the chapel. It's style matches the palace. The interior could not be entered, but the door was open to look inside. That's the 4th picture. Notice all the symbols, including the all seeing eye in the ceiling.
    The 5th picture is the Regalería Tower that sits above Leda's Grotto. The site is laced with grottos, caves and tunnels. The ,6th picture is one of the grottoes. The 7th picture, if I recall correctly, is called the Guardians Entrance.
    Perhaps the best known feature here is the Initiation well. It has a 27 meter deep spiral staircase that descends 9 levels (as in Dante's Inferno) and connects to an email interconnected series of tunnels. I'm told the initiation was to be send initiates in blindfolded from the top of the stairs, and they had to find their way out. The 8th picture looks down the spiral stairs into the well. The 9th picture looks along one of the tunnels. And the 10th picture is a false exit. It's one of the tricks. I would fall for it and head for the sound of falling water.
    This is one intriguing place.
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  • Day29

    Sintra

    May 22 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Sintra is a lovely town not far from Lisbon. It has a cool microclimate, making it a summer refuge. Beginning in the 18th century, royalty recognized this, and Sintra began to develop its fairyland ambiance. It became one of the 1st capitals of Romanticism in Europe.
    Part of the aura is due to it's climate that includes lots of misty weather. I experienced that during my visit. In fact, the famous Pena Palace was completely enshrouded. So that is missing from this post.
    The 1st picture is about the 1st thing you see after leaving the train. It is the old town hall dating to the 12th century in a former palace. The 2nd picture looks across what was the former harbor (now silted in and developed) towards the old town and the royal palace that was originally a Moorish palace, but the current building was significantly remodeled several times.
    The 3rd picture is a rebuilt Moorish fountain that replaced the earlier one destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. The 4th picture is a bit of the hillside town of Sintra in the mist. The 5th picture is the old punishment site where people were whipped. The 6th picture is the old jail with the tower of St. Martin's church (the Templar church) in the background.
    The 7th and 8th pictures are typical streets in Sintra's old town. The last picture is another fountain dating to the late 18th century.
    My visit barely touched on all there is to see here.
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  • Day28

    Belém

    May 21 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Belem is located at the ocean end of the Tagus estuary. It is now part of Lisbon. Originally, there were 2 identical towers, one on each side of the river, protecting the maritime entrance to Lisbon. Only 1 survived the 1755 earthquake, and that is the 1st picture.
    Belem was an important port during the age of discovery. Henry the Navigator (remember your world history?) was a royal prince and governor of the Order of Christ. He was instrumental in starting it all. While I haven't heard it said, I suspect his influence is why so many of the Portuguese ships had the cross of the Order of Christ on their sails. (NB. Remember the connection between the Templars and the Order of Christ.)
    Pictures 2&3 are of the 2 sides of the Monument to Discovery on the Belém waterfront that has about 40 figures of people important to Portugal's golden age.
    Perhaps the most famous of the Portuguese explorers was Vasco De Gama. The 4th picture is his tomb that is located in the Jerónimos Monastery located opposite the Monument. The 5th and 6th pictures are of the monastery: the facade and the church. The monatery started out as an outpost of the Order of Christ but was transfered.to others.
    Pictures 7&8 also reflect the Age of Discovery. Both are national gifts in honor of the 500th anniversary of reaching India. The 7th picture is the gift from Thailand, recognizing Portugal reaching there, and the 8th is from South Africa, recognizing the 1st rounding of the Cape of Good Hope.
    The 9th picture is the harbor bridge that was built using the design plans of the Golden Gate bridge. The 10th picture is a copy of the Stature of Christ in Rio. I'm told the bishop here had to have one if Rio had one.
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  • Day28

    More Lisbon

    May 21 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 22 °C

    I just couldn't do justice to Lisbon in a single post. So here are some more images.
    The oldest neighborhood in Lisbon is the Alfama. This is the neighborhood least affected by the 1755 earthquake, and was not significantly rebuilt. This is where you can see what old Lisbon looked like. The 1st 4 pictures are all Alfama. 1st is a look over the neighborhood of hilly, twisting, colorful streets. Then a couple streets and a small plaza typical of Alfama. The patron saint of Lisbon is Saint Anthony whose day is 13 June. (NB, St. Anthony of Lisbon and St. Anthony of Padua are the same guy.) I'm told that the celebration here runs for the whole month. The decorations in the pictures are now being put up for that celebration. Unfortunately, I leave the day before it all begins.
    The 5th picture is the Casa de Bicos which means house of spikes, named for its unusual facade. The house that dates to the 16th century, is in the Alfama, and survived the earthquake. Today it's the headquarters of the José Saramago Foundation. Saramago, who was the 1998 Nobel Laureate in Literature, established the foundation.
    Lisbon has a number of "color" streets that are dining and entertainment streets. The 6th picture is the blue street.
    Lisbon has some incredible street art. The last picture is one example in the Graça neighborhood not far from where I was staying.
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  • Day28

    Lisbon

    May 21 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 22 °C

    The capital of Portugal and its largest city, Lisbon is not only the westernmost capital city in Europe, it is one of the oldest, second only to Athens. This place has been occupied since prehistoric times, and, like most of Iberia, it has seen waves of Celts, Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, Vikings, and the reconquest bringing Christian rulers. Most of the voyages of the Portuguese age of discovery began here (see the Belem post).
    Perhaps the most significant event in Lisbon's history is the earthquake on 1 November 1755. Up to 40,000 people died, and about 85% of the buildings were destroyed. Therefore, most of what is here is more recent as the leadership decided to demolish what remained and rebuild the city along the then current urban planning ideas.
    The 1st picture is wall art that celebrates much of Lisbon's culture. Not surprisingly, it is in an entertainment district. The 2nd picture is nearby at the Praça Luís de Camões. Camões, who lived in the 16th century, is considered Portugal's greatest poet. Just down the street is the 3rd picture. This is said to be the oldest operating bookstore in the world.
    The 4th picture is what is left of a church after the 1755 earthquake. They started to rebuild, but found that it would be too difficult. Today it is an archaeological museum. The museum sits atop one of Lisbon's 7 hills. (I'm told that there are actually 8, but 7 sounds better.) Many of the hills are steep. So Lisbon has built many funiculars, lifts, etc. The 5th picture is the Santa Justa lift built by one of Gustav Eiffel's disciples. The 6th picture looks across the city from stop the lift. The 7th picture, taken from the same place is St. George's fortress.
    The 8th picture is near the foot of the Santa Justa lift and is the Rossio train station (formerly Central Station), a good example of Neo-Manueline design. The station is located at Rossio Square which is in the 9th picture. The square is officially known as Praça Dom Pedro IV, and that's the guy in the statue atop the column. In the background is the Donna Maria II national theater.
    The last picture is Arco de Rúa Augusta that provides a monumental entry to the commerce square on the river front. The statue visible is King José I.
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  • Day27

    Templar Church

    May 20 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Given that the Templar Fortress/Convent of Christ is the main event in Tomar for me, then the main event in the main event is the church. I was simply blown away. The church is round with a squared off later addition.
    The 1st picture is from the outside. You can see the round section to the right which was the original part of the church. In order to build suspense gradually, I'll start with the later, rectangular addition. It contains 2 choirs: the upper in the 2nd picture and the lower, directly below the upper, in the 3rd. The low window in the 2nd picture below the upper choir opens on the lower choir. The entry to the church is in the rectangular space between the choirs and the main, original, part of the church. The 4th picture is a small side chapel off the main church.
    The rest of the pictures are in the round church that dates to the 12th century. The high roof, the artwork, the free standing central nave, the carving and so much more took my breath away. I hope these few pictures give you some small idea of the awe I experienced here. I even backtracked to visit the church again, and I still left stunned.
    I'm told that the design may have been in influenced by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Dome of the Rock, both in Jerusalem. That's seems feasible given the Templar presence there and their devotion to that city. Also, it seems that the design provides for Templar knights to be able to ride their horses into the church and around the Charola, as it's called, to receive a blessing immediately before departing on a journey. I just love the practicality!
    I don't think I've ever suggested that some place I've been is a must see. But if you are at all into history, the Templars, art, or even church architecture, you need to come here. It's that big a deal.
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  • Day27

    Templar Castle and Convent of Christ

    May 20 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    This is, for me, the main attraction in Tomar. The castle/monastery was founded in the early 12th century by the Order of the Poor Knights of the Temple, the Knights Templar. In the 13th century, Tomar became the seat or main headquarters of the entire order.
    When the Knights Templar Order was dissolved in the middle of the 14th century and at the urging of the king of Portugal, a new order, the Order of Christ, was proclaimed by the Pope. In Portugal, the members and assets of the Templars were transfered to the new order. The Templar fortress became the Convent of Christ and headquarters of the new order.
    This is an incredibly spectacular space, so much so that it has been the setting for many movies. In fact, filming was in progress during my visit. So significant parts of the convent were closed. Oh well.
    The 1st picture is the main gate. The next 5 pictures are various cloisters scattered throughout the convent. I don't think I've ever seen a monastery with more than one cloister. Here are 5, and others were in the closed section. The 2nd picture catches a corner of the church (see another post) above th cloister. The 3rd picture is the hospitality cloister for pilgrims, clergy, traveling brothers, etc. Social standing determined which floor one was lodged. Higher standing, higher floor.
    The 7th picture is the church (see another post), and the 8th picture is the ornate Manueline window. This open into the chapter house (closed). The Manueline decorations, named for King Manuel I, celebrate the age of discovery.
    The 9th picture is an arched hallway in the convent.
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