The upper part of the flights of stairs.
The name means Good Jesus of the Mount. This monumental stairway to a pilgrimage church is sited on a hill 5 km east of Braga. The 116m long ornate monumental stairway was first started in 1723 and took 60 years to build, until the next Archbishop came along and added another bit. He also replaced the 1373 chapel with a Neoclassic church over the next 60 years. There are chapels and ornamental fountains with every zig and zag so must seem spectacular to the devout - originally encouraged to climb on their knees - now more popularly done in lycra and runners as fitness fanatics zoom up and down. For the lazy there is a funicular built in 1882 which is the oldest funicular in the world moved by water counterbalancing, ie loading water into the car at the top of the hill, which weighs it down so it descends to the bottom, which draws the lighter, drained car up the hill, where the process starts all over again.The track is 274 m long and descends / rises 116 m, giving an average gradient of around 42%. This was both fun and interesting.
The upper part of the flights of stairs.
Aveiro was a vibrant coastal port until the mid 1500s when the river mouth silted up and it turned into swamp and a lagoon, more than 40 km long. At the beginning of the 19th century canals were dug to open the town and drain the marshes. The main industries now are aquaculture, salt production and tourists, attracted by the canals, colourful houses and the colourful flat bottomed boats, the Moliceiros.
Moliceiros - were originally used to harvest sea weed. Length 15m x width 2.5m. Made of pine, are flat bottomed and were originally propelled by sail or pole. The sea weed (originally just sludge from the bottom of the marsh) was used as fertiliser for the fields.
Houses - many of houses are one room wide - originally belonged to boat-handlers or workers in the salt pans. The highest collection of tiled houses we have seen in one place.
The Green House - this was one of the first houses we saw - across the canal from the camp area - we amazed at the nautical detail
The town area including one of the churches.
Coimbra is famous for its hilltop university dating from 1290. The town had been the capital until 1255 and the university eventually moved into the old royal palace where the thriving University of today is still centered. The modern part of the present day Uni is elsewhere. We passed here on the way to somewhere else and only really stopped to look at the Joanina Library.
The main point of interest in the Joanina Library, a Baroque confection of marbled wood, gold leaf, frescoed ceilings. The ancient library was installed by Dom Joao V and has 250,000 books dating from the 12th century. Because of the thick walls and oak timber, the temperature and humidity are maintained at a good level. A colony of bats are permitted to live in the ceiling, to come out at night and eat any insects that might have made their way in. The other buildings there include St Michael's Chapel, built in 1500s with Manueline doorway and Ceremonial Hall with the walls lined with portraits of all Portugal's Kings and an ornate poly-chromatic wood ceiling. No photos allowed so we bought some postcards.
Tomar is an attractive small town in the middle of Portugal dating from the 13th century. It is famous for its Convent of Christ ie Convento de Christo. This was founded in 1160 on an old Roman and Moorish site, as the headquarters of the Order of the Knights Templar. in 1319 they were abolished but persisted in Portugal as the Order of Christ and maintained their headquarters here. Soon they were at the centre of Portugals emerging maritime empire under the Command of Prince Henry the Navigator(1394-1460) and then later King Manuel I.
The convent started as a fortified enclosure of about 5 hectares and then the Charola, the original Romanesque church was built in in the later 1100s. It was modelled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and is 16 sided on the outside and 8 on the inside. Later Prince Henry added a nave and then King Manuel extended it in the early 1500s to form a large rectangle with the Charola at one end. And of couse, all his usual embellishments, especially the Chapter House window and the Southern door. In the 1500s the convent grew around the Church with 6 morecloisters, a grand dormitory with 40 rooms, Hostelry for visitors, Refrectory, kitchens, a toilet cloister with a ventilation chimney and even its own aqueduct.
Tomar town grew as well and the old quarter of town is laid out in grid pattern with cobbled streets and lovely old church, St John the Baptist from the 1500s.
This is a major pilgrimage centre following the Virgin Mary's repeated apparitions to 3 young village children in 1917. Over the years Fatima celebrity has increased exponentially. With two major annual pilgrimages a year attracting hundreds of thousands of people, the place has expanded with bigger and bigger places of worship. A small plain chapel on the site where the apparitions occurred is under the cover of a larger building, and then The Chapel of the Apparitions is a large building behind this and contains the tombs of the children and then there is the huge Holy Trinity Basilica on the other side. This dramatic contemporary space can hold up to 9000 pilgrims. Between these three is a paved esplanade that can hold 1 million people and a few statues of various Popes who have visited over the years.
This is on steep hill outside Sintra and is an amazing riot of colour, with an ornate medley of domes, statues and towers. It was built in the 1840s on the site of a former monastery (of which, only the Chapel remains) as another Summer Palace. King Ferdinand 2, the husband of Queen Maria 2, requested embellishments ranging from Moorish to Manueline. The inside is fairly sumptious but the exterior is a delight. There are also extensive gardens and woodlands, all within a rambling wall, in over 200 hectares of hilly terrain.
This old royal summer palace was built on the site of an old Moorish fort, starting in 1281 and continued until about 16th century. Various heights of buildings reflect the hilly nature of the site. The layout of the open air internal patios, arched windows and richly decorated geometric tiled surfaces show the Moorish influence of the craftsmen who built it. It is famous for the two large cone shaped chimneys formed by the large kitchen tapering up to each 33 m high chimney. Also for the Swan room with 27 panels of swans in different poses, the Magpie room with 136 magpies painted on the ceiling, one for each woman in court, and the Palatine room with frescoes of doves. Its tiled floor and carved wooden latticework ceiling are some of the oldest examples of Mudejear work in Portugal. The Heraldry room walls are covered in blue and white tiles depicting mostly hunting scenes, all in such fine detail you can see shoe bows, and ceilings depicting the royal family's and noble's coats of arms are a blaze of colour. One of the later rooms is the Manueline room with all the usual amazing detailed formwork.
Built in 1560, it is known as the "Cork Convent"because of its cork doors and cell like rooms, cut from rock and lined with cork. This natural insulation gave the Franciscan monks some comfort in an otherwise spartan conditions. There are multiple chapels and places for quiet reflection as well as a kitchen, refectory, washroom, library and a meeting room. It was finally abandoned in 1834 by the 7 remaining monks.
Cork is an environmentally friendly product, and about half of the worldwide production is in Portugal. The trees are not harvested until they are about 25 years old , and after then only about every 9 years from May to August. The harvesters or "extractors" use a very sharp axe and make one horizontal cut at a height about 2-3 times the circumference of the tree and several vertical cuts. The handle of the axe is inserted into these cuts and they then lever the bark off. These sections are called planks. These are stacked in piles in the forests or factory yards and left to dry.
Cork forests are mostly grassy paddocks with livestock with scattered trees. we only saw one place with trees in regular rows.
We entered the city via the Vasco da Gama bridge,is a cable stayed bridge and is the longest bridge in Europe with a total length including viaducts of 17.2 km and opened in 1998.
Lisbon is a handsome city, strung out over a series of hills facing the broad estuary of the Tejo River. Alot of the city was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake and was rebuilt later, especially the Baixa district which was redesigned in grid pattern starting with the Arco da Rue Augusta by the water and stretching up to Rossio square. Alot of the city is pedestrianised but otherwise there are cars, trams, buses and even strange microcars to get around in. To the east of this district is the Alfama, the old Jewish quarter with narrow steep winding streets which end up at excellent viewing points.
Casa do Alentjo
This a restaurant in Rua das Portas de Santo Antoa, just north of the Rossio, which doubles as a cultural centre for the people of Alentjo. It is unremarkable outside but spectacular on the inside with evidence of strong Moorish influence and lots of marble from Estramoz, one of Atlentjos main towns. The central courtyard was lovely but the upstairs rooms were truely splendid.
Elevador da Santa Justa
This elaborate metal decorative street elevator was built in 1902 by a disciple of Gustav Eifel and takes you up to a platform and then you climb a narrow spiral staircase to another metal platform high above the city centre and the Rossio.
A suburb just north of Belem with the massive 19th century National Palace of Ajuda, initially ordered by the monarchs in 1802 but delayed by war with Napoleon until they were able to move in in 1807. Modifications continued until 1821. We found it a more intimate palace than most, despite its large size. The monarchy was deposed in 1910 after Dom Carlos and his son were assassinated in 1908. We saw many pictures and sculptures of him as a young child so all very sad.
This suburb is in the western part of Lisbon on the river. It was from Belem that Vasco da Gama set off for India in 1497 and the vast Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and its church were built here in the early 1500s to honour his safe return. Vasco da Gamas tomb is inside the church in prime position. The Church's interior displays typical Manueline architecture -very ornate and elaborate. The monastery is equally impressive with vaulted cloisters around a central courtyard and lots of gargoyles.