Portugal: A Photographic Trip Album

Old May 14th, 2020, 05:11 AM
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Jeffergray
I have thoroughly enjoyed your photographic album and historical descriptions of Portugal and it makes me more determined to visit there when this shut down lifts.
Thank you so much for sharing
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Old May 14th, 2020, 05:27 AM
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Sadly, I had to cancel our trip to Portugal (which was a substitute for our canceled trip to China!), and your photos were part of my inspiration for the trip. I hope to get there sometime in the not-too-distant future!
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Old Jul 10th, 2020, 01:24 PM
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Thanks, Rasputin1! You won't be disappointed,

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Old Jul 10th, 2020, 01:35 PM
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I hope you're able to get there soon as well (and to China, too!).

P.S. I enjoyed looking at your Italy trip photos.
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Old Jul 29th, 2020, 07:03 PM
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Trip Journal Continued: Arrival and Day 1 Sightseeing in Lisbon

Although it will certainly be a while before many Fodorites will get the chance to go to Portugal, there will someday be a time when things return to normal, and perhaps finishing this trip report will provide some pleasure to currently home-restricted and increasingly restive travel bugs.

My flight out of Baltimore for JFK didn’t leave until 5:15, and my departure day was a Saturday, so I had time to do some things around home earlier in the day. When I first turned on my computer this morning, the image that popped up on Bing was, of all things, a stunning overhead view of an eroded limestone cliffs and a small sandy beach near Portimao on Portugal’s southwestern Algarve coast! (You can find the image here: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q...mageBasicHover. ) Barely ten days later, on Wednesday, May 8th, I actually was in Portimao and took a tour along the cliffs east of the town, both by road and by sea, but I didn’t see this precise spot (it’s apparently along the coast a short distance west of Portimao). Still, it further fired my enthusiasm for the trip ahead.

My Delta flight from JFK to Lisbon was on a Boeing 757, only 6 seats across, the smallest plane I had ever taken across the Atlantic. This reflects the lesser demand for both business and vacation travel to Portugal, which also isn’t a place many people go through on their way to somewhere else. The food was fine, as it is on Delta international flights, and I managed to get about four hours of sleep.

We landed in Lisbon on Sunday, April 28th, at about 10:00. It was a beautiful day, and I rode into the center of Lisbon in a taxi with a talkative young driver who spoke excellent English. (I realized over the course of this trip that even beyond the fact that Portugal and England have been military allies since the late 1300's, and also had strong mercantile ties for centuries because of the Port wine trade out of Porto, the southern coasts of Portugal and Spain today function as England’s answer to Florida – the place where everyone flees for sunshine during the months of cold and wet. Thus, you will almost never have a problem finding fluent English speakers anywhere you are likely to be.)

I reached my hotel, the Santa Justa, in downtown Lisbon’s Baixa district, just south of Rossio Square and the Praca de Figueira. This district was totally flattened by the terrible earthquake of November 1755, and then rebuilt by the Marquis of Pombal, the king’s chief minister at the time, on a regular grid plan. The Rua Augusta, the Baixa’s main artery, is a broad pedestrianized thoroughfare, as are many of the east-west streets, and the other north-south streets are relatively narrow and easy to get across when walking.

Baixa is a great base for touring Lisbon – you’re in the center of everything. The districts of Chiado and Bairo Alto, with their shopping and restaurants and fado music venues, are respectively about a 5- and 10-12 minute stroll to the west. Rossio station, your jumping-off place for the palaces of Sintra, is about an 8-10 minute walk to the north. You can get to the Castelo Sao Jorge to the east (with the Alfama below it) on foot in about 15-20 minutes. The Praca de Comercio, the huge square on the waterfront that marks the site of Lisbon’s pre-earthquake royal palace and later the seat of its main government ministries, is a 10-15 minute straight walk to the south.

Because of the advantages of its location (and the inexpensiveness of many of my other hotel accommodations), I was willing to splurge on the Santa Justa, which, with taxes, cost me around $250 a night for my room. It’s at the intersection of the Rua de Santa Justa and the Rua dos Correeiros, both of which are pedestrians only, occupying buildings on both sides of the latter, and was one block south of the Praca de Figueira (which has an underground parking garage that you use if you have a car). It presently ranks 19th out of 289 hotels in Lisbon on TripAdvisor (with current rates in the low $200's).

I had requested a room with a view when I’d booked my reservation a couple of months earlier, so they put me in a corner on the top floor of their annex building across the street from the main lobby. There was a bit of the “be careful what you wish for” about the management’s gratification of my request, because this was a garret-level room just under the roof, with slanting ceilings and projecting beams, and I am 6'2'’. Yes, there were a few head-bumps in the early going until I got accustomed to it. But: it had doors opening to small balconies (with room for just two chairs each) on both the Rua Augusta and the Rua Santa Justa side. From the latter, I could look west a couple of blocks to the elaborate fin de siecle ironwork of the Santa Justa elevator and its observation platform, which was designed by none other than Gustav Eiffel. (I loved being able to see it illuminated by night.) To the east, I could see the walls and towers of the Castelo Sao Jorge crowning its imposing bluff, where the original Moorish settlement had been located. And in front and to the sides of me of me were lovely nineteenth century buildings painted in an array of pastels – peach, flax, rose, pearl gray, cornflower blue.

Here is a picture of the view from one of my room’s balconies:



It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, with blue skies and the temperature in the low seventies, with a bit of a breeze. I was excited and eager to be out and touring, so I changed into a polo shirt and a pair of shorts and set off – making two mistakes as I did so. First, I raced off without my guidebooks, although I did have a map. Second, probably in part because I needed to get more Portuguese currency, I didn’t leave my wallet behind in my room safe. More about that later.

My objective for the afternoon was the Belem district, about 2-1/2 miles west of the downtown area on the Tejo (Tagus) waterfront), because I’d read that a number of the main sites there (including the Belem tower and the Jeronimos monastery) were closed on Mondays. (This is actually pretty common in Portugal.) I caught the famous # 28 tram from a corner of the Praca de Figueria, and once I took my seat and stopped rushing around, I realized I’d forgotten my guidebooks. But I shrugged it off, figuring I’d read enough about the places I’d be seeing that I could get by, and then fill myself in on the further details that night.

When I reached Belem, I passed by the legendary pastry shop called the Pasteis de Belem, celebrated for making the small custard tarts known as Pastel de Nata, and which had been highly recommended to me. But the lines were down the block, and I didn’t feel I could spend the time to wait. So I continued on to the famous waterfront tower of Belem, which may be Lisbon’s best-known landmark. This was built as a look-out and cannon platform at the western entrance to Lisbon’s shipping basin in 1515-1520, but it is far from a grim fortress. It was constructed by the architect Francisco de Arruda (whose work I would encounter again later on at Tomar) in the fanciful Manueline style named after King Manuel I (1495-1521), which typically combines Muslim decorative influences (such as double-arched windows and elaborate Moorish canopied balconies) with organic marine and nautical (especially ropework) elements. Here, even the most functional defense elements had decorative touches – the shield of Portugal’s crusading order, the Order of Christ, was embossed upon every battlement; the sentry boxes were crowned with segmented domes reminiscent of a citrus fruit; and the posts at the top of its towers were each capped by small pyramids.

I had plenty to time to contemplate this architectural fantasy – which reminded me of an elaborately decorated rook that had escaped from a giant chess board – because the Mother of All Lines snaked away from it, commencing at the end of a bridge crossing over the surrounding low-water mud flats and then wending its way along the sidewalks of the adjacent park. Eventually, I learned that this line was a function of the upper limit of 120 people who are allowed into the tower at any one point in time. I had some time to spare, so I waited, and then at about 2:40 p.m., the line suddenly lurched forward and filled up the bridge, and it looked like we were getting somewhere – until I noticed a sign at the water’s edge indicating that the last admission was at 2 p.m. today. I then realized that although people were still periodically exiting the entrance, it didn’t seem like anyone was being admitted.

Being a pushy American, I crossed the bridge, rapped upon the door, inquired, and established that, indeed, no one else was going to get inside today. Given that there were still several hundred people waiting patiently – or perhaps dumbly – in line, I shook my head in disbelief that no staff member could be bothered to take a moment to step outside and make an announcement to this effect. So on my way back across the bridge, I announced “closed” in every European language in which I knew the word. A few of those waiting peeled off in response to this, but not many. As I worked my way around the land side of the tower taking photos from the waterfront park, they recorded a still-lengthy line of hopeful visitors waiting patiently but pointlessly in line. If nothing else, I felt I’d gained an insight into both the arrogance of Portuguese officialdom and the stolid mentality of too many native and foreign tourists.

Here is one of the photos I took of the Belem Tower:




I made my west along the waterfront to the giant and striking “Monument to the Discoveries,” erected by the fascist Salazar regime in 1960 on the 400th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, whose school of navigation, commerce, and diplomacy at Cape Sagres (the site of which I visited the following week) did so much to spur the Age of Discovery and the onset of Portugal’s 16th century Golden Age. In form, it takes the shape of the high, jutting prow of a ship, lined on each side with thirty-plus statues of the great figures of Portugal’s Age of Exploration, with Prince Henry at the apex and Luis de Camoes, clutching the text of Portugal’s national epic, “The Lusiads,” prominent amongst the figures on the right side. Above them looms a tall stone tower crowned by an observation deck with views over the Tejo estuary and representations of billowing sails on each side. There was a line to go up to the top, and while it wasn’t all that long, I felt I didn’t have the time. Afterwards, though, I read in Rick Steves’s Portugal guidebook that the view of the estuary from the top and of a giant mosaic pavement in front of the monument that depicts Portugal’s great voyages is worth the wait if you can be patient.

It was only as I walked away from the monument towards the Jeronimos monastery that I noticed that the monument has a giant representation of a cross-like sword on its narrow landward face. When I read Roger Crowley’s “Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire” after my return, I felt that was an appropriate representation of the mix of motives and means that characterized Portugal’s amazing outward expansion in the first half of the 16th century.

Here are two photos of the Monument to the Discoveries:







The Monument to the Discoveries stands where it does because this was the point of departure for Vasco da Gama’s fleet on July 8, 1497 and of the return of its survivors from their earth-shaking voyage to India two years later. It’s worth taking a moment to imagine the scene in your mind. The bay is pretty shallow at that point, and boats passed to and from the four ships standing offshore carrying provisions, needed equipment, and crew. When the ships stood out to sea, a crowd that included the family members and friends of those aboard lined the beach and waded out into the sea to see them off, doubtless with great anxiety as to the likelihood of their safe return. In the end, barely a third of them did.

King Manuel I started construction of the Jeronimos Monastery three years later in thanksgiving for the safe return of Da Gama and his last two ships, which had opened up an arduous and lengthy (round trip: 18 months) but immensely lucrative trade route to the east that allowed the Portuguese to cut Venice and the Mamelukes of Egypt out of their roles as the middlemen in the spice trade. The Jeronimos complex consists of the massive church, with an elaborately decorated south facade facing the bay, and an elegant two-story cloister on its north side. The church is imposing, with six relatively lean and tree-like columns carved with vegetal motifs that shoot up 80 feet above your head to the springing arches of the vault. Two Portuguese kings - Manuel I and his successor Joao III (1521-57), along with their queens, are buried in the church’s choir in tombs mounted on elephants, while Vasco da Gama’s tomb is in a small and easily overlooked (at least amidst the Sunday crowds) chamber off to the left when you enter the church’s western portal. Luis de Camoes, whose actual burial place is unknown, rates an empty tomb in another small room to the right of the entrance.

Here is a photo of the interior of the Jeronimos Church:



I liked the church, with its lofty columns and vaulting, but I thought the cloister was the highlight of the Jeronimos complex. It is an exercise in full Manueline exuberance, with elaborately filigreed arches, decorated columns and pinnacles, and abstract designs and representations of vines and flowers that cover almost every inch of its surface. And the tawny color of its stone was beautifully set off by the blue sky and its grass lawn basking in the Lusitanian sun.

Here is a photo of the Jeronimos cloister:



By the time I finished with the Jeronimos, it was pushing 4:10. I knew I’d need to scramble in order to catch the 4:30 walking tour that I’d booked with the Lisbon Chill-Out Free Tour company. It started from the Praca Luis de Camoes, which is on the southern edge of Bairo Alto and just west of Chiado – a couple of miles away from where I was then. I was able to grab a taxi in front of the Jeronimos, and the driver took me speeding and swooping across Lisbon’s hills like a Swift before depositing me where I needed to be with just minutes to spare.

The Lisbon Chill-Out Free Tour company is a small, locally-owned enterprise with an interesting business model. They have no set charge for their tours; you pay what you want to or can at the end. Pretty much everyone does, based on the quality of the service provided, so it seems to work. TripAdvisor gives it 5 stars based on 5,253 reviews.

Our tour was led by a young woman named Ana, who also had a trainee in tow. There were about 15-20 people in the group, and a diverse crew we were, including a trio of American girls, a young Brazilian woman, and an older British woman, and a young couple or two.

Ana was great: personable, engaging, and knowledgeable, as well as possessing the necessary skill at cat-herding that is also vital for a tour guide. The tour ran a solid three hours, and Ana did it in an urban setting with some level of street noise much of the way with no microphone, and I never had trouble hearing her. (I give walking tours in my own city, so I know just how challenging that can be.) She kept us on the move, and her tour was filled with solid content and provided a good initial overview of much of downtown.

We started out by making our way through the Chiado, showing off the entertainment, restaurants, and shopping it has to offer, and then arrived at the Largo da Carmo just in time to catch the lowering of the flag at the National Guard headquarters, which is carried out with a degree of pageantry and does attract a crowd (at least on Sundays). This was also where the Portugal’s last dictator, Marcello Caetano, was cornered and captured during the“Carnation Revolution” of April 25, 1975. We were there only three days past the 45th anniversary, and the square featured several large black-and-white blow-ups of photos taken that day. One of them showed a boy, perhaps 10 or 11, with round, dark eyes holding the hand of a soldier; it was odd to think that he would now be a man in his mid-50's, deep into a life and career.




The ruins of the 14th century Carmo monastery, which was partially wrecked during the Great Earthquake of 1755, abut the National Guard headquarters, so Ana took that as an opportunity to brief us on the most traumatic day in Lisbon’s history. From there we walked down to the vast square of the Praca de Comercio along the waterfront – once the site of Portugal’s pre-earthquake royal palace and later of the great government ministries – and then east to the Alfama, the old neighborhood that was once the Moorish city. Along the way we passed the striking 16th century Casa dos Bicos (“House of the Facets”), once the home of the Albuquerque family and today a foundation honoring Portugal’s Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, Jose Saramago.



We passed close by Lisbon’s Se, the city’s 12th century Romanesque cathedral, but didn’t stop. Instead, we worked our way up through the narrow and winding streets of the Alfama (with a stop to sample Ginginja, the traditional cherry liqueur served in small chocolate cups) to the Largo St. Luzia, a plaza/overlook next to a small church that commanded a spectacular view of eastern Lisbon, the Alfama below us, and the bay beyond. The tour ended there, and I made my way over to the railing along the overlook and started taking photos by the lovely late afternoon light. This is the Church of Sao Vicente de Fora (1582-1627), which serves as the mausoleum for Portugal's last ruling dynasty, the House of Braganza:



I got some very nice photos – and I also got my pocket picked while I was concentrating on the view in front of me, rather than who was behind me. For a more detailed account of that (mis)adventure and the lessons I took from it, see my post below:

Pickpocketed in Lisbon: A Memoir

After I finished reporting the crime to the police at an office near the Rossio station, I ate a late dinner back at the Santa Justa, but was in no mood to enjoy it. The waitress did her best to jolly me up, however, and her vivacity did help lift my spirits -- as did my view by night of the Elevador Santa Justa after I returned to my garret room:

Aside from the big lesson – don’t get your pocket picked! – I would say my main take-aways from Day 1 were that (1) Sunday’s not a great day to go to Belem: it’s just too crowded; (2) whenever you do go, try to do it first thing in the morning, when the crowds hopefully haven’t yet massed and the lines formed; and (3) remember that there’s also a quintet of museums there – of archaeology and ethnology; military history; maritime history; popular and folk art; and a unique one that houses the ornate horse-drawn coaches of the Portuguese royal family, which seems to offer something for everyone. Oh, yes, and many people do not regard as trip to Portugal as complete without visiting the Pasteis de Belem.


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Old Jul 30th, 2020, 01:15 AM
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Thanks Jeffersgrey. I have planned four nights in Belem so that we can see each of the museums and have time to wander.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2020, 06:11 PM
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Glad to hear it, Rasputin!

P.S. I have been enjoying reading your Trip report from your 2016 visit to Sicily. My wife and I went there on our honeymoon -- back when it was possible to climb up to the ampitheatre at Segesta and see the view of the temple from up there.
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Old Aug 4th, 2020, 06:17 AM
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I'll be back to read your report and look through your albums! Proof that iPhones take great photos.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2020, 06:20 PM
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Striking Aerial Footage of downtown Lisbon during the Pandemic

I just ran across this on YouTube today. It's a 10-minute clip of aerial footage of Lisbon taken by a drone back in April when it was largely shutdown for the Pandemic. (It seems to be part of a series; there are some of other European cities as well.) While the circumstances that prompted the making of this video were tragic, it strikingly presents the beauty of Portugal's capital city. If you want to see it on YouTube proper, search on "empty streets of Lisbon").



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Old Nov 29th, 2020, 08:56 AM
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Trip Journal: Day 2, Part 1: Baixa, the Carmo, and the Great Lisbon Earthquake

Mondays (in this case, April 29th) can be a bit of a challenge when you’re touring in and around Lisbon. Everything in Belem and pretty much all of the major museums (except the Gulbenkian) are closed. The word is also that Sintra is mobbed with foreign tourists on Mondays (the locals, not surprisingly, go there over the weekend), so I’d reserved Tuesday for my Sintra trip. Accordingly, I planned to focus on a walking tour of Lisbon’s in-town, central districts – Chiado and Bairro Alto (“Upper Town”). These were just to the west of my hotel in Baixa in any case, and were also covered by a walking tour in Rick Steves’s Portugal guidebook. Given that both of these districts present a number of shopping opportunities, I figured this would also be a good time to take care of picking up some souvenirs for family members.

I had an excellent breakfast at the Santa Justa, then headed off past the Elevador Santa Justa (where a long line was already waiting to ascend to the viewing platform) and climbed uphill towards the Largo do Carmo, where we had stopped briefly on our walking tour the previous afternoon. The shattered monastery on its eastern side is one of Lisbon’s most striking landmarks. It was founded in 1389 as a house of the Carmelite Order (hence the name) by Nuno Alvares Pereira, Constable of Portugal. Four years earlier, at the age of 25, Nuno Alvares had led a small Portuguese army to a remarkable victory at the battle of Aljubarotta over an invading force from Castile that was three to four times its size. That victory preserved Portugal’s independence from Spain for almost another 200 years – until 1580 – and ensured that Portugal developed its own independent national character. As a result, when the Spanish finally did manage a take-over under King Philip II, they were unable to make their annexation stick for more than about 60 years. After holding other high state positions for in later life, the elderly Nuno became a monk at the Carmo in 1423 and lived there for his final eight years before he died at the age of 71.


The Elevador Santa Justa, designed by Gustav Eiffel


The Ruins of the Carmo Monastery (14th - 15th centuries)


Model showing the Carmo Monastery in pre-earthquake days

Given that the Carmo with its high, proud walls and vaulting nave had already stood upon the edge of an imposing bluff for 350 years-plus, it must have seemed to mid-18th Lisboans that it would always be a prominent part of the city’s life. And so it would be, but in a different manner than they anticipated.

Sunday, November 1, 1755 was All Saints Day, one of the moist important festivals in the Catholic Church’s calendar. That morning, all of Lisbon’s churches were packed with worshipers and filled with flowers and burning candles. At 9:40 a.m., beneath the bottom of Atlantic Ocean some 200 miles southwest of Lisbon, two tectonic plates that had been straining against each other for centuries suddenly shrugged apart, sending out a series of powerful tremors (estimated to have been at least 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale) that shook southern and central Portugal violently for four to six minutes. The high vaulted roofs of the Carmo and of other cathedrals and churches first fractured, then buckled and collapsed, sending tons of stone blocks plummeting down onto the heads of the packed crowds of worshipers below. And crevasses as much as 15 feet across split through streets and buildings.

Thousands died or were seriously injured in those first few minutes, but the horror was just beginning. Fires spread rapidly across the city as toppled candles set shattered beams, broken furniture, clothing, furnishings, paper, and other flammable objects burning. Among the major buildings that ignited was the royal palace (known as the Ribeira or river palace) down on the Tejo waterfront. Fortunately, King Joseph I and his family had left the city after attending a sunrise mass and were in Belem, which was remarkably little affected by the earthquake (thereby sparing the Belem Tower and the Jeronimos Monastery for us to enjoy today). The fires raged for a week, triggering a firestorm that sucked up the surrounding oxygen, asphyxiating people who stood as much as 100 feet away from the fire.


"Allegory of the Lisbon Earthquake," by Joao Glama Stoberle, in the National Museum of Ancient Art (Museu Nacional de Arte Antigua) in Lisbon (Wikipedia: public domain)

The sea in the Lisbon basin, after violently heaving during the initial moments of the shock, suddenly receded away towards the Atlantic, leaving vessels stranded in the mud and exposing the sunken hulks of long-ago wrecks. Crowds of people fleeing the destruction in the upper parts of the city congregated along the waterfront, with many of them probably massing in the Terreiro do Paco, the vast open square to the east of the Ribeira Palace.


The Ribeira (River) Palace and the adjoining square previously known as the Terreiro do Paco, shortly before the 1755 Earthquake (Wikipedia: : public domain)

There, shocked and despondent, unknown numbers were drowned when, some 40 minutes after the earthquake, the first in a succession of three tsunamis suddenly raced up the Tejo estuary and exploded into the city’s low-lying areas. In Lagos, on the Algarve and much closer to the quake’s underwater epicenter, the tsunami’s waves were said to have reached the top of the city’s walls (which are at least twenty feet high). Cadiz, further west along Spain’s Atlantic coastline, was hit by waves said to be 65 feet high. It was largely destroyed and a third of its population were killed. The tsunamis reached Martinique and Barbados in the Caribbean and had substantial effects as far away as Galway on the western coast of Ireland and Cornwall in England.

Estimates of the dead vary widely, ranging from a surprisingly low 10,000-15,000 (by A.R. Disney in his history of Portugal) to upwards of 30,000 - 40,000 (out of a total population of roughly 200,000) in Lisbon itself. Another 10,000 to 20,000 are likely to have died along the coastlines of Portugal, Spain, and Morocco.

Not surprisingly, damage was heaviest in the lower part of the city, which was both swept by fire and inundated by the sea. The Ribeira Palace was wrecked, as were the customs house, the arsenal, the quays along the bay, and the patriarchal church, and the Palace of the Inquisition. Also nearby, Lisbon’s splendid new opera house, opened only seven months earlier, was left a burned-out shell. The Romanesque cathedral (the Se’) was heavily damaged by fire. As many as 80-90% of the houses in Lisbon were either utterly demolished or rendered unfit for habitation, and many fine examples of Portugal’s distinctive Manueline architectural style (early 16th century) were lost as well.


The ruins of the Ribeira Palace after the earthquake (Wikipedia: public domain)

Disney describes the cultural losses as “quite simply incalculable.” The paintings, sculptures, furnishings and historic artifacts amassed in the Ribeiera Palace over the previous 250 years since its construction began during the reign of Manuel I in the early 1500's were virtually all lost, including a vast painting by Titian that covered the ceiling of the palace library. The library, one of the greatest in Europe with an estimated collection of 70,000 volumes, was destroyed. The Tower of the King, a great domed structure at the southern end of the palace along the waterfront, contained not only the palace library but also Portugal’s royal archives and the archives of the Casa da India, the bureaucracy of Portugal’s overseas commercial empire, with the original records of Portugal’s great voyages of discovery and its colonial enterprises, including the logs of Vasco da Gama’s voyages. All of those were lost.

The Annunciada Palace, the Lisbon home of the counts of Ericeira, was also destroyed. It contained works by Rubens, Corregio, Titian, and Hondius, as well as its own library of 18,000 volumes. The city’s great public hospital, the Royal Hospital of All Saints, which stood in what is today Rossio Square, was utterly destroyed by fire, with many of its patients burned to death. And the tomb in the Carmo of Portugal’s great national hero, Nuno Alvares Pereira, was smashed into rubble.

(The Palacio de Annunciada, which was rebuilt following the earthquake, has recently been converted into a luxury hotel. See https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/d...unciada-hotel/ and https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/d...tels-portugal/. It’s off the Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon’s answer to the Champs-Elysees, just north of Rossio Square.)

The governments of eighteenth century Europe were generally not meritocracies, but Portugal was fortunate that in the moment of its greatest national disaster, the king’s chief minister was the formidably competent Sebastiao Jose de Carlvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal. He is honored today with a lofty statue in the Praca Marquis de Pombal, one of the city’s most important traffic roundabouts. The son of a minor country squire, he was reviled as an upstart by Portugal’s snooty hereditary nobility, but his talents and King Joseph I’s support (as well as his own lack of aptitude for government) enabled Pombal to exercise essentially autocratic power from 1750 - 1777. When the horrified and distraught Joseph I asked him what was to be done in the aftermath of the earthquake, Pombal calmly replied, “Bury the dead and care for the living.” He then set to work doing just that.


Sebastiao Jose de Carvalho e Melo, Marquis of Pombal (1699-1782) (Wikipedia: public domain)

Just over a month later, in early December, the government’s chief engineer presented Pombal with four contrasting plans for rebuilding the city. He chose the most radical of them, which called for completely razing the existing ruins in the flat Baixa district between what is today Rossio square and the Tejo, and instead creating a series of broad, straight avenues and grand, open squares. The old Palace Square (Terreiro do Paco), which now lacked a palace, became the Praca do Comercio. Four broad parallel streets ran north from it to end at two new squares, the Rossio and the Praca de Figueira, which were just a block north of my hotel. These four main avenues were crossed by smaller streets. Within the resulting grid, all buildings were subject to mandatory guidelines specifying their size and general appearance. In addition, all structures in this area were required to have cisterns for fire-fighting and to be built atop shock-absorbing “Pombaline cages,” wooden structures designed to be seismically protective. Disney states that “The final outcome was one of the finest examples of planned urban renewal in eighteenth-century Europe.”

In an effort to learn as much as he could about the source of the disaster, the Marquis also devised a questionnaire that was sent to all of Portugal’s church parishes requesting information on the characteristics of the earthquake and its effects (e.g., “Did you perceive the shock to be greater from one direction than another? Did buildings seem to fall more to one side than the other?”). The data generated as a result is credited with greatly advancing the infant field of seismology.

King Joseph was so mentally affected by the horrors of the earthquake that he declined to rebuild the wrecked Ribiera Palace or to live in stone buildings for the rest of his life. Instead, he erected a group of large canvas pavilions in the hilly Ajuda area and lived there for the remaining two decades of his reign. (The Ajuda Palace was built on the site after his death.) The two symmetrical pavilions fronting on the Tejo at the ends of the elegantly colonnaded government buildings built after the earthquake along the perimeter of the Praca do Comercio do echo the previous design of the King’s Tower and the Casa da India.


View of the modern Praca do Comercio and the Tejo estuary from the Castelo Sao Jorge

The Lisbon earthquake had a significant impact on intellectual life across Europe. It fueled the religious skepticism of Voltaire and many others – who asked why a just and benevolent God have triggered such a devastating earthquake at that precise moment on a high holy day, when a disproportionate number of those killed would have been among the most pious and devout of the city’s population? It also contributed to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s idealization of rural life. Immanuel Kant was fascinated by the earthquake, collected everything he could find about it, and produced a volume speculating about its causes (inaccurately, as it turned out: he though it might have been caused by gases shifting about beneath the earth’s surface, but at least he was working towards a natural explanation).

Wikipedia has an excellent article on the Great Lisbon Earthquake, which you can find here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1755_Lisbon_earthquake

It also has an entry about the now-lost Ribiera Palace, with illustrations showing its development over the centuries until its destruction:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribeira_Palace

And one about the Casa da India:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_da_%C3%8Dndia

Finally, Lisbon’s Museum of Azulejos has a spectacular 100-foot-long panorama in blue-and-white tiles showing the pre-earthquake city as seen from the Tejo estuary that was created in 1730. If you have any interest in the earthquake and the city’s history, it is not to be missed. Some detail photos are shown below:


The Ribeira Palace: Tower of the King/Casa da India, from the azulejo Panorama of Lisbon (1730), in the Museu dos Azulejo


The Palace of the Braganza Family (top, with the double-arched windows) and the Palace Corte-Real (below, front), from the Panorama of Lisbon (1730)

[To Be Continued]
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Old Nov 30th, 2020, 05:32 AM
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The 'Beer speaks, people mumble' gave me a giggle, jeffergray, but your photos are awesome. Thanks for taking the time to do such a nice TR.
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Old Nov 30th, 2020, 07:53 AM
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It was my pleasure! Thanks for commenting.
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Old Nov 30th, 2020, 11:49 AM
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Since posting the above, I remembered that the YouTube drone video "The Abandoned Streets of Lisbon," which I posted as part of this thread on October 3rd, includes some wonderful footage of the Baixa district and the Praca de Comercio, showing the area that witnessed the most extensive reconstruction following the Great Earthquake. In particular, the video does a great job of showing the patterned undulating pavement design in the Rossio Square and the other artful pavement designs on some of the pedestrianized streets in the Baixa. This footage appears from roughly 0:50 through about 3:50.

I also discovered last night while shopping for Christmas gifts that there is a much-acclaimed family board game called "Lisboa" that came out in 2017, and which takes as its theme the reconstruction of Lisbon following the 1755 quake:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/161533/lisboa
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Old Dec 2nd, 2020, 08:41 AM
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I like this place
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Old Dec 2nd, 2020, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by jeffergray View Post
It was founded in 1389 as a house of the Carmelite Order (hence the name) by Nuno Alvares Pereira, Constable of Portugal. Four years earlier, at the age of 25, Nuno Alvares had led a small Portuguese army to a remarkable victory at the battle of Aljubarotta over an invading force from Castile that was three to four times its size. That victory preserved Portugal’s independence from Spain for almost another 200 years – until 1580 – and ensured that Portugal developed its own independent national character. As a result, when the Spanish finally did manage a take-over under King Philip II, they were unable to make their annexation stick for more than about 60 years. After holding other high state positions for in later life, the elderly Nuno became a monk at the Carmo in 1423 and lived there for his final eight years before he died at the age of 71.
]
The battle: it was an elementary strategy, we were at th sides, they didn't know that, they attack, , we closed the front and the end making a square with the spanish in the midle. No space to fight for them.

Concerning the "anexation" for 60 years: well... it was not exactly that. Anyway, they asked us more man for battles (problems with Cataluña and the fights with Belgium and Holland), and we take advantage. That was at the 1st December 1640, when we get out of those spanish kings. Yesterday was of course a Hollyday!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2020, 07:58 PM
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Thank you, Helena!

For more on the Battle of Aljubarotta, Wikipedia has a detailed description of it which you can find here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Aljubarrota

And here's an image, more colorful than authentic, which I guess I could say was "inspired" by the Battle of Aljubarotta. It's actually used as the cover illustration for the first volume of A.R. Disney's history of Portugal.


Image of the battle of Aljubarotta (April 1385), between the Castilians and their French allies and the Portuguese and their English allies (from Wikipedia: a public domain image from an illuminated manuscript in the British Library)

There are also at least three film clips about it on YouTube, of which the first one below (an animation) is the most informative, and the second and shorter one listed is puckish good fun. The third is a lengthy animation using the graphics from the video game "Medieval Kingdoms: Total War".



The battle of Aljubarotta was short -- only one to two hours long -- but definitely hard-fought. British archers stood alongside the Portuguese, the fruit of what was then a recently-formed alliance between the two nations, but one that subsequently became one of the longest-lasting military partnerships in history. It played a key role in saving Portugal from French domination during the Napoleonic Wars and continues to function today through both countries' membership in NATO.

You are right that while King Philip II of Spain and his two successors united the crowns of Portugal and Spain in their own person after the Portuguese royal line died out with King Sebastiao in 1578, the Portuguese kingdom retained its separate legal existence and its parliament. Still, it ultimately took a war of independence lasting from 1640-1668 to get the Spanish out again. So happy restoration of Portuguese independence day yesterday!
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Old Dec 3rd, 2020, 05:18 AM
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"Happy restoration day"... yeah... confined. And sad. The very well known coffee shop Majestic in Porto closed last week. We have 9 restaurant owners in front of Parliament camping in a hunger strike - it's the 10th day. Anyway, the 1st December 1640 was the day when the portuguese crown was given to Holly Mary. No royal head wear it ever since.

We miss tourists. It's not just because of the money, it's because of the life tourists bring to our villages, cities, etc.

I'm starting today lessons of italian, I can manage myself (more or less) with spanish, french and english, but we had lots of italian tourists in the past years, so I guess this will be very usefull in 2021. Yes, I believe this all will be gone next Spring.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2020, 06:31 PM
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Trip Journal: Day 2 (4/29/19), Part 2: Bairo Alto & Chaido

The Carmo today houses a small archaeological museum in the apse and its side chapels, which either survived the earthquake or were reconstructed in the 19th century when it became a museum. After looking through it, I continued up a steep hill and around the corner to the Largo Trinidade Coelho, a pleasant square with a patterned pavement, a refreshments-and-magazines kiosk, and an engaging bronze statute of a mustachioed lottery ticket seller, whose proffered ticket has been rubbed by the curious (or those seeking good luck?) to gleaming gold. The north side of the square is occupied by the Jesuit church of Sao Roque (St. Roch; built between 1567 and the later 1580's), whose imposing but severe and bland white-and-cream exterior offers little hint of the richness that lies inside. (I have seen some lists of Lisbon’s top ten sites that include it, and for good reason).


Statue of a lottery ticket seller in the Largo Trinidade Coelho

A statue to the right of the church’s main entrance depicts a Jesuit with three aboriginal native children, commemorating the Society’s efforts to proselytize in the more jungly reaches of Brazil and maybe Paraguay. This statue has nothing to do with St. Roch, however. He turns out to have been a Frenchman who lived a short but eventful life between 1295 - 1327, as you can read about at the link below. Very much a saint for our present time, he was renowned for his ability to save communities from the plague, He is also the patron saint of dogs (because one saved his life), dog lovers, invalids, bachelors, and sick cattle, among others.

https://www.catholiccompany.com/maga...-of-dogs-6114#


Statue of a Jesuit Missionary with aboriginal children outside of Sao Roque

Sao Roque – like many other churches around the country – benefited tremendously from Portugal’s second great explosion of national wealth between 1690 - 1750 after gold and diamonds were discovered in vast quantities in Brazil. In addition to the usual expanses of gilded woodwork that are characteristic of this period, its star attraction is the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, a gift of the profligate and free-spending monarch Joao V (1706-50), whose expenditures earned him the sobriquet “the Magnificent” even as they bankrupted the country. Created in Rome in the 1740's the chapel was aptly described by my Blue Guide as “an opulent confection of lapis lazuli, agate, porphyry, and ormulu” (whatever that last may be), that is “also notable for the mosaic picture of the Baptism in imitation of oil-painting, while the hanging lustres [lamps] are also excellent examples of the Italian craftsmanship of the period.”


The Chapel of St. Roch, with its gilded woodwork


The Chapel of St. John the Baptist (1742 - 1747) in Sao Roque

The church’s Sacristy has notable blue-and-yellow azulejos and affords access to a gallery that when I was there was displaying ornate 18th and 19th century robes created to adorn statues of the Virgin displayed on altars or carried in processions of the Italy-based cult of Our Lady of Loreto, which is represented in Lisbon by a major church near the Praca Luis de Camoes. These were elaborate, colorful, and skillfully sewn, and I enjoyed seeing them.




Two images of processional robes used adorn a statue of the Virgin created for use by the Cult of Our Lady of Loreto

After touring Sao Roque, I walked around the corner and further uphill to the Miradouro (viewpoint) de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, where the view out over the relatively flat plain below extends from the towers of the cathedral on the far right, to the ramparts of Castelo Sao Jorge atop the Alfama, and then across the back side of the Rossio train station to the lower end of the Avenida da Liberdade. (You can actually take a funicular down from the southern end of the park to the northwest corner of the Praca dos Restauradores, where the Avendia da Liberdade ends.) The park here includes a memorial to the man who founded Lisbon’s first daily newspaper, with a charming statue of a barefoot newspaper boy in front of it. And right across the street from the end of the funicular is a Port wine-tasting emporium called the Solar do Vinho do Porto, which is run by the Port Wine Institute. It occupies a palace dating to 1747 (the Bairo Alto or “High Town” up here was relatively litle affected by the 1755 Earthquake) and offers the chance to choose from among upwards of 150 varieties of the wine that made the northern Portuguese city of Porto internationally renowned.


View from the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara (that's the hill crowned by the Castelo Sao Jorge in the distance, and the sheds of the Rossio train station across the road in the middle foreground)


Statue of pioneering newspaperman and newspaper boy

After enjoying the expansive view and taking a few photos from the Miradouro there, I wandered back downhill along the Rua Nova Trindade, passing the raspberry-colored neoclassical facade of the Teatro da Trinidade. I stopped into the surviving refectory of the Convento da Trindade (1325), established by King Dom Diniz and Queen Isabel, but which later became the beer hall of a brewery (the Cervejaria da Trindade), and which is today decorated with brightly colored tilework depicting naked, buxom women who are supposed to represent the elements, the Four Seasons, etc. (I suspect that saying “I go to the Cervejaria da Trinidade for the beer” was the 19th century Portuguese equivalent of “I read Playboy, but just for the articles.”) Around the corner from there, I found a wonderful book and map store whose third floor window offered a wonderful view down the Rua do Alecrim to the Tejo, where I bought a print showing Lisbon in the late 18th century for 28 Euros. I visited two different stores selling cork products, purchasing a change purse made of cork and fennell stalks in one (20 Euros) for my daughter and a handbag (130 Euros) for my wife in the second (Cork & Co., recommended by both the New York Times and Rick Steves). Cork & Co. Is worth stopping by just to see what a remarkably malleable material cork can be; it offered entire lounge chairs made out of cork, as well as neckties.


Bar window reflecting the Teatro da Trindade across the street (along with my hands holding my cell phone)


The former refectory of the Convento da Trinidade (1325), now the restaurant/beer hall of the Cervajaria da Trinidade


View from a bookstore window looking down the Rua do Alecrim ("Street of Rosemary") towards the Tejo/Tagus; that's the Teatro da Trinidade on the left (the current production was "Romeo & Juliet")

I continued south down the Rua do Alecrim (Arabic for “rosemary”), which had a number of buildings whose facades were covered with attractive patterned tiles, to the Praca Luis de Camoes, where my walking tour with Chill Out had commenced the afternoon before. A man was making huge soap bubbles there to the captivating delight of a squad of small children. Across from the north side of the square, I picked up my first pastel de nata custard pastries at Manteigaria, a hole-in-the-wall bakery that Rick Steves maintains had the best ones in Lisbon. They were certainly very good, but I had no basis for a broader comparison!


Bubble-maker delighting children in the Praca Luis de Camoes

Next, I stopped briefly inside Our Lady of Loreto (1785), the church of Lisbon’s Italian colony, with a vast interior. Again guided by Rick Steves, a little farther down on the left I stopped into D’Orey Azulejos, which occupies two large rooms and has many large antique pictorial tile panels taken from demolished palaces and houses. One of these depicted the British-French-Russian naval victory over fleet of Muhammad Ali, the Ottoman-appointed governor of Egypt, at Navarino on the west coast of Greece in 1827. I picked up an antique tile depicting a deer for my desk at home. Surprisingly, neither D’Orey’s proprietors nor the store manager at Cork & Co. – who mentioned that she’d had 350-400 Americans come through just in the last week or so – were aware until I told them that they owed much of their tourist traffic to some guy from Seattle named Rick Steves.


Baroque upper facade of the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation (late 18th century), across from the Praca Luis de Camoes

For dinner that evening, I walked a mere block up and half a block over from the Santa Justa to the lavender-hued International Design Hotel at the southeast corner of Rossio Square to a second-floor restaurant called Bastardo – another Rick Steves recommendation. Its website advertised it as “the bastard child of traditional Portuguese cuisine.” It featured an open and modern look, a great view over the square, cheeky posters on the walls that paired starchy 17th century portraits with cheeky captions drawn from famous movies lines like “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” or “Luke, yo soy tu padre.” The maitre’d, Hugo, was very solicitous of his solo American guest, giving me a primer on Portuguese wines and checking in regularly. I had a tomato soup (Sopeira), a wonderfully tender pork dish with the incongruous name of “Spider Pig,” and a dessert (“Pour Some Sugar on Me”) that consisted of a kaffir lavender brulee with raspberry and lime sorbets. Everything was excellent, and I returned to my room well satisfied with the day and eager for my long-awaited trip to Sintra on the morrow. I took in the view of the illuminated Elevador Santa Justa from my room’s balcony, then called it a night.


Dinner at Bastardo's


The Elevador Santa Justa by night

[To Be Continued]
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Old Dec 19th, 2020, 08:34 AM
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Hopefully, over the holidays, I'll have time to write up the next installment in this TR, covering my visit to Sintra. Until then, however, here's a couple of links to my album of Sintra photos on Flickr. The first will allow you to click through small images of it directly from this web page; the second will take you to Flickr, where you can see larger versions of the photos, and multiple photos at a time.


https://flic.kr/s/aHsmHLypTX

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Old Jan 2nd, 2021, 12:57 PM
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I've just added a photo album on Flickr that covers Mafra, Obidos, Alcobaca, and Batalha, which are all located in the Estremadura region along the Atlantic coast north of Lisbon. You can click through it below, or click on the link further down to go directly to the Flickr site and see the photos in full-size. I will get to the description of this part of my trip in my Trip Report after finishing my write-up on Sintra.


https://flic.kr/s/aHsmTnQpVC



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