Our first look at Portugal was here, in Praca do Comercio. It was Dec
30th, and a crew was setting up for the next day's celebration.
The Arch in this picture is called Rua Augusta Arch. The square is
surrounded on three sides by buildings in that mustard-yellow color;
the fourth side faces the river.
We then went up to the castle that overlooks the old town (Castelo de Sao Jorge). Here's Lisbon near the river...
...and this is the Santa Justa Lift (the tower near the center of the
picture) and the ruins of the Carmo Convent (the naked flying
buttresses behind the tower).
The convent, along with most of the city, was destroyed in an
earthquake and tsunami on 1 Nov 1755; the convent has been left as a
reminder of the damage that was done.
This church is on the other side of the castle from downtown; I added
this picture to the website just because the light is so, so nice.
Here are views from the Santa Justa Lift. The city was dressed up for Christmas...
The clock in center frame is the back of the Rua Augusta Arch...
These are my feet, on the spiral stairs from where the lift stops up to the viewing platform.
Before leaving downtown for the night, we stopped back in Praca do
Comercio. A canvas pyramid was set up with video cameras and projectors
with a slight delay.
So, We all waved at the camera, then a couple seconds later I took a picture of the result.
A few days later, we went back to downtown again. This is the Belem Castle, right on the river.
This monument is to Portugal's "Age of Discovery", back when Vasco de
Gama and his cohorts were the world leaders in open-sea navigation.
This is the interior of the Jeronimos Monastery, which has a vast, open
space with these thin, elegant columns. Our guidebook calls the ceiling
a "spiderweb" of stone.
There are modern building in Lisbon, too, especially in the area where
the World Expo was held in 1998. This is the exterior of the Gare do
Oriente (Eastern Train Station) near the World Expo.
We took a day trip to Sentra, which is only 30 km from Lisboa. At
different times, it has been the summer home of Portugal's royal family
and their wealthy friends. Thus, there are a number of castles and
palaces and mansions to explore. This is a picture of Sintra National
Palace, in the center of the old town.
For jaw-dropping architecture, you have to go a bunch of meters up the
mountain behind town to the Pena National Palace. This palace has a
different style than Neuschwanstein in Germany, but otherwise is
similar: both were built in 19th century as sort of fairy-tale
expressions of what a castle should be. The variety of shapes and
colors is a delight for the eyes.
After visiting the castle up front, we took a walk up this path...
...for this view.
On the grounds of the palace were both white and black swans; I'm sure Tchaikovsky would be impressed...
Back closer to town, we visited Quinta de Regaleira. Built in 1892, it
is another fairy tale sort of local, with a main house, a chapel, and
extensive gardens and grounds.
This is the main house.
Despite the fact the building was built many years before Jimmy Buffett was born, the owner seemed to be a parrothead...
This is from the interior of the chapel, with the beautiful stained glass.
One feature in the grounds is a well what was built like a tower burrowing into the ground.
This is the view from the bottom of the well, with the spiral staircase
tucked in the other side of the columns seen in this picture.
And, you may think that has to be all the interesting sites in or
around Sintra, but you would be wrong. There's one more: the Convent of
the Capuchos, where Capuchos means "Cork".
Our guidebook thinks the exterior looks like a hobbit village.
The inside have all the doorways and windows covered in cork. For a
tall person in this short-doored place, I really appreciated that.
Note: the electric lights on the floor I trust are a modern addition to
make the site safer for tourists.
OK, one more daytrip for us from Lisboa, this time to the south of
Portugal. We made several stops; this is a carved stone from a
Neolithic site near Alentejo which features a double stone circle.
Next stop was in Evora. It's a pretty city with an intact city wall and
an aqueduct. This horse drawn carriage is passing in front of one of
the larger churches in town, Capela dos Ossos or Chapel of Bones.
Unfortunately, we were not able to see the bones (a service was going
on in the main chapel, so no one was there to let us into the smaller
chapel of bones), but we did get to see the bright sunlight shining
through the stained glass (below).
Evora has it's own Roman ruins, too. This is the ruined Roman Temple of Evora, with a moorish-style cathedral in the background.
And then, not willing to stop yet, we went to the coast to see the sun set at Vila Nova de Milfontes.
This is the castle in town, with the reminants of the sunset shining on it. The sunset itself you can see below.