Lisbon seems like a very clean and well-kept city. Does most of the city look so nice?
to my perception, it differs greatly (even more so in Porto). I once read that rents have a very low increase by law (or similar, anyone please correct me if I'm wrong), making it unattractive for houseowners to invest much into their buildings, i.e. lots of old houses are being run down. I've experienced areas where residents were rather unwelcoming towards tourists marvelling at the 'picturesque decay'...
The last thing we did in Belém was visit the Centro Cultural Belém, a museum near the Torre de Belém. Opened in 1993, it was initially built to accommodate the European Presidency. Now it is a location for conferences, exhibitions and artistic events. In the courtyard, some colourful pieces of cloth gave some shade:
Also, there was a fine fog of waterdrops coming out from the ground, creating a mysterious atmosphere:
A view inside the art gallery area:
There is for example this piece of art, showing a couple lying on the floor...
This rabbit is looking at its own reflection in a mirror:
A colourful piece of art:
In the evening we left Belém, with a last sunset view to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos:
The next day we went to Sintra, a small town near Lisbon, known for its castles. I am not sure anymore if we arrived by train or by bus, but from our arrival point we had a small walk into town. On the way, and also walking around the area later on, I noticed several nice fountains, like this one:
Here is a detail of that same fountain:
This fountain is of a completely different style, but also quite pretty:
And as we spoke earlier about "picturesque decay" - this fountain is kind of old, and I am not sure I would drink from it, but in a way I thought it was the prettiest of all. Kind of made me think of fairy tales:
There must be something special about the water in Sintra, because when we went there in the mid 1990s, there were people filling up big jugs of water from the various fountains. We filled a bottle or two as well and it tasted really good. But it was from the kind of fountains you show in the upper pictures, rather than the last mossy one.
When we reached Sintra, we first walked around a bit looking at the little town. It is a nice place with lots of little roads going up stairs:
I especially liked this staircase with its flowers:
But there are also some uphill paths without stairs. This one, I think, was behind a castle that was right in town. We didn't visit that castle because we were traveling on a budget and thus decided to limit ourselves just to one castle...
In Sintra, there are also houses with pretty tiles - and not all of those houses are new and shiny, but they are still pretty:
But houses without tiles can be pretty too... As you can see, it was quite a foggy morning, fortunately it cleared up later on, though.
I am continuing to enjoy this report thanks Rikita. I too love the old tiles and can empathise with wanting to photograph so many of them ;D
The museum looks great , the couple are so life like.
I suspect Lisbon is a very popular destination from England currently as I have just been pricing flights for end August on the budget airlines-- the prices I am getting are so not budget In fact a friend of mine is going in a couple of weeks but has decided to fly to Faro and then travel to Lisbon from there.
The Castelo dos Mouros is the ruin of a castle from the 8th or 9th century. After being built by the moors it later became an important base for the christian reconquista. It can be seen already from Sintra town.
We didn't enter the Castelo dos Mouros, but passed near by it walking through the forest. There are many stairs and walls there, giving the area a fairy tale like appearance.
Don't you just expect some fairy tale princess sleeping behind those walls?
Some of the ruins were more approachable, there was one in particular that had several rooms and you could go inside and look around. It was once a Romanesque church, called Igreja de Sao Pedro de Canaferrim.
We had read before, that Sintra is one of the rock climbing locations of Portugal. However, this meant probably more the larger area than the town itself - we did not find any rocks or boulders particularly meant for climbing, but mr. r. decided to try out some boulders anyway - after all, he didn't want to have carried his shoes for nothing...
We also met these two kittens, who seemed very hungry and very interested in our lunch. We shared our cheese with them, which they seemed to enjoy immensely...
This is a very enjoyable report and convinces me completely that I must return to Portugal some day. The closest I have come to Portugal in recent years is just the increase in Portuguese euro coins that appears in my neighbourhood around the end of August.
The castle we decided to enter was the Palacio Nacional da Pena, built from 1840 on a hill overlooking Sintra, on the site of a monastery ruin. This Unesco World Heritage site represents the style of 19th century Romanticism and is called by some the Neuschwanstein of Portugal. It is a national monument.
Above this door is the depiction of a Newt, symbolyzing the creation of the world. Walking under it was almost a bit scary though.
Here it is in some more detail:
I like little details and corners, like this one...
Walking around the palace grounds, of course I discovered more interesting tiles:
From this point there was a nice view into the surrounding landscape, that a lot of visitors enjoyed:
Little details like this tower in the corner of the outside wall also give the palace its appeal:
And some bigger yellow towers:
As written above, originally there was a convent on the site. Many elements, such as a chapel and a sacristy, of this Hieronymite convent were integrated into the palace, mainly in this section where the detail most standing out is a red clock tower from 1843:
A 200 hectar park surrounds the palace. On hills there are labyrinth-like paths surrounded by exotic trees from different parts of the world. At one end there is a view point from a higher hill, offering a great view of the castle:
From Sintra, we went on to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Portugal. As the cliffs there offer nice views over the sea, this point attracts a lot of tourists, traveling by public transport, like us, or in the usual tour busses ...
And of course, the view out into the seemingly neverending sea (knowing that this continues until somewhere in a very far distance, there is America) is always something special. Especially as the light plays on the water, and some boat gives an even better perspective of how small we are.
It wasn't the most sunny day, and once or twice we thought we would have to seek shelter from the rain, but it stayed okay - the clouds made the views more dramatic though.
Just as spectacular was the coast itself: Cliffs of varying colours, running down steeply to the sea.
It is always fascinating to go as close as I dare to the edge and look down into the water. Of course, some plants are brave than me and grow right on the edge.
As we hiked around the area, we came across these moss covered stones - except that the moss was orange, instead of green. Also, I enjoyed the vegetation, which seemed to be some kind of succulent, sometimes interspersed with yellow flowers.
In the end, we met a man who seemed to be from the area, and who told us there was a very nice but hidden beach nearby. He pointed us to it, and we searched and found it, at least from above. However, we did not have the time to look for a path down, as it was time to hurry back for the last bus back to Lisbon, which we just managed to catch ...
From Lisbon, we went to Porto - the second largest town of the country, and one of the oldest cities of Europe. The hotel we wanted to stay at turned out to be booked out, but they sent us on to another little hotel, where we got a tiny but quite affordable room. Only drawback - the window was small, high up, and could only be opened a little bit. This was particularly a shame, because the hotel faced a beautiful tiled church. Well, I climbed up on a chair to take at least a photo out of the window. Not sure if it is this one, or the next one, as I saw more tiled churches around:
And here is another wall of a tiled church:
This scene in front of one of the churches - old people speaking to each other, the men were sitting in front of the church, the woman passing by - and just a few metres on a woman sleeping on the door steps, apparently homeless:
Another beautifully tiled church is the Igreja de Santo Ildefenso, completed in 1739. The facade of the church is covered by approximately 11.000 azulejos (tiles) by the artist Jorge Colaco - the tiles were placed in 1932 and depict scenes from the life of the Saint Ildefenso, after whom the church is named.
Porto also has a lot of buildings that are old, maybe falling apart a bit, but still show a certain charme (and of course often are tiled:
The tiled building in this photo (behind the lamp) is near the train station:
I loved Porto, but when I was there in early April of 1974 there was a lot of turmoil. Our rental car from Spain was vandalized during the night. A couple of tires were slashed and the radio antenna was broken off.
The Torre dos Clérigos, part of the Clérigos church, is a great point to get an overview over town. The tower of this baroque church is the tallest building of Porto and one of its symbols. 225 steps lead up to its 76 metre high top.
On the way up, through narrow windows, I could see more tiles of the surrounding buildings.
The roofs of this area of Porto were mainly covered with red tiles, giving the view a nice oldfashioned flair, rather than a big-city-skyline type of feeling:
In front of the tower, on a square, there was this broken and abandoned little building. I have no idea what it was, but it had interesting shapes. Maybe one of you knows?
No idea what this building is either, but it looks important:
I really don't remember, but assume I did. I know we had to stay in Porto a little longer to have the tires replaced, but were without a radio for the rest of the trip.
I was 22 and living in a bit of a fog, due to recent family circumstances. I was traveling with two married couples, friends or my parents, in their forties. One was a Cuban immigrant to the U.S, two -a brother and sister - were the children of Spanish immigrants. I trusted them to make all the decisions. I had no idea Portugal was on the verge of a revolution. I just knew the two Spaniards were worried the whole time we were in the country. The sister sipped Felipe Segundo constantly for the next several days of our drive, and made several signs of the cross as we crossed the border back in to Spain east of Lisbon.
The Praca da Liberdade (Freedom Square) is near the Ildefenso church and connected to the important avenue Avenida dos Aliados. It dates back to the early 18th century, to the urbanisation of this area. With time, it became one of the most important squares of the city. At the end of the square is, I think, the municipality building.
As we walked over the square, we saw a man sitting on a bench eating french fries. Every now and then he threw some of his food to the pidgeons - who quickly caught on that this is the place to me. More and more of them arrived.
This one apparently wanted to be in the picture, flying right toward the camera (unfortunately the focus is off on the photo, it should have been on the pidgeon).
Not far from the square is the Sao Bento train station, Porto's main train station, and famous for the beautifully tiled walls in its entrance hall.
In old times, a monastery stood at this place, giving the name to today's train station. The azulejos in the entrance hall, designed by the artist Jorge Colaco, show scenes from Portugal's history.
While trains traveled here already from 1896, the building stems from the year 1916.