16 June 2018


Lisbon, Portugal

There’s a festival of some sort almost every month in Lisbon, and this month is no exception. In June, there are celebrations almost every day, with the high point of Festas de Lisboa,  The Marchas Populares, on the 12 June. It is the 86th year of the Marchas and this year celebrates the 120th anniversary of the birth of actor Vasco Santana and the film Canção de Lisboa.

Twenty three groups, from neighbourhoods across the city, comprising of a total of 1600 people, sang and danced their way along the Avenida da Liberdade, starting late in the evening on the 12 June and finishing around three in the morning of the 13 June, which, fortunately, is a public holiday.  Each group has its own band, and props, which are used to set the stage for the performance.  The costumes were very detailed, lots of colour and even more glitter.  I liked that the participants were all ages, a good representation of the community.

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Each of the groups performed their song and dance several times during the march, it is serious stuff as they are competing to win.  They are assessed on, costume, music, original composition, choreography, stage, and avenue parade. This year, Alfama was first, (for the third consecutive year), Bairro Alto was second and Madrago was third.  The President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sausa, was amongst the VIPs at the Marchas and greeted all the groups when they got to the main performance area.

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Bairro Alto


The Marchas were televised live, and could also be viewed on big screens erected around the city centre. Thousand of people came to the Avenida Liberdade to watch the Marches turning the centre into a big party.  Many of the side streets were dressed in bunting and party ready, with basil and fish scented smoke, signalling that the barbeques were fired up, and sardines, traditional festival food, were being grilled,  The street parties carried on into the early hours of the morning.

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There is a lot of waiting around in between the performances, so there’s time for a smile for the camera, a hug and a chat.


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The Madrago marchas were barefoot, it is thought to be a tradition that comes from the fishermen and women living and working without shoes.



This was the last group to march,  and although some of the people watching had gone home, it was around 2 in the morning, there was still a wave for those who stayed till the end.

Saint Anthony is celebrated on the 13 June, the day he died, he is Lisbon’s most beloved saint. The Igreja de Santo António, is built on the site of the house where he was born, in 1195, and in June as part of the Festas Lisboa, the area outside the church is decorated with flowers.


9 June 2018

Lisbon, Portugal

The jacaranda trees have been in bloom for some time now, giving the city streets and parks a pop of purple, with the fallen blossoms colouring the pavements purple too.


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The Aqueduto das Áquas Livres, (Aqueduct of free waters) was built between 1731 and 1799. It was a system for collecting and transporting water using gravity, taking water from around sixty sources outside Lisbon to thirty fountains in the city, which were the only sources of clean drinking water. The aqueduct survived the earthquake of 1755, and continued to provide drinking water until the 1960s.



The aqueduct is 58 kilometres long, with the most visible part of the structure crossing the Alcantara valley.  The tallest arch is 65 metres high with a span of 29 meters, the arches were the tallest in the world when it was built. It was designated a National Monument in 1910.






The funiculars on Calçada de Gloria, have just been refurbished, so I took a couple of photos of the freshly painted cars, while they are still graffiti free.

2 June 2018


Lisbon, Portugal

In the district of Alcântara, is a factory complex, which used to be a fabric company. Founded in 1846, it became derelict, was refurbished in 2008, called LX Factory, and is now one of Lisbon’s trendy areas.  The industrial space is filled with restaurant, cafes, bars, shops, offices, artist workshops and holds a flea market on Sunday.  It sits under the Ponte 25 de Abril, the suspension bridge is one of the city’s notable landmarks, it looms over the area and with 6 traffic lanes and a railway line, is incredibly noisy .

LX factory is brimming with art, covering the facades of the buildings.  Just passed the main entrance is this giant bee, by the artist Bordalo II, who turns trash into art. The rest of the photos are a selection of what can be seen here.




Lisbon is known for it’s urban art,  stroll around the city and it won’t take long before one comes across a work of art. So to continue with the theme of art today, these are some of the art works I have captured while exploring the city. The ‘Filigrana’ mural  is fairly new and promotes the Filigree Museum in Chiado. The racoon and the fishes are by Bordalo II.


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Multiple artist a have contributed to the mural above, which is about Fado. I came across this 18 metre horse on the side of a seven storey building, quite recently, it’s by the Spanish artist Aryz.


On the Avenida Fontes Pereria de Melo are three derelict buildings with art work by the Brazilian artists Os Gémeos,  Blu and Eric Il Cane from Italy, and SAM3, who is Spanish.




The Galeria de Arte Urbana is on Calçada da Glória, a hideously steep hill, so steep it has a funicular to carry one up it, however, at the moment both cars are being renovated so walking up is the only way to see the art here. There are seven panels which are provided by the council for artists to use and the work changes frequently. The last time I walked up the hill I took these shots, which are my favourites of the work on show at the moment.


These three pieces, by artist Mário Belém, are new, and celebrate 150 years of the abolition of the death penalty in Portugal.

This is also new, it’s Poseidon, by the artist PichiAvo, it’s painted on the side of a row of houses.



26 May 2018


Eastbourne, UK

I was in the UK for a couple of days this month, and stayed in Eastbourne, a seaside town on the south coast. I went for a walk along the beach front, joining the sprinkling of people doing the same as me. The tide was out and the sun was starting to set, the pebble beach is long and rather beautiful at dusk.



I think humans are attracted to water, just being near it brings joy, though this evening none seemed quite as joyous as a dog, with three legs, who kept encouraging his/her human to throw a pebble to chase, the lack of a leg not impeding the dogs ability to run around on the pebbles. There is also a pier here, which was completed in 1872, and renovated a few years ago.



Lisbon, Portugal

Back in Lisbon I went to a light show at Convento do Carmo.  Using lights and music, it transforms the ruins of the church to depict the key historic events that have shaped the building, from 1389 to the present day.



I have already written about Convento da Carmo, here is a reminder of what the church looks like in daylight.

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Sometime ago I visited the Museu Nacional dos Coches, (The national Coach Museum), in Belém, which has a huge collection on display from the 16th through to the 19th century.

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19 May 2018

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Gigantones e Cabeçudos de Viana do Castelo

Lisbon, Portugal

Belém is the venue for the XII Festival Internacional da Mascara Iberica, (13th International Iberian Mask Festival).  Masks are the central theme of the festival, costumes, handicrafts, food, and wine, from Spanish and Portuguese regions also feature, as well as musical performances. The highlight of the four day festival is the Iberian Mask Parade, this year the Spanish and Portuguese groups have been joined by a group from Brazil and a group from Ireland. A total of thirty groups participate in the parade, with hundreds of people showcasing some of Iberia’s ancient pagan traditions.  A lot of the groups did performances during the parade. The information provided about the groups is from the official festival programme.

The Gigantones e Cabeçudos de Viana do Castelo are about four meters tall, come in pairs and reflect social class distinctions, the doctor and the lady represent the bourgeoisie and the other pair the ‘common people’.  The  figures covered in moss are Los Hombres De Musgo De Béjar, and legend has it that on the eve of the Festival of St Marina, Christian soldiers covered themselves in moss by the walls surrounding the city in order to surprise their Moorish enemies the next morning.

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Carnaval Hurdano

The Carnaval Hurdano masks, dances and costumes are planned in great detail, presenting a duality between humans and animals, alluding to a prehistoric period. The Boi Tinga are from Brazil, and include a fancy dress bull, ‘bigheads’, and cowboys.

In January, the tiny village of Piornal in Spain has a surplus of turnips. Thousands of turnips are thrown at the masked figures, Jarramplas,  covered in ribbons, who represent cattle thieves.

Merdeiros de Vigo, the Merdeiro is a character from the traditional Vigo carnival in Spain, dating back to the 1920s, and represents the rivalry which exists between sailors and farm labours. The characters, run, shout and ‘hit’ anyone who crosses their path.

Máscaros de Vila Boa

The Máscaros de Vila Boa roam the streets of the village during carnival, wearing masks made of tinplate or hand craved from chestnut and painted in red and black, they go on the prowl for smoked sausages.

Wearing dresses and masks decorated with animal skin and horns, the Caretos da Lagoa, are a hybrid of humans and animal who use their masks or ‘campina’ to obtain supernatural powers so they can ward off negative forces.

Thunderous beats of drums accompany many of the parading groups. The Las Pantallas De Xinzo De Limia are from Spain and are named after their colourful masks. The Cardadores de Vale de Ílhavo, are Portuguese and venture onto the streets to spread fear among locals during carnival. The Bonitas De Sande, again get their name from their costumes, which are inspired by items bought back from the Philippines war.


12 May 2018


Lisbon, Portugal

If I have given the impression that Lisbon is just lots of historic buildings and stone tiled pavements, welcome to Oriente station. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, using concrete, steel and glass, the station was built to provide access to the site of the 1998 World Fair. It combines, bus, metro and train stations, providing connections to the whole of Portugal. It’s one of the largest stations in the world, handling 75 million passengers a year.


The upper train platforms are covered with a glass roof, supported by columns designed to resemble trees.


The station is the stop for the district of Parque das Nações, previously an industrial area which was chosen as the site for Expo’98, the international World Fair. The entire area along the waterfront was rebuilt, becoming one of the biggest urban redevelopment projects in Europe. When the exhibition ended the area was renamed Parque das Nações, (Park of Nations).


There is a diverse range of contemporary public art here, from the huge, painted tile panels that greet one at the metro station, to pieces dotted all over the area. I came across statues of humans, not all of a recognisable form like ‘Homem Sol’; a giraffe; and naked women, made of marble, bathing in a pool.



Pavilhão do Conhecimento

The theme of the 1998 World Fair was the world’s oceans, so water features prominently here, as in the Pavilhão do Conhecimento, a museum of science and technology, and the Vulcões de Água, six, four meter high volcano shaped fountains dotted along narrow canals.



Gardens also have a water theme.


This is where the Eurovision Song contest is being held, when I visited, it was all fenced off as work was being done to prepare the site for this week.  The grey space ship looking building in the photo below is the Altice Arena, where the contest will take place.  A cable car glides along the riverside for aerial views of the park.



The area by the river is pedestrianised, a walk here will take one past the Vasco da Gama Tower, the tallest building here, through landscaped gardens and to the bridge.



The Ponte Vasco de Gama is Europe’s longest bridge, 17 Kilometres, named after Vasco de Gama who was the first European to reach India by sea. The bridge was part of the redevelopment work for the 1998 exhibition, 1998 was the 500th anniversary of de Gamas discovery of India.



A final word on the Eurovision Song Contest, which has  brought an additional 100,000 people into the city. The Praça do Comércio in the city centre has been turned into a ‘Eurovision Village’, with screens provided to watch the semi-finals and finals for people without tickets to the main venue, and entertainment provided every night of this week, as part of the build up to the big final on Saturday.

5 May 2018


Lisbon, Portugal

Chiado is a trendy area, with shops, restaurants, a mix of 17th century architecture, Art Nouveau, old style cafes, theatres and churches, and in the middle of all this, the oldest book shop in the world.



Livraria Bertrand was founded in 1732, and is (recognised by the Guiness Book of Records), the worlds oldest bookshop. Over the years Bertrand’s has expanded to become the largest chain of bookstores in Portugal.


On the 4th floor of the Benetton store on Rua Garrett is an old lift, (elevator), originally from the Ramiro Leão department store in 1888. It was one of the first lifts in Europe, the stools were provided for women to sit on during the journey.

Two, of the many churches in Chiado, have beautiful painted ceilings, so worth a photo here. The first are of Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Encarnação, and then the Basílica dos Mártires.


Largo do Carmo, is a small, shady square with open air cafes, musicians, and  a fountain in the centre, the Charfariz do Carmo fountain used to be the main water source for the district. The headquarters of the Guarda Nacional Republicana is here, and this was where Marcello Caetano fled on April 25 1974 and surrendered power to General Spinola, see previous post for the Carnation Revolution.

When the 1755 earthquake hit Lisbon, hundreds of people were in churches across the city, attending mass for All Saints Day. The Igreja do Carmo was no exception, built in 1389 in the Gothic style, at the time it was the largest church in Lisbon, and hundreds of people died when the roof collapsed on the congregation. Unlike other churches which were rebuilt, this church wasn’t,  left as a reminder and memorial, of the destruction of that day.

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There is also a small museum, the Carmo Archaeological Museum,  installed on the site in 1864, for the storage and display of items from old ruined buildings and items that were found in the rubble of the church. The display includes a  14th century tomb of King D. Fernando I, a 4th/5th century  Egyptian Sarcophagus, and my favourite a 16th century mummy from Peru.



Moving away from Chiado, to a castle that sits on the highest of Lisbon’s hills, and where I took the above photo of the city, showing Chiado and the Gothic church in the centre.  Castelo de Sao Jorge was originally built by the Moors in the mid 11th century, the castle that now looks out over the city was built between 1938 and 1940, a result of the impact of wars and the 1755 earthquake. Archaeological evidence has shown that there has been some form of  human settlement on this site as early as  the 2nd century. It was declared a National Monument in 1910.

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There isn’t an awful lot to see in the grounds, there’s access to the towers, one can walk around the ramparts, and there are some, noisy, resident peacocks that roam the grounds. It does provide some of the best views of the city.

Ponte 25 de Abril
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The line of trees is Avenida da Liberdade

When I wrote about Principe Real, the Botanical Gardens were closed for renovation.  Now open, I visited a couple of weeks ago, not the best time of year to visit gardens, however, I thought I would end today with some snaps of the gardens, some of the plants are quite architectural.


25 April 2018


Lisbon, Portugal

Early on the morning of 25th of April 1974, 48 years of Military Dictatorship ended in Portugal. Today, Freedom Day, is a public holiday, a day Portuguese people celebrate and remember  what is known as The Carnation Revolution. The military coup was started by two secret signals, songs broadcast on the radio. The first was the Portuguese entry of  Eurovision Song Contest, E Depois do Adeus, to alert rebel captains and soldiers of the army to begin the coup.  The second was Grândola, Vila Morena, by Zeca Afonso, a political musician-singer who at the time was banned from Portuguese radio, this song was the signal to take over strategic points of power in the country and to announce the revolution had started and that nothing would stop it.

The revolutionaries did not use violence, and no shots were fired, unusual for a coup. As the soldiers entered the city and residents took to the streets to celebrate the end of the dictatorship, flower sellers handed out red carnations, the flowers in bloom at the time, carnations were put in the muzzles of rifles and on the soldiers uniforms, which is where ‘Carnation Revolution’ comes from.  The only deaths that occurred on this day in 1974 was when the Political Police opened fire on people on the streets and killed four people. A plaque commemorates their deaths.

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The Avenida da Liberdade is free of traffic and so devoid of vehicle noise. Over the last week or so the trees have burst into leaf, so it was a delightful start to the day to wander down the unusually quiet street.


As part of the Freedom Day celebrations  the Câmara Municipal, (the City Hall), is open. City Hall is home to Lisbon’s City Council, the Mayor and councillors offices, and the public sessions hall are here.  The present form of the building was constructed between 1864 and 1880, it was on the balcony that the Republic was announced in October 1910. The stairs, balcony and table all have red carnation displays and every visitor was given a red carnation as they left the building.


A former political prison of the dictatorship is now a museum, the Museu do Aljube. A leaflet about the museum states,

The Museum fulfils the city of Lisbon’s and the country’s duty of gratitude to, and the memory of, the victims of prison and torture, who, sacrificing their own lives, fought for freedom and democracy. The Museum aims to be a site of memory and a way to promote the values of democracy and freedom.

The building’s name, Aljube, is from Arabic meaning ‘well without water’ or ‘prison’. It was originally a church prison, (it is next to Lisbon Cathedral), then a prison for women. The Military Dictatorship used the prison from 1928, it then became one of private prisons of the political police.


Between 1928 and 1965, when the prison was deactivated, thousands of men were taken to this prison, either because they had just been arrested, or were coming from torture and interrogation.  The fourteen pens, or drawers, in Aljube prison where the men were held for indefinite periods of time, measured 1×2 meters, with no natural light and unsanitary conditions.

A composition photo of the face of Amável Vitorino, made up of photos of political prisoners. Vitorino was a shoemaker who was arrested in December 1940 for ‘unpleasant comments on the current political situation of the country and its leaders’, released in February 1941, and arrested again, ‘for  questioning’ in April 1952, released in August 1952.



Being imprisoned did not stop the resistance to the dictatorial regime and the ‘prison press’ existed in a number of prisons. The newspapers in the photo are examples from 1934 to 1945. All prisoners had three photos taken when they were arrested.



In the afternoon there was a parade along Avenida da Liberdade, with hundreds of people, red carnations, music, banners, flags, placards, balloons, joy and remembrance.

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Today Lisbon is a city of red carnations, people are wearing, carrying, giving away, or selling, the flower.

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‘No one can defeat a people who resist’

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22 April 2018

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Lisbon, Portugal

The, almost, daily rain of the past few weeks finally stopped for a few days and with Lisbon temperatures warm enough to leave my waterproof walking boots, and umbrella indoors, to make the most of the sunshine, I visited Belém.  An earlier, temporary version of The Padrão do Descobrimento, (The Monument to the Discoveries) was built in 1940 for the Portuguese World Exhibition. The Monument one sees today was reconstructed in 1960 to mark 500 years since the death of the Infante Dom Henrique (Henry the Navigator). The Monument website provides the following succinct description,

Standing alone in a striking position on the breakwater on the bank of the Tagus, the Monument to the Discoveries evokes the Portuguese overseas expansion, recalls the country’s glorious past and symbolises the enormity of the work carried out by the Infante, the driving force behind the Discoveries.

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The Monument looks like a Portuguese caravel sailing out to sea, the caravel was developed around 1451 and was the preferred choice of vessel for Portuguese explorers of the time. Henry the Navigator is on the prow and the other 32 figures, 16 on each side, comprise of royalty, and leading cultural people, such as writers, historians, painters, and colonisers.

Inside the monument provides access to a viewing platform at the top, however the huge queues deterred me from doing this. Either side of the monument are two metal armillary spheres on two parallelepiped platforms. The site also has a fifty meter wide marble map, with carvels marking  the main routes and dates, of the 15th and 16th century Portuguese explorers.

Torre de Belém, Belém Tower, is a ten minute walk along the river from the Discoveries Monument, however the tower is actually in the Tagus River.  Built in 1515 to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbour,  it was also a starting point for many of the explorers journeys of discovery. Built in the Manueline Architectural style, a rich and lavish style of architecture, indigenous to Portugal and featuring elements of the sea, nautical and botanical motifs. UNESCO declared the tower a World Heritage Site.

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Another example of Manueline Architecture is the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, The Jeronimos Monastery, is seen as one of the symbols of a period known as the Age of Discovery.  The 16th century monastery was built by King Manuel I, in honor of the successful voyage to India, of the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama.  The King invited the Order of St. Jerome, the Hieronymites,  to occupy it. The Hieronymites continued to occupy the monastery for 400 years until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1833, when the building became state property. UNESCO declared this a World Heritage Site in 1983.

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The ornate cloisters of the monastery and the refectory of the chapter house with  azulejos tiles from the 17th century.

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View inside the Church of Santa Maria showing the six, 25 metre high, octagonal columns.

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7 April 2018

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Lisbon, Portugal

Baixa, (downtown Lisbon), seen as the heart of the city, was completely destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.  The Marqués de Pombal, was the chap responsible for rebuilding Baixa and he devised a grid pattern for the area that included earthquake-proof construction. The grid was built to  precise geometric specifications, with streets, flanked by neoclassical buildings, named after different trades; fanqueiros-firefighters; douradores-gilders; sapateiros-shoemakers, prata-silversmiths; comercio-traders; correeiros- saddle makers; and, ouro-goldsmiths.

Praça dos Restauradores

In the centre of Praça dos Restauradores is the Monumento dos Restaurdores, (Monument to the Restorers), the obelisk monument commemorates Portugal’s independence in 1640, from sixty years of Spanish rule. The ‘restorers’ are the soldiers who died restoring independence to the country. The district of Baixa starts here and continues on to the River Tagus.  Looking over the square is the Art Deco, Eden Theatre, it opened in 1931 and was one of Lisbon’s main theatre/cinema buildings. It closed in 1989 and converted into a hotel in 2001. DSC_0121 (1)

DSC_0127 Praça de Dom Pedro IV, is known locally as Rossi Square, (Rossi train station is here) two baroque fountains, one at each end, are the main features of this square.  The monument in the centre has a statue of Dom Pedro IV at the top of the column, around the base are representations of justice, strength, wisdom and moderation, said to be qualities attributed to Dom Pedro IV.

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Praça de Dom Pedro IV


There are stunning examples of neoclassical architecture in Baixa, however some buildings are in a poor state of repair, renovation plans for the whole district, mean extensive building work is currently being undertaken. Some of the area is pedestrianised, and restaurants line the middle of the streets tempting tourists to stop and eat.


The Elevador de Santa Justa, a neo-Gothic iron tower, also known as the Elevator of Carmo, transports people up the hill to Chiado, and provides views over the city and the river, from the viewing platform. Built in 1902, originally powered by steam, it was electrified in 1907. It is the only public vertical lift in the city.


At the end of Rua Augusta, one of the main pedestrian streets of Baixa, is the Arco da Rua Augusta. Designed as a symbol of Lisbon’s recovery from the devastation of the earthquake, the building wasn’t actually completed until 1875.

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As part of the restoration of the building in 2013, a lift was installed to allow public access to the top of the arch. The lift only goes up so far, then there are two sets of very narrow, steep, steps to climb, before one gets to the top, for a birds eye view of the straight, patterned pavements of Baixa, the Praça do Comércio, and the River Tagus.


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Praça do Comércio


25 March 2018

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Lisbon, Portugal.

I now live a short walk from Praça do Marquês de Pombal (Marquês de Pombal Square), the square is in the centre of Lisbon, and three of the capitals largest boulevards meet here. North of the square is Lisbon’s largest park, Parque Eduardo VII, named as a tribute to the English monarch Edward VII, who visited Lisbon in 1903.  The park slopes gently up to the Monumento ao 25 de Abril, a contemporary monument, that commemorates the 1974 Revolution. The April 25 coup is known as the Carnation Revolution, it ended the longest dictatorship in Europe, the Estado Novo.


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One is rewarded at the top of the slope with views across the city. Half way up the slope is the Carlos Lopes Pavilion, it was built in Lisbon, and taken by boat to Rio de Janeiro, to be the Portuguese Pavilion at the International Exhibition of Rio, in 1920. Originally called the Palace of Exhibitions, it was renamed Pavilion Carlos Lopes, in honour of the Olympic athlete who won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games, the first gold medal won by Portugal. It fell into disrepair and the refurbished building opened in February 2017.

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Praça do Marquês de Pombal is where a statue of the Marquês stands, looking towards the Tagus River and Baixa, the area of the city he was responsible for rebuilding after the 1755 earthquake. The lion standing next to the Marquês represents strength, and at the base of the statue as well as various figures and animals,  the jagged rocks are reminders of the shattered city after the earthquake.

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Avenida Da Liberdade, is a wide, (90 meters), tree lined, boulevard, built in the 19th century, which connects Praça do Marquês de Pombal to Restauradores.  Designer shops, hotels and theatres, some in beautifully restored buildings, sit either side of the avenue, and dotted along the cobbled, mosaic walkways are statues, fountains, cafes and seating.



Half way down the avenue is the Monumento aos Mortos da Grande Guerra, (Monument to the Fallen of the Great War), created by the local sculptor Maximiano Alves. The Avenida Da Liberdade ends at Praça Dos Restauradores, which is in the district of Baixa, more about this next time.

The sun was setting when I was walking home so I went up to the Monumento ao 25 de Abril to take some more photos. The monument fountains had been turned off, which turned the water into a mirror.  While the moon was playing peek a boo with the columns, birds were roosting, a few bats were out feeding, and dogs had brought their humans to the park to throw balls for them, to watch while they jumped over and through the box hedging, or played tag with each other, until they too, decided it was time to take their humans home.

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11 March 2018


Lisbon, Portugal

I’m moving away from Alfama next week (to more settled accommodation) so I thought while I am still here I would show you some more of this area.  Alfama is the oldest area in Lisbon, the medieval district was a Moorish and then a Jewish quarter before it became a fishing community. It’s built on solid rock foundations, which is why  it escaped the catastrophic damage the rest of the city suffered from the 1755 earthquake. It has a village like quality to it, and is a snapshot of time before 1755. It also provides views over the city.


The pink building in the photo below is where I am staying, it was a monastery which has been converted into apartments. The other photos show a selection of the decorative styles of building in the district.


I’ve said before that walking is the best way to experience Alfama: not just because some of the streets are not wide enough for cars to get through; or because you won’t get to see what’s at the end of winding set of steps; or so you can take in the aromas of local dishes being cooked, that waft, tantalisingly, over the cobbles; or missing a tiny bar with only three tables inside, that has some of the best portuguese wine and tapas you will ever taste; it is because you will hear fado. The beautiful, haunting sound of fado will be your companion as you wander along the bumpy, cobbles, it is the soundtrack of Alfama.

The origins of fado are disputed, but the fado one hears in Lisbon today came from Alfama in the 1830s. Fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, originally often about the life of the poor, or the sea, today fado is a form of song which can be about anything.  Fado may be melancholic, but it is also beautiful, in 2011 UNESCO designated fado as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage. Amália Rodrigues is fado’s most celebrated performer (fadista), she was known as the Queen of Fado, (Rainha do Fado) and was most influential in popularising fado worldwide. When she died in 1999 the portuguese government declared a period of national mourning. This mural of Amália is on a wall in Alfama.


The Viewpoint of Santa Luzia is a terrace, with, as the name suggests, views over Alfama. It also has some good examples of azulejo, both on the side of the church and  on the terrace.DSC_0107






4 March 2018

Lisbon, Portugal

Fábrica de Cerámica da Viúva Lamego

One doesn’t have to walk far in this city to see a building clad in azulejo, or painted in a bright colour. The Fábrica de Cerámica da Viúva Lamego was originally a pottery workshop founded by António da Costa Lamego in 1849, producing tiles and ceramics.  When he died the factory adopted the name Viúva Lamego, the Viúva Lamego factory is now in Sintra and still produces hand painted tiles, the original building is now a tourist attraction.

Along the same street is the 1908 Hotel, named after the year it was built, a newly refurbished Art Nouveau building, with a sprinkling of azulejo.
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It seems as though it has rained in Lisbon for weeks, torrential rain is not ideal to go exploring with my camera, however I made the most of a break in the weather for a quick visit to the district of Príncipe Real.  The area gets its name, Príncipe Real, (royal prince) from the first son of Queen Mary II. My first stop was to see Sao Bento Palace.DSC_0008

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Sao Bento Palace

Sao Bento Palace dates back to the late 16th century, when a monastery, said to be the first Benedictine monastery in Lisbon, was situated on this site. The building was damaged in the 1755 earthquake, and what was left became the seat of the Portuguese Parliament in 1834, eventually being renovated into this enormous Neoclassical palace, Palacio das Cortes or Parlamento. I couldn’t get any further back to get the whole building in one photo.

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Príncipe Real has 19th century mansions, trendy restaurants and bars, antique shops, green spaces and a ten acre botanical garden, which was closed for refurbishment when I was here. It also provides great views of the city, once the weather is better I will take my camera so I can show more of this district.

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One can just see the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge in this photo, it is one of Lisbon’s most notable landmarks and spans the River Tagus at the narrowest point. The bridge connects Lisbon, on the north bank, with the district of Alameda on the south bank.

Opposite the Portuguese Parliament is this vivid yellow building, brightening up, what was, weather wise, a rather gloomy day.  This striking piece of street art is on the side of a house.

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This is another view of the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge taken near the Praça do Comércio.


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Praça do Comércio is known by the locals as Terreiro do Paço, because it was where the royal palace was before it was destroyed by the earthquake in 1755. It is one of the largest squares in Europe and was completely rebuilt after the earthquake. The chap on the horse in the middle of the square is King José I who was the Portuguese ruler during the reconstruction of Lisbon and the statue was inaugurated on his birthday on the 6th June 1775.

25 February 2018

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Lisbon, Portugal

It was a meeting with a dear friend for a long overdue catch up, that brought me to Martim Moniz Square, with its multicultural spaces and distinctive fountains.  The square gets its name from a noble man who, according to legend, during the siege of Lisbon in 1147, wedged his body in the doors of São Jorge Castle as the Moors were trying to close them. His actions gave the soldiers time to get to the castle and reclaim it. Unfortunately for Martim Moniz, this was the cause of his death, they are quite big doors.

Martim Moniz Square

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