21 July 2018

DSC_0219 (1)

Porto, Portugal

It’s a pleasant walk from my hotel to the centre of the city, the view changes as one gets closer to the centre. It starts with a view of Vila Nova de Gaia, by the Ponte do Infante, the buildings look as if they are stacked on top of each other as they reach down the hill to the river side.  A combination of the bends in the river and the bridges being quite close to each other, provides the view of a bridge through a bridge.

DSC_0029 (2)DSC_0007 (2)

DSC_0005

DSC_0237

There is an alternative route down to the river front, hundreds of steps that meander down and around homes, to arrive just by the Ponte Dom Luis I.  I really liked the randomly shaped, terracotta tiled roofs.

DSC_0234 (1)

DSC_0247 (1)

The Muralhas de D. Fernando, are what remains of a series of walls built around the city, from around 1336. The funicular runs between the wall and the buildings, taking one up the steep slope.

DSC_0088 (2)

DSC_0086 (1)

DSC_0211

A walk across the Ponte Dom Luis I, provides an alternative view of the old wall, and of Vila Nova de Gaia across the river.

DSC_0267 (1)

DSC_0030 (3)

The Centro Português de Fotografia, is in a building that was once used as a prison. Built in 1796, it was a prison until April 1974, when, a few days after the Revolution, the building was deactivated and the existing prisoners were moved to other prisons. After renovations the museum opened in 1997, as well as holding photographic exhibitions, and promoting the development of photographic art in Portugal, it has a large collection of cameras.
DSC_0027 (4)

The cameras are displayed in glass cabinets, on glass shelves, so it was difficult to get reasonable shots of the exhibits. Some of the older cameras, made from wood, are like works of art.

DSC_0041 (2)

There was a lot of miniature cameras on display, seen as cutting edge at the time of their production and used by spies for covert operations. There’s also an interesting collection of objects turned into cameras, carbonated drinks cans, cigarette packets, lighters and portable radios.

Before the digital cameras, taking photographs involved using a ‘roll of film’, that is what the coloured little cylinders in the photo above are, which only had room for a certain amount of photos. When all the film was used up one had to get it developed, either by taking it to a store that did developing or sending it by post. It was only when the developed film was collected that one could see the results of the photos.

There is a delightful mixture of architectural building styles in Porto, it’s worth a walk around the city to appreciate them.  Residential properties if not covered in azulejos are often painted in bright colours.

 

14 July 2018

DSC_0141

Porto, Portugal

The Sé do Porto, (Porto Cathedral) was built in the 12th century, in the Romanesque style, although structural additions added over the years have added Gothic and Baroque elements to the building.  It sits in the oldest part of the city and is also in the historic area designated by UNESCO.

DSC_0259 (1)

DSC_0299

There is a diverse selection of urban art in Porto and the following photos are of what I saw on my walks around the city. The building the big blue cat was painted on was very close to the next building so not great for taking a photo. The rabbit was in Vila Nova de Gaia.

DSC_0092 (1)


DSC_0187

DSC_0128 (2)

The Jardim do Cordoaria has sculptures, by Juan Muñoz, of men in various poses, laughing, and rather unusual trees. Just up from the gardens, trams wait outside the Igreja do Carmo. The outside of the church has azulejo panels, which seems to be a common decorative theme for churches here.

DSC_0116

DSC_0004 (4)

The Clerigos Tower is the bell tower of the Clerigos church, completed in 1763, the Baroque building was designed by the Italian architect Nasoni. One can climb the 225 steps of the tower to the belfry, for panoramic views of Porto. When it was built it was the tallest building in Portugal, (today it’s the Vasco de Gamma Tower in Lisbon), at 76 metres high, it dominates landscape views of the city.
DSC_0128 (1)

DSC_0284 (2)

DSC_0275

 

7 July 2018

Porto, Portugal

The ‘tour brochure’ (leaflet) given to me with my entrance ticket tells me that the Livraria Lello, is the most beautiful bookshop in the world. As I haven’t visited every bookshop in the world I can’t really comment on this, other than to say it is a beautiful shop.

DSC_0194 (1)

It is a bit of a faff actually getting into the bookshop. One has to buy a ticket, €5, from a store just along the street from the shop and then go to the bookshop. In the morning the queues are very long, wait until later in the afternoon and they have gone and one can just walk in, once the person on the door has seen the ticket. However the shop is still full of people, mostly taking selfies, so getting decent photos without humans in was quite difficult. The reason thousands of  visitors from around the world visit this bookstore is the author J. K. Rowling was allegedly inspired by the interior when writing Harry Potter. I haven’t read Harry Potter, so again I can’t make any comment.

DSC_0191 (1)

DSC_0177 (1)

DSC_0182 (1)

The Neo Gothic building was designed by Francisco Xavier Esteves and opened in 1906. The ceiling design on the lower floor, looks like carved wood, it’s actually painted plaster. The twisted stair case leads up to the first floor with Art Deco details on walls and columns. A stained glass skylight has the Latin ‘Decus in Labore’,  (Dignity in Work), which was the company’s golden rule. I liked the little busts of humans heads on the books.

DSC_0157 (2)

DSC_0151 (2)

DSC_0154 (2)
DSC_0020 (3)

Ribeira is one of Porto’s oldest districts and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. The Jardim do Infante Dom Henrique is named after the statue of the man himself, also known as Prince Henry the Navigator, who was born in Porto.

DSC_0270 (1)

DSC_0271 (1)

The narrow streets and winding alleys slope down to the Cais de Ribeira, a riverfront promenade, with restaurants, cafes, bars and of course boats. The  bright coloured buildings are also homes and washing, flapping in the breeze, looks like giant bunting.

DSC_0201

DSC_0145 (1)

DSC_0097 (2)

DSC_0140 (2)

DSC_0144 (1)

DSC_0172

DSC_0167

There are stairs to get back up to the top of the hill, if these are too much there is a funicular which takes one up in seconds.

DSC_0168

30 June 2018

DSC_0342
Ponte Maria Pia and Ponte São João

Porto, Portugal

The River Douro flows through Porto and there are five bridges fairly close to each other to enable one to cross the river. The oldest is Ponte Maria Pia, a rail bridge,  designed by Gustav Eiffel and named after the queen of Portugal at the time it was built, in1877.  Although it has been out of service since 1991, it has not been demolished as it’s a National Monument.  The replacement rail bridge is the Ponte São João, a complete contrast to it’s predecessor, white and made of concrete.

DSC_0059 (2)
Ponte D. Luis I

The most striking of the bridges is Ponte D. Luis I, designed by a partner of Eiffel, Téophile Seyrig, which accounts for the design similarity to the Ponte Maria Pia, it opened in 1886. There are two levels, the top is for the metro and pedestrians and the lower level is for motor traffic and pedestrians.

DSC_0143 (2)

DSC_0207 (1)

The Ponte de Arrábida is the last bridge before the river meets the ocean, made of reinforced concrete it carries six lanes of traffic over the Douro. At the time of completion, 1963, the bridges main span, was the largest concrete arch span bridge in the world, 270 meters. It was declared a national monument in 2013. The most recent bridge is the Ponte Infante Dom Henrique, which opened in 2003.

DSC_0052
Ponte Infante Dom Henrique

DSC_0302 (1)

Although Vila Nova de Gaia is just a short walk across one of Porto’s bridges, it is not actually part of Porto, it’s a separate town. Gaia is home to more than fifty port wine labels, and it is here that the Caves do Vinho do Porto, (Port Wine Cellars) are. The cellars, most of which are centuries old, are where the wine is brought to age.

DSC_0220
Cais de Gaia

Cais de Gaia was where the rabelo boats would dock, offloading their cargos of barrels of wine, it is also where Port Wine was shipped to the rest of the world. Today it’s a promenade with restaurants, bars, and where humans depart for Douro River cruises. Bobbing about on the river are the traditional rabelo boats. A cable car runs along the shoreline and up to Jardim do Morro, a hilltop park which provides views across the river to Porto.

DSC_0177

DSC_0325

Next to the park is Mosteiro da Serra de Pilar, a 17th century monastery with a circular cloister, if the climb up to the winding streets behind the river isn’t an option, one can always stroll across the top level of the Ponte D. Luis I.

DSC_0302

DSC_0330

DSC_0057

DSC_0056 (2)

23 June 2018

DSC_0062

Porto, Portugal

Porto is Portugal’s second largest city, situated in the north of the country, and famous for Port wine. There is archaeological evidence of wine production in this region during the 3rd and 4th centuries. The earliest mention of ‘Port wine’ dates from 1675, in 1756 a royal charter defined the region for production of Port wine, making it the first wine region in the world to have a formal demarcation. The Douro winemaking region was declared a World Heritage Site By UNESCO in 2001.  I’m not actually here for the Port wine, I’m here for fireworks.

I’m in Porto to enjoy the São João Festival.  The history of São João dates back to the 14th century,  when it was originally a pagan festival, the saint is celebrated on the 24 June, but the celebrations start on the 23 June. The whole city becomes the venue for the festival,  and everyone in Porto is out on the streets celebrating.  Tables are laid with food; streets are dressed in bunting; pop up stalls sell cakes and sweet breads, or plastic hammers; bars are set up on the streets; barbeques are fired up, grilling sardines, (compulsory festival food); music is provided by street musicians, or sound systems from bars, and if either of these options isn’t within hearing distance, apartment windows are opened and the volume control is turned up to very loud; and, everyone has a plastic hammer.

DSC_0138

The hammer was introduced as a festival prop in the 20th century, their purpose is to (gently) hit people, usually on the head. They are brightly coloured, lightweight plastic, come in all sizes, and they squeak. The squeak from the thousands of hammers was the sound of the festival.

DSC_0100 (1)

DSC_0026
DSC_0118 (2)

One was never far from a grilled sardine, just follow the smoke from the coals, which filled some narrow side streets, and gave the city a rather hazy look. No street was too small to hold a party, and celebrations weren’t confined to land, boats were also party venues.

DSC_0090 (1)


DSC_0127

Once the sun had set it was time to light coloured paper lanterns, hundreds were lit throughout the evening and gently floated up into the night sky. Promptly at midnight the fireworks started, the display lasted around 20 minuets, it was spectacular, and brought even more people out on to the streets.  After the fireworks, the party continued until the morning.

DSC_0169

DSC_0121 (3)

 

 

16 June 2018

DSC_0051DSC_0086

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.

DSC_0059 (1)
Alfama

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.

DSC_0322 (2)

DSC_0135

DSC_0390
Bairro Alto

DSC_0361

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.

DSC_0249 (1)

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.

DSC_0345

DSC_0040 (2)

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

DSC_0166
Madrago

DSC_0401

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.

DSC_0029

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.

DSC_0003

DSC_0039 (1)

DSC_0122

DSC_0113

DSC_0128

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.

DSC_0076

DSC_0080

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.

DSC_0070

DSC_0112

DSC_0109

DSC_0100

DSC_0132

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

DSC_0228

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.

DSC_0221

DSC_0241

DSC_0250

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.

DSC_0290

DSC_0007 (1)

DSC_0281

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.

DSC_0292

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.

DSC_0004

DSC_0006

DSC_0009

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.

DSC_0014

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.

DSC_0043

DSC_0046

26 May 2018

cof

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.

cof

cof

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.

cof

oznor

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.

oznor

edf

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

DSC_0076 (1)

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.

DSC_0011 (2)

DSC_0041 (2)

DSC_0079 (2)

DSC_0104 (2)

DSC_0108 (1)DSC_0121 (2)

 

 

19 May 2018

DSC_0030 (3)
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.

DSC_0091 (1)
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.

DSC_0181
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.

DSC_0162

12 May 2018

DSC_0185DSC_0274

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.

DSC_0182

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

DSC_0259

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).

DSC_0287

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.

DSC_0213

DSC_0241

DSC_0255
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.

DSC_0219

DSC_0186

Gardens also have a water theme.

DSC_0230

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.

DSC_0254

DSC_0235

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.

DSC_0191

DSC_0202

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.

DSC_0209

DSC_0201

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

DSC_0022

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.

DSC_0054

DSC_0025

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.

DSC_0072

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.

DSC_0032

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.

DSC_0079 (1)

DSC_0076 (1)

DSC_0101

DSC_0099

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.

DSC_0143

DSC_0053

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.

DSC_0027 (1)

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.

DSC_0059
Ponte 25 de Abril
DSC_0039 (2)
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.

DSC_0146

25 April 2018

DSC_0011

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.

DSC_0021 (1)

DSC_0002

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.

DSC_0055

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.

DSC_0043

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.

DSC_0083

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.

DSC_0085

DSC_0075

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.

DSC_0067

DSC_0074

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.

DSC_0147 (1)

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

DSC_0175 (1)

‘No one can defeat a people who resist’

DSC_0016 (1)

22 April 2018

DSC_0141 (1)

DSC_0161 (2)

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.