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Portugal

July 2007

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Summer break in Portugal. We started our trip in the North in Guimarães, then cruising south to Porto, Lindoso, Coimbra, Ourém, Nazaré, and finally Lisbon of course. Lovely old towns, interesting history and wonderful people. The wine is good, but we found the food to be a bit monotonous, less varied than in neighbouring Spain.

Our first destination is the provincial town of Guimarães where we spent 3 nights in a 12th century monastery that has been converted into a stately hotel.
Pousada Santa Marinha
Pousada Santa Marinha
View towards the valley
Although still a little on the cool side, it was nice to relax by the pool at the end of the afternoon.
Inside, gigantic 12th-century rooms with 17th-century furniture in 20th-century restoration quality. A curious time mix, but it works.
Pousada Santa Marinha
Pousada Santa Marinha
Pousada Santa Marinha
The room is a former monks' quarters, small but quiet.
Pousada Santa Marinha
At the end of the long cloister corridor this beautiful covered veranda. Too windy to sit down for a while, unfortunately...
Pousada Santa Marinha
From our bedroom window we have a view of beautifully landscaped gardens.
Until 1174, Porto was the capital of Portugal and the city from which the whole country takes its name.
Porto is world-famous as the heart of the port wine trade, but it is also an important industrial centre. It has oil refineries and textile factories.
Porto
On the quays of the old port are houses painted in pastel shades. It is beautiful here. The entire old centre (Cidade Velha) has been on UNESCO's World Heritage List since 1996.
Porto
Porto
Porto
The southern bank of the Douro has traditionally been the centre of the porch trade, but throughout the city Porto's most famous export cannot be ignored.
A glass of port with lunch should be fine here...
...mmmm...
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Inside the restaurant's upper room, the walls are completely covered with the famous blue and white tiles called azulejos.
Porto
Porto
Porto
Porto
Just like the setting of an open-air opera, don't you think?
Antique street cars squeak along the banks of the Douro.
Porto
The next day we travel to Lindoso, an authentic mountain village in the Peneda Gerês National Park, close to the Spanish border.
Fascinating, these 17th century high-piled corn sheds. The droll stone legs on which these barns stand keep the mice at bay.
Parque Nacional de Peneda Gerês
Parque Nacional de Peneda Gerês
The drawbridge of the Castelo de Lindoso
We eat a bite outside on the terrace of the local snack bar... Rarely have we been served such a good steak!
If there is anything typical about Portuguese food, it is fish; in all shapes and sizes. The most commonly eaten is salted and dried Bacalhau (pronounced bakkel-jau)
Bacalhau is prepared in many different ways, but is mostly served as a kind of stew: in small chunks mixed with potatoes and/or bread, to which basically anything can be added.
Palacio do Buçaco (1888-1907)
Palacio do Buçaco
Today, the palace is one of the most expensive and most richly furnished hotels in Portugal.
Palacio do Buçaco
Coimbra is the intellectual centre of Portugal, thanks to the presence of the country's oldest university. The Sé Velha, the old cathedral, is Romanesque, but the gateway is in the Portuguese Manueline style.
This is the Mosteiro de Santa Cruz, an Augustinian monastery founded in the 12th century. Here are the tombs of the first kings of Portugal, Alfonso and Sancho.
Coimbra
Coimbra
Coimbra
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The university was founded in 1290, originally in Lisbon but it was soon moved to Coimbra. In its heyday, it was mentioned in the same breath as Oxford and Bologna.
The university building was originally the royal palace, and before that a Moorish fortress.
Like Lisbon, Coimbra was hit by an earthquake in 1755. And like the capital, the lower town was modernised afterwards; the old upper town remained largely intact and therefore very atmospheric.
Coimbra
At the end of a long day of travelling, we see on a beautiful hill the village of Ourém, where our second accommodation is to be found. Again, a pousada, but of a completely different style and nature than the first one.
Pousada Conde de Ourém
Pousada Conde de Ourém
The pousada is a series of interconnected medieval houses that have been converted into a contemporary state hotel.
Pousada Conde de Ourém
The medieval village square of Ourém.
The cemetery of Ourém
The cemetery of Ourém
Just above the pousada is this beautiful castelo with wide views of the valley.
Castelo de Ourém
The Mosteiro de Batalha was built in honour of the victory of the Portuguese over the Castilians in the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385.
Mosteiro de Batalha
Mosteiro de Batalha
Mosteiro de Batalha
Mosteiro de Batalha
Mosteiro de Batalha
Mosteiro de Batalha
Mosteiro de Batalha
Mosteiro de Batalha
Mosteiro de Batalha
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Mosteiro de Batalha
The complex, which took two centuries to build, immortalises the three artistic styles existing at the time: Late Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance.
The west portal is richly decorated with statues of apostles, prophets, saints, kings and angels, altogether 78 figures.
Mosteiro de Batalha
Mosteiro de Batalha
From Batalha we drove on to the coast where we spent a lovely afternoon in Nazaré.
Nazaré
Nazaré
Nazaré
Today it is Lisbon's turn! After having dumped our car in a parking garage near the Rossio, we open up against this great building. The name reminds us of something...
Teatro Eden
Portuguese also build beautiful temples to their favourite pastries, the Pasteís de Nata.
The lower town, with its straight street plan, is partially closed to all traffic and is therefore an excellent shopping area.
Typical lunch spot
Here again those nice old trams
Here again those nice old trams
Catch-up time
Not a tourist in sight...
Lisboa
Lisboa
Alfama is a picturesque district, built on one of the seven hills of Lisbon. The streets are very steep and the stairs numerous...
...but the views are yet again very beautiful
Lisboa
The Elevador da Santa Justa. This lift, made entirely of wrought iron, has been making its vertical trips since 1902.
Lisboa
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Lisboa
Lisboa
Mosteiro de Tomar
Mosteiro de Tomar
Mosteiro de Tomar
Mosteiro de Tomar
Mosteiro de Tomar
Mosteiro de Tomar
Mosteiro de Tomar
The Portuguese branch of the Templar Order, the 'Ordem da Cavalaria do Templo' or Templários, had its seat in Tomar.
They were closely involved in the struggle against the Moors on the Iberian Peninsula. They played an important role for instance in the conquest of Santarém and Lisbon in 1147.
In 1356, the Order of the Knights of Christ settled in Tomar. Thus the Order could further expand the material wealth of the Templars. Only the name was changed, everything else remained the same.
After the final expulsion of the Moors, the order was given a new task: to increase the Portuguese royal power.
Mosteiro de Tomar
Mosteiro de Tomar
The order financed the Portuguese voyages of discovery and converted the 'non-believers' to Christianity. Their symbol, the octagonal red cross, taken from the Templars, became a household symbol.
Mosteiro de Tomar
After this illustrious period, however, their power was curtailed by Joáo III's decree in 1523 that the religious aspect should prevail again. The order became a pure monastic order again.
Mosteiro de Tomar
Mosteiro de Tomar
The elongated dining hall where the knight-monks ate together.
The kitchen of the monastery
The kitchen of the monastery
The last afternoon of this wonderful week in Portugal we tour the surroundings and discover the Do Bode reservoir with an impressive dam.
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Calm water behind the dam
And last but not least, the beautifully situated Castelo Do Bode, in the middle of a hill in the river behind the dam.
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by @just-edo in Spain