Europe -Portugal

The albums on this page are from 2 trips to Portugal. It is a fun country to visit ... rich in history, interesting architecture, good food, terrific scenery and nice people.

The second trip was with my son to give him the opportunity to learn about his heritage.

>> click on an Album Thumbnail to open the Foto Album <<

Only there for 1 week ... so much more to see. It is the oldest city in Western Europe and in 1755 85% of its structures were destroyed by an earthquake. It is full of contrasts - architecture from the 1700’s to ultramodern from the 1998 Expo, wealth and street beggars but everywhere full of life and art.

A second 10 day trip to Lisboa. Still haven’t seen everything but a tour of the city and surrounding areas by some friends made progress including a walking tour of the oldest neighbourhood Alfama.

Cape Roca is the most westernmost point of Europe. The Atlantic sea views and rugged coastline are quite beautiful. It located within Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, 42 kilometres west of the city of Lisbon.

Mafra is a small town in the district of Lisbon known for the baroque style Mafra National Palace. It is an ancient area, one of the oldest human presences in Europe. Remnants of early inhabitants date back to 7000 BC.

Alcochete is just across the bay from Lisbon, accessible via the longest bridge in Europe, the Vasco da Gama Bridge. It is a pretty village on the waterfront.

This town of around 78,000 people is located in the municipality of Sintra. It is a historic area with Neolithic monuments and vestiges from abandoned settlements discovered by archeologists dating the earliest settlements back to 4,200 BC.

During the 18th century, Queluz was the Portuguese Crown residence which attracted nobility to the Queluz National Palace. The Palace and its grounds are the main attraction in town.

Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments including the Palácio Nacional da Pena (Pena National Palace), Sintra National Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. Pena means feather in Portuguese. The Pena Palace architecture is a blend of Medieval and Islamic elements.

Alantejo 2015

to come

Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes a Roman temple dating back to the 1st century AD and aqueducts build in the 1500's. Situated in the province of Alentejo, summers are very hot. Was over 40 Celsius when I was there.

There are many interesting things to see. My 2 favourites are the Roman Templo de Diana and the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) in Igreja de São Francisco built in the 17th century on the initiative of 3 monks. They wanted to highlight the transitoriness of life as depicted in the sign at the entrance - " We, the bones that are here await yours.." It is estimated the chapel contains some 5,000 skeletons from cemeteries in churches and convents of the city.

A 2nd trip to Évora in 2015.

The name "Óbidos" derives from a Latin term meaning "citadel" or "fortified city". The site dates back to early Roman settlements in the area. It is very well preserved Medieval town that is picturesque and a great place to spend a day.

Santarém 2011

to come

Nazaré is one of the most popular seaside resorts towns on the Silver Coast (Costa de Prata). It has a population of about 15,000 and has 3 neighbourhoods: Praia (along the beach), Sítio (an old village on top of the cliffs) and Pederneira (another old village on a hilltop). Praia and Sítio are linked by the Nazaré Funicular railway.

The earliest settlements were in Pederneira and in Sítio that provided inhabitants with refuge against raids by Viking, French, English and Dutch pirates. This lasted until the beginning of the 19th century.

The town has changed significantly in the last 40 years. My first visit was in 1973 when old traditions were still common eg. main source of living was fishing with a sizable fleet of boats and the daily catch was sold by the beach. I recall being able to buy barbecued sardines and other fish on the beach from the many vendors. Today, little of this is left although many street vendors still wear traditional clothing.

There are many fotos of the people of Nazaré in this album. I found the people interesting and picturesque.

“Monastery of the Battle” is a Dominican convent in parish of Batalha. It was built to thank the Virgin Ma ry for victory over the Castilians in the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. It was build over almost 150 years starting in 1386. In 1983 it was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List. With its intricate carving, statues and more, it really is a work of art.

Alcobaça 2011 + 2015

to come

Leiria 2011 + 2015

to come

The 20,000 people of Tomar take pride in their heritage ... refer to their town as “Cidade Templária” (City of the Templars). It is a town rich in history.

It began inside the walls of the Convento de Cristo constructed in the late 12th century by the Knights Templar. Under the modern city lies the Roman city of Sellium.

In 1159, the land was granted to the Order of the Knights Templar and in 1160, its Grand Master in Portugal laid the first stone of the Castle and Monastery that would become the headquarters of the Order in Portugal. The Convento de Cristo was home to the warrior monks (Knights Templar) that protected the region from the Moors.

In 1314, the Pope banned the Knights Templar throughout Europe but in Portugal, their rights and wealth were transferred to a newly created Knights of the Order of Christ. In the 15th century, it was a centre of Portuguese overseas expansion under Henry the Navigator, the Grand Master of the Order of Christ.

I was lucky enough to be there during the annual “Festa Templária” to enjoy the many activities put on to celebrate their Templar heritage.

Grutas 2011 + 2015

to come

Aveiro, on the west coast is set along a lagoon called Ria de Aveiro. It’s many canals are navigated by colorful boats (barcos moliceiros), traditionally used to harvest seaweed. In times past, it was an important centre for production of salt and commercial shipping. It was a key place for salt exploration and trade by the Romans. Today it is a favourite tourist destination. For me it is a cross between Amsterdam and Venice.

Also in this album are a couple of beach resorts - Costa Nova do Prado and Praia de Mira.

Coimbra 2011

to come

Fátima 2011 + 2015

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Fundão to Porto 2011

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Porto 2011

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Located along the Douro River in northern Portugal, Oporto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Portugal’s 2nd largest city. It is a very picturesque city rich history dating back many centuries including when it was called Portus Cale as an outpost of the Roman Empire. The area’s history dates back to 300 BC when it was occupied by Celtic people.

Directly across the Douro River is the city of Vila Nova de Gaia. It is home to a many cellars (known as "caves") where the world famous Port wine is stored and aged. Touring the “caves” is a fun thing to do as is sampling different Ports.

City's actual name is Porto but when preceded by a definite article 'O' in Portuguese meaning 'the' in English, it is written as 'o Porto' meaning 'the port' in English which evolved into 'Oporto' in modern literature.

Barcelos is a town of about 120,000 people in Northern Portugal. It was originally a Roman settlement and in the 15th century, became the seat of the First Duke of Bragança. The Palace of the Dukes of Bragança (Paço dos Condes de Barcelos) was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755 and today the ruins are used as an open-air museum.

The town is well known for its textile and adobe industries and famous for “O Galo de Barcelos“ (the Rooster of Barcelos) which is one of the most common emblems of Portugal and based on a legend of how man’s life was saved by rooster that had already been roasted. This rooster is considered a symbol of good luck by many people.

Braga 2011 + 2015

to come

Soajo is a small village in northern Portugal that dates back to the early 1500’s and today has less than 1,000 inhabitants. It is situated in the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês.

The village is made up of granite houses characteristic of mountain regions. It is famous for its 24 stone communal espigueiros (granaries) standing on a granite hilltop. The espigueiros are for drying coarse corn through lateral fissures and preventing destruction by rodents through elevation. The most ancient one dates back to 1782. At first glance, they look like coffins but not to worry, Dracula does not live here.

“Good Jesus of the Mount” is a sanctuary in Tenões, near the city of Braga in northern Portugal. It is a pilgrimage site with an impressive Baroque 116 meter (381 feet) stairway with about 600 stairs in total.

There is evidence that the first chapel over the hill dates back to 1373. In 1629 the Bom Jesus pilgrimage church was first built and later rebuilt from 1784 to 1834.

The property also has the Via Crucis (Italian for “Way of the Cross”). From the bottom of the Baroque stairway, a pathway of stairs meanders through the forest as it winds down the 1,000 foot incline to the bottom of the hill. Chapels are found every 100 feet or so for each of the Stations of the Cross with terra cotta sculptures inside depicting the “Passion of Christ”. A funicular will take you up or down the hillside if you don’t want to climb the stairs up and down the hill.

The album starts with images of the Santuário de Nossa Senhora do Sameiro which is nearby. Construction of the domed church of Nossa Senhora do Sameiro begun in 1863.

Viana do Castelo 2011

to come

Guimarães is considered the birthplace of Portugal because it's first King, Afonso Henriques, is believed to have been born here and the Battle of São Mamede, the key event for the creation of the Kingdom of Portugal was fought near the city on June 24, 1128.

The area has been inhabited since 3500 BC (the Copper Age) was also occupied by the Romans. Evidence suggests it was a spa town for the Romans.

Serra da Estrela 2011 + 2015

to come

Fundão 2011 + 2015

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São Martinho 2011 + 2015

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The city name means "white castle”. It is an old area with little known about its history prior to 1182 when land was given to the Templars on which they built the castle on the hill seen in some of the fotos.

The main monument / attraction is the Jardim do Paço Episcopal (Garden of the Episcopal Palace) - one of the most beautiful baroque gardens in Portugal containing statues of signs of the zodiac, the seasons, kings and many other symbols arranged around ponds, terraces and staircases.

The album contains fotos from 2 different trips so you may notice colour differences due to the different lighting conditions.

Idanha-a-Velha 2011 + 2015

to come

In this album, come for a walk with me through the village known as "the most Portuguese village of Portugal". It is a unique place where the village is built in harmony with nature including huge granite boulders as walls in some of the houses.

It is a historical area with evidence of inhabitants tracing back to the Early Stone Age, at the time of ice-ages. Over the milenia many cultures settled the area - Romans, Visigoth in the early Middle Ages and even earlier Arab presence has been found. In the 12th century, King Afonso I of Portugal conquered Monsanto from the Moors and granted custody of the city to a knights' order of the church - the Order of Knights Templar.

Belmonte 2015

to come

Sortelha 2011 + 2015

to come

Sabugal 2011 + 2015

to come