Sunday, July 1, 2012

Postcards From Portugal

While on my recent travels, I spent some time in the beautiful country of Portugal. I was fascinated to learn more about the close historical and trade-route ties between Portugal and South Africa. I really regret not paying more attention in history class when I was younger. I saw spectacular landmarks I had only ever read about. To follow in the footsteps of Vasco da Gama as he embarked upon his journey to the Cape of Good Hope was an experience that is unparalleled. 

I spent most of my time in Lisbon, a city of enchanting colours, cobblestone streets, awe-inspiring ancient edifices, a lush and expansive coastline and a riveting history of exploration and discovery. I loved how the old traditional side of the city is preserved in it's prime, with the newer and more modern buildings drafted to fit within it's charming vintage framework. And that Lisbon has not lost any of the characteristics of it's prolific past. These are some photos I snapped during my tour.

The Jerónimos Monastery is an opulent display of Gothic and Renaissance architectural design with an intrinsic Portuguese flair. It was one of the busiest tourist sites I visited in Lisboa. This Manueline style monument was built over 50 years during the reign of King Manuel I. The amazing nautical inspired interior features extensive halls, rope-trimmed, coral carved columns, reticulated vaults, lengthy aisles and most importantly, the tomb of Vasco da Gama.

1. The historic Belém Tower, which was built to defend the Lisbon harbour. 2. The expertly sculpted Monument to the Discoveries, which depicts Portugal's most important figures and explorers. 3. The Shrine of Fátima, one of the most important religious monuments in the country. There is a very interesting story behind it, have you heard it? 4. The Statue of King José I and behind it is the Arch de Triumph of Rua Augusta. 5. Standing tall over the city is the colossal Cristo-Rei statue, built in resemblance to the famous monument in Rio de Janeiro. 

Lisbon is one of the most colourful cities I've been to. The apartment blocks and modern buildings are painted in radiant, cheery shades, with pink and yellow being a favourite. I also noticed that they decorate their outer walls with lovely patterned tiles.

A view of the 25 de Abril bridge, a crossway over the placid blue waters of the Tagus River. 

The beautiful Rossio Square, where we stopped by to join the locals in dining out at one of the bustling restaurants and coffee shops, and also for some retail therapy. 

*All photographs taken by me. 


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