History Lisboa

It’s a Monday so it must be time for a walk

And I thought we'd take a step back in history to Portugal's golden age.

It has been a while since we joined Restless Jo on a Monday stroll, and so I thought I’d take you on one in Belém. It is not a very long stroll, you could walk it in less than quarter of an hour, however it is rather majestic with plenty to see and to explore if you have a few hours to spare.

Belem TowerWe began at Torre de Belém , probably one of the most well known buildings in Lisboa. The tower was built in the early 16th century as part of a defence system at the mouth of the Rio Tejo.  It never quite succeeded though as a fort, and in 1589 was being described as the ‘useless castle of São Vicente’! It did much better as a customs point when foreign ships were required to pay taxes to enter Lisboa’s harbour. The Great Earthquake of 1755 shifted the course of the river and so the tower found itself much closer to the shoreline.

Although you can’t tell from my photographs on the day we visited Belém – late morning on a Saturday – there were huge crowds of tourists and locals enjoying the sunshine. We decided the view from the top was not worth the queue, and instead headed east towards Lisboa. The walk beside the Rio Tejo as you head east for Padrão dos Descobrimentos is glorious, and despite my many humphs when I wrote this post my memories of this short stroll are all good.

As well as the views there are lots of sidetracking opportunities and places for a bite to eat. Mr B’s attention of course was caught by the derrick crane at the doca do Bom Sucesso, and even I couldn’t resist taking a few photographs.

The crane didn’t keep my attention for long. There is so much more to see on and across the river, as well west to the Atlantic and north towards to Belém. Even Mr B agreed with me and his lovely sister who was with us that it was the Tagus (Rio Tejo) which was truly irresistible. Wouldn’t it have been lovely to have been sailing on one of these yachts?Cristo Rei on the southern bank

When I could draw myself away from the river my eye was caught by the stone tableaux on the Museu de Arte Popular. I thought they were lovely. I have just realised though that the women in each frame are seated /kneeling. You may recall me talking about female statues last year. At best I can hope it was an unconscious design but it still makes me go humph! The Museu de Arte Popular began life as the ‘Secção da Vida Popular’, a pavilion at the 1940 Portuguese World Exhibition reflecting every day life and traditions. We didn’t go in as the Tagus had a hold on us, and from what I have read since there are only a few rooms currently open to the public. Perhaps something to save for a rainy day.

The Portuguese World Exhibition was Portugal’s response to the World Trade Fair held the previous year in New York, and also was a chance for the country to celebrate its 800th anniversary of foundation and 300th anniversary of restoration of independence from Spain. Farol de BelemThe lovely lighthouse located beside the Padrão dos Descobrimentos is pseudo and like much here was created as part of the Exhibition. Over 3 million people visited the exhibition in 1940, and of course millions if not billions have visited what remains.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Monument to the Discoveries, may have been part of the propaganda stunt by Salazar, but it is a wonderful commemoration of the Iberian Explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was the Portuguese who discovered a sailing route for Europeans to India, who were the first Europeans in Brazil and Japan, and the first ones to discover the Cape of Good Hope. It was also a Portuguese  – Ferdinand Magellan – who first circumnavigated the globe although this achievement he did in Spain’s name!

As well as explorers the monument remembers missionaries, painters and writers, many of whom had a significant impact on the development of navigation and cartography. Can you spot her!There is though only one woman commemorated and she wasn’t even a native Portuguese. She was English. You can find her on the west side of the Monument – Philippa of Lancaster – who became Queen of Portugal following her marriage to John I in 1387. I didn’t spot her when I was there and so every photograph I have of the west side she’s hidden behind the globe. She is also kneeling as she looks up to her son, Henry the Navigator. Humph!!

Our walk finished a few yards from the Monument on a tram as we headed back into Lisboa for lunch. Jerónimos Monastery (Hieronymites Monastery)We’ll be back though as I want to go round the other World Heritage Site in Belém Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, as well as explore the palace, other museums and Belém itself. It is after all the home of Pastel de Nata. Yummy, time for afternoon tea me thinks! Before I go and make myself a cuppa let us finish our stroll by watching some modern day explorers, following in Henry’s sails and heading out into the Atlantic.Modern day explores heading out to sea

19 comments on “It’s a Monday so it must be time for a walk

  1. Many years ago, I traveled throughout Portugal, spending several days in Lisbon. One of my favorite sightseeing romps was one where I meandered along the waterfront, seeing the very sites you captured with your camera. Thank you for reminding me of that lovely day!

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  2. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : City of Birmingham (24 hours in Brum) | restlessjo

  3. I really like that explorer monument!

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  4. Great photos, especially the monument Becky. It’s all a bit masculine isn’t it? I must say I’ve never thought of it, but most city statues probably are. I’ll add my humph to the list!

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    • They are unfortunately and I think it has a subliminal effect on how we think about our past, what women can achieve and our culture. There are groups trying to change the balance, but there is a long way to go so delighted you are adding your humph to the list!

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  5. It is an interesting area for a stroll and even a visit to the MARITIME MUSEUM. I was annoyed to discover that there is a botanical garden close by that I didn’t know about. However, getting there can be tricky. We waited ages for a tram and eventually managed to get on a bus, even though we weren’t sure of where to get off! Lovely photos Becky 🙂

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    • We got a taxi there as the buses and trams were so busy!! The taxi was surprisingly cheap so we used them again another day when the trams were impossibly busy.
      Thanks for the tip about the Maritime Museum will explore it on our return, and I didn’t know about the botanical gardens either – definitely intend to find that on our return.

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  6. Good monuments, but, yes, where are all the women? Have we discussed this before? I can’t remember, but it’s one of my favourite rants. Glasgow only has 3 statues of women, so does Edinburgh – but I think they have four of dogs!

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  7. The monument is incredible – what intricate details! Your photos really make me want to visit the area.

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    • It is amazing . . . apparently made in wood for the exhibition and then create in concrete afterwards. You can go up it too as there is a viewing platform at the top.

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  8. What a humphy mood you’re in 🙂 🙂 I had good reason to be humphy last time I was there as I didn’t get to the Jeronimus because I had my purse pinched! 😦 But I still love the area. The Descobrimentos is wonderful I don’t remember the lighthouse! Where was I looking? I want to see the new boardwalk/super cool area beyond the Cais which wasn’t done when we were there. Driving across the Vasco da Gama bridge is awesome though. Oh, look what you’ve started now! I want to go back :);

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    • on no how horrid, you definitely had a good reason to be humphy! By the way isn’t it a great word!!!

      You were probably looking out at the Tagus if you missed the lighthouse or looking down at the map by the globe?

      I can’t wait to go back too . . . thinking of an Autumn trip when there are fewer crowds, fewer pickpockets but still lots of sunshine 🙂

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  9. The views of the sailing boats are so relaxing, not even the many, many kneeling women will ruin my mood 😉

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    • Thank goodness for those sailing boats 🙂 they certainly helped me get over discovering all the kneeling women when I was going through my photographs earlier!

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