portugal Tag

belem tower, lisbon, portugal, unesco word heritage site lisbon, defense (2)

The tower rising from the river

Belem Tower, Lisbon During a recent trip to Portugal, I passed through Lisbon. Unfortunately I was only there for a few waking hours and only slightly more sleeping hours. In many ways, it was disappointing. I had never been to Lisbon before and didn't know much about the city but in the short time I was there, transiting as it was, the city inspired me. It teased me with its beauty and its bonhomie. The only 'sight' I really had time to see was Belem Tower, the fortress that rises up from the Tagus River. The first iteration of the tower was built in the early 1500's. It was designed as a fortress to stop any attack on Lisbon. Enemy boats which tried to make their way up the river would be met by a canon barrage from Belem Tower. Not always successfully, as it was to turn out...

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04 January
oporto, porto, portugal, abandoned buildings, derelict buildings, unesco world heritage (4)

Derelict and abandoned… but not giving up

Oporto, Portugal Blue and white tiles. Each, meaningless. But together, a grand image taking people off the street and inside the creation for a minute. All through the streets of Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, these tiled mosaics bring life to the roads, the pathways, and the squares. But behind the colourful and active displays is a community of dereliction. A bust has followed a boom. Porto was once an epicentre of trade and production - it was produce like fruit, nuts and olive oils that were popular in the Middle Ages. And then it was the eponymous Port wine. You can still visit the active cellars of the large companies like Taylors and see how the wine has been made for centuries. But, although it is a successful business and a pleasant place for a tour and a tasting, it does not an entire economy support. As the national finances of Portugal have hit...

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03 January
paper museum, santa maria da feira, portugal, paper mill, history of paper making (4)

Following the paper trail

The Paper Museum, Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal When it comes to the family tree of Antonio Luis Marques da Silva, there’s a good chance it’s been cut down and turned into pulp. You see, paper is in the genes. His father was a trader in the Portuguese paper business. And, although it seemed coincidental at the time, Antonio ended up in a job where he designed boxes made of cardboard. Now, many years on, he is the director of Portugal’s official paper museum – a job which has father should be very proud of… on paper, at least. The Paper Museum is set along the banks of a small trickling river in the quiet town of Pacos de Brandao (about 20 kilometres from Porto). Once upon a time this was a thriving hub of industry with no less than five paper mills on the small stretch that now makes up the museum’s...

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30 November
Sao Pedro Monastery Arouca Portugal, silent order nuns, porto, (7)

Vow of silence

Sao Pedro Monastery, Arouca, Portugal Silence. The Sao Pedro Monastery in the Portuguese town of Arouca is quiet now, its rooms empty of the nuns who once lived here. But even in the days when it was full, there was no noise. No sounds escaped from the lips of the residents; no conversations echoed through the cloisters; there was no shouting, no laughing, no crying. The young women who joined this monastery would take a vow of silence upon entry. They were generally sent here by their families at the age of about 17 or 18 and, until their dying day, they would not utter a sound. For some of these girls, Sao Pedro was a prison sentence at first. In the hills of northern Portugal, in the small town of Arouca, they were far from home and far from the rest of the country. The landscape in the region is beautiful – with...

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08 November