In 2012 I retired again and we are traveling in Europe. In 2009 Ron and I retired and we volunteered at Quaker Meeting House in Wellington, New Zealand for a year.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lisbon week 4

Museo do Oriente
We finally have hit a patch of sunny weather.  I really can’t complain, considering what a late spring most people are getting, but it is nice when the sun shines.  Because of the nice weather, we finally took a ferry ride to the south side of the river, the town of Cacilhas.  There we discovered a re-created sailing frigate which was built around 1840 and used into the 20th century.  It was an enjoyable tour below decks, even if there were lots of cannon.  We also enjoyed a pleasant “tea” in a sunny nearby square with many stalls selling various items. 
Maoist Happy New Year

The City Museum alerted us to the fact that there is an old Roman theater here, which we found more or less across the street from the Cathedral.  Like most of the archaeology here, the site is a mish mash of buildings both pre- and post-earthquake, but they have been able to clear things out down to some of the seating, orchestra and proscenium.   It is quite high up the hillside and would have had a spectacular backdrop of the Tagus River.

Our museum viewing continues.  The Chiado Museum downtown highlights art from 1800 to 1975.  Its opening greeting to visitors is a complaint about lack of space and that they can only show a small portion of their collection at any one time.  However, I think that means they may rotate exhibits frequently, which could have the benefit of bringing people back to see what is new.  The paintings go from quite classical representational art to modern non-representational.  During the 20th century, they also frequently get more political – republican, anti-fascist, etc.  
Easter Parade at Puppet Museum

Within walking distance of our apartment is the Orient Museum.  It looks at both the cross-cultural dissemination of art between Portugal, India, China and other parts of the East, and the classic and folk art of those areas before contact.  It included displays from places like East Timor and Korea.  One of the temporary exhibits was Maoist propaganda posters, including some of the Maoist movements in Europe/Portugal. 
Bordalo Pineiro Museum
We are definitely starting in on some of the more obscure sights, which is the advantage of being here a month.  We went to the Marionette Museum, which is also fairly close by.  It has puppets and masks from around the world, but particularly highlights Portuguese Puppet Theater.  The 19th and early 20th century had quite a tradition of traveling puppet theaters.  A unique part of the tradition was that the puppeteers would place reeds in their throats to make a distinctive puppet voice.  The exhibit included some modern semi-life size puppets, and there was a temporary exhibit about a Claymation TV show.  It was a very interesting small museum. 

Another small, interesting museum was devoted to Fado music and singers.  The beginnings in the 19th century are still obscure, at least to me.  Fado seems to come somewhat from sailors nostalgic for home, and also has some Brazilian roots.  We had audio phones to guide us through the exhibit, and they were actually pretty helpful.  One could also dial up songs to listen to, which is of course what I wanted.
Santa Justa Elevador

We went to the church of São Roque and the museum next door of religious art and artifacts.  We were reminded that the Church was far too rich for far too long.  And for a change of pace, we went to the Museum of Rafael Bordalo Pineiro, a 19th century ceramicist, artist/caricaturist and social commentator.  His ceramic pieces are huge and baroque and quite amazing.  His political cartoons reminded us of Thomas Nast from approximately the same time period in New York. 
Downtown from Santa Justa Elevador

Because of all the hills in Lisbon, there are about 6 funiculars (called elevadores) from down town, and we finally this week rode two of them.  One was like the little trams, except that, because of the slope, one end is close to the ground and the other a meter or 2 above, so that the floor of the tram is horizontal.  As is standard, I guess, one tram goes up while the other comes down, and they pass in the middle.
Cascais beach and terrace bar
The other was an actual elevator, designed by a student of Eiffel, and a classic 18th century iron work.  It seems to stand isolated, but there is a long catwalk which takes you from the top of the elevator across to the hilltop streets.  There are, of course, great views from both hills.

We took another train excursion, this time to Cascais, a beach town to the west past the mouth of the river.  The weather there was actually milder and less windy than Lisbon, and it was a pleasant town to wander around. 
Cascais Mouths of Hell
It does not have a long stretch of beach, just some sandy coves, and an extensive marina.  We walked along the coast to an area called As Bocas do Inferno, because there are caves and arches in the cliff through which the waves can crash.  It was a fairly calm day, but we could still get an idea of the effect.  There is a large stone citadel in the town still used by the military, which we walked around, and a nice villa in the town park with azulejos and fountains. 
Fronteira house and garden
We took an expedition (bus – metro – bus) out to a stately home of the Marques da Fronteira.  We went in the afternoon, and it turned out that there were only guided tours of the house in the morning.  However, the gardens were still open, and they are a fine sight also.  The walls inclosing the formal garden are all decorated with tile scenes depicting the twelve months of the year, and the twelve astrological signs, and the leisure life of the inhabitants. 
Fronteira garden
There is a big pool with a balcony done in azure tiles with niches for busts of all the kings.  So we had a pleasant hour wandering around.
Fronteira garden tile

Finally, on our last day in Lisbon, we returned to Belém and the Jeronimos Monastery, this time to go into the cloisters.  I am glad we did because they are really magnificently decorated in the Manueline style.  Every column and arch is slightly different, at least on the ground floor.  There are also side rooms – the chapter house, refectory, etc.  One of the rooms has been turned into a monument to the historian and writer Alexandre Herculano (1810-1877), which I think is pretty nifty.  He was involved in an early (1830s) struggle against an absolute monarchy, but also important in the creation of a modern Portuguese identity. I can't believe we almost skipped this, because they building is really iconographic for Portugal.  We took lots of pictures, so they are at the end of this post.
Throne room

After lunch, we completed our palace tours by going to the royal palace at Ajuda, just a short bus ride up from Belém.  It was first occupied by King Luis I in the second half of the 19th century.  The palaces we saw in Sintra were just summer residences – this was the real thing.  There were ball rooms and waiting rooms and a throne room and then lots of family rooms – blue, red, yellow, oriental – and bedrooms, all ornately decorated.  It was huge and quite an experience.

Now we are off for 10 days north of Lisbon by train and bus to Leiria, Coimbra, and Tomar. 



Tomb of Alexandre Herculano

No comments:

Post a Comment