|Leiria - River Lis and castle|
We walked up to the castle which is now a partially reconstructed ruin. It was a Moorish stronghold (and perhaps Roman before that) until reconquered in 1135 by Afonso Henriques, who became the first Christian King of Portugal. The walls and the castle keep date from around this time or the next century. In the late 15th century King João I built a small palace within the walls and restored the church. The palace has a wonderful porch gallery overlooking the city, and a couple of other restored rooms of comfortable proportion. The church is an elegant ruin, and the keep and battlements at the top of the hill are impressive.
At dinner that evening, on one of the squares, we got to observe one of those quaint native festivals you read about. This was a parade to drum up support for the local soccer team playing that evening. First honking cars drove around and then people marched through the various squares wearing their soccer scarves, drinking, waving banners, singing songs, and blowing horns and whistles.
Leiria also has a recently built Museum of the Moving Image. It had everything from flip books and stereoscopes to early movie cameras, with a number of good interactive models. We most enjoyed a photo exhibit of old Leiria from the turn of the last century to mid-20th century.
Another hill above the river is dominated by a church, the Sanctuary of our Lady of the Conception, with an impressive staircase leading straight up the hill, so we had the energy to climb up there also and check out that view. The church itself was not open.
Leiria was our base for day trips to two World Heritage Sites. The first was to Batalha Monastery, built to thank the Virgin Mary for her help in bringing victory at the nearby battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. The church started off as classic Gothic with English Perpendicular influences, but later Manueline decorations were added to doors and cloisters.
It was good to see it right
after being at the Jerónimos cloisters in Belem. The mix of styles was quite enjoyable. There is a Founders Chapel with tombs of many
kings, starting with Joao I and his wife Philippa of Lancaster from the early
15th century. They have a
joint tomb and their effigies are holding hands.
There is a very nice cloister.
Originally plain Gothic, typically elaborate decorative Manueline stone
tracery was added to the arches. In
fact, this is the first building in which this work appears, and the architect
then went on to build the Jeronimos Monastery.
The decoration really takes off in the doorway carvings of what are
called the Imperfect (or Unfinished) Chapels.
Some more kings are buried here in chapels around a central octagonal
courtyard, but they ran out of funds for completing the vault, so the courtyard
is open to the elements. King Duarte and
Queen Eleanor of Aragon have a joint tomb there where they are also depicted
holding hands. Duarte (Edward in
English) was the son of Joao and Philippa mentioned earlier.
|King Duarte and Queen Eleanor|
|King Joao and Queen Philippa|
|Alcobaca Church nave|
|Ines de Castro|
|Hall of Kings|
|Dining room door|
I will post soon about the last two towns in Portugal!