We have taken the slow way out to Belém. First from the hotel down to the bus, with the bus to Ajuda, where we saw an unfinished palace and a botanic garden. From there we strolled down to our main destination of the day, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. We left the monastery for the monuments to the west of it, and from there we could have taken a bus or a train back to the center. But then, having not all the time in the world, I thought a taxi would be a good idea.
I wanted to see one more church, one more Miradouro. The church was the Basílica da Estrela, a church built to celebrate the birth of Dom José, Prince of Brazil, Duke of Braganza, heir to the crown. While he died at the age of 27 from smallpox, the church in its magnificence is still here to see. It can be considered one of the countless “minor sights” of Lisbon, but that only speaks to the quality of Lisbon’s architecture 🙂
Directly in front of the church is a tramway station. From there I took a ride down the hill, through Baixa, passing Praça do Comércio and then up the opposite hill, through Alfama and around the castle. Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is our final destination on this eventful day.
One more monument before we leave Belém. This is the Monumento aos Combatentes do Ultramar. It remembers the victims of the Portuguese Colonial War. The Portuguese victims, to be precise.
In the background you see a wall, and this wall lists the names of thousands of fallen soldiers.
Actually it’s a strange and beautiful place. The monument in the shallow pond, the eternal flame burning below, the alien overall shape, all that gives a feeling of what it may mean to die in a place far from home. It’s not comforting.
You’re in Lisbon and you’re looking for an iconic view? A real cliché? Some place that everybody has taken an image from? Look no further. This is it 🙂
Here’s one image for scale. There is a café in a small basin, with the sculpture of a big bird, made of what sometimes may have been a Tuk.
As cities along rivers or the sea go, some do interesting things with their shores, some are boring. Paris is among the better, Venice is great, Vienna was boring and has begun to catch up. It’s mainly a matter of how the shore is integrated into the city’s life. Good integration means a lot of cafés, places to sit and dream, to sip a cocktail while looking out at the water.
Lisbon has an abundance of shore, but it does not use it in any particularly interesting way. One reason may be, that the water is clearly not clean enough for swimming. The other may be, that Lisbon lives much on its hills. Whatever the reasons may be, the shore is more or less an endless strech of streets and railway lines following the river. Belém is better, but still, the monuments, big and crowded as they are, look a little bit lonely there.
Well, you know that kind of monuments, you know that kind of architecture, and although Salazar may have been no typical fascist like Mussolini or Franco, he was a dictator and this is totalitarian architecture.
On the other hand, among pieces of totalitarian architecture, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos is one of the more interesting. From the back a cross is clearly visible. That’s to remind you in whose name all the native Americans, the Africans and the Indians were slaughtered. From the side there is resemblance to a ship’s prow. You’ll see the side tomorrow.
I was there in the early afternoon and I can tell you, this place is crowded. Instead of waiting forever, I’ve taken a sequence of images and combined the uncrowded fragments later in Photoshop. Things like that were done in times of film as well, but today it’s absolutely painless. It couldn’t have taken me more than ten minutes.
OK, I admit, the last few posts were a little bit rushed, but we really have to wrap this up. Otherwise we’d spend the rest of 2016 with my short trip to Lisbon.
On the other hand I’m really happy that I have taken that many images there, because I’ve almost stopped photographing lately. At the moment I’m just that busy.
To show you how dramatic the situation is, let me just say that I’ve processed 243 images from Lisbon, and then 88 from the rest of the year since mid-September 🙂
Well, you see, I’m running out of things to say about this architectural marvel. I’m not running out of pictures though. We’ll have to wade through a few more 🙂
The website of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos has what Wikipedia lacks, namely a few details about the sculptor of this masterpiece, a Flemish artist named Philippe de Vries, aka Filipe Brias.
In any case, now I have changed to the 40-150/2.8, the lens that I’ll use in the next posts for a few more images of the upper story of the cloister.
This was the first image that I’ve processed after returning from Lisbon. If I had taken no other image, it would still have been a successful trip.
Actually I have a whole series of these images. They were hard to take, because I had to crouch and bend back in order to get the frame. That’s very awkward and not exactly a steady stance for shooting handheld at a quarter of a second 🙂
Here’s a variant taken at 12 mm, but really, the wide angle makes all the difference for me.