Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lisbon - Day 3

Wednesday, June 8, 2016
This was truly a jam-packed day with a wide variety of sights and experiences.
We started the day at nearby Edward VII park, named for the British Monarch when he visited the city in 1902. Apparently the two countries have enjoyed a long friendship dating to the 1300's. I think a lot of it had to do with the English's affection for port wine. The park provided us with a great view of the Tejo (Tagus) River.

From there we went to the Monastery of Jeronimos. It was built by King Manuel (1495-1521) who ruled during "The Age of Discovery." He erected this limestone church and monastery along Lisbon's waterfront as a thank you for discoveries made by early explorers.  
Stretching 300 yards (3 football fields), it is an excellent example of Manueline architecture.

It was a very decorative style, using motifs from sailing, nature and emblems from important families along with features from buildings seen on voyages, especially In India.
We visited the church with its 75 ft. ceilings,

the cloister

and the monk's dining room with its tiled walks.  
We had a lovely day for photos. 
Then we took a break in the park and Robert treated us to a Pasteis de Belem, a little round custard tart in a puff pastry shell that is a trademark of the area. Although there are similar tarts sold throughout Portugal, these are special and only 3 people know the recipe. (Like the KFC recipe). They were still warm and they did melt in our mouths.
Across from monastery, we walked through a park to the river. There we saw the Monument to the Discoveries.

It was originally built in 1940 for a World Expo, but it was rebuilt in 1960 to commemorate the 500 year anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator (1394-1460). He was the middle son of King John I and was the brains behind the expeditions, although he never sailed himself. The 170 ft. concrete structure features Henry in front, and on both sides, depicts the various people and professions involved in the explorations --from royalty and financiers to sailors, soldiers, clergy and poets. I have views from yesterday's boat trip of this monument, too.
Although we didn't have time, we were near the Belem Tower, which I saw yesterday from the boat. It was built from 1525-1520 in the Manueline style.
It was the last sight the sailors saw as they left the harbor and the first one on their return.
It used to be in the middle of the river and the monastery was at the end of the river, but it has filled in during the 500 years.
Then we went to the Gulbenkian Museum where we had lunch in the cafeteria. Afterwards we took a 1-1/2 hour tour of the collections. The Museum was a gift to Portugal by Calouste Gulbenkian (1869-1955), an Armenian oil tycoon, who collected over 5,000 art pieces (only 1500 on display) representing artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Turkey as well as 19th and 20th century paintings. One of the special features is his collection of Lalique glass and enamel jewelry.  Love this dragonfly.
His gift was an act of gratitude for hospitable asylum granted him during WWII.
We still had some of the day left, so I took the metro back to one of the squares where I caught this cute little funicular to the Barrio Alto

to visit San Roque church, one of Portugal's first Jesuit churches built in the 16th century. It is unique for its flat wood ceiling painted to look as if it has domes. 
I retraced some of our steps from yesterday and ended up at the Elevador de Santa Justa.
It is a 150-foot-tall iron tower, built in 1902 by a protege of Gustave Eiffel, to connect the Barrio Alto area with the Baixa down below. I had to wait in line about 30 minutes, but it was worth it. The views from the top were spectacular, especially with St. George's castle in the background.

I meandered back towards my hotel and was perusing a menu at a cafe, when a couple asked me to join them for a drink. Feeling in a festive mood, I did and ended up having dinner with them. They are from St. Louis and we had a great time chatting. Went by Rossio Square on my way back to the hotel. Love the pavement here.
Turned in early. Had to pack and regroup for a big day tomorrow - heading out of Lisbon to the countryside.

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