Category Archives: Portugal

Portugal – Doors, Windows and Balconies of Setubal

Setubal has an affluent air, the fourth biggest port in Portugal, a busy modern (redeveloped)  city centre  and a harbour full of swanky boats.  I became concerned that it was rather like Cascais which I did’t care for at all but a bit of probing into the streets beyond the centre really paid off.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Portugal – Setúbal and Seafood Dining

The nearest beach was about three miles away to the west so we laced up our shoes, packed our bags and set off.

First stop was the city market, said to be the largest covered market in all of Portugal, which was a wonderful experience, so much better than next door Pingo Doce supermarket, especially the fish section at the back with slabs and slabs of fresh fish and more varieties than I could ever have guessed at.  And it was selling fast as local shoppers gathered around squabbling over choices and prices.  It was like a rugby scrum.  So we thought that it might be a good idea to come back later and make our own selection for our evening meal.

Next, a second market down on the sea-front, this one exclusively fish and also enjoying brisk trade and then past a harbour of fishing boats where rugged men with weather beaten faces and  hands with broken knuckles were cleaning down and mending nets in preparation for going out to sea again later.

Unsurprisingly this was an area full of fish restaurants and some interesting street art including a boulevard decorated with leaping dolphins and we examined the menus in anticipation of lunch later on. 

We were heading for the Praia Portinho da Arrabida and I was fairly confident that I could plot a course along the sea front to get there but sadly I was badly mistaken and a couple of dead ends required retracing our steps turning the three mile walk into a five mile walk and all the time Kim’s patience slowly draining away and then after only a short while quickly draining away.

We came across some beaches but there was no one on them and there were warning signs saying not to swim there.  They didn’t explain why but the skull and crossbones persuaded us to carry on to our intended destination.

A seafront statue/tribute to the fishermen of Setúbal …

So eventually we arrived at the beach, a rather sad and deserted beach as it turned out and although we rather liked the idea of a swim the previous warning signs had put us off, that and the fact that no one else at all was in the water.  So we went to a beach bar instead, Kim had a coffee and I had a beer.  I refuse to buy tea or coffee because I consider it to be extortionately overpriced.  Why buy a coffee when it costs more than a beer?  It doesn’t make any sense.

 Another Portuguese navigator/explorer – Jose João Besugo

With the beach plan in tatters we had to rethink our day now and as we sat and chatted we went through the menu and we wondered why something called Choco Frito was doing there; we had assumed that it was something like a deep fried mars bar but Google came to our rescue and explained that it was a cuttlefish dish which turns out to be a local speciality.  We agreed that on the way back it was only polite to try some.

No chance.  This being Sunday everyone in  Setúbal was out eating and every café/ bar/restaurant had a line of people waiting for a table.  I thought there was a global cost of living crisis but obviously not in Setúbal. We had spotted a place we liked the look of earlier down a grubby back street close to the fish market.  Not a hope in hell, the place was overflowing, the queue was a mile long and selections were being regularly wiped off the chalk- board menu.  So we moved on.

Back to the city market which was now closing up for the day and most of the fish had gone.  I know that they eat a lot of fish in Portugal but this was quite something and slabs that had been overloaded this morning were now quite empty.  Another plan that now required a rethink.

On Setúbal seafront boulevard we continued to search. At one we were lucky, there were a lot of people in groups of four or more but a waiter called us through for a table of two.  What good fortune.

I don’t as a rule take pictures of food but in this case I made an exception…

We ordered the cuttlefish of course, everyone else was, we declined the optional starters which was a good decision because the main event was huge, a big helping of Choco Frito, a really large portion of fries and a massive plate of salad.  I have to tell you that it was delicious, I like squid and octopus so it was inevitable that I would also like the cuttlefish.

The size of the mid afternoon portion ruled out any thoughts of evening meal so we finished off the chicken from the previous evening with a simple salad.

Later we walked to the sea front again and watched the twinkling ferries making their way back and forth across the waters of the estuary and agreed that tomorrow we would make the crossing in search of a proper beach.

Later, I walked to the supermarket for essential alcohol supplies and by chance passed by a McDonald’s.  I am always interested in what McDonald’s have on their alternative menus across the World and wasn’t so surprised that in  Setúbal I came across fish fingers…

A regional variation in France. is served on a baguette..

And in Spain inevitably there is patatas bravas…

In Greece the burger is served in a pitta bread which looks rather tempting..

but Poutine in Canada looks like slop and needs a leak-proof box…

What is your favourite McDonald’s meal? And I don’t believe anyone who tells me that they have never been there and tried one!

 

 

Portugal – Lisbon, Castles and Churches

Our excellent apartment was in the Bairro Alto region of the city, an elevated district high above the River Tagus and the commercial centre of Baixa, an area that required a lot of hill climbing, strong knees, deep lungs and steep steps to negotiate.

Today we were planning to explore more of the city and our first stop was the Castelo de São Jorge

The Patron Saint of Portugal is Saint Anthony of Padua (I have come across him before) and the Patron Saint of Lisbon is Saint Vincent and Saint George is somewhere down the Catholic Church pecking order as the  Guardian Angel of Portugal.

The castle is in Alfama district and this is separated from Baixa district by a sort of deep and rather inconvenient gorge which requires going down a lot of steps on one side to get to the bottom and then going up a lot of steps on the other side to get to the top.  We could have used the funicular tram but at €3.20 I considered this unnecessary expenditure  for a five hundred yard journey so instead of whirring and wizzing to the top we walked and wheezed instead.

Amalfa is the historic heart of Lisbon, occupied by the Moors during the occupation of Iberia and once they had gone subsequently chosen by the Christians as the site for their defensive medieval castle to stop them coming back.  The district was badly damaged by the 1755 earthquake and sadly no original buildings survived but it has retained its compact and rather  quirky original  layout with tightly packed streets and alleyways and hidden secret corners to explore.

It has to be said that the area is rather run down with several dilapidated houses screaming out for  attention and a bit of love and affection, abandoned cars and graffiti scarred walls  but this only adds to the charm of this part of Lisbon. Here are cobbled streets minus a few cobbles, decorated with terracotta plant pots and effusive flowers, gaily coloured doors and shutters and flapping washing lines stretching out and dripping indiscriminately upon rich and poor across the lanes below.

Eventually we reached the castle entrance and immediately ran into a line of people queuing to pay.  This time we decided to risk it and to our surprise the line moved quickly and we were soon inside.  It isn’t a very authentic castle, it was destroyed by the Lisbon earthquake and restored in the 1930s under the dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar.  Often described as a benevolent dictator he was responsible for a lot of historical restorations and there is nothing wrong with that in my book.

In 2006 in a  public opinion television show Salazar was judged the “Greatest Portuguese Ever” with 41% of the vote.  I find that interesting, he was sort of a right wing fascist but not quite and in similar votes in Spain and Germany viewers were forbidden for voting for Franco and Hitler.

I don’t know much about Salazar except to his credit he denounced Hitler and the Nazis and kept Portugal in the Western European Time Zone but the fact that a nation would vote a dictator who suppressed the democratic process for over forty years perhaps explains human nature and maybe why people in the UK keep voting for a succession of despicable Tory governments.

Maybe people  just like the feel of a jack boot on the back of their neck.

There were some excellent views over the city from the castle walls and we stayed for an hour or so before leaving, stopping for an excellent lunch in an authentic restaurant (on a table next to some especially noisy and boisterous Germans) and then made our way back down to the Tagus.

I spotted this man on the way down. Working from home perhaps?

I don’t remember very much about the Cathedral, it isn’t a very impressive building from the outside and these days I am moving closer to Kim’s views on Cathedrals that pretty much they are all the same on the inside.  I took some photographs as I always do and wondered why because I am certain never to look at them or use them for anything.

I preferred the Igreja de São Domingos, a National Monument in the centre of the city and maybe the unluckiest church ever.  Damaged by an earthquake in 1531 and completely destroyed by the big one in 1755, it was rebuilt and completed in 1807 but destroyed again by a terrible fire in 1959.

Instead of the altar I took a picture of this fire damaged corner…

The church was restored and reopened in 1994 but the restoration didn’t attempt to repair the internal fire damage and that, in my opinion, left it in an authentic state.  I liked it and we spent half an hour so examining the interior.

When we emerged from the gloomy interior something quite odd had happened to the weather, the sky was suddenly grey and it was pouring with rain, we purchased an umbrella from an enterprising street seller who had seized the opportunity, found a bar in which to shelter and after the storm made our way back to the apartment.

Later that evening we dined in our favourite restaurant (so good it was fourth night in a row) and then prepared to move on the following day to the coastal city of Setúbal.

Portugal – The Streets of Lisbon

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Portugal – Belém and the Age of Discovery

I like Lisbon, everything about it.  Really, there is nothing not to like about Lisbon.  Even the graffiti.  Even the graffiti.  It is a little understated and has no pretensions like other European capitals. This was my second visit and I would happily go back for a third.

I am always interested in place names and how they travel. There are sixteen place in the USA called Lisbon over fourteen States (Maine and Wisconsin have two each)  most are in the east and the most westerly is in Utah.  Portuguese ethnicity in the USA is thirtieth in a long list but the Portuguese language is thirteenth most spoken.

What I find even more interesting is that there are no places in Brazil called Lisbon or in a lot of other ex-Portuguese colonies.  There are however  four in Columbia and one each in Peru, Bolivia, Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique.

The Portuguese Empire…

I immediately liked Belém, it was a little more relaxed than Lisbon city.  Our plan was to visit the centre and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jerónimos Monastery and the tomb of Vasco da Gama but the queue was huge and I am not good with queues and Kim is not good with UNESCO World Heritage sites so we abandoned the plan.

The  Jerónimos Monastery is a World Heritage site that I have seen from the outside but not the inside.

I didn’t get to see the tomb but there is a large statue of him in the adjacent gardens.  One of the early explorers European Vasco da Gama discovered the route to India via the South Atlantic around Africa and the Cape of Good Hope and he opened up the trade route in spices from the east which made Portugal temporarily fabulously rich.

From the centre we made our way to the River Tagus and the UNESCO listed Belém Tower, a fortification built on an island in the river to provide protection for the city and a launch site for the explorers in the Age of Discovery.  I had to queue for tickets  of course but it didn’t look too busy so I didn’t mind waiting.

But then it began to get difficult.

The Belém Tower was built five hundred years ago and was designed as a fortress without any allowance made for accommodating thousands of tourists hundreds of years later. 

The rooms and stairways are small and tight and can only accommodate a few people at a time so there was a lot of waiting about as the flow of visitors was managed by a team of patient staff.  This made the whole process rather tedious and what was even more frustrating was that there was nothing to see in any of the rooms where we were continually kept standing and waiting for the one way system to flow.

The Belém Tower is definitely a World Heritage Site better seen from the outside rather than the inside.

Close to the Tower is the modern  Monument to the Discoveries.  Located on the edge of the north bank of the Tagus, the fifty metre high slab of concrete, was erected in 1960 to commemorate the five hundredth  anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. The monument is sculpted in the form of a ship’s prow, with dozens of figures from Portuguese history following a statue of  Henry looking out to the west, perhaps contemplating another famous voyage of discovery.

Portugal and Spain once ruled much of the World but their Empire building was in a different style, Portugal had Henry the Navigator, a methodical explorer seeking out new trade routes with maps and charts and Spain had Conquistadors like Francisco Pizzaro swashbuckling their way through the New World with swords and gunpowder in search of gold and conquest.

Lisbon was an important port during the Age of Discovery when Portugal was a major maritime nation as it built a World empire.  It competed primarily with neighbour  Spain to make discoveries in the New World and in 1494  after years of squabbling  a Treaty was signed which divided the World in two along an arbitrary line of latitude roughly half-way between Cape Verde Islands (Portuguese) and Hispaniola (Spanish) effectively giving Spain the whole of the New World and Portugal with bits and pieces in Africa and the Far East.

The treaty was signed at the castle of Tordisillas in Castilla y Leon which is somewhere that I visited several years ago in 2010…

For Spain this might have seemed like a very  good deal at the time but it rates as a serious negotiating disaster  as they failed to take into consideration the South America eastern bulge which gifted Brazil to Portugal and it gave up the Amazon rain-forest and all of its riches for the barren Andes of Patagonia. 

Some historians suggest that the canny Portuguese already knew about this when quill was put to parchment.

This Treaty was an example of extreme European arrogance of course.  Spain and Portugal conveniently ignored the fact that there were already people living there with a completely legitimate claim to the land.  Later as Spain and Portugal went into decline other countries like France and Britain simply ignored the Treaty (endorsed by the Pope no less) and went on a colonisation spree around the World.

Portuguese expansion continued and by the mid nineteenth century Portugal had the fourth largest European Empire but at only 4% of World territory was way behind France (9%), Spain (10%) and Great Britain at a huge 27%.  That is a massive amount of land grab but I wonder if the Roman Empire might have been even greater given that the known World was much smaller two thousand years ago. 

Thanks to Empire,  Portuguese, by the way, is the eighth  most common language in the World. 

Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa…

Portugal – Lisbon Trams

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

 

Portugal – Lisbon, Heatwave Sightseeing

We arrived in Lisbon early afternoon, it was hot, very hot indeed, everyone kept telling us that Portugal was in the grip of a heat wave and that it was too hot, but we didn’t mind, we were on holiday.  We settled into our excellent studio apartment, cranked up the air-conditioning and then left and made for the nearby centre of Baixa.

By now it was late afternoon and the heat was beginning to drain away into the deep shadows cast by the tall buildings and the sun was melting into the deep pools of shade of doorways and courtyards so we enjoyed a walk to a shady park where we stopped for a beer and then took a stroll through the elegantly tiled but grotesquely graffiti scarred streets of the city.  I was shocked by the urban scrawl which some call art but I call vandalism.  I didn’t like it.

In contrast I liked the views from the top of the city.  From a high vantage point we looked across to the castle and the cathedral and down to the river and the commercial centre.  We continued to walk down and down, I had no idea that Lisbon was going to be so steep and hilly and it was beginning to make Rome or Valletta seem like Florida in the USA or Lincolnshire in the UK.

Eventually we reached the ruins of a cathedral but it was getting late so we didn’t pay to go inside.  Ruined because it was destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake which was one of the World’s major catastrophic seismological events – ever!

It occurred before the introduction of the Richter Scale of course (1935) but today it is estimated that the Lisbon earthquake had a magnitude in the range 9.0  to 9.5 which, on a scale of 1 to 10,  is just about as big as it is possible to get and makes the event possibly the biggest ever in the history of the World.  The resulting Tsunami reached the Caribbean in the west and as far as Greenland to the North.  This was one hell of a bang let me tell you.

We were struggling to get our bearings but managed to grope our way back to the apartment passing on the way a restaurant that caught our eye for evening meal.  I found a shop for beer and wine and next day breakfast essentials and then we sat and relaxed, changed and wandered back to the restaurant.  It was full, really full and no slots left all evening so we booked for the following night and set off to find an alternative.

After a long walk I liked where we found but Kim was still sulking so we didn’t linger long after dining and returned and spent our first night in Portugal in our apartment.

The next morning the sky was blue, the sun was rapidly rising in the sky and by the time we had prepared and eaten breakfast, tidied up and left the apartment the mercury was already rising rapidly.

The plan was to make our way down to the River Tagus and then take in some of the sights along the way.  Some way along the planned route we took an unnecessary detour and we managed to get sucked into the labyrinth of back streets and got quite lost.  I confess that this was entirely my mistake but happily Kim didn’t seem to spot this, or, if she did, she generously chose to overlook it and not mention it.  I kept quiet about it.

We eventually emerged from the streets down to the river and some way away we could see the famous 25 de Abril (previously António Salazar) Bridge and we started to walk towards it.  It turned out to be further than we estimated and the view wasn’t that special anyway so eventually we abandoned the walk and made our way back up another steep hill to the city centre.

At the top of the hill we visited the Basilica but I have to agree with Kim on this point, it wasn’t memorable and it looked like any similar church or cathedral in Catholic Europe and as we walked out of the door I immediately forgot all about it.

Back at the river we stopped for a drink and an hour in the sunshine and then we tackled the walk back to the apartment. We passed through the Commercial Centre with its magnificent buildings where it was possible with a bit of imagination to conjure up a vision of a major naval and commercial centre with ships and dockyards where now there are tourist river cruises and ice cream parlours.

Eventually we found our way back to the apartment where we sat and enjoyed the local environment before making our way to the chosen restaurant which turned out to be absolutely excellent.

 

Portugal – Ericeira to Cascais and Change of Plans.

So, we left Ericeira around mid morning and headed south towards our next accommodation in Cascais with a simple plan of stopping off midway and visiting the Palace of Sintra.

It didn’t quite work out as we had planned.  Sintra turns out that this is the most visited tourist site in all of Portugal.

For the most visited tourist site in all of Portugal t isn’t very well signposted and we found ourselves in a massive queue of traffic all as equally confused as we were.  Eventually making it to the Palace there were no available car park spaces and the queue to enter looked a mile long.  We abandoned our plans and moved right along on.

This was a shame for Mike and Margaret but we had been before in 2017 so weren’t that disappointed.

Read the full story of the Sintra visit Here…

We had arranged to arrive at the apartment in Cascais at five o’clock so we had to change that for three o’clock but we still had about three hours to wait so we drove first to nearby Estoril on what is known as the Portuguese Riviera.

It is home to fifth largest casino in Europe and the place had a completely different identity to our two previous stops on Obidos and Ericeira.  The casino means wealth and Estoril is one of the most expensive places to live in Portugal with a seafront full of swanky hotels and a string of up market bars and restaurants.

I think I am right in saying that features in the title of a song by Fleetwood Mac – “Nights in Estoril”.

Not really my sort of place I have to say, rather similar to Vilamoura in the Algarve and I didn’t like it there a great either but we were only there for a couple of hours so it didn’t really matter a great deal.  I prefer fishing harbours to modern marinas, cathedrals and castles to casinos, sun-blistered doors and washing lines to modern street scene, cobbled streets to marbled boulevards.

We used the time at our disposal to walk the length of the seafront almost to the marina at Cascais and then turned around and walked all the way back again.

Our accommodation in Cascais was most unusual.  Not a holiday home as I was expecting but a private residence which resembled a shrine with an odd collection of Chinese artefacts which I imagine were quite expensive because they were all under lock and key.  I wasn’t so keen on the decoration so we stayed mostly in the kitchen during the stay.

Very soon after arrival I was beginning to think that maybe I had chosen badly to visit Cascais.  Not really a problem I concluded after only a short while because we planned next day to take the train to Lisbon.

Late afternoon and leaving the odd apartment we walked to the seafront taking several wrong turns on the way and then as the time approached seven o’clock we found a restaurant with prices that matched our budget and sat down for evening meal.

Leaving the restaurant our problems urgently began.  We weren’t sure where we were or how to get back to the apartment, it was beginning to turn dark and no one had been paying attention.  Mike and Margaret had no internet service on their phones, Kim’s battery was blinking warning red for low battery and I had left mine behind and I couldn’t remember the accommodation address which was sitting securely locked away in my e-mail account on my phone on the kitchen table.   Bugger.

I often leave my phone behind because, to be honest I find them to be very anti-social.

Without any mapping information to assist us we had to rely on guesswork and Kim’s limited navigational skills.  Eventually after forty-five minutes or so we came across a supermarket which we recalled was close to the apartment and after stopping off to purchase wine were glad to grope our way back to our temporary home.

The following day we explored Cascais in daylight but I had already decided that I didn’t like it a great deal, too South of France, too Costa del Sol and I was looking forward to moving on to Lisbon,

I didn’t even get any good door pictures.  Except this one…

 

Portugal – Mafra and World Heritage Sites

Taking a break from the beaches we took a short ride to the nearby city of Mafra which is an unremarkable sort of place except for a very good cake shop and the magnificent Royal Palace which is enormous and can be seen from several miles away. The palace is huge and  covers an area of almost two and a half square miles and has one thousand two hundred rooms.

It is part Palace, part Cathedral and part Convent and is one of the fourteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal.

It is the biggest Royal Palace in Portugal and  makes it even more famous is that the last King of Portugal, Manuel II spent his last night in Portugal at the Palace after being deposed in October 1910.  He escaped the next day by Royal Yacht from Ericeira and lived the remainder of his life in exile in England, in Twickenham.

I am guessing that the lady with no bra on is the Portuguese equivalent of the French Madame Liberty…

I am afraid that I am quite unable to explain why Republican icon Madame Liberty has no clothes on. It is an interesting fact however that when the French built the Statue of Liberty for the USA they made sure that she was more discreetly attired so as not to offend New World sensibilities.

There is nothing else to tell you about Mafra or Madame Liberty.  So… 

Just like Brooke Bond Tea Cards I am a collector of World Heritage Site visits, if there is one close by then I just have to go.  Here are some more that I have been to in Portugal…

Coimbra

Built in the eighteenth century, the University is a National Monument and has priceless historical value being the main tourist attraction in Coimbra.  The building has three floors and contains about two hundred and fifty thousand volumes and being someone who loves books this place is a little bit of heaven.  The collection dates from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries and represents the finest works from Europe at the time on the subjects of medicine, geography, history, science, law, philosophy and theology.

Tomar

Tomar is one of the most historically important cities in all of Portugal with a history that stretches back to the Romans and probably even before that.   Fast forward a thousand years and after the capture of the region from the Moors in the Portuguese Reconquista, the land was granted in 1159 to the Order of the Knights Templar. In 1160, the Grand Master in Portugal, Gualdim Pais, laid the first stone of the Castle and Monastery that would become the headquarters of the Order in Portugal and from here they pledged to defend Portugal from any subsequent Moorish attacks and raids

Elvas

Turns out is the biggest fortified town not only in Portugal but all of Europe. Inside the fortress town we walked through the ancient whitewashed streets, cobbled streets which were painful to negotiate in tourist sandals.  Along narrow passages lined by houses with blistered wooden doors,  Shutters thrown back like the wings of butterflies basking in the midday sunshine.  Sagging washing lines groaning under the weight of the dripping laundry.  The rich aroma of lunch time cooking seeping out from open windows.  Outside of the front doors pots of flowers in various stages of bloom and decay.

Guimarães

As the first capital of Portugal, Guimarães is known as the place where the country was born – ‘The Cradle City’.  In 1095 Count Henry of Burgundy, who had married princess Teresa of León, established in Guimarães the second County of Portugal and on July 25th 1109 Afonso Henriques, son of Count Henry of Burgundy, was born here and it was where Duke Afonso Henriques proclaimed Portuguese independence from the Kingdom of León, after the Battle of São Mamede in 1128, declaring himself to be Afonso I, King of Portugal.

Evora

Évora is an interesting city and has a busy history.  The Romans conquered it in 57 BC and built the first walled town.  During the barbarian invasions Évora came under the rule of the Visigothic king Leovigild in 584.  In 715, the city was conquered by the Moors and during this period the town slowly began to prosper and developed into an agricultural centre with a fortress and a mosque.

Évora was captured from the Moors through a surprise attack by Gerald the Fearless (what a fabulous name) in 1165 and the city came under the rule of the Portuguese king Afonso I in 1166 and then for a few hundred years or so it then flourished as one of the most dynamic cities in the Kingdom of Portugal.

The River Duoro

At five hundred and sixty miles long  the Douro is the eighth longest river in Western Europe (the eighteenth in all of Europe) and flows first through Spain and then Portugal and meets the Atlantic Ocean at Porto.  This part of the Douro Valley, and for about sixty miles towards Spain, has a microclimate allowing for cultivation of olives, almonds, and especially the grapes and the hillsides are scattered with picturesque quintas or farms clinging on to almost every improbable vertical slope dropping down to the river where tourist boats were making the daily return trip to Porto.

Bom Jesus do Monte

Many hilltops in Portugal have been places of religious devotion and the Bom Jesus hill was one of these. It was an ancient site where in 1629 a pilgrimage church was built dedicated to the Bom Jesus (Good Jesus), with six chapels dedicated to the Passion of Christ.  The present Sanctuary was begun in 1722, under the patronage of the Archbishop of Braga, Rodrigo de Moura Telles and under his direction the first stairway row, with chapels dedicated to the Via Crucis, were completed.  He also sponsored the next segment of stairways, which has a zigzag shape and is dedicated to the Five Senses of Sight, Smell, Hearing, Touch and Taste and each is represented by a different fountain.

Porto

The historical centre of Porto is a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site and we were now approaching one of the six bridges across the River Douro, the Ponte Dom Luis I, which is an iron bridge designed by a student of Gustav Eiffel and built on two levels. From the top elevation there were unbeatable views of the river, the old town and Vila Nova de Gaia, a sister city on the other side of the river. 

I will tell you about Sintra and Lisbon in later posts, the three that I haven’t got around to yet are the Coa Valley, Batalhia and Alcobaca.  Watch this space.

More from Mafra…

Portugal – Doors and Windows of Ericeira

Ericeira is a very fine town with some interesting doors…