21.9.18

Obidos


We had quite a long sightseeing list of Portuguese cities. 4th May 2018 was the best day with sunshine.  So, it was reserved for SintraSetubal and Ericeira also require sunshine. Obidos is a small charming town and we would like to visit definitely.  So, 3rd May was picked.


Obidos is a medieval fortified town. It is still surrounded by a city wall. One can enjoy wonderful views over the terracotta tiled roofs with white painted houses decorated with sharp blue, yellow, etc. The panoramic views of the surroundings are green and soothing. The entire walk takes about an hour. There are almost no safety railings.  You need a bit courage and stamina.  Children could do it.  Therefore, no doubt, you can walk through.





The main gate entering Obidos contains a beautiful chapel with blue and white glazed tiles (Azulejo) dated 18th century. At time a young guy was playing instrument and a dark knight standing to receive money.


A striking enormous castle stands proudly at the edge of Obidos.   The area was settled by the Lusitanos as early as 4th century BC and Romans in 1st century and occupied by Visigoths in 5th and 6th century. It was the Muslims who fortified the town in the 8th century.


A few churches serve the religious needs in the area.  Among all, the most beautiful is the church of Santa Maria, Matriz. It is the first church of the town which was built on the remnants of a Visigothic temple.  The construction is dated back to 12th century and has been restored in several occasions. Most parts of the building are Renaissance style.  It became famous in 1444 because of the marriage of the youngest (possibly) royal family took place here - King Alfonso V, aged 10 and his cousin Isabel aged 8.


Livraria de Santiago was converted to a modern bookshop. If Jesus Christ were there, he would have condemned the act of turning God Father's holy place to commerce.


Obidos is quite small.  Visit for a half day is good.  In case if you are hungry, head to Ja!mon Ja!mon which is outside the city wall.  It served wonderful lunch with daily specials.  We had grilled fish and ox cheek.  Both main dishes were very delicious.


Ginja is a sweet cherry liquor served in small chocolate cup.  It is produced within the Obidos region.  Various stores along the main shopping street Rua Direita sell Ginja at the store front. So, take one before you leave Obidos.


The best way to reach Obidos from Lisbon is by bus.  Express buses leave from Campo Grande (underground stations of the green and yellow line). The journey takes an hour and a single ticket costs €7.1.



7.9.18

Mafra


A visit to Lisbon will also include sightseeing at the neighbour towns: Sintra, Obidos, Cascais, Sesimbra, Mafra, Evora and Serra da Arribida (if you drive).  Sintra and Obidos are packed with tourists.  Evora is quite distant. Marfa is closer and relatively quiet.  It is a pretty town and has one of the largest and most extravagant palaces in Europe, the Palacio de Mafra.

Mafra Palace was constructed by King John V in thanks for having a healthy heir, Maria Barbara who became the queen of Spain. The king married to Queen Maria Anna.  They did not have healthy children.  So he vowed to construct a great monastery if he was provided an heir.  The wish has worked and they had 6 children further more.

Originally, the construction was meant for a convent of housing 13 friars. But the influx of gold from Brazil allowed the project scope vastly expanded for 330 friars. State rooms were added to the original design. The convent became a palace and as a hunting retreat for the royal family members.  There are over 1,200 rooms but only a handful were open to the public. It includes the convent's infirmary (hospital), basilica, royal rooms and a stunning Rococo library.


The basilica is situated at the middle of the palace, in between the King's and Queen's tower.  It enabled the royal couple to attend church services without leaving their royal quarters on the higher level. Alternatively, one can also enter the church on the lower level. It is immense and full of sculptures from Italy and Portugal.  Matching its extravagant nature, it contains 6 beautiful organs.


After purchasing the entry ticket, the first sightseeing point is the beautiful internal yard.  Immense empire building in lush green.  At time of visit, photo taking of eagles and owl was offered to gather money to protect the birds in the wild.


The first to be seen upon entering the palace is the place where the monks reside and the infirmary.  Visitors will see the simple furnished monks' cells, a kitchen with historical utensils, a small dispensary and the cubicles in a long ward for the injured and sick. At the end of the ward is a chapel.  The beds were pulled into the centre of the ward so that patients could see and hear mass on every Sunday.


 
 


Following are a number of royal rooms with the old-day furniture, magnificent paintings / fresco and portraits of the royal family of different generations.  Among all, the first is the flamboyant Throne Room, where the king met with the official audiences. Other rooms include the royal couples' bedroom, music room, hunting room, etc.





The library is the highlight of the palace.  It rivals the grandeur of the library of the Melk Abbey in Austria.  It is 88m long, 9.8m wide and 13m high. The floor is covered with tiles of rose, grey and white marble.  The wooden bookshelves in two rows are situated on the sidewalls, separated by a balcony and a wooden railing.  They stores over 36,000 leather-bound volumes, attesting of the extent of western knowledge between 14th and 19th century. The library is also renowned for bats protecting the books from insect damage.



The Palace of Mafra is opened from Wednesday to Monday, from 9.00 to 18.00.  The town can be reached by bus departing from Campo Grande which is also a major underground station. The bus journey from Lisbon to Mafra is about 40 minutes.  The visit lasts about 2 hours, depends on how deep you will like to go into. Afterwards, one can take the same bus further to Ericeira to enjoy beaches, water activities and sumptuous seafood.

24.8.18

Ericeira

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After visiting the Palace of Mafra (Palacio Nacional de Mafra), we took the same bus further to Ericeira. The bus stop is located at the middle of a hill.  As our target destination was the sea, we descended towards the beach.  Dotted the path are many white houses. It was rare to bump into people during the non-peak season.  Quietness filled the space.


Ericeira originated as a fishing town along the coastline with outstanding beaches.  With its constant powerful high waves it emerged as a surfing hub.


Apart from being Portuguese heritage and outstanding surfing centre, Ericeira is also famous for delicious seafood. Visitors flood the town in summer months.  We had a shellfish platter.  It's too much for two persons.  My friend ate the majority of the prawns, crab paste and a bit other shellfish.  I had to work hard and long to clear the plate.  It seems that we will only have normal seafood such as fish, clams and mussels in future.  He is not into shellfish since extra efforts are required to lift the flesh out.



We were blessed with sunshine and had a very good impression of the town.  Unfortunately, the sun was gone shortly after our lunch. Clouds came into place.  Wind and waves played a great symphony.





Benches are provided along the coastline.  Feel free to sit there to appreciate the power of the nature and the beautiful scenery.  Thanks for the precious moments as I rarely have chances to sit in front of an endless sea.




3.8.18

Palace of the Marquesses of Fronteira (Palácio dos Marqueses de Fronteira) - Garden


It was the second last day of our Lisbon trip. We went to places depending on the weather.  If it was a day of sunshine, we went to famous spots (e.g. Sintra), the sea (e.g. Cascais, Setubal).  Museum is the choice for rainy or cloudy days. The sun hid itself in the morning. It meant we could not go far but stay in Lisbon. We could finally visit the Palace of the Marqueesses of Fronteira which is famous for its fabulous tile works, second to the National Azulejo Museum



The Fronteira Palace was built in 1640 for the first Marquis of Fronteira, Dom Joao de Mascarenhas (bestowed with the title of Marquis of Fronteira for his allegiance to King Pedro II).  It was served as hunting pavilion.



Today, the Fronteira Palace is a privately owned property. A few parts are opened to the public on a tight schedule. The palace is only opened in the morning and accessed through guided tour.  The beautiful garden can be visited with €4 during the opening time. Call in advance about the opening time.


On the day of the visit, we could only stay two hours. We chose to stay in the garden which was amazingly green and huge. At time, it was cool but did not stop the blossom of flowers. Beautiful vibrant colours were added to the lush green in the gloomy weather.

 
 

The area of the carefully arranged garden hits 5.5 hectares. Apart from the spectacular scenery of the ingeniously cut hedges, visitors can explore and appreciate beautiful and vivid tile panels and the statuary where sculptural works rendering the Kings of Portugal.



The oldest part of the castle is a 16th century chapel.  It is made with shells, ceramic tiles and special sculptures.



Some visitors found it difficult to reach the palace.  You can refer to the map below. Basically, just take the underground and get off at the Zoological Garden station. Follow the highlighted path.  At a point, you will go over a foot bridge over the highway.  Close to the palace one will need to walk a bit up slope.



Phone: 00351 217 782023


Date of visit: 9 May 2018