Lisbon, Portugal

This is my third time to Lisbon. the first two were stops on cruise ships. However, I covered a lot of territory in those visits seeing all of the major sights and museums. Of the museums, I can highly recommend the Gulbenkian Museum.  Today we went on a guided visit to the main monuments.  The first stop was the Belem Tower, built in the early 16th century and commissioned by King John II to be part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus River and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon (photo). The second stop was the Monument to the Explorers, built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. It represents a three-sailed ship ready to depart, with sculptures of important historical figures such as Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, and several other notable Portuguese explorers, crusaders, monks, cartographers, and cosmographers, following Prince Henry the Navigator at the prow holding a small vessel. The only female is queen Felipa of Lancaster, mother of Henry the navigator who apparently inspired his discoveries (photo).  Beside the Belem tower we saw a memorial to two Portuguese aviators who made the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro in 1922 to mark the centennial of Brazil’s independence.  They flew in stages using three different aircraft, and covered a distance of some 8,300 kilometres between March 30 and June 17.  Although the North Atlantic had already been crossed in a non-stop flight in 1919, this flight was a milestone in transatlantic aviation, and notable for its use of new technologies such as the artificial horizon (photo). Lastly we visited the Jeronimos Monastery.  The monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic style of architecture in Lisbon. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the  Tower of Belém, in 1983. Part of the monastery contains the Ethnological Museum  and the Marine Museum, which I saw on my previous visits and enjoyed. Today we visited the Chapel, though part of it was closed to visitors as a funeral was to be held for an important military veteran. I enclose some photos, including the tomb of Vasco da Gama.  We then went along the Estoril coast to the resort and spa town of Cascais which has had wealthy and aristocratic visitors for many years.  The Duke of Windsor and his wife the former Wallis Simpson spent six months there before heading off to the Bahamas during World War II. The town is a fishing town and I had lunch at a seafood restaurant. I attach two photos of the harbour and the beach. We then went on to the mountain town of Sintra. It is notable for the presence of three castles, two of which are at the top of the mountain (photo).  We visited the third which was the summer palace of the Portuguese royal family From the mid 19th c. until October 1910  when the monarchy was abolished and the republic proclaimed. I include a series of photos of the castle and some of the rooms. Sintra has many shops and restaurants and is well worth a visit.


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