Chafariz, Viana do Castelo

I usually learn something new when I post one of my photos, and this time is no exception.  This beautiful old fountain, located in the Praça da Republica, designed by João Lopes the elder,  dates from 1554 and was once the primary source of water for Viana do Castelo.  The fountain is carved from granite and situated at the top is an armillary sphere and a cross of the Order of Christ.

What, I asked myself, is an armillary sphere?  Simply put, it’s a three dimensional map, if you will, of the stars and other celestial bodies, with the earth as its center and the rings representing longitude and latitude.  It was an important navigational instrument during Portugal’s Age of Discoveries, having been introduced to Henry the Navigator by the Knights Templar, at the time known in Portugal as the Order of Christ.  The armillary sphere is a common element in manueline architecture and features prominently on the flag of Portugal.

To the right of the fountain is the Igreja da Misericórdia.  The original church was built in the late 16th century and was also designed by João Lopes the elder.  In the early 18th century, the original church was mostly demolished during renovations and was replaced by the beautiful structure you see in the photo.  My favorite part of the structure are the two rows of caryatids that help support the facade.

Viana do Castelo was one of our favorite places on our visit to Portugal.  Our long term goal is to retire to Viana do Castelo.  I can’t wait for that day to come.

Old Fountain

World Wildlife Day, 2019

Since 2013, March 3rd has been recognized as World Wildlife Day by United Nations Member States, to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s animal and plant life.  Each year’s celebration has a theme.  The theme for 2019 is “Life below water: for people and planet”.

This photo of Steller’s Sea Lions was taken in Stephens Passage, outside Juneau, Alaska.  To give you a bit of perspective, Steller’s Sea Lions are the largest sea lion and the third largest piniped (behind the walrus and the sea elephant).  Male Steller’s Sea Lions can reach weights of  nearly 2,500 pounds, nearly three times the size of a female.  It’s a pretty safe bet that all the sea lions on this buoy are female.

Traditionally, the population of Steller’s Sea Lions has been divided into two stocks, eastern and western, with the eastern stock, including the sea lions shown here, inhabiting the western coast of North America, ranging from the Gulf of Alaska south to central California.

The eastern stock of Steller’s sea lion is classified as “near threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  The western stock is listed as “endangered” due to a steadily declining population, possibly due to commercial over-fishing, which has reduced the sea lion’s natural food supply, both in quantity and in quality.

Stellar Sea Lions

Hospital and Church of San Marcos, Braga

There are beautiful churches everywhere in Braga.  The Hospital and Church of San Marcos, located on Largo Carlos Amarante, is one of the most beautiful.

There has been a church dedicated to Saint Mark on this site since the 12th century.  The original chapel, which was also a Templar convent, was replaced by a charity hospital in 1508.  In the 18th century the hospital and church underwent a major renovation designed by Braga architect Carlos Amarante, who also designed Bom Jesus do Monte, the famous sanctuary and pilgrimage site located just outside Braga.

The late baroque/ early neoclassical structure is topped with life-size statues of the apostles.  In a niche above the center door, a statue of Saint Mark watches over everyone who enters the building.  By the way, the purple banners are to announce the upcoming Semana Santa, or Holy Week.

Church of San Marcos

 

Episcopal Palace, Porto

This beautiful structure has a long history.  It is believed to have been designed by Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni, a long-time resident and the designer of the Clérigos Church.  Construction started in 1737 but, due to lack of funds, the original plan was scaled back and the construction was not completed until near the end of the 18th century.

The palace was once the residence of the Bishops of Porto.  The patio between the palace and the cathedral provides a great view of the Ribeira, Vila Nova da Gaia, and the Douro River.

Treasury Museum next to Se

Praça Dom Pedro IV, Lisbon

Lisbon is full of beautiful spaces.  We ran across Praça Dom Pedro IV on our way to ride Tram 28.  Place names can sometimes be confusing.  Standing in the middle of the large square and looking towards Carmo Convent and Santa Justa Lift, you’re looking towards Dom Pedro IV Square.  Turn around and you’re looking at Rossio Square. 

I love this photo because of the way the Santa Just Lift and Carmo Convent tower above the rooftops.  I also like the saturated colors you can get in overcast weather.  The blue umbrella, the orange raincoat and the yellow van all give a bit of pop to an otherwise monochromatic scene.

By the way, in my opinion, Tram 28 isn’t worth the time.  We waited about 90 minutes in the rain to get a spot on the tram and then it was standing room only, so you can’t really see a lot  Yes, it’s inexpensive and it passes some great places, but I would suggest riding one of the less popular trams.  We rode a couple and had a much more enjoyable ride.

Praca Dom Pedro IV

Porto Cathedral

I like this photo of the Sé do Porto.  You get a glimpse of the loggia designed by Nicolau Nasoni, but my favorite is the statue of 9th century nobleman Vimara Peres, the first ruler of the County of Portugal and the way he seems to be saluting the cross at the top left of the photograph.

Porto was one of my favorite stops on our Portugal visit.  I’m looking forward to the day when we can wander the city’s streets again.

Se de Oporto

Roman Bridge, Ponte de Lima

I love this photo of Ponte de Lima’s namesake bridge.  While most of the bridge was built in the 14th century to adjust for changes in the path of the river, the section on the north side of the bridge does, in fact, date from Roman times.

The day we visited Ponte de Lima was quite rainy, hence the umbrellas in the photo.  I love the bright yellow umbrella in the center of the photo against an otherwise grey image.  I also love the yellow lights that hang above the bridge.

Ponte de Lima is a wonderful little town and well worth a visit.

On the bridge

Torre dos Clérigos, Porto

The immense Torre dos Clérigos towers over its surroundings and is a central point on virtually all views of historic Porto.  The baroque tower was designed by Italian artist and architect Nicolau Nasoni in the mid-eighteenth century.

Nasoni lived and worked in Porto for fifty years and designed many beautiful structures in Porto and throughout the north of Portugal.  Besides the Clérigos Church, Nasoni designed and built the loggia on the Porto Cathedral, the Episcopal Palace, Palace of São João Novo, and the Palace of Freixo, all located in Porto.

It seems that no matter where you are in Porto, your eyes are drawn to the magnificent tower.

Clerigos Tower skyline

Minerva Stairs, Coimbra

There are so many things to see and do at the Velha Universidade in Coimbra that the Minerva Stairs are often overlooked.  One of two entrances to Pátio das Escolas, the huge courtyard at the center of the Old University, the Minerva Stairs opened in 1724, the stairway is named after the Roman goddess of wisdom, whose image tops the gate.

The entrance to the self-guided tour of the Joanine Library is located at the bottom of the stairs, so if you take the tour, be sure to turn around and check out the beautiful staircase you just descended.

Minerva Stairs

Fishing Boat, Nazaré

Long before Nazaré was became famous for it’s world class surfing, the town earned its livelihood as a fishing village.  Today it’s a popular seaside destination with a beautiful beach, great seafood, and, of course big wave surfing.

We spent a couple days there during the off-season so the beaches were devoid of the crowds you’d experience during the summer months.  Nazaré was the first stop, after Lisbon, on our tour of Portugal and it was a great introduction to the people, food and culture of this wonderful little country.

While fishing in Nazaré is still an important part of life in the town, the boats are now moored in a new harbor rather than on the beach and are much more modern than the fishing boat in this photo.

Green Boat