Saturday, May 12, 2012

May 12, 2012 Portugal - Lisbon day 3

 8 AM and this is the view from our hotel room window to the east - Praca do Figuiera
 and to the west - Praca dos Pedro IV (see what it looked like later below)
 church at Convento da Corma (ruined in 1755 earthquake and ran out of money while re-building it)
 waiting for our Lisbon Spirit guide in Praca Luis de Camoes - video of our streetcar below
 wonderful miradour (viewpoint) at Senorha de Monte chapel overlooking city (yes our purple sided hotel is down there)
   and we thought the Alfama streets were narrow yesterday - this one is one person wide - no passing!
 view of Alfama from Sao Vicente church to Sao Miguel church (and small cruise ship)
 and when we got back to the hotel - parade in the square below us.

We had a good sleep last night as the rock concert ended at midnight and all was quiet. Tonight another performance has just started and it is noisier than last night - more drums and higher pitched howling  It is all electronic loudspeakers and very annoying (to me).. Let's hope the same rules apply. There was a parade there this afternoon - as you can see in the photo above from our window.

This morning we visited the ruins of the carmelite convent with its good museum and also the St Rock church which had belonged to the Jesuits. This church has a very very gold baroque chapel and good museum about the wealth of Jesuits. You get the impression that their main purpose for converting the "heathens" throughout the Portuguese colonies was to get a lot of gold to decorate their churches. For some reason the Jesuits were kicked out of Portugal - and later in the 1800s all the religious orders were abolished.

We made arrangements for a walking tour for the afternoon and walked about 16 km altogether today - most of it through the very steep and windy area called the Alframa. The Alfama surrounds St Jorg's castelo which we toured yesterday and the layout follows the original street layout of  the old Moorish town. Our guide was an architect and she was very informative. She explained that the Moors were here between the 9th and 12th centuries - having  kicked out the Visigoths who had themselves kicked out the Romans a few centuries before. St Jorg's castilo is named for the English St George - because the English helped the Portuguese Christians kick out the Moors during one of the crusades. She also told us that the buildings in the Alfama mostly survived the earthquake of 1755 because they were built on rock. It was the lower area (where we are now) that was destroyed because it had been built on land that had formerly been a part of the river. The land was not stable and, being at river level, it was severely damaged by the tsunami that followed the earthquake. This area was redesigned and built in a modern grid system with wide straight streets. Most of these streets are now lined with restaurants and shops - but the upper stories are in a shabby state because rent controls will not allow the owners to charge enough rent to fix them up. This is a shame since it should be a lovely area. I guess our hotel is an exception and hopefully others will follow. It was a very muggy hot day - unusual for Lisbon - because of the rain during the previous week.

We are going to take 2 more walks with the same walking company. On Monday we'll go across the river by ferry and see that part of Lisbon. On Wednesday we'll go to another old area on this side of the river called Belem - which is where there will be more stuff related to the Age of Discovery - since this is where the ships left from.

So - hoping that we have a good night and that all is well with you.

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