The capital of Azulejos is without any doubt Lisbon. Just to remind you, Azulejos are thin-glazed ceramic tiles covering many historic buildings in Portugal. Last time I presented them to you I featured Azulejos from all of Portugal. This time though I want to lay my focus on the capital of the country. Azulejos come in all sorts of forms and colors, the variety is really remarkable. Though if you look closely there are differences within the country (I have no scientific proof for my bold hypothesis). The patterns in Northern Portugal tend to my more flowery and very often they are composed of earthy and grounded colors while in Lisboa there are definitely more bright colors and the style is more geometric.
This post is a continuation of the one I published some days ago about my Portugal journey in mid of February. It was a good choice to travel there in February by the way. There aren’t many tourists and you meet a lot of locals. The temperature (around 15 to 20 degress Celsius) is perfect for walking around, but there is a good chance for rain though. So that’s a bit of a risk. Although I was in the sea for a couple of minutes (I promised it to a friend) in general I can’t recommend going for a swim in winter 😉 Unless maybe you are Russian and practice one of these crazy winter swims being shown on TV. Anyway the water was darn freezing.
So maybe it is a better idea just to look at the sea, for example from the Tower of Belém. You get a great view and the architecture of the tower, build in the 16th century, is fascinating by itself. Actually this isn’t the Atlantic but the Tejo River. Unfortunately it was quite foggy this particular morning and you can’t really see Almada, the city lying on the other side of the river bank.
I liked these small grocery stores very much. You don’t see them very often in Vienna anymore sadly. We had a funny experience in a small shop selling handcrafted ceramics. The old lady spoke Portuguese with me even after I signalized that I didn’t understand it. But she realized that I didn’t get the price so the old lady showed it to me with her hands hereby teaching me how to count in Portuguese. Then the charming woman said something like “Good Schoolboy” and we had a laugh. And in case you wonder about the odd sign of the above shop. I wonder too 😉
The “waterfront” of Porto is definitely the most AWE-inspiring part of the city. In this town we joined a free walking tour due to our short stay (just one day). A young teacher showed us her city with much dedication. There was an old women monastery out of pure gold. Replying to my question about protection measures she just said “These kind of things don’t happen here”. Her love for Porto was insipring and uplifting. But she also talked about the hard times Portugal is facing due to the finance crisis these days. There are many young people without jobs and it looks grim unfortunately.
A narrow street in Porto. The Portuguese are fond of cute dogs (I think I didn’t see any big ones). They are everywhere! This particular one followed me a while but lost interest in me after seeing a cat and chasing the poor little thing.
In the background you see the Cathedral of Lisboa in a similar style as Notre Dam (I guess at this point architecture lovers will shout uncontrollably). The picture was taken from one of many viewing points, so called miradouros. You see the Baixa (downtown) and parts of Alfama, the higher part on the eastern side of the old town. Needless to say the red rooftops are magnificent.
Portuguese are definitely keen on urban art. I didn’t like everything, but this piece was cool. Maybe you would think the tiles are unusual and quite modern here. But in fact Portuguese use tiles a lot. They are called Azulejos and have a centuries old tradition in Portugal. Wanna know more about them? Well I guess then you have to tune in for Part III in a couple of days ;)*
* or you read the wikipedia article, but ppppssss.. don’t tell anyone.