By : May 31st, 2021 Places and Monuments 0 Comments

In Portugal, D. Manuel 1º, the Venturoso, (1469-1521), was the one who ordered the organization of a heraldic nucleus in Portugal for the coat of arms of noble families, (almost simultaneously with the English Weapons College founded in 1484) who organized / corrected and had the Coat of Arms registered.

72 families were highlighted with prominence as the most illustrious and important in the Kingdom, having as a differential honor, history and goods and their Coat of Arms were painted on the ceiling of the Coat of Arms Room of the National Palace of Sintra .
Ordered to be erected by King D. Dinis 700 years ago, the Vila Palace was being updated and added by successive kings. Commissioned by D. Manuel I in the century. XV, the Sala dos Brasões is the most impressive piece of this very unique royal palace. But what in this room seems to be an exceptional decorative program is actually a millimeter political program: the Coat of Arms Room of the Palace of Vila de Sintra is the perfect image of the centralization of the king’s power that D. Manuel unequivocally fixes. Contrary to what had happened to his predecessors in the Middle Ages, D. Manuel I was no longer a peer among equals, but an absolute king, above all other men and from whom all light and all power emanated.
The place that each of the 72 noble families represented here occupied in the court hierarchy is expressed in the placement of the respective weapons or emblems on the ceiling of the Sala dos Brasões.
By placing his coat of arms on top of the dome of this room, D. Manuel projects himself as the center and top of a highly hierarchical, but interdependent society. His power depends on the support of the nobility, and the nobility obtains the social distinction it needs from the king.
The nobility is here represented by the coats of arms of the 72 most important families. Coats of arms reflect identities to which individuals are associated, being a form of social distinction.
Between the symbol of D Manuel and the coats of arms of noble families, there are the coats of arms of D Manuel’s eight children.
The inscription around the room reveals how the memory of the services provided by the ancestors – “the loyal services” – defined the identity and the social position of each one. As for the king, he is the supreme judge responsible for ensuring that order.
The walls of this room were covered in tiles in the 18th century with gallant scenes.

By : May 27th, 2021 Gastronomy 0 Comments

In Portugal, the traces of the presence of the olive tree date back to the Bronze Age, but it was only in the 15th and 16th centuries that its cultivation became widespread throughout the country.
In the first decades of the 21st century, olive oil production in Portugal experienced an unprecedented phase in its history.
The regions of Trás-os-Montes and Alentejo represent the two sides of Portuguese olive growing, at a time when the quality of olive oil has revalued the image of the rural world.
Portugal differs in its olive oils in the regions of Trás-os-Montes, Beira Alta, Beira Baixa, Ribatejo, Norte Alentejano, Alentejano Interior and Moura, where there is the largest national cooperative of olive growers. But how does one distinguish olive oil after all? For the acidity, the aroma, the flavor that can be more fruity, bitter or spicy. Not so much by color, as in the past, so today the tests are done in dark glasses.
Portugal has always depended on imports to have olive oil on its plate. Today it has a level of self-sufficiency that exceeds 150 percent, as a result of the monoculture installed in the Alentejo, with more than three quarters of the national production. Where dry fields or sowing of cereals were once seen, there is now a landscape covered by extensive intensive or even intensive olive groves.
Portugal’s olive oil is of extraordinary quality. Pillar of healthy eating, prince of the Mediterranean diet, is a growing national treasure.

What better than to dip a piece of fresh bread on a plate of olive oil? Or the taste of toast, made from incandescent embers, drizzled with oil instead of butter? What greater pleasure is there than a sliver of cod just out of the oven where you roasted a bed of onion and oil? The Portuguese know that they don’t. Adding to all this, it is one of the central elements of the Mediterranean diet – UNESCO World Heritage and Intangible Humanity since 2013.

Each Portuguese consumes an average of eight liters of oil per year, even less so than Spaniards or Italians, who are not only the biggest consumers, but also the biggest producers.

The word olive comes from the Arabic word azzait, which literally means “olive juice”. From the olive grove, the olives are taken to the mill, where they are cleaned, before being crushed. Then there is the centrifugation that separates the oil from the water and olive pomace. The number of mills evolved in a proportionally opposite way to production. A decade ago, there were close to a thousand mills for a production that barely exceeded 50 thousand tons. Today there are about 500 mills scattered throughout the country. “We have a lot less mills, but the ones that are left are much more effective, more modern, better equipped.”

In Ancient Greece olive trees were venerated as sacred trees and the oil used in cooking, as an ointment or in lighting, and was and is true liquid gold. Now, no one can resist Portuguese olive oil.

By : May 23rd, 2021 Places and Monuments 0 Comments

A very special wedding gift that of the king of Portugal D. Dinis who gave Óbidos to his wife Dona Isabel; following his example, the Portuguese sovereigns got into the habit of giving cities to their wives.

Óbidos had to be a real splendor to make a queen fall in love with it, and it still is today. What makes this town magnificent are its crenellated walls, a wall that completely surrounds the town, giving it the appearance of a fairytale castle.

The eye finds it hard to dwell on something, it only sees beauty around it: bright white houses, red roofs, paved alleys, huge climbing plants of wisteria and bougainvillea, giant cacti …

Some houses are decorated with yellow and light blue bands, and all the colors light up under the clear sky and the rays of the sun.

The Óbidos castle stands out for its grandeur over the town. Built by Dom Dinis himself in the 13th century, it is now a luxury pousada (“inn”), a truly romantic hotel. The manor is not open to visitors, but during the Mercado Medieval it becomes the hub of the festival and village life. It’s like stepping back in time.

Medieval market of Óbidos

This medieval festival animates Óbidos for two weeks in July. It is famous in Portugal and abroad, so much so that it attracts buses full of tourists to the city.

The city is filled with costumed figures: courtesans, musicians, knights, beggars, bards, prisoners, cooks, peasants… By paying a premium on the ticket, even visitors can rent a medieval dress for a day.

There are food stands, real medieval taverns. There is also a calendar of live performances: cavalry tournaments, theatrical and comic performances, fireworks and more

By : May 19th, 2021 Stories and Legends 0 Comments

The Rocha dos Namorados can be found at the entrance to the pottery village of São Pedro do Corval, for those who come from the always charming Monsaraz Castle and the equally famous Cromeleque do Xarez.

The Valentine Stone

It is a pebble that makes two of us tall, and one of us wide, of granitic material, a stone that we even associate more to the north than to the south.

Flattened on top, with a shape that widens as it grows, there are those who associate it with a mushroom.

It is a rocky fragment that goes beyond that. It is an evocative rock, linked to pagan rituals and which still works today as a spiritual force for the local population.

The church put his stamp on him, stinging a cross of Christ on his back – if the people, instinctively pagan, do not abandon their natural symbols, then let them become the most ecclesial natural symbols. That was not enough and the parish priests here in the parish also insisted that the processions in the area pass through, adding another layer of Christianity to this popular monument.

The fruitful rites

But none of this can disguise the essentials of Rocha dos Namorados. Its name, moreover, cannot be more suggestive, and from here we can assume that it is linked to phenomena of celebration of fertility.

Going to what matters most, this stone is crowded with small pebbles on its dome – and we can witness it going there. Obviously, the phenomenon has a raison d’être. It is that, at the time of the celebrations of the Resurrection of Christ, here come young women, in the transition to adulthood, to throw small stones on top of this rock, the objective being that they fall up there and stay there – every stone failed, increases a year of waiting for them until their wedding day. The throw must be done from the back, increasing the difficulty (and the wait).

The Resurrection of Christ, we know, is a time full of symbolism: we are, in fact, facing another resurrection, that of the earth, which after dying in the winter months comes back to life at the dawn of spring, and which by this time makes opening and giving birth to its fruits and flowers. The return to Jesus’ life works as a metaphor for another return to life, that of nature, which rejuvenates. Rocha dos Namorados and the single women who will draw their future there fit, therefore, in this context. We are facing a tribute to mother earth made in a different rhetoric, but of a popular nature, because it is born of the people and this is the starting point for the Sacred.

By : May 15th, 2021 Places and Monuments 0 Comments

The Chapel of Bones was built in the 17th century, at the initiative of three Franciscan friars whose aim was to convey the message of the transience and fragility of human life. This message is clearly passed on to visitors right at the entrance, through the warning: “We bones that we are here, for yours we wait”.

It was a model in vogue at the time, with the intention of provoking through the image a reflection on the transience of human life and the consequent commitment to a permanent Christian experience. Both the walls and the pillars are covered with a few thousand bones and skulls, from the burial spaces connected to the convent. The frescoes that decorate the vaulted ceiling, dating from 1810, feature a variety of symbols illustrated by biblical passages and others with the instruments of the Passion of Christ.Deep down, it shows the macabre taste of the Baroque man for necrophilia.

This chapel of skulls and bones was built in the place where the friars’ dormitory and reflection room were originally located. It is formed by three naves about 18,70m long and 11m wide. Natural light strategically enters these ships through only three small cracks on the left side. The walls of the Chapel of Bones and the eight pillars that comprise it are lined with human bones and skulls, carefully arranged, connected by brown cement. The vaults are made of brick plastered in white and painted with motifs that symbolize or allude to death. In addition to the bones, the Chapel of Bones is also decorated with statues of a religious nature and a Renaissance and Baroque style painting.

The arches are decorated with rows of skulls, cornices and white naves. It is estimated that there are about 5000 human skulls that are found there, among countless bones, from the graves of the convent church and other churches and cemeteries in the city.
In the 16th century, there were nearly forty-two monastic cemeteries in the city, which took up too much space. As a solution, those monks extracted the bones from the floor and used them to build and “decorate” this chapel.

By : May 11th, 2021 Places and Monuments 0 Comments

The oldest funicular in the world, endless staircases, fountains and baroque statues, surrounded by a mantle of vegetation, make Bom Jesus do Monte (or Bom Jesus de Braga) one of the most popular destinations for people from Braga and visitors.
In 1373, there were signs of activity and construction of a Chapel in Bom Jesus. However, Bom Jesus as we know it today appears in 1722 when, on the initiative of D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles, the project of the current Santuary began, with the construction of the chapels of Via Sacra, Portico, and the steps of the Five Senses. In 1784, with the increasing flow of pilgrims, Archbishop D. Gaspar de Bragança entrusts to Carlos Amarante the task of designing a new basilica, completed in 1811.
Portico Staircase
At the lower end of the Portico staircase there is an arch 7 meters high and 4 meters wide and the staircase meanders through dense vegetation along 376 steps up to the square that precedes the next stairway – the Cinco Sentidos.
The Cinco Sentidos (five senses) staircase starts next to the Fonte das Cinco Chagas or Fonte das Cinco Correntes and from there, in each flight of stairs there is a fountain corresponding to one of the human senses.
Stairway of Virtues

After the allegorical staircase of the sensory system comes the Escadorio das Virtudes. The staircase starts at a square atrium. Here you can find sources alluding to Faith, Hope and Charity

Pelican Square

In Largo do Pelicano we can admire the beautiful baroque garden

Church of Bom Jesus

Here lies a set of statues representative of biblical characters linked to the Passion of Christ: Anas, Caifas, Herod and Pilate on one side and José de Arimateia, Nicodemos and Pilatos.

Way of the Cross

The Way of the Cross is represented throughout the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary with 17 chapels that show various moments linked to the passion of Christ

Funicular (or Bom Jesus Elevator)

A project by Niklaus Riggenbach and was opened in 1882. The only one in the Iberian peninsula and the oldest in the world in activity. A funicular powered by water, by counterweight. Two cabins, both with water tanks, are connected by a cable. When a cabin is at the top, the cabin tank is filled with water (the volume of which depends on the number of passengers), while the cabin cabin at the bottom is emptied. When the driver releases the brakes, the weight difference causes the lower cabin goes up.

This Sanctuary is a World Cultural Heritage from Unesco

By : May 7th, 2021 Gastronomy 0 Comments

The Berlin ball (Bola de Berlim) is a very traditional cake in Portugal, usually sold on the beach.
In fact, there is something German about these balls. The truth is that the basis of this recipe was brought by some German Jewish families who, at the time of World War II, found refuge in Portugal. Germanic lands are better known as “Berlinesa” (Berliner / Berliner Pfannkuchen / Berliner Ballen).
But don’t think that this cake stays true to the original recipe. The filling of a sweet based on red fruits has been replaced by one of the most common and appreciated sweets in Portugal – the egg cream.
This, not to mention the more than many varieties of filling that have appeared in recent years. In addition, Berlinesas are smaller and are usually sprinkled with a finer sugar than that used in Berlin balls.

Over the years during the Second World War, from 1939 to 1945, several thousand refugees fled to Portugal – an officially neutral country – in order to travel to other countries and continents by transatlantic ships. Many German Jewish families, for example, found a temporary shelter in our country – before moving on to a new life, either in the USA or, later, in the newly founded state of Israel. Anyway, during the period they lived here and while waiting for the necessary papers to leave again, these refugees had to work to support families

Many Jews became employees of national companies, such as pastry shops and cafes. For this reason, several of these spaces, especially in Lisbon and Porto, started selling typical Germanic sweets, including the Berlin ball.

Taking into account the size and the round shape (ideal for grabbing with one hand), Berlin balls started to be sold on the street. Later, they arrived at the beaches

For mass
600 g of type 55 flour
150 ml of semi-skimmed milk
100 g of sugar
100 g of margarine
30 g of fresh baker’s yeast

4 eggs
½ teaspoon of fine salt
For the cream
500 ml semi-fatty treat
125 g of sugar
75 g of type 55 flour
4 egg yolks
1 lemon peel
½ l vegetable oil (for frying)

1 – In a bowl, place the sifted flour.
2 – In the center, make a hole and add the warm milk, sugar and yeast, stirring with your hands until it dissolves.
3 – Make another hole and add, now, the eggs, the margarine and a pinch of salt.
4 – Wrap and slowly add the flour.
5 – When the dough is homogeneous, knead it on a bench, sprinkled with flour.
6 – Put it back in the bowl and cover with cling film. Let it rise until it doubles in volume.
7 – Divide the dough into 15 equal parts and shape it into a ball shape.
8 – Arrange on a floured tray and let it rise again, until it is twice the size.
9 – Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the sugar, flour and egg yolks, adding a little cold milk. Reserve.
10 – Boil the remaining milk with the lemon peel and pour over the mixture, stirring constantly.
11 – Bring to the heat, until it thickens. Remove, pour into a tray and let cool.
12 – Fry the balls of dough in oil, turn them halfway through the frying and drain.
13 – Pass through sugar, cut the balls in half and fill with the cream.

By : May 3rd, 2021 Kings and Queens, Places and Monuments 0 Comments

The National Palace of Queluz enchants for its magnificence and for the exuberance of its architectural details. Closely linked to the experiences of three generations of the Portuguese Royal Family, and the stage for intense emotions, the palace reflects the evolution of the tastes and styles of the time, going through Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassicism.

Surrounding it, scenic gardens invite you to “stroll” through the time when the court organized sumptuous parties there and keep the memories of the gondola rides on the canal, the theater, the hunts, the musical and literary evenings, the masquerade balls, the games and outdoor recitals.

In 1747, Infante D. Pedro, third Lord of Casa do Infantado and future king D. Pedro III (by marriage to D. Maria I) instructs the architect Mateus de Vicente de Oliveira to expand the so-called “Paço Velho”. Years later, in 1760, the announcement of the marriage of D. Pedro to the heir to the throne, Princess D. Maria, motivates deeper works.
At this stage, the works are the responsibility of the architect and goldsmith Jean-Baptiste Robillion. D Pedro III dedicates his attention to this place, transforming it into a leisure and entertainment space for the Royal Family and filling it with apparatus rooms, such as the Throne Room or the Ambassadors Room.

In the gardens, the decoration is marked by several sculptural groups that evoke classical mythology, of which the lead statues of John Cheere’s London studio stand out.

After the fire at the Royal Barraca da Ajuda, in 1794, where the Royal Family had lived permanently since the 1755 earthquake, the Queluz Palace became the official residence of Queen D. Maria I and, later, of the ruling princes D. João VI and D. Carlota Joaquina
The palace is permanently inhabited until the departure of the Royal Family for Brazil

In 1821, D. João VI returned to Portugal, but the palace was only re-inhabited, in a semi-exile regime, by Queen D. Carlota Joaquina, accused of conspiring against her husband. The next generation, marked by the Civil War that opposed the brothers D. Miguel and D. Pedro IV of Portugal and the first Emperor of Brazil, ended the royal experience of the Palace of Queluz. It is in the Queluz Palace, in the room Don Quixote, where he was born, that D. Pedro IV died.