Portugal Tour - Medieval to Modern
September 18-26, 2005


September 24th we toured around Lisbon beginning with the Tower of Belem in Belem, often referred to as the historical heart and soul of Portugal, built between 1515 and 1521. This used to be totally surrounded by water and was the first thing ships would see as they sailed into port and was also the point of departure for many overseas expeditions. On an upper terrace, the Virgin of Safe Travels looks out toward the Tagus River and open sea. The tower has served as a fortress, watch-tower and prison. The next monument is the Padrao dos Descobrimentos, to commemorate the age of the discoveries with the head figure of Prince Henry, the Navigator who founded the Sagres School and was the pioneer of the great Portuguese discoveries. Right beside that is the marina.

Across the street and up the block is the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. Because the finances to build Jeronimos came from spice trade profits, the structure is said to be "built of pepper." Portions of the white limestone are covered with Manueline decorations, a 16th-century architectural style inspired by Portugal's maritime prowess. Manueline is a late Gothic style with unique adornments which show a renaissance influence, named for King Manuel I. On closer inspection, Manueline also shows both Moorish and Indian characteristics. Despite the fact that four architects worked on the Monastery, it manages to present an image of graceful cohesion. An outstanding example of Manueline style is the southern doorway of the Monastery, completed in 1502. The design encompasses an outrageous array of pinnacles, spires and niches containing sculpture. Sea shells and coral shapes are intertwined, adding to the puzzle. Inside are the tombs of Portugal's most famous native sons, Vasco de Gama and Luis de Camoes. De Gama left his mark by sailing the high seas and discovering the sea route to India. Camoes is known for his literary efforts. Visitors still place fresh flowers on the tombs daily. Just outside this building is a beautiful park.

Now it was time for us all to have a break and we were guided to the best place in town for custard tarts. If you look at the pictures you will see a tile of the Tower of Belem as it was, surrounded by water, and the sideboard/washbasin has the name of this shop on the water jug....just in case you go, and if you are coffee drinkers, I never did find a bad cup of coffee anywhere!

After this nice break we headed off to the Jardim Museum Agricola Tropical, plants from tropical and sub-tropical regions, then on to the Jardim Botanico da Ajuda. These 18th century botanical gardens are considered to be the first in Portugal. They were created to receive plants from the lands where the Portuguese navigators visited. The area is covered with hedges, trees over one hundred years old and a garden with aromatic plants. The Royal Botanical Garden of Ajuda had once been a famed repository of plants, ranking as the 15th oldest botanical garden in Europe. It was commissioned in 1764 by the King of Portugal, Don José, as part of a magnificent new home for himself and his family. We had to watch as we were walking because the peacocks liked to perch themselves in the tress right above us. It was a beautiful garden with an incredible view and some very impressive plants.

We had a bit of free time in the afternoon and again I used the time to walk around and take a few pictures. The flag of Portugal symbolizes the blood shed for all those who died in battles (red) and the hope they all have in the future (green). Portugal is famous for its olive oil and cork and its marble from Sintra. St. Anthony is the Patron Saint and each June he is celebrated with grilled sardines, parades and festivities.







  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row