Thursday, January 13, 2011

From London to Portugal

A trade from a grey, chilly day in London to mild, sunny Portugal can be accomplished by just a short flight south, which is what we did late last fall. This view outside our hotel room awaited our group and enticed us to get out and explore as soon as we arrived.

We stayed in the charming town of Sintra, a short trip away from the city of Lisbon, and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its 19th century Romantic architecture. The palace seen in a distance here is the Sintra National Palace, which has been continually inhabited from the 15th to late 19th century.

On our stroll to lunch, we walked by the Town Hall which was built at the beginning of the 20th century.

One of the jewels of the region is the Pena National Palace situated on a hill above the city. A collection of many styles of architecture typical of the exotic Romantic style, this current structure was rebuilt in the mid 19th century,

after a monastery which was originally there in the Middle Ages fell into ruins following the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.

King Ferdinand II built it as a summer residence for the Portuguese royalty.

Once you entered the door guarded by a newt made of shells,

some of the views were incredible.

Indoor pictures were not allowed but I was able to shoot a picture of the tiled courtyard in the interior.

On our way to Lisbon the next day, we stopped at the Belém Tower. Built as a fortification at the mouth of the Tagus River in the early 16th century, it is also the ceremonial gateway to the city of Lisbon.

The bright colors of the region in contrast to the waters of the harbor are part of the charm of this beautiful city.

Particularly fascinating is the Jeronimós Monastery which was built 

by Manuel I in the 1500's to honor the successful return of Vasco de Gama from India. This style of architecture is typically called Manueline style and is common throughout Portugal.

The two story cloister is especially striking. Maybe we should have stayed there a bit longer in prayer, since a couple of gals in our group were pick-pocketed after our visit here.

Before heading back to London, we hiked up the hill to the Quinta da Regaleira. Much to our amazement, we found a Romantic style palace, a chapel and a fascinating park.

The first owner, Montiero, designed an exotic assembly of buildings and gardens including a 5 story palace,

and gardens which boasted caves, towers, waterfalls, benches,

fountains, underground lakes and a system of tunnels which we bravely wandered through, encouraging each other along the way.

A delightful trip drew to a close as we gathered in the square in front of the Adega des Caves restaurant. The sun bounced off its typical blue azulejos, or tiles, which are so tied to the culture of Portugal, since the country is world renowned as having some of the most beautiful tiles ever made. Hope you'll stay tuned for my next blog highlighting some of those tiles.


  1. Wow,how gorgeous! Portugal is on my list of places to go. I look forward to your next post about the tiles!! Have a wonderful week, Debi! xxoo

  2. Wow, Debi. I've never seen pictures of Portugal. It's fairytale beautiful!

  3. How absolutely gorgeous!!!Your pictures are just marvelous! Looks like you are having good weather too. What a beautiful spot on the face of the earth! It's almost like going on vacation myself just looking at these. Hope you have as good a time as these phenomenol pictures look!!!!

  4. Absolutely gorgeous!!!! So wonderful to visit your blog and take a little virtual tour of another place. Your pictures are breathtaking, can't wait to see more!!!

  5. What a glorious place to visit. You are so blessed that you can travel to so many beautiful places in the world. Your photographs are wonderful.

  6. Though we have all heard of Lisbon, I am not sure why but Portugal is not a country that we hear a lot about. My sister and her husband had the opportunity to visit Portugal and a few surrounding countries on a business trip and they were astonished at the beauty.
    These pictures speak of that beauty.

  7. What amazing architecture, Debi! Your photos are beautiful and capture the colors and detail so well. I really know nothing about Portugal, but isn't that one of the greatest things about living in London? The continent is so close! Thank you for another wonderful tour. – g

  8. Bonsoir Debi, those photographs are beautiful and really show the stunning architecture. I've been to Portugal many many times and it's a beautiful country with great architecture, nature and wonderful people. Thanks for sharing, have a great week ahead, Love from (south ouf the River) London xo

  9. Hello Debi , thank you for sharing your wonderful trip to Portugal. this is another country I have not been to, but definitely on my list. I Need to get travelling again very soon, if I am going to fit all the countries in. I Love your photos too. Sunny with fantastic views.

  10. Wow! Thank you for "taking" us with you!! I'm going to have to add Portugal to my list...