Final glimpses

Finally to the relief of everyone (and my aunt in particular!) this is the final batch of pictures from our Portuguese adventure.


Above is a cute water wheel from Azenhas do Mar that I forgot to post earlier and below are a few kitsch souvenirs for sale near Boca do Inferno.

We nipped back to the boisterous cliffs on a calmer day and it is like a different world! No sign of the ferocious spectacle that makes it such tourist draw.

Then a quick mooch around a little market close by with lots of lovely pots and ceramic fishes that I enjoy immensely.

I wish I had bought a few of these colourful little beauties!


Below is the ornate Museu-Biblioteca Condes de Castro Guimarães.

This whimsical early-19th-century mansion, complete with castle turrets and Arabic cloister, sits in the grounds of the Parque Marechal Carmona.


Another striking building is the Santa Marta Lighthouse and Museum. This is one of the most photographed things in Cascais.

Built in 1868 on the site of a 17th century fort the lighthouse only came into operation after the site was stripped of its military status.

Santa Marta’s distinctive blue and white striped tower stands at 8 metres (25ft) tall and still stands guard over the mouth of the Tagus. Until 1981 it was manned continuously by lighthouse keepers, however these days the light is automated.


Next up we head into the grounds of the Castro Guimaraes museum which is housed in the most architecturally interesting building of Cascais.

The exterior of the once grand residence is an elaborate mixture of mock gothic, classical Portuguese elements and Arabian stone work and arches.

Surrounding the museum are the pretty gardens of Jardim Marechal Carmona.

There are lots of feathered friends – from ducks to incredibly gorgeous peacocks.

I was lucky enough to capture one such glamorous creature in full on display mode.

He really was showboating for the camera! And it is a fantastic final image for an incredible, colourful, glamorous Portuguese adventure.

That’s it for Portugal folks! Next up is a wonderful trip to Brittany and then (heart still skips a beat) our epic trip to Japan!!!

Traditional Portuguese market

Next up on our Portuguese jaunt are of a traditional market in Cascais.

First up we sample a sweet regional speciality – Ginjinha or simply Ginja. It’s a portuguese liqueur made by infusing ginja berries, (sour cherry)  in alcohol  and adding sugar together with other ingredients.

It’s served in an adorable little chocolate cup – here the man and I sample one, or two.

Then we have a wander around the market. Cascais holds various themed markets each month and we happened upon a traditional Portuguese one.

Stall holders donned traditional dress and demonstrated traditional skills such as pot throwing.

Colourful fruit and flowers are piled high in Cascais’s indoor market.

Traditional meat and cheeses are just some of the produce on display.

Some slightly more slimy locals can be found in the form of nets full of snails.

Final shot of the day is this veteran tradesman taking a break from the painstaking labour of hand weaving the seats of these chairs.



Mafra Palace

On-route back to Cascais we take a flying visit to the Palace of Mafra, a monumental Baroque and Italianized Neoclassical palace-monastery.


*Wikipedia alert* The imposing façade, built of local limestone, is 220 m long and faces the town of Mafra.


At each end of the façade stands a square tower with a bulbous dome, such as found in Central Europe.

The church, built in white marble, is located in the centre of the main façade, symmetrically flanked on both sides by the royal palace.

Construction began in 1717 and was completely concluded in 1755. Construction lasted 13 years and utilised a vast army of workers from the entire country -a daily average of 15,000 but at the end climbing to 30,000 and a maximum of 45,000.

The palace was classified as a National Monument in 1910, and was also one of the finalists of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

The two church towers (68 m high) are inspired by the towers of Sant’Agnese in Agone

Their two carillons (a type of musical instrument consisting of at least 23 bells) contain a total of 92 church bells.

The story goes that the Flemish bell-founders were so astonished by the size of their commission, that they asked to be paid in advance.

These carillons constitute the largest historical collection in the world.



Picturesquely dotted across sandstone cliffs above the blue Atlantic, sunny, whitewashed Ericeira is our next  stop.

It’s a small fishing village whose name derives from sea urchins.


The town’s main beach is Praia do Sul and while quite deserted in May it does get very hectic mid season.

The beach is also known as Praia da Baleia as a whale once washed up here. The bones can still be seen in the local museum in the Largo da Misericórdia.

In his guidebook, published in 1910, Baedeker described Ericeira as ‘a fishing village with excellent sea-bathing’.

In spite of burgeoning tourism this description still pretty much holds true today

The old village is a warren of whitewashed wall, intricate tiling and blue shutters.

Ericeria, although small, is making an impact on the world stage in terms of surfing.

The national champion, Tiago Pires, and many other surfers were born here. It currently hosts world championships such as the WSL World Surf League Tour and Quik Silver Pro Portugal.

Colourful Cascais

We head to Cascais’s market to check out some local produce but as it’s a quiet day I spend more time looking at the ornate tiling on the exterior.

These countryside scenes are examples of Azulejo – a form of Spanish and Portuguese painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework.

Azulejos are found on the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, ordinary houses, schools, and nowadays, restaurants, bars and even railways or subway stations.


After checking out a few fish we head out to the town again to scout for more architectural details.

There’s plenty of them to be found, mainly in shades of blue.

Legend has it that it was a Cascais fisherman, a certain Afonso Sanches, and not Columbus who discovered the New World ten years before the famed date of 1492.

So it’s only apt to feature some of the many boat themed tiles that can be found around the town.

Succulent plants contrast beautifully with this deep shade of blue on a back street house.

Azenhas do Mar

A short drive away from Cascais is the tiny hamlet of Azenhas do Mar.

That’s our destination for the day and we set out, all packed into the hire car, stopping to snap some decorative tiles onroute.

Azenhas do Mar is a picture-perfect village located by the Atlantic Ocean with white houses tumbling down the cliff sides.


The main attraction of this tiny little hamlet is the wide and windy beach located at the bottom of a step hill.

It’s overlooked by a lovely restaurent and has a natural swimming pool that fills and empties with the tidal ebb and flow.

Even though the beach is fairly small, what it lacks in stature it more than makes up for in majestic nature.


The pounding of the waves gets the adrenline pounding, creating a natural spectacle that we were spellbound by.


We spent an hour just paddling, surf watching and getting covered in salt and sunlight.

If you take a climb up the cliff side you’ll get a wonderful view of the white houses clinging to the hillside.


Even months later I can still smell the ocean and feel the sunbaked salt on my skin. For such a tiny place it packed a huge punch.

Sand, sea and sculptures

The sun’s out so we make the most of exploring the seaside town of Cascais.

There’s a nice town beach with plenty of sand and sea for the whole family to enjoy.

However I’m far more interested in knackered old buildings instead!

There’s a beautiful blue pallette to be found all over the town as well as this cute dog themed tile.

Here’s a view of another of the beaches further along the coastline.

Shivering in the depths of a British winter as I write this, I wish I was back there!!


Naturally I am on the hunt for old, crumbly, graffitted things and I am not disappointed!

There’s so much colour, street art and tiling to snap away at.

And of course the obligatory magnet store that will add to the weight on my fridge!

The traditional Portageuse Cockeral can be found all over the tourist souvenirs.


Texture and quirky details festoon the walls and tempt you into eateries.

Below the man stands in the square which boasts some typical wavey Portuguese black and white stone mosaic “calcada” pavement – this might make you feel a little bit seasick though!

Below are some of the detailed azulejos, tiles with different motifs, that decorate the town hall facade.

Meanwhile on the beach sand sculpters have been busy at work creating little works of art that will only last for a day.

All in all Cascais is a pleasant place to while away the hours, baking on the beach and exploring the little back streets and squares.



Our final stop of the trip is Cascais, a bustling seaside resort with lots of restaurents, bars and shops.

Cascais has been  a favoured holiday destination since the early 19th century.

Historically Cascais was a minor fishing port but this forever changed when King Fernando II (1816-1885) proclaimed Cascais as his favoured destination for his summer retreat.

The royal seal of approval  encouraged the 19th century high-society of Europe to flock to Cascais as well.

This influx of money and political power funded the construction throughout the town of grand residences, lavish entertainment venues and fine parks.


Modern day Cascais has plenty of impressive old architecture but it also has flashes of modernity around every corner including some impressive wall art.

On our first day we simply stroll around the town, aclimatising and enjoying hidden nooks and crannies.

As usual I am attracted to wall art and colourful urban paintings.

Luckily there’s plenty for me to chose from and I’m kept busy snapping away!


A sliver of Sintra

After exploring the quirky joys of Quinta De Regaleria we had a quick trot around the town of Sintra itself.

This picturesque town is set in the pine covered hills of the Serra de Sintra. The slightly cooler climate enticed the nobility and elite of Portugal, who constructed exquisite palaces, extravagant residences and decorative gardens.

Sintra is known for its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, which has resulted in its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s also full of tiny, cute shops and detailed tiled frescos which can we found all over.

Pretty pastel pink walls contrast with beautiful tiling and create a visually enticing view.

Everything that can be painted appears on tiles, from sardines to religious icons.

The town is also surrounded by beautiful housing that sweep up the hillside.

In the historic centre of Sintra there are pretty cobbled streets lined with traditional shops and cafes, all centred around the Gothic styled National Palace.

The Gothic styled National Palace was extensively used by the nobility of Portugal between the 15th and 19th centuries. The Palace’s most distinctive exterior feature are the two huge chimneys that extend from the kitchens.


Initiation Wells

The unique architecture of the Quinta de Regaleira combines a wealth of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish and Renaissance features, however one of its most fascinating features is located beneath the ground – a pair of wells spiralling deep within the earth.

The pair of wells, known as the ‘Initiation Wells’ or ‘Inverted Towers’, consist of ‘winding stair’ architecture, which carries symbolic meanings possibly including the idea of death and rebirth.

It is these wells that piqued my curiosity so many months ago and so our Portuguese trip took root!

The smaller well, called the “Unfinished Well,” contains a set of straight staircases, connecting the ring-shaped floors to one another.

It is believed that the spacing of the landings, as well as the number of steps in between were dictated by Masonic principles. However other sources believe they relate to Tarot mysticism.

The wells were never used, nor intended for water collection. Instead, these mysterious underground towers were used for secretive initiation rites.



The second Initiation Well is completed and is an atmospheric place that can be reached by underground tunnels or on foot through the estate.


The completed well contains nine platforms, which are said to be reminiscent of the Divine Comedy by Dante and the nine circles of Hell, the nine sections of Purgatory and the nine skies which constitute Paradise.


At the bottom of the well there is a compass over a Knights Templar cross, which is said to have been the estate owner Monteiro’s herald and a sign of his Rosicrucianism.

The Rosicrucians were a community of mystics who studied and practiced the metaphysical laws governing the universe.

The completed well is 27 metres deep and you can enter from the bottom via a subterranean tunnel and work your way up into the light.

Alternatively you can locate it from above and wind your way down into the ever increasing darkness…

Whichever way you approach them, the initiation wells are incredible feats of architecture that still have the power to enthrall and bewitch.

Regardless of the truth behind their origins the Initiation Wells will enchant and puzzle even the most jaded of travellers.