Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fatima, The Flintstones, Guimaraes, Braga, and Nazare

A nice aspect about keeping a blog is that its never too late to post something retrospectively. There has already been several entries about Portugal so what's another? Maybe on the verge on overkill but once you see the Flintstone house you might be slightly forgiving.

Before Porto there was Fatima (way out of sequence)

The story is that on the 13th of May and October in 1917 the Virgin Mary appeared to three peasant children (Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco).

"According to LĂșcia's account, Mary exhorted the children to do penance to save sinners. They wore tight cords around their waists to cause pain, abstained from drinking water on hot days, and other works of penance. Most important, she asked them to say the Rosary every day. She reiterated many times that devotion to the Rosary was the key to personal and world peace."

As a result religious tourism flourished in Fatima; especially during the two pilgrimage months of May and October where as many as 100,000 people cram into a town of 8000. To learn more about Fatima and the children click here.

Borrowed photo of Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco.
Francisco and Jacinta both died young as the Virgin predicted. Lucia went on to become a nun and lived to the ripe age of 97! Pope John Paul II pushed for Jacinta and Francisco to be beatified (the path to sainthood). 

Central plaza and basilica. Larger than Saint Peters. 
Candle lighting (looks more like burning) at the Shrine of Fatima.
Inside the basilica is where the children are buried.
Maybe you got the e-mail floating around of the top 20 unusual houses from around the world. If you did, most likely it included the stone (Flintstone) house located in northern Portugal in the hills near Fafe. Thanks to Paul's superb charting skills we set out one morning to accomplish the impossible in the rain and fog. We had seen a short movie on Youtube about the house the night before and one thing that stood out were the wind turbines in the background. That would be our clue.    
There was fog, drizzle, and a loud buzz hovering above us. Ever been under large spinning blades? Not highly recommended especially if you have irrational fears of being chopped up into bits.  
Sadly the home was vacant as it might be more of a warmer weather getaway spot. I think Paul and I were ready to chat with the owner. Some vandals did seize the opportunity to smash windows. What is it about vacant places that causes people to throw shit through windows, it seems pretty universal. Perhaps somebody is pursuing an advanced degree in the subject as to why we are psychologically prone to merge rock with glass.   
It was easy-find the dirt road to the big spinning things.
This alone makes me want to go live in Portugal.
The next stop was the town of Guimaraes

Stations of the cross were scattered around the medieval and cobblestone streets-just might make a good scavenger locating them all.
The streets and buildings are picturesque. 
More of the same. We didn't know Guimaraes would be part of the itinerary,just one of the perks of renting a car with no schedule. 
The latest sensation to hit funeral parlors...the transparent van hearse. Going out in style...napping driver included.  
Guimaraes Castle. The Number One of the of the 7 wonders of Portugal. Built in the 10th century to fight off the Moors and Vikings. Guimaraes is regarded as the birthplace of Portugal. 
One of the nice aspects of living outside the United States is that you have to take personal responsibility for your careless decisions. 

A castle's view of The Palace of the Dukes of Braganza (sounds a little wordy doesn't it)

Inside the Palace
The Courtyard-I wish there was more to write. I can tell you that it is worth a stop if you're in the neighborhood-the grounds and the rooms were nice to look at, it was slightly cold, there are well stocked vending machines, a gift shop, bathrooms are well kept... 

No palace is complete without a church. The view outside the wooden doors was tops.
The decor felt a bit minimal and cold. The empty space outnumbered objects. 
Say what you will

Outside the Palace
Braga was sort of a surprise to us. We saw it on the map and thought it might be a nice little stop before heading back to Porto. It wasn't quite as small as we thought, it turns out to be the third largest city in Portugal. When we drove off the highway and got into the mix it was different than what we expected. Our initial impression was wow, there are sure A LOT of churches here. The number could rival the mosques in Alexandria...not really but for a Christian city it was short of a flood.   
Garden in Braga. 
We walked into a building that looked like some sort of museum or gallery...I don't think it was either but there was a retrospective of Portuguese political cartoons. Who doesn't love pregnant nuns and a pistol shooting priest? 
Even the wet weather can't keep the people back. 
Old school barber shop.
After Porto there was Aveiro "The Venice of Portugal"
We stopped long enough for a stroll and to buy snacks for the road. 
Nazare was our final stop for the evening. There were waves and spongers taking advantage before the rain put an end to the fun. There wasn't much going on. Our beach side hotel had one other guest. It was a symptom that our trip was winding down. The town is a traditional fishing village with a party vibe. The hotel owner said that during the summer the town's population swells significantly. We saw many local women dressed in their tradition clothes (black knee-high dress and scarves or poncho like cover holding signs of rooms for rent and roasting chestnuts on the street.    
The funicular rides up the hillside to the old part of Nazare. BTW-great view.
There is walking path as well if you want to save a couple of Euros. 
The Church of Nossa Senhora de Nazare sits on the hilltop...the story below is courtesy of
Image from inside the church but we didn't see the horseshoe in the rock. 
This church was built to commemorate the miraculous intervention of the Nossa Senhora da Nazaré. According to legend the sheriff (alcalde) of Porto de Mos, Dom Fuas Roupinho, was chasing on horseback a deer up a hilltop on a misty September morning in 1182. Later it was said that it was the Devil, in the guise of a deer. When the deer jumped over the edge of the hilltop into the void, his fiery horse was about to follow. Then the knight invoked the intervention of the Madonna, who made the horse turn away through a supernatural effort and saved the life of the knight. Subsequently, a chapel was built on this spot. There is still a small chapel (Ermida da Memoria), where one can see the imprint of the horseshoe in the rock.

Tile of working women wearing traditional clothes. 

1 comment:

  1. That looks like an amazing trip to Portugal. I'm super jealous. I've always wanted to visit that stone house to see if it's legit. That's awesome that it really is! How did you get around Portugal? Do you speak Portuguese? Or did you use a document translation service?