It’s Sunday morning and yes, they set their clocks back in Portugal too. How fun, now I get to adjust to yet another time change.
Anyway, the good new is that I have EXTRA HOUR to write more about CASTLES!
Yesterday, we drove around and spent time touring two more castle. Portugal really has a LOT OF CASTLES. It’s really remarkable how many castles a country can accumulate when they measure their history in thousands as opposed to hundreds of years.
It’s very different as a some folks here live in houses that are four times older than our country.
Yes, a very different mindset to think about time in the context of “oh yeah, that was built by the Romans when they occupied my ancestor’s land”. “But not to worry, they left and now I live here. Isn’t that castle great?”
Well, that’s OK, I guess. When Brenda and I lived in NJ we had 5 (count em) shopping malls within a 15 minute drive from our home. And yeah, and we even have Epcot too!
Here, there aren’t so many malls here but within a 30 minute drive there are Castles, and plenty of them. Enough in fact, that it’s becoming hard for me to keep track of which pictures came from which castle. Is it the one with the 200′ chimney in the kitchen or was it the one that St Bernard (the guy they named the dogs after, I think) was buried in? Whatever…
Seriously though, these are very nice castles. And they are REALLY BIG. I can only imagine what it took to build them. “I’ve got great news… We’ve decided to build a castle on that mountain over there. And, you get to be a mason…for your entire life. And, by the way, be sure that you and the misses you have lots of children as they too will be working on that castle, and their children, and their children and…. Well, don’t just stand there, get started.”
It took a really long time to build this…and this is only the part that’s visible from the square. It’s really a pretty fancy place. Actually, this was the home to lots and lots of monks and it’s technically not a castle. However, my point remains…This is the monastery at Alcobaca, perhaps the most elaborate in Portugal. Wikipedia tells the history better than I could so check it out. This is one elaborate building. And it’s been there for a VERY LONG TIME.
If you were the queen, you might have been buried in one of these. I would imagine that they started working on this sarcophagus when the queen was about 10 years old. “Hurry Olad, chisel faster, the Queen is already nearly 12 years old. You’ll never finish it in time…”
Seriously, the level of detail is just amazing. And the spaces…beautiful. Me, I could “contemplate” very well in this courtyard.How about this as a kitchen in a “model castle”? Yes, I’ll take one of those. That huge tiled thing in the center is the chimney for the “stove” and it’s several hundred feet tall. . And, they even had a aqueduct, several miles long, built to bring water to the kitchen. Check out the marble counter top. Now that would be a great spot to roll out some pie crusts. No, make that a gross of pie crusts… It must have taken a lot of pies to keep the friars happy. And, on top of that, there’s “pies for the poor” to give out.And, that was just our first stop of the day.
On to the “other castle”. And this one was the home of the “Knights Templar”. They were one nasty group of guys as they were the ones that brought “The Crusades” to Europe, on behalf of Christianity. I looked and looked and didn’t see even a single “round table”. Hmmm…
Anyway, this castle tops all. And, they were clearly ready for any sort of siege that might come their way. Look at this footing for the walls. I’ll bet that took generations to build. And, that’s just to protect the front yard. This is what you see when you enter. Nice digs. Actually, the knights were pillaging all over Europe on behalf of the Catholic Church and after that it became a convent. It’s a remarkable place and one of the most important historical sites in Portugal. The Templar guys and the wealth that they accumulated supported the maritime voyages of discovery for Portugal in the 15th century. There was clearly a lot of wealth concentrated within these walls.
The chapel is amazing and in wonderful condition and a great deal of care has gone into refurbishing it.
And, what a great courtyard, one of several. I would imagine that planning pillaging required proper places to prepare in.The level of craftsmanship. Amazing. How about this spiral staircase? Everywhere you look, more over-the-top detail. And, all of this was done without the aid of any sort of heavy lifting equipment beyond levers and pulleys. Make that lots of levers and pulleys.Look at the lower window. The grate is made of stone. How’d they do that?It’s hard for me to imagine the kind of dedication, and availability of raw labor, to make something like this possible. I’ll bet that they didn’t have any problems with labor negotiations either. Hmm… I’m not thinking that you said no to the Templar guys, ever. Perhaps best not to think about that.
“Bob, Bob, what’s with the chicken thing in the title?” Oh yeah, chickens.
We also visited a farmer’s market. No plastic doodahs for sale at this market. This was a REAL market, complete with chickens. Lots of chickens. Little one and big ones. All sorts of great stuff. We bought some cheese, dried fruit, bread, olives and pastries and had them for dinner here at the inn last night. Very nice.
Oh yeah, wine too.
We’d better walk a LONG way today to work that all off. Speaking of food, it’s time for breakfast. Gotta go.