Culture & Art


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Culture & Art

Sintra, a must-see getaway from Lisbon

5 years ago - Pauline P.

Located just 30 kilometers from the Portuguese capital, Sintra is definitely worth a detour when staying in Lisbon. Classed in 1995 as a UNESCO world heritage site, it offers remarkable landscapes and monuments, giving it the nickname of "glorious Eden". In one day or more, discover this unmissable destination, whose multiple palaces will amaze you... Not to be missed The national Palace of Sintra A mixture of medieval, gothic and romantic architecture, the construction of which began in the 14th century, the National Palace of Sintra was the stronghold of the royal family until 1910, when the monarchy ended in Portugal. It is especially the magnificent azulejos - the famous Portuguese ceramic tiles - that decorate the many rooms of the royal palace that are worth the detour. There are azulejos from the 14th to the 18th century, including authentic Mudejar azulejos, with Moorish geometric motifs. Another remarkable part of the palace, the colossal chimneys, built in the 14th century to prevent the kitchens from being smoked. They are visible for miles around, one imagines then the greatness of the banquets that required chimneys so massive! Quinta Da Regaleira La Quinta da Regaleira is an estate built in the historic center of Sintra in the 19th century. References to alchemy, mythology, Freemasonry and Templars are numerous, both in the architecture of the palace and in the design of the park that surrounds it. It is an enchanting domain, as much by the quality of the work of architecture, as by the symbolism released. The mysterious palace and the Edenic gardens are remarkable for this reason. In particular, one can discover the initiatic wells, a little less than 30 meters deep, which expresses the symbolism of life and death, paradise and hell, and that one crosses by passing through several stages (represented By the floors). The various gardens, caves and lakes that surround the palace are mysteries to be questioned by visitors... Near the entrance to the park of Regaleira is the Seteais palace, dating from the eighteenth century, now transformed into a hotel. And do not hesitate to climb up to the belvedere, from where you can see the palace of Pena (Palácio da Pena), the castle of the Maures (Castelo dos Mouros) and the sea in the distance... Pena Palace The Palace of Pena is so unique that it was considered in 2007 as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It is the first palace in Europe to have been built according to the architectural style of Romanticism, and it is this extravagant architecture that inspired Disney studios to draw fairytale castles. With its bright colors and Moorish inspiration, the exterior is simply remarkable. The gardens are also bucolic and we advise you to climb up to the cross "Cruz Alta", from which the view is superb, and from where you can admire the whole Palace, placed on its hill. If you have more time The Castle of the Moors The Castle of the Moors was built during the nineteenth century by the Moors of the Maghreb to monitor the city of Sintra, but was abandoned after the conquest of Portugal. High battlements, fortified walls, solid ramparts, the visit plunges you into medieval times. From the highest points of view, the panoramic views of the hills of the Serra de Sintra and the plains extending to the Atlantic Ocean are exceptional. National Palace and Queluz gardens The Royal National Palace of Queluz was commissioned by Pedro III, future king of Portugal, and became the summer residence of the royal family from 1794 to 1807. It is still considered a jewel of Portuguese heritage: the opulence of Its decoration, the participation in its construction of the greatest architects of the time as well as its sumptuous garden in the French style, is for many, the Portuguese Versailles. One of the wings of the palace, the Lady Mary Pavilion, is today the residence of foreign Chiefs of State visiting Portugal. The Ursa beach It’s a 30 to 40 minute sporty walk (pack your sneakers rather than sandals) to reach the Ursa beach, but the reward is at the height of the effort! A very quiet beach, fine sand, rock formations nicknamed Ursa and Giant, and which gave its name to the beach) which gives it a particular charm... Getting to Sintra The most convenient way to get to Sintra is probably the train, direct from the center of Lisbon from the Rossio train station. A train passes every 20 minutes during the day between 7 am and 11 pm, and the journey lasts only 30 minutes. The station of Sintra is the terminus of the train: you then have a kilometer and a half to get to the center of the city. A bus system, line 434, connects the station to the city center and to the three palaces of the city. The bus runs every forty minutes, so the wait can be a bit long... By car, arrive very early before the opening of the offices, shops and palaces to hope to find a parking space near the Palace of Pena. Alternatively, enjoy one of the unguarded open-air car parks close to the station; From there you can take the bus 434 to Pena.

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Sintra, a must-see getaway from Lisbon

Sintra, a must-see getaway from Lisbon

Culture & Art

Fado, Music of the Portuguese soul

5 years ago - Pauline P.

Registered in the Intangible cultural heritage of humanity by the UNESCO in 2011, Fado is not regional music like so many others, only popular and usually appreciated by older people. Fado, on the contrary, is the soul of the Portuguese people, a lament universally respected in the country, so much that the remains of the singer Amalia Rodrigues, known as the queen of fado, lies in the Lisbon National Pantheon. To discover a whole section of the Portuguese culture, let yourself be swept away by the emotion of fado in one of the bars or restaurants where fadistas (fado singers) perform every night, you will most likely be moved by it. Fado, Pillar of the national identity This typical music, accompanied by plucked string instruments, mostly guitars, exploits the recurring themes of lost or impossible love , the past and death, sorrow and exile... The word fado comes from the Latin “Fatum”, which means "Destiny": the fate of sensitive people and nostalgic of their past. The origins of fado music remain unclear, although it is recognized that it appeared on the docks of Lisbon in the 1820s: it would be a drift of traditional songs sung by Portuguese sailors, or a mix of Brazilian and African music that resounded on these docks. First sung in popular neighborhoods, fado was then gentrified and professionalized: Maria Severa is the first recognized fadista, in the 1850s. Two variants of Fado are distinguished: The Fado of Coimbra, in a university town in the center of the country, sung only by men. This is academic singing, practiced in universities, where scholar singers, dressed in black capes, cater to students to entice them. They tell them about the city and the Rio Mondego river that runs through it, of student life and of love, and also take in and use the texts of great Portuguese poets. In contrast to the Coimbra fado, the Fado of Lisbon comes from the popular neighborhoods of the city. It usually tells small typical stories of everyday life, and can be sung by women as well. The modern fado is now known beyond the Portuguese and European borders  thanks to the famous Amalia Rodrigues, known as the "Queen of Fado", who recorded no fewer than 170 records during her career. Currently, a new generation of Fado singers has risen and is making this music very much popular, to name a few; Antonio Zambujo, Ana Moura, Mariza or Cristina Branco. Where to listen to Fado music in Lisbon? Our “must” locations For a total immersion in the Portuguese culture, enter the door to one of the many bars or restaurants where Fado singers perform every evening: Fado em Si, in the Alfama district, there’s an institution where all the great names of Fado have been produced. Fine food, 4 to 5 professional Fado singers each evening offering a high quality service to an attentive and respectful audience: the ideal condition to discover the great Portuguese tradition of Fado. Arco de Jésus 7, Alfama, 1100-037 Museu do Fado (Museum of Fado), where an open-air concert is regularly displayed out on the terrace. To discover all of the history of Fado… Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1 Duetos da Sé, near the Cathedral of Lisbon, a hybrid concept is displayed between food, culture and music. This place is recognized for the quality of its Fado music but also for other styles of Portuguese music. Take a look at the program before you get there! Travessa Almargem 1B Senhor Vinho, one of the most legendary Fado houses of Lisbon. Opened in 1975 by the famous Fado singer Maria da Fé and her husband, this has become an important cultural place of the Portuguese capital. Many talents have performed there like Ana Moura and António Zambujo, the famous Fado singers of the moment. Rua do Meio à Lapa 18

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Fado, Music of the Portuguese soul

Fado, Music of the Portuguese soul