Saving Trafaria

Trafaria is a little fishing port opposite Lisbon at the mouth of the Rio Tajo. There isn’t much on Tripadvisor relating to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s without charm. Or indeed things to do. A cheap hourly ferry from Belem whisks you to Trafaria and first thing from the ferry terminal you see the sign:

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The Portuguese government wish to build a container terminal essentially obliterating the waterfront here. Little restaurants line the front, each serving fish caught by the boats which are beached for the night. The town has a laid back old-world feel which runs counter-point to the bustle of its big brother over the river.1-P1010475

Sure, you need jobs. But here? Really?

Let’s start it here….

 

 

Save Trafaria!

 

 

 

 

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Murallas Reales de Ceuta, Spain

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The Murallas Reales (Royal Walls) de Ceuta were built as a system of coastal defence date from around 960AD and were still being improved in the 18th Century. Effectively dividing the area in two, the waterways are navigable by small boats and there are three bridges connecting the city. The area has been ‘visited’ over time by Carthage, Rome, Byzantium, Visigoths, Muslims, Berbers, Almohads, Tunisian Hafsids, Aragon, Portugal, and Spain to name a few. So it’s strategic position and sheltered port made it worth defending (and attacking!). Incidentally it is a possible site of one of Hercules’ pillars, standing opposite Gibraltar.

The capture of Ceuta by the Portuguese in 1415 began their global empire, which became the longest lived modern empire spanning nearly 600 years.

Convento de Cristo: Tomar, Portugal

Built between the 12th and 13th Centuries, The Rotunda of the Convento de Cristo rivals all other monuments of Templar architecture. It has eight sides on it’s central ‘drum’ and sixteen on the outer walls; influenced by the Holy Sepulchre or indeed the Mosque of Omar given the Templars varied exposure of the time. From the outside of the building, there is little indication of the wonders awaiting within. However, this is one of Portugal’s most important buildings for good reason.

Built as a fortified citadel with a ‘keep’, it has Norman inspired round towers (novel at the time in Portugal) which are better suited to defence than square ones.

The Convent has eight cloisters, built some 3-400 years later.

The building underwent restoration in the latter part of the 20th Century, but remarkably the inner Rotunda stucco-work showed no particular problems after eight hundred years, with most of the colour schemes still discernible (modern builders take note!)

All in all, this is the best value 6 Euros you will ever spend, and be prepared to set aside a few hours for the privilege.

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Evora

Evora is a UNESCO world heritage site. And it’s lovely too! From the Água de Prata Aqueduct, to the Roman Diana Temple. 1-P1000459 1-P1000482From the Royal Palace to the luxurious Pousada there’s little to dislike in this small city voted second most desirable place to stay in Portugal. With a history dating back over two millennia it’s gone through Roman conquest, Moorish invasion and then reconquest relatively unscathed. The friendly people make this a traveller’s dream, and it is easy to get by on broken Portuguese and English. No one seems awfully keen on Spanish, which is a pity. For me anyway! Hey ho, when in Evora…….

 

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Lisbon Street Art. Enjoy!

Street art in Lisbon is big business. Literally. Guided tours take tourists round the sights, and the local authorities allow artists areas to experiment and display their art pretty well uncensored. Totally enjoyable and a world away from tawdry-tags!

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Fatima-Ourem: a Pousada in Three Images

Location, location, location. This Pousada has it in spades. For access to Fatima, the beautiful Convent of Christ in Tomar or relaxing in the hotel, this is the ideal base to explore the area. Comfortable surroundings married to exceptional staff and a fantastic restaurant make this a dream retreat. I want to go back!

 

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Museu Colecção Berardo: Art in Belem, Three Images

Museu Colecção Berardo in Belem, Lisbon is a fantastic (free!) museum which seems totally out of place in this historic quarter. It’s a belter of a gallery with stunning views from the roof and the usual comfort facilities.

Exhibitions change frequently, and it’s a great adjunct to the other attractions in the area.

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