Mosterio dos Jeronimos
Don’t go to Lisbon without visiting two major tourist destinations—a monastery and a museum, an easy walk from each other outside of the main Lisbon area.
The Mosterio dos Jeronimos, the grandest building in Lisbon, is built over the site of a small chapel raised by Henry the Navigator in 1460 to provide spiritual solace to the many seafarers who embarked on voyages of discovery. The new church was started in 1502 and miraculously survived the great earthquake of 1755.
The church is stunning and the grounds peaceful.
The huge sweep of fan vaulting, breathtaking windows, carving, pillars and majestic spaces are a mix of mix of Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance architecture and design and a true testament to the wealth of the time.
I never stop being astounded in European cities when I see the cathedrals built during the glory days of the church. Such money and power. Staggering.
But it wasn’t always a center of religious life. It was an art school for about a 100 years…now a major tourist destination. The big buses roll up on a constant basis and tours swarm the venue.
The other destination to check out is the National Carriage Museum located in the former stables of the Royal Palace. Those horses had it really good. The building is ornate and gorgeous. So are the various coaches, carriages, landaus, and carts for going around the garden, liters and children’s wagons—all on display.
As always, the differences between my husband and my interests are readily apparent. He immediately zeroed in on the suspension systems of the vehicles and I was totally absorbed with the shapes, decors, fabrics and imagining the royally dressed folks riding about in their fancy vehicles.
He said, “Riding in these coaches had to be really uncomfortable. Hard wheels. Suspensions were basically leather straps. Turntable steering.” But they looked great. Elegant. Regal. Wealthy.
We learned that the French Revolution had an impact on the transportation of the wealthy in Portugal. When they couldn’t get carriages from France, they were forced to look to England. It was a good thing. England had a better suspension system allowing for a better and more comfortable ride.
Meandering around this museum was such a kick. I especially enjoyed seeing the coach from Italy—clearly the “Las Vegas” version. Whew. Gobs of Gilt.
The guide books all say that the National Museum of Coaches is one of the best collections of its type in the world. It was interesting to see that the coaches and carriages were not only a mode of transportation, but also a means of proclaiming wealth and taste.
Some things never change.
For more photos of these two venues, go to Facebook DesignDestination page photo albums.