Portugal: an introduction

Destinations like Spain, Italy or France may be on top of the list, however in Europe we go for Portugal! The main reason is its melancholic beauty; it may sound like a cliché however there’s something sad and reserved about this beauty. First of all, Lisbon is a city that appeals to your aesthetic senses, its being founded on hills gives her a beautiful perspective, the well preserved old city of Alfama, with its cobble stone narrow streets to ceramic walled houses is elegant. You may spend...

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Fado in Alfama

Numerous red tile roofs under the sky, roofs large or small, short or tall; trams which go up and down the hill, and the ripple of a river seen through the canopy of these roofs. Alfama, which comes from the word “al hammam” in Arabic, is the name of the old town in Lisbon. It is a medieval place that was built in a valley between São Jorge Castle and the Tejo River. It was the residence of the monarchy until the 16th century and is a city which has existed since the Arabic reign. You may...

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Statues of Explorers: Explorers Who Head from the Riverside to Unknown Oceans...

Portugal has always had a distinguishing interest in discovery and journeys to the unknown. Underlying the power which this small country attained in the 15th and 16th centuries was this curiosity. This is also why Lisbon is called a melancholic city. People who sailed to undiscovered places departed from here: the city has a melancholic aura due to the numerous stories of those who sailed away, but never returned. The sound of Fado songs echoing in the city expresses the longing for the ones...

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A day trip to Cabo de Roca and Sintra, the misty town

A nice place to visit just about an hour away from Lisbon. Cabo de Roca is the place where the old world ends and the new world begins. Located on top of the hill by the ocean it shouts in your face that Europe, the old continent, now comes to an end and that another world begins onwards with an enormous ocean: herein the Europe ends and we are now in the spot where the Atlantic Ocean begins. We then leave the farthest Western point of Europe and heading to Sintra, this road is like a movie...

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Evora, where time stands still

We were meant to go to Evora. Our days in Portugal, without plans, schedules or lists ended; we spent them as we liked, without calculating the hours or days and there was no time left to visit Evora which we were planning to see. The day we would check out the hotel, with luggage in our hands, the phone rang; it was the airline calling us to inform that the flight was cancelled due to heavy snow in Istanbul, and we were staying one more night! We went straightly to the bus station and took...

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Cities of River, Porto

The strategic location of this Portuguese city which was built over the Douro River helped its development. Porto, which means ‘port’ in Portuguese, had played a significant role in trade. In the 14th century, the close relationship between the Portuguese and the British royal families was strengthened by a marriage that led to a military alliance. In the 18th century, the United Kingdom sought to monopolise the wine production in Porto after a disagreement with France. Perhaps winemaking...

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A day in Porto: Casa da Música and The Park and the Museum of Serralves

In Porto, this “house of music” in word-for-word translation, is the biggest concert hall which is now a symbol of the city. It was designed by the famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhas: It looks like an enormous diamond gem dropped out of space... When we visited this building that can also be toured with a tourist guide, we saw the orchestra through the sound-proof glass, but we did not hear anything at all. These auditoriums which have perfect acoustics are the home of the orchestras of the...

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From Trade to Art: Berardo Museum

If you visit Belem to see the famous abbey and the statue of the explorers, you might as well tour the Berardo Museum; you will find a collection there that is mostly dedicated to contemporary art. It is also possible to view American and European pieces of some famous artists like Duchamp and Magritte… The collection belongs to the Portuguese collector José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo who is the namesake of the museum. We find out that as expected, every collector makes a fortune in the mining...

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From trade to art: Gulbenkian Museum

One of the museums in Lisbon that you can visit has a story which has a connection to our home country. The Gulbenkian Museum is a small cultural center which contains predominantly ancient art works in a building located in a big park. It has auditoriums, a library, and a conference hall. It has an architecture style like those in communist countries. The museum hosts nearly more than 1000 art pieces; from Ancient Greek and Roman pieces, the Near Eastern-Eygptian, Mesopotomian, Armenian, and...

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Portuguese wall ceramics

Both in Lisbon and Porto in the old town most of the buildings are covered with ceramics, these are painted stones that cover both the exteriors and interiors of the buildings, and apart from decoration purposes, also serve for controlling the temperature. The Portuguese took this technique from the Arabs (the word ‘zellige’ in Arabic is used to define this technique), the Arabs took it from the Romans. In Spain, especially in Andalusia, in places where the Arab heritage is well preserved...

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A name identified with the melancholy of Lisbon: Fernando Pessoa

What makes Lisbon so special? What makes its ‘sui generis’ atmosphere, its ‘distant’ mood from other European capitals? Why does it look like it belongs to some other world? What comes to your mind when you think of this small but ‘intense’ place? The slow rhythm of a tram appearing suddenly on a narrow street, the roofs that look as if they stand on top of one another, the reserved mood of the locals sitting in cafés, the bitter colour of the river or the verses of the poet who is...

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