You remember lovely Rita? Not the meter maid, but the excellent tour guide who showed us around her beautiful city, Braga. When I was deciding where to stay, I thought about being outside the city and staying close by Bom Jesus do Monte. The prospect of waking up there in mornings full of birdsong was very appealing. But I wanted very much to watch a couple of the Easter processions, and returning to Bom Jesus late in the evening might not have been so desirable. And so we stayed close by the cathedral, and saved the Sanctuary for our last day in the city. And this is where Rita comes into the picture. She suggested that we might take a very pleasant walk along the river, following the signs for Bom Jesus, approximately 5 kilometres away. Sounds like the sort of thing Restlessjo would enjoy? Absolutely! For now we’ll ignore the fact that the Sanctuary stands on the summit of a very high hill.
There was very convenient parking for the car beside the river Este. What could be better? A whole different and beautifully relaxed outlook on a busy city. We crossed and recrossed the river, enjoying the reflections in the water and our ever changing surrounds. A tiny chapel with beautiful doors and a froth of ferns inside. Homes for stray cats. Allotment gardens, street art and azulejo panels.
It’s not very wide but the Este gurgles along happily, irrespective of football heroes adorning the walls and willows dangling in the water. The university campus accounts for the many sports activities on display, and we are regularly passed by joggers and cyclists.
A cluster of bright irises catch the light, and picnic benches loiter in the shade. We part company with the river and its clear signage, and wonder which way next. But there is only one way it seems. Upwards, following the road. Bus stops antagonise, with never a trace of a bus. We wouldn’t! Would we? Well, perhaps, if one just happened to roll to a standstill beside us… but temptation is never presented. I encourage the other half with the thought that a funicular can carry us those last crucial metres. And so it does!
And we look down on this amazing panorama of the city, spread before us. Surely we didn’t walk all that way? I am enchanted with the dark red camellia that blossom everywhere, and the magnificent swathe of wisteria. I had not expected that Spring would be so colourful in the north of Portugal.
The statues seem to point the way to the church and before it gets too busy we decide to venture inside. It is very beautiful, and the altar is like nothing I have ever seen, full of figures accompanying Jesus.
Out into the sunshine again, the gardens are equally dazzling, with grottoes, pools and beautifully trimmed parterres. We wander amongst them for a while, and then are drawn to a terrace with views down over the garden.
An icecream, gazing out over the city, prepares us for the journey back down. The more conventional way, via the steps. Commissioned in 1723, it took 60 years to complete the stairway at Bom Jesus do Monte. It is a pilgrimage site, Golgotha of Jerusalem on a grand Baroque scale. Each of the stairway landings has a fountain- the first symbolising the wounds of Christ, the next five, the senses, and the final three, the virtues. At each corner, chapels contain larger than life wooden tableaux of the life of Christ, leading finally to the Crucifiction at the altar of the church. Neoclassical in style, this was constructed between 1784 and1857 by architect Carlos Amarante.
It’s an impressive piece of work and we take our time, and then descend steadily through the wooded slopes.
He’s smiling, but we were actually quite tired by the time we had retraced our steps back to the city. And we never did see a bus!
Isn’t it strange that this wild extravagance of architecture was recreated years later at Lamego, in the Douro? It was on my itinerary, of course. And we certainly earned the cake.
Starting at home with an appreciative Sarah again this week :
A lighthouse and a lot of steps kept Teresa out of mischief for a while :
The gentle passage of time, in Paris, with Drake :
Terri says it with flowers :
Rosemay explains a little about the weather patterns in SW Australia :
At the other end of Australia, Carol instructs us on mangroves :
Still in Oz, Mel leads the way!
You’d have to agree that South Carolina is rather beautiful too. Thanks, Alice!
Yay, Sharon’s ‘bagged’ another Wainwright!
Starting where we finished, with Sarah, but the venue’s different :
Where next? Not Lamego, just yet, but to a small town on the Rio Tamega, Amarante. I look forward to showing you around.