On Saturday, we visited the Placio Nacional de Queluz, an 18th century palace with formal gardens to match.
Walking into the first room of the palace and then looking at the gardens afterwards, I was reminded of the Chateau de Versailles. From there, after dropping me back at the hotel to deal with an upset stomach, Kathy and Becca continued on to Sintra and its neighboring villages.
The writer Jose Saramago rightly describes the Palacio Nacional de Sintra as a “building whose individual components are characterized by fantasy, insensibility, bad taste and improvisation” with “the romantic excess of the exterior” not deserving “the bourgeois excess of the interior.”
From Sintra, Kathy and Becca drove along the coast to Cabo da Roca, with its spectacular views of the coast. They traveled through resort towns and upscale fishing villages. Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of all continental
The next day, a Sunday, we headed out to
The esplanade at
On one side of the square is the Capela das Aparicoes, a simple building next to the oak three where Mary appeared. All that exists in the building is a simple altar surrounded on three sides with an aisle, where people who are taking vows to say the rosary on a regular basis move on their knees from one end to the other, and plain benches on which to sit and pray. To the left of the Capela das Aparicoes is a place of where large, five foot candles, can be bought and lit in honor of Mary. On the right of the esplanade is another small chapel, the Perpetual Adoration Chapel, where the host is continually exposed so that people can gather before it in silence and prayer.
But the largest building on the site is the basilica, which was begun in 1928 and finished in 1953. Mass was going on while we were there, so we only got to see a few of the fifteen altars it contains. The sanctuary itself didn’t impress me much, although I did enjoy the stained glass windows at the very top of the basilica walls. On the right side of the basilica are the stations of the cross, done in mosaic and reflecting a much more modern sense than is actually true. And of course, behind the basilica is a huge gift shop, where you can buy religious statues, rosaries, and just about any other kind of Catholic paraphernalia you could think of. Seeing it all, one wonders how many tears Mary has wept on behalf of the poor as the money was used to build this site. Or, as Saramago summarizes the area, “only faith can save
We left the formal site of Fatima, drove past statues of the three children watching over their sheep, and went to the much, much poorer area of
As we were looking at the statue of the angel’s appearance that’s been put in one of the fields that Lucia’s family owned, Joachim also gave us a lesson on cork trees and how cork is made. Somehow this struck me as much more satisfying than what I’d learned about
From Fatima we headed in the direction of Obidos, the place I most wanted to see in
We all enjoyed both the church and the small square outside with its shops and sat in the square, enjoying a few of