Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaca - Alcobaca Monastery

Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaca or the Alcobaca Monastery dominates the surroundings. There is enough open space on all three sides to really appreciate the gigantic Church and monastery. The scale and form are a true architectural wonder. Cannot even imagine that this structure has been built in 1153 AD. It was founded by the first Portuguese King Afonso Henriques. 
It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It was the first church to be built in early Gothic style. Subsequently different styles were added to it. The church is 106 m long, 17 m wide, and internal height of 20 m. Because of these dimensions, Alcobaca Monastery is the largest Churches in Portugal, even to date.
Window detail on bell tower and the plan showing the layout of the Alcobaca church and Monstery
Main entrance to the church and main entrance to Monastery
It was the first time I had seen a real Gothic church built during that period. The size and grandeur took my breath away.
Main entrance door
Corinthian column capitals in Bell tower
Huge chimney in the kitchen
Stone table for preparation of food in the kitchen
Plumbing system in the kitchen, Inlet and outlet
Dormitory on the first floor
Fountain house and the courtyard
Courtyard with cloister around it
Dome over main chapel
Main chapel
Base of cluster columns in the Church and the central nave
Tomb of King Pedro and Inez de Castro
Chapter house and Manueline doorway to Sacristy

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Alcobaca - A quaint town in Portugal

 Obidos, Alcobaca, Beltalha, and Leiria  are all close to each other. So, we decided to find a central location to stay and visit these places. As per the location and budget, we booked inot Hostel of Alcobaca. It was for 3 nights. During those three days, we went in and out of Alcobaca a few times. The area near the Monastery is the old town and the rest away from it is relatively newer.
There is a huge square in front of the monastery, lined by bakeries, resaurants, banks and other tourist attractions. Jo is peeping from behind the sculpture here.
 River Alcobaca passes through the town. Quaint bridges over it to go across.
It is a quiet town, at least the old part of the town, which suited us best. Few cars or vehicles were plying on these roads. The curving roads paved with cobble stones, and two or three storied buildings lining them is a treat to watch.
One can see that some of the buildings are vacant and are in need of urgent repairs. They are very well proportioned with beautiful windows and doorways.
Some buildings are well maintained as well. There is contrasting architectural styles of the old and new structures. They stand side by side and somehow there is a harmony in spite of the difference in styles and periods they were built in.Close to the bus stand and in the centre of the town square is a huge park where there are benches, lawns and exercise equipment id installed. The town people can get their daily exercise on the way to or from work, if they so desire. I found it totally motivating!
The bus stand is centrally located and we could walk to the hostel with our luggage quite easily. We noticed that there is good bus connectivity to other towns from Alcobaca. There are parks, squares, educational buildings, and commercial complexes in Alcobaca. This place is ideal for those who want peace and be away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. We loved it for the same reasons.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Literary Man Obidos Hotel Or Book lovers' paradise

Walking down the Rua de Dom Joao de Ornelas, we found a Unique name plate, 'The Literary Man Obidos Hotel'. Jo, my husband was intrigued by the name. He said that he wanted to check it out on our back. So we did. We were in for a surprise, as it turned out to be one of the pleasantest experiences of our trip to Obidos. we fell in love with it instantly.

In 'The Literary Man', as you can see the letter M is tilted at an angle; could it mean that the a person with a literary bent of mind is slightly different? Whether right or not, I liked it... 
It is a book store and it is a hotel. It was a convent during 18th and 19th centuries, according to the hotel staff, a courteous, helpful and pretty young lady, who was doing the registrations, managing billings, holding the reception, serving tea, and taking care of guests. I am impressed with her! A couple of years ago, it was converted into a hotel. The building is a solid stone construction with timber roofs. 
There were books everywhere, in the lobby, the Lounge cum Dining area, the Gin bar, the guest rooms, in the kitchen, and the our door seating area too.You can buy them or read them there. It is truly book lovers' paradise! 
Wait until you go to the night club or Bar. It is covered with books from floor to ceiling, two floors high. Imagine getting drunk on words, said Jo.

There is a separate entrance to the night club / bar on the left of the main entrance.
Wooden crates converted to outdoor furniture, lining the street outside the Hotel. The building sits on a sloping site. Anywhere you sit, you get a wonderful vista. One can read the books here too, and when you leave, leave them behind on the tales.
The lobby with the books lined up on the walls. The book shelves is a new addition as part of the renovation
The Lounge area near the fireplace
The dining area looking towards the lobby
The dining room cum Lounge with the new ceiling
Books were being donated by different countries we were told. They are in several languages too. Surrounded by subtle music and browsing through our favourite books, sipping our coffees and teas, to us it was soul soothing experience. If you love books, and in Obidos, don't miss this wonderful opportunity of visiting The Literary man Obidos  Hotel. Better if you can stay a night in the hotel.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Other attractions of Obidos, Portugal

Our host at Ericeira, Mr. Jose was kind enough to drop us off at Torres Vedres railway station. From there we took the train to Obidos. It took just 50 min.
I had traveled extensively by trains, but this train journey was unique. To start with the train had only two bogies, other than the engine. Never traveled by such a small / short train. Next, it was a very short stop; and the train left the station right away. The station was a quaint little building, not more than two rooms.

 The railway station was closed, with a lock on the door. That meant there was no one to ask the directions. No transport outside the station; nothing. It was totally quiet ....
We were in a dilemma. Where to go, in fact how to go from there to Obidos castle? The network signal was weak, so could not find our bearings either. We picked up our bags and started walking in the only direction the road lead. Came to an intersection and waited for human movement. Every 5 or 10 min, one car would pass by. Jo refused to ask for directions. We could see wall walls which looked like they might belong to the castle. The road bifurcated into two; one seemed to lead towards the castle. Jo elected to walk in the direction of the castle.The issue was that this road was totally uphill. Either made was for automobiles or as a short cut to reach the top, meaning they did not bother if it was steep!! Imagine my mood as I had to lug two bags and climb the hill after a train journey! Not pretty at all. What was strange was that we did not come across any tourists, travelers on this road, as we kept climbing and some more climbing. Finally reached the North gate or Porte da Notre-Dame de Grace. Happy to know that we were on the right track! The railway station is locted on the North western side of Obidos, meaning, behind the castle. No wonder we were totally lost! 
The walled city or the city inside the walls supposedly established around the beginning of the 6th century, has labyrinth of cobble stone paved alleys and paths. the main street has tourist shops and cafes lining it on either side. There is a whole town inside the castle walls; people are living there.
The quaint entrance doors, windows, the awnings, brightly painted walls, the flower pots hung from the walls, add to the charm and tranquility to the town of Obidos. It is postcard picturesque.
Since the town is perched on top of the hill, the streets are all up and down; make for interesting architecture....
Santa Maria church on the square
Traditional and medieval buildings with interesting roofs sprinkled all over the town
It was season for ripe lemons. All the trees were bursting with hundreds of them.
We loved walking around the town, taking in the views, appreciating the architecture.
In the front yard of this house, the tables had old sewing machine stands for legs! Recycle, reuse!
One can easily spend a full day walking around the town or just lazing around in the cafes or taking in the beautiful views of the surrounding country! Best reserved medieval town and well maintained! Jo and I had a wonderful time and at the end of it, we headed to the bus stand to await the bus to Alcobaca.

Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaca - Alcobaca Monastery

Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaca or the Alcobaca Monastery dominates the surroundings. There is enough open space on all three sides ...