воскресенье, 27 марта 2016 г.

Queues and umbrellas. Belém, 1.11.15

Last time I left you near the painting called "Man Playing Snooker and Thinking of Other Things". Unfortunately, nobody tried to solve the riddle. But hey, don't tell me that the part about the snooker is unguessable. If you have ever seen the game, you have an approximate notion of the colors of the balls and their meaning. Where else can you meet the set of circles colored that way?

In the Berardo Collection Museum we saw one more thing which is worth mentioning. The temporary exhibition featured movie "The Secret Agent" presented in a very unusual way. Several screens are used. They work synchronously showing the same episode of the movie but not the same frames. Each screen allows us to see the scene from a new viewpoint. Just imagine, you are standing between two large screens, each of which shows a person looking ahead, presumably at the opposite screen. Actually, these are two interlocutors talking to each other while you are standing between them feeling how their glances run through you. No virtual reality headsets, no holograms, nothing else related to the last word in technology, nothing but six screens and skillful cameraman can put you "inside" the film.    

I realized that what I like in such museums as Museu Coleção Berardo, is that even if you don't feel any attraction to nine exhibits out of ten there (just like I didn't), the tenth display turns out to be a wonderful source of inspiration. However, after wandering in the museum for some time, you gain everything what you can from its riches. So did we. 

It was time to explore the most famous Belém landmarks, Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém. We went outdoors. The weather was... guess what? Yup, it was still raining.

Do you remember this photo from the second-to-last post? 

Let's take another look at the tower.

That was how we decided not to visit Torre de Belém. We don't enjoy rain so much to stand in a line in such weather.

Turn around. Jerónimos Monastery looks lonely from a distance. 

Believe me, it's, actually, in a good company of umbrellaed tourists :) That's how we decided not to enter the second of the most attractive Belém sights either and went back to the center of Lisbon. There was a lot of places that we planned to visit, that's why wasting time in queues wasn't a great idea.

Do we feel disappointed about not seeing things which, probably, deserved attention the most? On the one hand, yes. On the other hand, such bad luck gave cause for coming back to Lisbon some day in the future on the way to the main destination. To Sintra, of course.

воскресенье, 20 марта 2016 г.

Drizzly weather, museums' best friend (1.11.15)

First November morning was rainy. We headed to Belém hoping that the weather would ameliorate soon. When we got off the bus, it still wasn't fine, so we decided to start exploring the southwesternmost part of Lisbon by visiting the museums.

The Navy Museum comprises two large areas. The first one is full of scale models of Portuguese ships as well as of various attributes of navigation belonging to different epochs. My first perception was that the museum exposition is interesting. However, soon it appeared to be monotonous and thus boring. I suppose that those who are fond of maritime things would state the contrary, but we don't belong to them.

The displays located in the second building are much more attractive for the average tourists like us. This is no surprise. No matter how great are the models, originals are always better.

In the same room you can find a couple of early Portuguese aircrafts.

As a short summary, I'd say that the second part of the Navy Museum is worth visiting, while the first one should be turned into much more entertaining one. I'm sure, it can be.

After leaving the museum, we rushed for the next one since it was still raining. I'm not a big fan of modern art, that's why I didn't expect much of the Berardo Collection Museum. Most of the exhibits proved my expectations to be true. Still I found several striking displays.

Have you noticed eighteen striking displays on the photo above? ;) Oh well, just kidding.

What about the car coming out of the wall? Don't you find the concept great?

Below you can see one of the eleven known examples of Salvador Dali's "Aphrodisiac Telephone". Moments before I made this photo, I admitted (probably, for the first time in my life) that surrealism can be amazing!

This poster reminded me of a task my classmates and I got in the 4th grade (almost eleven years ago!). The teacher asked each of us to create an interactive three-dimensional theatrical scene from an ordinary box. Scissors, paste and paint were our only instruments, threads, multicolored paper and a box itself - our only materials. My mom created a beautiful work depicting an episode of "The Little Prince". Just an hour ago she assured me that I also took an active part in drawing the background, i.e. the stage set. I don't remember that detail at all, but let it be so :)

In conclusion, I'd like to pose you a riddle. What is the title of the artwork below? ;)

Well, I don't expect you to guess the exact name. Just try to surmise what words does it contain. No googling and other cheating (e.g. visiting the museum), of course! All the necessary information is on the photo. Your conjectures are welcome in the comments.

Next week I will reveal the title and will offer you to continue following us in Belém as well as in the other corners of Portugal's capital. Stay tuned!

воскресенье, 13 марта 2016 г.

Lisbon sights from the outside

What can be better than to look at the fascinating architectural and sculptural masterpieces while enjoying fresh air? We have such an opportunity not always and not everywhere. However, it is possible in Lisbon, so it would be weird to miss that occasion. Here is what we had time to see.

In most Western European cities which I visited, the cathedral is the most impressive building. It is not the case for Lisbon.

Sé de Lisboa looks dull. Moreover, it's difficult to find a good spot to scrutinize it for a while without being distracted. Where else have you encountered traffic just in front of a cathedral? Where is the large square crowded by tourists and flooded by pigeons, I wonder? There is always one in front of the main city church. All in all, it is disappointing (especially if you start sightseeing from this landmark assuming that the cathedral is the cultural center of every city. Luckily, we didn't do that), isn't it?..

Cheer up! Get a bus to the southwesternmost civil parish of Lisbon called Belém. Take a look at fifty-two meters high Monument of Discoveries. Great seafarers lead by Henry the Navigator (who had never sailed, actually, but was one of key figures during the Age of Discoveries) look into the distance, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan and Bartolomeu Dias are among them. Persons of the same epoch but different occupations accompany the sailors. You can see a painter, a mathematician and even a poet there. The latter is the greatest Portugal's maker of verses, Luís de Camões. In his epic work "The Lusiads", which brought glory to him, he celebrated the navigations.   

It's funny to admit that being in Belém and staying in front of the Monument I paid attention only to the shape of a cross formed by the prominent part of the masterpiece. I realized that there is a sword above the cross only when I was looking through my photos a week after, having already returned from Portugal. 

In order to uphold a tradition, I should share a music video featuring the Monument of Discoveries with you. Do you remember another one (showing how a man descends the Initiation Well in Quinta da Regaleira) several posts ago? After that, I found one more music video filmed in the same park. I haven't tried searching for the videos shooted in the places, that I have visited (or I'm going to visit), before. I think, in the future I'll do it each time I'll go abroad. 

Well, let's turn back to the main topic and imagine ourselves near the Monument of Discoveries again.

Walk a bit along the Tagus river. The next landmark is unlike anything I've seen before. The Bélem Tower, which construction dates back to the first quarter of the XVI century, stands on a small island. That island is imperceptible against the background of the tower, that's why the stronghold seems to be rising out of water. The "inverse tower", its reflection, makes the whole picture incredible!

Stroll along the river towards the city center and you'll encounter more wonders.

Well, sunset is not proprietary to Lisbon but I can't avoid including it here. By the way, that "column" on the opposite bank is 28 meters high (not including 82 meters pedestal) statue of Christ the King. Its elder brother, Christ the Redeemer, rises above Rio de Janeiro.

Praça do Comércio, lying just behind, features a couple more intriguing details.

What are those columns doing there? We were not lucky enough to see where they actually stand but later I managed to google the answer

Now turn around.

Try to guess, whom you will see on the left side of the pedestal.

Walk around the monument slowly...

I assume, your answer was not "an elephant" ;) Books tell us that this creature represents the Portuguese empire's colonies in India and Africa.

Don't think that Lisbon landmarks which are worth seeing are all situated along Tagus. Even the path from Rossio metro station to Rossio railway station (no tricks: they not only seem to be located near each other, one is actually separated from another by just 200 meters) has enough attractions to make you miss your train.


Preparing for the journey, I focused primarily on museums and churches. What else should you pay attention to in such situation? Anyway, you can't be prepared either to street art...

.. or to modern architecture, which is not usually considered as a masterpiece, though it can be great.

Being unprepared that way is fine, just prefer walking to using the transport and don't forget to gaze around. Explore the whole city but not only the places corresponding to the markers on the map. 

To conclude, let's switch back to the "classical" places of interests. The Carmo Convent reminds us of the horrifying 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of those who reconstructed nearly demolished city, there is almost no traces of nature's violence left in Lisbon. Here is the one, the most popular among tourists.

The other notable detail about the Convent is that we simultaneously see both its exterior and interior parts. So, that sight serves as a linkage between this post and the next one, in which I'll invite you to follow us inside Lisbon's landmarks. 

воскресенье, 6 марта 2016 г.

The face of Lisbon (30.10-3.11.15)

Even though you can find many places of interest in the capital of Portugal, they are not what stayed in my memory as distinctive features of that city. If so, then what are they?

Lisbon is also known as the City of Seven Hills (yes, Rome is not a unique city to be called that way, see this link for reference). In contrast to many other cities having the same nickname, Portuguese capital makes your feet to feel that it deserves to be called so. It seems that literally every second street is inclined. Often what is called a street is just a paved slope. Sometimes streets turn into stairs (or streets with footsteps, whatever name you prefer). What is more, there is no single direction in which all (or, at least, most) of the streets ascend. First street leads you up, walking along the next one you go down, and 5 minutes later you don't even know for sure whether you are higher or lower than you initially were. An attempt to get to some specific place walking strictly upslope fails miserably - proved by the last evening walk. An ordinary stroll becomes a mocking adventure if you don't have the map with you and try to turn off the familiar streets. But don't be pessimistic about that, this city is a great place to exercise your feet ;)

Unusual landscape causes the emergence of the uncommon modes of transport like the funicular on the photo below.

As you see, vehicles here don't have an attractive appearance (the way how that funicular looks from the outside can be generalized to other modes of transport). Surprisingly, when you get on the train or the subway car, you find it clean and modern inside. Portuguese take care primarily of what matters the most, i.e. of your comfort during the trip but not of the visual appearance of a vehicle.

Along with ordinary trams going along the flat streets, ordinary buses providing an unforgettable experience of jumping on the seat for those who sit in the end of the cabin (that happens due to the city roads specifics described in the second paragraph. Buses, however, are great and would be considered as very comfortable in most of the cities around the world but not here), trains and funiculars, there are also ferries, and even cable cars which join Vasco da Gama tower and the oceanarium.

However, the most interesting type of transport here is... subway. What makes it extraordinary?

  • Have you ever had to run along the platform because the train hadn't enough cars to cover its length? In Russia it sometimes happens on railway stations. Now imagine a short underground train and subway passengers running along the platform. Congratulations, you have just imagined Lisbon metro :) They even provide indicator boards with the number of cars in the approaching train to help passengers not to run too much.
  • Each Lisbon metro station is beautiful in its own way. Among all subways which I've already seen, probably, only Kazan metro can be called as splendid as that colorful artwork laying under the seven hills of Lisbon.

But don't think that all of the Lisbon beauties are hidden underground! Walk down the street and take a look underfoot. These pavements are amazing, aren't they? Moreover, they are so different! I guess, several dozens of various patterns can be found on the pavements throughout the city.

Even floors of certain shops look like ornamented pavements. More precisely, those shops just don't have floors in a regular sense, pavements serve as floors there instead.  

Finally, look what wonderful creatures await you in front of the oceanarium!


Now scrutinize the walls of ordinary houses. Nearly half of them is decorated with azulejos, Portuguese painted glazed tiles. Wanna live inside an artwork?)

Admiring the pavements and the azulejos, try to reach one of the many miradouros (viewpoints) and to take a look at the riverside part of the city from above.

Try to locate the points of interest. We'll examine them (and much more) closely in the next posts.