625 – Saturday 11th February 2017: Fatima and Rugby
Brought up as a staunch Catholic, I still hold lots of beliefs that are not easily explained logically or scientifically – a good friend (sadly deceased) strong Catholic became an agnostic because he (as a scientist) could not reconcile his science to religion. We had been to Lisieux in France and were disappointed – the place is dirty and unkept – why – the shrine to St Therese?
Fatima is immaculate and huge – the square rivals St Peters in Rome – the white Basilica is sympathetic and dates from 1953. The new church at the end of a wide colonnade seats 9,000 worshippers and was completed in 2007. Watching the faithful light candles at the scene of one of the apparitions and the believers making their way on their knees hundreds of metres to the shrine – we couldn’t but be impressed – there are strong beliefs here… People are obviously taken by the fact that 3 small children were at the heart of all this. 2 died at the ages of 9 and 10 and the third died age 97 in 2005. Well worth the visit, whatever one’s creed.
Well, it does me good to say that Ireland woke up at rugby today and scored 9 tries in Rome – I feel sorry for Conor O’Shea and Italy – but he has a longer term plan – oh dear, it had to come out “Rome wasn’t built in a day”…
(By the way, England won, also.)
The Sanctuary with its 65m tower.
And the esplanade twice the size of St Peter’s Square in Rome. And we saw pictures of it packed, especially on 12 & 13th May and October when pilgrims arrive to commemorate the Shepherd children’s sightings of the Virgin and an angel. We watched people slowly make their way down the marble path to the right of the pic on their knees.
The windows tell the tale of the sightings.
All three of the Shepherd Children are burried here, the two girls together.
An inferno melting the several tons of candle offerings on the site of one of the sightings.
626 – Sunday 12th February: Dinosaurs, Knights Templar and a Monastery
To cut to the chase – we have seen Dinosaur footprints from – yes believe it – 175 million years ago – even before Bruce Forsythe was born!!! The site proves that America was once joined to Europe. The staff were amazing (as usual in Portugal) and so informative in perfect English. It rained – but we were prepared for that. These beasties were up to 30 metres long and weighed in at 70 tonnes – 17 times the weight of Jez – even without our wine!
Monumental Natural das Pegadas dos Dinossaurios: The site was a quarry and the excavations were deep … all those layers of subsequent rock.
You can make out some of the tracks here – one was 175m There are several which proves that these sauropod herbivores travelled as a pack. The enthusiastic attendant spoke really good English and explained that the site had very rare conditions: it was a lagoon with no tidal water to erase the prints. The muddy water contained calcium carbonate which created a crust over the prints and protected them. They helped to prove tectonic plate theory, that Europe was once attached to America. Interestingly this place gets only a few lines in one of the guide books … the attendant said that people from Fatima do not promote it as it science and contradicts religious belief. Surely there is room for both.
Up close you could make out the toes.
On to Tomar – free parking by the river for overnight, we walked up to the Castle and Convent – Oscar with us – we had left him in the van twice in the last couple of days. We took turns for the visit – huge and hugely impressive convent/monastery – Knights Templar originally – immense structures and the K photos tell a a lot. Back to our Jez and more of Tomar planned for tomorrow …
Oscar’s pre-next diary note: (We were not allowed to read this before publishing.)
“Look here – see – they left me twice in 2 days – now boyos (Welsh, you see) – I cannot admit to them that I’m getting used to it – that would be madness. But, I am developing my routines – I arrange things as I like them – ok pulling their coats off the hooks was a bit of a boo boo – they should buy proper gloo gloo – but it sniffed well – made me feel a high. The hooks can be reused… I straighten the rugs (my way) and make nice imprints (I think) on the dashboard – art,it is… When I saw them returning yesterday, I showed my usual extruderance and leaped up at the window (they like to know I missed them). I saw a switch thing and put my paw on it – and ‘hocus pokeus’, it opened the blinking window! They praised my K9 endeavours – so next time, I may try the cooker controls – not sure about the spark switch – I haven’t been trained in Fire Extinguisher usage – I suppose you pull the plug and point it somewhere?”
“I wasn’t going to mention but – K arose from her slumbers – at 10:00 am this morning – standards Katherine, you know…. slippage may not be toiletrated!”
The Knight’s Templar on the pavements.
No idea of the size of the complex from this angle. The C12 castle contains the Convento de Cristo – the headquarters of the Knights Templar. The Knights were founded in 1119 to protect pilgrims visit ing the Holy Land. They became a strictly organised and semi religious gang. Members took a vow of poverty, but that did not stop them accepting land and riches in return for military victories. In Portugal they played a key part in expelling the Moors. By the C14 they had become so strong that the French and Portuguese Kings disbanded the order. However, the Portuguese King reinstated them under a different name and his control. They pretty much funded the Age of Discoveries started under Henry the Navigator.
An exhibition about medicine and its development within monasteries.
Sorry about the number of pix … I have got keen on the Manueline architecture … last years it was the Scilian Baroque!
Just love all those curves.
One of the main sights is the C12 Charola: based on the Rotonda of Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre, with a central octagon of alters. It is said that the circular design enabled the Knights to attend mass on horseback.
The longest dormitary, I’ve ever seen. Doors off on either side for Friars’ cells.
The Manueline window.
From the roof of one of the cloisters … think I counted 5 cloisters.
627 – Monday 13th February: Tomar-2-Not-2-Be and Batalha
Hard and noisy rain overnight – not conducive to continuous sleeping… However, out to run early-ish. K and O ran 4km (and got wet) and I – a lot less (in the dry) – but, we are getting back into it. We had intended seeing more of Tomar, but a security guard at our (market) parking advised us that we needed to leave in a couple of hours – so up “we rose and twitched our mantle blew – to fresh pastures new” – Lycidas by John Milton – abridged.
Batalha the destination – another monastery to view. Sadly, we left our alarmed dog – Oscar. As we exited the van, we heard him mutter “What’s with these people and blankety monasteries, anyway? They’re all the same – towers, pinnacles, colonnades, promenades, rosy posy windows and gargoyles! The face of a monkey spouting out rainy water over your head – exciting or what? I can spout water on them from my drinking bowl, if that’s what turns them on…”
It was very different, Oscar. Manuelian, Gothic, unfinished chapel, tomb of the unknown soldiers and just hugely impressive.
In the afternoon, we rested and did some admin – and K planning for the next adventures – and no rain – sunshine, we hope!
Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Vitoria, built to commemorate the 1385 battle Aljubarrota when 6,500 Portuguese defied the odds and repelled the 30,000 strong Spanish army. Thus securing the Portuguese throne for the House of Avis, through Dom Joao, the illegitimate son of Fernando I. It has an instant wow factor with its flying buttresses, pinnacles and ornate windows and doorways. On the left is the Capelas Imperfeitas, the unfinished chapel, commissioned in 1437 – huge columns head skyward. It was abandoned in favour of Jeronimos monastery in Belem. Joao I and his wife Philippa of Lancaster are buried here, as are their 4 sons, including Henry the Navigator.
The Unfinished Chapel – more Manueline Architecture.
Much of the stained glass inside the Church was replaced after the 1755 earthquake, but the sun came out … finally.
This glass is original and was developmental from mid C14.
The Royal Cloisters have the most amazing Gothic arches embellished with …. Manueline tracery.
In the Chapter House lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers form the First World War.
Limited off lead walking for O, but we did find the Ponte da Boutaca 1862 with its 4 empty towers.