Monday, November 20 I attacked the Serra da Lousa medium mountain cut by cultivated valleys but alas recurrent victim of summer fires, again this year, whose stigmas are visible. I stopped in two villages: The first Figueiró dos Vinhos to admire the always expressive azulejos including the two Saint John the Baptist. The scene of beheading reminded me the Richard Strauss' opera Salome and more particularly the dance of the sails, prelude to the taking off of John the Baptist by order of King Herod following his libidinous fantasies. Then Castanheira de Pêra for the extraordinary garden and Casa da Criança (Children's House) with a azulejo of loves dancing. I bivouacked on a parking at the bottom of the church.
On Tuesday, November 21 I left Castanheira de Pêra to traverse the en236 to the peak of the farm of wind mills where, obviously, I met a strong wind to take the picture of the swing at approximately 1050 m of altitude. I thought naively of finding a bivouac idyllic, que nenni, either too much wind or a dense forest of thorn-bush without visibility nor sun to heat me and feed the solar panels. I continued my way via Candal a thin village of shepherds fixed on the slope of Serra da Lousã then the view-point of Nossa Senhora da Piedade finally I arrived around midday after 45 km in search of a parking place, on a waste ground.
The old city of Coimbra is built on the Alcáçova hill whose access is carried out by a tangle of lanes and staircases, oh it! I spent five hours to traverse it according to the N°1 tour by the Green Guide. Alas I did not visit by all the monuments proposed selecting most remarkable of the medieval city. It was initially Igreja de São Tiago of Roman style whose gate has interesting capitals. Then I cross Carried it Almedina to enter Núcleo da Cidade Muralhada in order to visit Museu da Santa Casa da Misericórdia with its elegant wash-hand basin in the sacristy as well as the scriptorium. Taking my courage with two hands I climbed the 88 steps of Torre do Relógio to admire the panorama of the old city, in particular the dome of the old cathedral and the towers of the news one as well as the universidade Velha and its Clock Tower. While going up I saw two eggs of bird which I respected “religiously”. I carried out the descent with move back. Always while assembling the lanes I reached Sé Velha built strengthened in 1140-1175 to resist to the Muslims. The interior is equipped with a retable in Gothic blazing as well as a vault of style mudéjar. I finished this first visit by Universidade Velha registered with UNESCO in 2013, here. The capela presents a painted ceiling and covered walls with azulejos as well as an organ case of the 18th century. Then Biblioteca Joanina gathers more than 3,000 books and 5,000 manuscripts, alas the reading room is NO-PHOTO with a very vigilant supervisor… Finally I was going to throw an eye at the botanical garden before returning to my vehicle while descending lanes and staircases.
The following day Thursday, November 23 I set out again to visit two monasteries, Santa Clara-a-Nova and Santa Clara-a-Velha on left bank of the Mondego river. They are two convents of nuns: The first on the hill has the silver tomb of the queen holly Isabelle preceded by her statue out of wooden carved by Teixeira Lopes. At side the cloister offers a pleasant garden favorable with the meditation, in the anteroom a pretty wash-hand basin for the ablution of the nuns. I descended the calçada de Santa Isabel to visit the second reduced to the state of ruin by sands of Mondego. It had received the body of Ines de Castro transferred to Alcobaça. The center of interpretation as well as the museum recalls its history. Before lunching I traversed the rua de Abreu up to Miradouro to dominate the valley of Mondego as well as the site of Coimbra. Then I devoted a big part of the afternoon to the visit of the monastery of Santa Cruz preceded by a renaissance gate. The church is papered with azulejos and has a very worked pulpit as well as an imposing organ case. On the left high altar is the tomb of the first king of Portugal, Alphonse-Henriques (1128-1185). Being next to the church seven rooms lodge jewels, the sacristy a paint of Ecce Homo, objets d'art-sacred, a sober chapter house, the cloister of silence, the elliptic sanctuary of form characterized by three retables, of the portraits and the pyramids with relics, as well as the platform with its stalls out of wooden very worked. I returned to my vehicle while going to Praça da Republica. Of course it had been necessary to stroll in the night in the old city to approach the student's life of this ancient university town. I remained on Friday the 24th in Coimbra to put on pages the taken pictures.
On Saturday, November 25 on the way towards Praia de Mira I stopped in two villages, Cantanhede and Varziela to admire in their churches two sculptures on stone of Ançã engraved like lace by Jean de Rouen putting in scene the Virgin auxiliatrice surrounded by two angels and dignitaries of the Church. I give the details of the retable of Varziela registered to the monument of Portugal. The departure from Coimbra was in fog and drizzle but at the end of the morning the sky was cleared up and the sun bored timidly with a strong wind broad on the sea front. Of course except season there was no bather on the immense beach of dunes. The outside temperature was 17°C.
|Praia de Mira|
Sunday, November 26 was a short driving morning to go to Figueira da Foz. Three routes were possible, highway IC-1, the road N 109 and Dunas de Cantanhede & de Quiaos. I chose the latter which proved to be a quasi rectilinear track partially asphalted with many pot-holes. It crosses planted dunes of conifers whose trunks carry the traces of the fires of July. In Varziela I had requested from the hostess of tourism office the origin of these fires, her answer was unambiguous: “The hand of the man, cases of arson”. The town of Figueira da Foz located at the mouth of the Mondego river is an important fishing port, sardine and cod, as well as shipyards. It was strengthened against the Arab invasions. It became the seaside resort most famous of Portugal, as constructions testify at the sea front.