World Heritage Sights

Trip Start Mar 01, 2014
Trip End Apr 05, 2014

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Flag of Portugal  , Lisbon,
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Portugal has so much to offer and it is a place where everyday you say to yourself "there is so much to see here, we will not have the time". It is because just in your own neighbourhood there are so many places to go. Today, all within a 22 mile radius, we went to the "Convento dos Capuchos", Cabo da Roca", and the "Park and Palace of Pena".

Convento dos Capuchos is a remote Franciscan monastery founded in 1560 where friars lived in tiny, tiny rock-hewn cells lined with cork from the nearby trees. The cork from a type of oak tree nearby, lines the doors, ceilings, walls, providing a layer of insullation in each cell, kitchen, greeting room. The friars slept on the floor, their cell no bigger than 4 x 6 ft. Huge boulders guard the entrance and the monastery is built around this landscape, around, over, under, beside these huge boulders. Every path incorporates the land, disturbing nothing. The Friars were part of nature eating from the plants and trees around them, and baking bread from grains given to them by others. A total of eight would live here at a time, strictly observing  extreme simplicity of their lives, a test of their Spiritual value and for the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi. His philosophy stressed harmony between man and God's work and through contemplation you would fulfill your role to worship the Creator through his work: the natural world.

It is a spiritual place and how we got to be the only four individuals to walk through this convent and it's woods alone and get lost in our thoughts for close to two hours, was a gift. At the entrance there is a cross with the outline of the Image of St. Francis of Assisi, still after all this time. Donna and I had a very spiritual experience in Italy where St. Francis saw the Stigmata, I couldn't help thinking about that day. It was good to think about the power of ones faith here, to get lost in the beauty of your surroundings and appreciate, to say a prayer of thanks. 

We are all a little quiet as we leave, we are amazed. Little did we know we were headed to yet another site that would give us pause yet again, to reflect.

Cabo da Roca is an impressive cliff, 459 feet high that marks the most westerly point of the 
European mainland. It was calm there today with not much surf from the Atlantic.  The water shimmered in the sunshine, waves curled around the boulders below, but it was quiet except for birds and the chitter chatter of other sight seekers.  As you looked across the water and the horizon, you remember all of the explorers who ventured out across the sea, fearing they may drop off the edge. It looks like they would have. They were brave and knew there was more. They had faith.

Turf like ground cover survives in sandy hard soil, bearing the brunt of the winds. Loaded with flowers it was like very fat, on steroids, Portulacha, not sure if my spelling is right there, but a flower that is in most of Canada's rock gardens and certainly was on our point on the French River when Auntie Dean was in residence. When in full bloom there will be a carpet of colour.

We leave to find a place for lunch, it is around 2:30. Our timing is perfect. As we head to the car there are Busses unloading. Young students spill out, there is a cacophony, the noise level is unbelievable. Are they excited about being here or are they excited about being with each other? I think seeing the water may calm them down.

We have seen so far today,  two of the sites within the Sintra Hills. The Sintra Hills was listed as a World Heritage Site, Cultural Landscape in 1995. Later we will go to the Palace of Pena and the Park, another. 
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Donna on

I remember our day clearly and know what you were experiencing . Looks so beautiful, enjoy

Katie on

Wow sounds so lovely and looks breath taking!!!

Pat on

Janie: I was moved by your description of the friars' cells and how the y lived. I made a connection because I love the Prayer of St Francis. I love the photo of Tony on the rock overlooking the sea. Until next time .....
PS Can you add Judy to your blog. She followed you last year and wants to do so again this year.

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