Lisbon – A Passing Fancy

BelemI enter Lisbon on the coast road via Cascais and Estoril, the train running along one side and the sea (a surfer’s paradise) on the other. Before I reach the centre of Lisbon I have to pass through Belem and I decide to stop in order to see the famous Torre de Belem, a bright white Manueline tower, perched on the edge of the Tagus. When building started in 1515, it was surrounded by water, but the Lisbon earthquake in 1755 diverted the course of the river.

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A short distance away stands a more modern construction. Built in 1960, for the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator, the 52m Monument of Discoveries is adorned with sculptures of Portugal’s most famous figures. Henry the Navigator heads up the group, supported by King Dom Manuel, the writer Camoes and the painter Nuno Goncalves. There is a lift to the top for views along the river but I’m concerned about Trixie, who is parked in an area notorious for motorhome thefts, so I hasten back and then drive to the campsite in Montesanto.

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I hate cities. They make me extremely nervous and I always expect the worst. Also, it is Monday so all the principal sites are closed. So, after availing myself of the campsite facilities (laundry, Wi-Fi, hot shower, etc), I depart the city of Lisbon, crossing the River Tagus on the 25th April suspension bridge, previously known as the Salazar Bridge after the former Prime Minister who held power from 1932 to 1970. It is the longest in Europe at 2.3km, and passes 70m above the river. It looks particularly spectacular from the viewpoint of Christo Rei, an enormous statue of Christ, modelled on the one in Rio de Janeiro.

 

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