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Tuesday 7 June 2011

Tuesday Travel – Background Story

Today’s travel location appears at first uninspiring: a riverside port, the site of a recent EU mega-junket, with a monolithic Cultural Centre and views out over a large suspension bridge notorious for its semi-permanent traffic jams. Welcome to the Lisbon suburb of Belém.

The reason for including Belém is that it is also the place where I took the photo that is used for my Avatar, and also the background for the Zelo Street twitter page. This is the Wind Rose at front of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, or Discoveries Monument.

The monument was completed in 1960, and although clearly nationalistic in intent, has managed to impose itself on the Belém waterfront. Apart from the tall concrete blockhouse (there is a lift almost to the top), the Padrão features a large “prow” depicting figures from the age of Portugal’s Discoveries.

At the tip of the “prow”, holding a model of a 15th Century ship, is Prince Henry the Navigator. A list of all 33 of the historical figures can be seen HERE. Why the photo of the Wind Rose? Personal favourite. No other significance should be attached or inferred.

Also at Belém is the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, most recently known as the location for the signing of the Lisbon Treaty, attended by all EU heads of Government except for one. There are ornamental gardens too, and on occasion a nice cloud formation as a backdrop.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site covers the monastery, and also the Torre de Belém, a 16th Century tower that once formed part of the city’s defences (the photo was taken in mid-December – the light can be better further south).

So what’s in a background? That’s what.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Belem isn't suburb. It's a Lisbon district.