We greeted the new year with friends in Moldova, but began 2015 in earnest in Portugal with family a few days later.
It was still pitch-black outside at 6:30am when our return flight touched down in Chisinau this morning. Taking a red-eye with a small child is not something we would recommend to anyone. Though, to be fair, now that Munchkin is approaching his first birthday, flying with him anywhere farther than 1-2 hours away is usually a trying experience.
Traveling around Europe, it is impossible not to spend a significant portion of one’s sightseeing visiting old religious buildings. The Church’s extensive patronage of the arts means that in the absence of museums, ancient places of worship serve as repositories for the bulk of Europe’s pre-modern artwork. The parables and biblical figures that feature in these paintings and sculptures are largely the same, but there is a huge number of tiny details and figures that usually go unnoticed by the casual glance.
Here are a few of the fascinating faces we found scattered throughout Portugal’s religious and historic buildings while we unpack our suitcases, as well as our thoughts, after the trip.
We found these impish figures adorning the bottom of a broken column in the ruins of the Carmo Convent, which was destroyed in the great 1755 earthquake that leveled Lisbon.
A monkish figure looks out over the cloisters of the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem, a parish located several kilometers outside Lisbon. The monkey gargoyle above is from the same monastery.
One of many bacchanalian figures to be found in the Quinta la Regaleira, in Sintra. Once the summer home of the Regaleira Barons, the estate passed into the hands of a wealthy merchant who filled its gardens with a cornucopia of symbols allegedly relating to alchemy, masonry, and the Knights Templar.
Also in Sintra, this imposing figure can hardly be missed if one pays a visit to the Pena Palace.