Sunday, 17 November 2013

Portugal: Eduardo VII Park

This Park really dominated Lisbon for us. It felt like you could see it from almost anywhere, because it runs down a hill and has an absolutely enormous Portuguese flag flying at the top.

It was named after our King Edward VII after he visited Lisbon in 1902 to improve relations between the two countries. It's paved in patterned black and white tiles that make walking up the hill a bit easier - "I'll just get to the next star and then I'll rest," you think. Or maybe that was just me.

At the top are some ancient ruins, dating all the way back to 1974. There was a revolution in Portugal then, the Carnation Revolution, and this fountain was constructed from some ruins that were created during that. It is meant to symbolise Portugal's emerging democracy.  We didn't discover this until we looked it up later, though - I didn't see any plaques or anything explaining it when we were up there.

The views are pretty spectacular. You can see right down to the river, and across to the castle. 

There was a big book fair taking place on the day we went there, which probably contributed to my sense of happiness in my surroundings. There were people perched on walls all over the place, with their noses in books. The only sad thing about this for me was that they were all in Portuguese. It's like superman without his cape.

At the bottom is one of Portugal's biggest and most famous monuments. In a city awash with sculpture, it was difficult not to view it from the bus tour and think, "Oh look, another sculpture" (and it's sad when that happens because, yknow, they're all amazing works of art and completely unique and beautiful in their own way, but one does get a bit of sculpture fatigue after a while, even me, and I thought the tile museum was fascinating) but this one has an awful lot going on and I was pleased that we got a closer look and I was able to take some close up pictures, even if I did nearly get run over getting across to it.

This one commemorates one of Portugal's Prime Ministers, the Marquis de Pombal, who oversaw the rebuilding of Lisbon after its devastating earthquake in 1755, broke the power of the Jesuits in the country and reformed, well, just about everything, so it seems. He was obviously very busy. That's him perched on top, with a lion to symbolise his power. The sculptures around the bottom are all the things he helped to change - like this one of agriculture and wine casks. Not sure about the half naked woman at the front, though. Did he reform her too? Then, at the very bottom are waves and destruction to represent the earthquake and the tsunami. Apparently, when asked what they were going to do, his response was, "Bury the dead and feed the living." A pragmatist, then.

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