Wednesday 13 November 2013

Portugal: Padrão dos Descobrimentos

This was on the front of the guidebook I got out of the library, but there was no photo credit and I had no idea where or what it was. Then, on our guided tour of the city on the first day, we saw it down on the river's edge: The Monument to the Discoveries.

The statues are MUCH bigger than life. This year at school I compared it, as a piece of art, to Holbein's Amabassadors, which also features men who travelled and a large number of the same nautical and navigational instruments, and also features men who are much larger than life. I'm sure there's not really anything in that, particularly since the two pieces were created nearly 600 years apart, but I thought it was an interesting coincidence.

The statues are all famous explorers or their patrons. The one right at the front is Henry the Navigator, who's sort of like the father of Portuguese exploration. At school, we decided the guy on the right (below) is holding a celestial globe, with a compass on top. 

The views from the top were quite spectacular. We almost didn't pay to take the trip but it was quite cheap so definitely worth it. 

I liked the mosaic on the ground, with the little details around the edge. Apparently it was a gift from the South African government. 

I like the fact there is at least one woman on there, even if she is standing near the back; she's actually a British woman, too - Queen Philippa of Lancaster, whose brother was Henry IV and who married the king of Portugal, and then gave birth to Henry the Navigator. She was quite an interesting character, and according to her Wiki page this marriage led to a peace pact between Portugal and Britain that helped Portgual remain neutral in WW2. Pretty cool, eh?

No picture of Queen Philippa's statue: I didn't know she was there until I got back and did some reading about who all the people were.

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