Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Seen in Figueira

Out and about this morning early - well, quite early - I came across some old fortifications. The rusty information notice said it was a small fortress erected by King Miguel to protect the town. Now it is seriously overshadowed by taller blocks of flats. Clearly the fortress could not protect against an invasion of tall buildings in the 20th and 21st century. 

Later I looked up King Miguel. King of Portugal from 1838 to 1834, he was eventually forced of the throne and out of the country, spending the last 32 years of his life in exile. Turbulent times! (Note to self: refresh knowledge of Portuguese history.) He is described as being the favourite child of his mother, Queen Carlota, and was consequently rather spoiled. As a child he liked to dress up in military uniform and as young man of 16 was noted for riding through town knocking people's hats off. Would he get away with such behaviour now?! 

I had set off for my morning walk on the lookout for a chemist to see if I could buy something like Lemsip. Phil's chess tournament progress is being hampered by a stinking cold and the Lemsip has run out. In Spain in the past I have managed to buy something similar. So far here I have only succeeded in buying tablets, to be taken three times a day. I did manage to explain what I wanted in my halting Portuguese but perhaps I would have been more successful if my knowledge of the language had been more extensive. I was going to have another go in a different chemist's but did not come across one. As a rule there seems to be a chemist's shop on every corner. Once you start to look for one, they all disappear. 

Keeping up its nautical appearance, as well as our boat-shaped hotel, Figueira has anchors on roundabouts and seaside-related stuff inlaid in the pavements. All the pavements here seem to be made of white cobble stones. 

Last year we saw some stretches of pavement being repaired. The individual cobble stones, with a top surface of around four square inches, are embedded about eight inches deep. Very labour intensive to install, I would imagine, but once laid the surface must last pretty well forever. At various points the pavements are decorated with kind of mosaic patterns, including fish, shells and crabs. Very nice! 

I also admired some of the fanciful buildings, with turrets and would be fortifications that clearly serve no more purpose than mere decoration. Here is a rather fairytale-looking example. Strangely odd alongside more mundane styles of architecture! 

And here is the Castello Engenheiro Souza. When we first came to Figueira, possibly five years ago, the tower at the top of this building was collapsing and there was scaffolding around it. It even looked as though the whole building was in a serious state of disrepair. However, they did not knock the while thing down, the building was given a facelift and the tower was restored ... in a way. To me it looks a little out of place but it's not my responsibility. 

Now it looks as though it could do with a new coat of paint but I still like the look of the place. I wonder as well about possible Moorish influence on some of those windows. When the Moors invaded The Iberian Peninsula, did they include Portugal in their conquest? Did they get this far? I know that further north the Galician claim that the Moors did not reach them, even though I see occasional Moorish elements in some of the buildings there. (another bit of research called for!) 

All this before ten o' clock in the morning. Quite an interesting start to the day!


  1. Visiting Porto I have found that many people understand English. Yes, the Moors did invade Portugal, though I believe they didn't make it all the way up to the north. The Moors reached Galicia, but they didn't establish themselves there. It was mostly visited in raids. The legend says that Almanzor stole the bells from the cathedral of Santiago, and that he sacked the monastery at Carboeiro, near Silleda. But that's just legend.

    1. Thank you/ yes many people speak English but I do like to ry out my Portuguese.