Lisbon is a historic capital, an amalgam of 800 years of cultural influences that mingle with modern trends and lifestyle creating intricate and spectacular contrasts. Spread across seven hills always opening a window towards the majestic Tagus River.
Lisbon is a port of call and a gateway to new adventures, a meeting point for different people and cultures. Likely founded by Phoenicians, this city was built during a millennium of colourful history waiting to be discovered by visitors. Lisbon witnessed Muslim domination, a Christian conquest, a golden age of discoveries, destruction by an earthquake in 1755 and followed by an enlightened reconstruction process and ongoing renewal. Lisboa is a patchwork of distinct and colourful quarters that beckon to be visited and experienced. Accept the challenge of discovering Lisbon on foot.
The Jerónimos Monastery, also called Hieronymites Monastery, is along with the Tower of Belém, one of the most visited sites in Lisbon. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1983. This landmark is called Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Portuguese.
The religious building was designed by the Portuguese architect Diogo de Boitaca to commemorate the return of Vasco da Gama from India. The construction began on 6 January 1501 and wasn’t completed until the seventeenth century. The building is predominantly Manueline style (Portuguese late Gothic).
Curiously, the monastery was built on the site of the former Ermida do Restelo, the chapel where Vasco da Gama and the rest of the sailors prayed before setting sail down the African coast to India.
The Church of Santa Maria is unique in the world. It is completely different from the rest. The temple has a single nave that is held up by six beautifully sculpted columns and the church seems to go on forever.
The Church houses the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões, a Portuguese poet and writer.
Built in the 16th century, the Belem Tower was built to defend Lisbon from enemy ships. Around 1515, architect Francisco de Arruda designed the iconic monument and it served the purpose of being a fort that protected Lisbon from incoming raids along the Tagus River. It also marked the beginning of voyages for sailors.
Today, the Belem Tower is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, and for a good reason. Constructed in a Manuelino style, the tower has a unique design with a modern and heavily armed bastion, protruding over the river. Years later, the tower was transformed into a lighthouse and then a customs center.
The 25th of April Bridge was completed in 1966 and was originally named after the dictator, Salazar.
The bridge got its unusual name after the successful Portuguese Carnation Revolution of April 25th 1974 which overthrew the government in a peaceful coup.
If you think that the bridge resembles the Golden Gate Bridge, then your comparison is correct, it was designed by the consortium that constructed the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco who also constructed the magnificent Ponte 25 de Abril - 25th of April Bridge.
Along with the similar appearances both bridges are located in regions of high possible seismic activity and their designs are almost identical. To ensure the 25th of April Bridge has solid foundations, the south tower extends for 80 metres below the water level, which to this day, is still a world record.
April 25th is now a National Holiday in Portugal and is called Dia da Liberdade or Freedom Day.
Praça do Rossio is Lisbon's most lively area, whose surroundings overflow with bars and restaurants: a habitual meeting spot for both Lisbonites and visitors to the city.
The square houses various monuments and landmarks:
-Column of Pedro IV - In the center of Rossio Square sits the Column of Pedro IV of Portugal, known as “the Soldier King”. At the base of the pillar are four female figures that represent the King’s various qualities: Justice, Wisdom, Strength, and Moderation.
-D. Maria II National Theatre - The National Theatre D. Maria II was founded in 1842. It replaced the old Estaus Palace, the headquarters of the Portuguese Inquisition since the mid-fifteenth century. On top of the Theatre’s façade is a statue of Gil Vicente, a Portuguese playwright, and father of the country’s theatre.
-Rossio Railway Station - On the left-hand side of the National Theatre is the Rossio Railway Station, built in 1887. Its façade is striking with an unusual entrance. The trains to Sintra depart from this train station.
-Café Nicola - Café Nicola has become one of the most famous coffee shops in Lisbon. It has a beautiful art deco façade and was opened over 200 years ago.
Lisbon's most important square: the Praça do Comércio was built on the site where the old Royal Palace used to exist before it was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755. It was for decades Lisbon's main entrepôt, and crucial for its maritime trade.
The southern end of the plaza is open and looks out onto the Tagus River. The other three sides have yellow-colored buildings with arches all along the façade. When the square was first built, the commercial ships would unload their goods directly onto this square, as it was considered the “door” to Lisbon.
Marquess of Pombal Square - A monument to the Marquis of Pombal was erected in the center of the square. The statue represents the Marquess of Pombal, who was the governor of Lisbon between 1750 and 1777. He is depicted standing next to a lion, a symbol of power and leadership.
ST. ANTHONY CHURCH AND MUSEUM - Built on the site where St. Anthony was born in 1195, this church is dedicated to the saint known as a matchmaker and patron saint for the recovery of lost items. He has always been the most popular saint in Lisbon, and his statue stands outside the church. Originally built in the 1400s, the current church dates from 1757, due to the post-1755 earthquake reconstruction.
The façade combines the baroque and neoclassical styles, as does the interior, which also features paintings by 18th-century artist Pedro Alexandrino de Carvalho and the remains of St. Justina, transferred from Rome in 1777 by Pope Pius VI.
Saint John Paul II visited the church in 1982. The former Pope stopped at this Church, on his way to Fatima, to pray to Our Lady in thanksgiving. Saint John Paul II recognizes Our Lady as saving him from being killed when he was shot one year prior, in 1981.
The old city of Santarem - Sanctuary the Holy Miracle Santarém - Church of St. Stephen holds (13th century) Eucharistic Miracle: The Miracle occurred when a woman yearned to change the ways of her unfaithful husband and
consulted a sorceress. The sorceress agreed that she would cure the husband's infidelity in exchange for a consecrated Host. The woman committed the sacrilege, but when she exited the church, the Host began to bleed. It bled so much that her fellow parishioners thought she had cut her hand. The woman ran home and hid the bleeding Host in a trunk. When her husband arrived home, the wife told him what she had done, and later that night there was a light emanating from the trunk. She and her husband began to kneel before the trunk. The following morning, the husband and wife brought the Host to the Parish Priest. It was then moved to the Church of St. Stephen where another miracle occurred; the miraculous Host was originally put in a wax container, however, when the Priest opened the tabernacle to view the Host, the container was found broken, and the Host was found enclosed in a crystal pyx.
Hamlet of Aljustrel:
-the home of the three shepherd children
-the Parish Church
-Fatima Parish Cemetery
Fatima - On 13 May 1917 three shepherd children of Aljustrel, a village near Fatima, Portugal, were tending a small flock at the nearby Cova da Iria (in today's Diocese of Leiria-Fatima). They were Lucia de Jesus, aged 10, and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, aged 9 and 7.
At about noon, after reciting the Rosary as they usually did, they started building a little house with stones. The basilica stands in this place today. Suddenly they saw a great light. Thinking that it was lightning, they decided to leave, but another flash lit up the clearing, and above a small holm oak (today the site of the Chapel of the Apparitions) they saw a "Lady brighter than the sun", from whose hands hung a white rosary.
The Lady told them that they should pray frequently and invited them to return to the Cova da Iria for five consecutive months on the 13th day. The children did so, and on 13 June, July, September and October the Lady appeared again and spoke with them. On 13 August the children were unable to come because they had been taken away by the mayor of Villa Nova de Ourem, to whose district Fatima belonged. The mayor threatened them in various ways to make them confess that they had lied. But they received an unexpected apparition on 19 August, while grazing their flock in the "dos Valinhos".
During the last apparition, 13 October, in the presence of about 70,000 people, the Lady told them that she was "Our Lady of the Rosary" and asked that a chapel be built in her honour on that site. After the apparition everyone present witnessed the miracle promised to the three children in July and September. The sun appeared as a disc that gave off various colours and could be looked at without difficulty, it spun like a fireball and looked as if it would fall to the earth.
Later, when Lucia was already a Dorothean sister, Our Lady appeared to her again in Spain (10 December 1925 and 15 February 1926 at the Convent of Pontevedra, and again during the night of 13-14 June 1929 at the Convent of Tuy), asking her for the devotion of the five First Saturdays (to pray the Rosary, to meditate on its mysteries, to confess and to receive Holy Communion in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary) and for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. This request had already been made during the apparition of 13 July 1917 in the so-called "secret of Fatima".
Several years later, Lucia also revealed that between April and October 1916 an angel had appeared three times to them: twice in the Loca do Cabego and once at the well in the garden of her family house. In these apparitions the angel invited them to pray and do penance.
The Old and New Cathedrals of Salamanca - Salamanca has a rarity: two cathedrals. Of the two Cathedrals, the most famous is the New Cathedral which was built in the 16th century. The New Cathedral is often listed among the Top Cathedrals of Spain. It was built starting in 1513 and completed in 1733. It comprises of a mix of styles: Gothic (Gothic was at this point going out of style but the architects wanted harmony with the Old Cathedral), Renaissance (the new contemporary style at the time), and Baroque. The cathedral is dedicated to the Virgen de la Asunción.
Right next to the New Cathedral (they share a wall) is the Old Cathedral. The Old Cathedral dates back to the 12th century and is built in Gothic/Romanesque style. There’s a colourful apse that houses a large cycle of 53 tableaux, 12 of which by the 15th-century Italian artist Dello Delli, depicting the life of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. A fresco of the Final Judgement is over them. With beautifully sculpted tombs, an impressive cloister and richly decorated chapels, the Old Cathedral is a romantic cathedral (that brings to mind movies of knights, kings and queens).
Alba de Tormes - Alba de Tormes is located less than 20 km from Salamanca and it was the seat of the ducal states of the powerful Álvarez de Toledo family (Duke and Duchess of Alba). In 1571 St. Teresa founded a monastery – The Carmelite Convent of the Annunciation – in this old medieval town. The monastery has Renaissance and Neoclassical elements and it is the place where Saint Teresa spent the last 15 days of her life. Travellers can visit her tomb, like thousands of pilgrims, who come every year to be able to pray in front of her incorrupt heart and arm.
The Carmelitano Camus Museum is also worth a visit, because it houses a rich artistic spiritual heritage, including Santa Teresa´s relics.
Ávila is the city of Saint Teresa and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985. It is the city of Teresa’s childhood, youth and maturity, years of enthusiasm, projects, starting point and turning point of her foundations. She was born in Avila on the 28th of March in the year 1515. Nowadays travelers can visit the Church and Convent of St. Teresa, which was built on the ground where once the birth-house of Teresa stood. The large, vaulted burial crypt underneath is home to the museum of St. Teresa.
Teresa spent her childhood in Ávila and as a young woman she joined the Convent of Nuestra Señora de Gracia. She spent there about 30 years of her life and prepared during this time the reform of the Carmelite community and the monasteries that she would establish in the future.
The Monastery of San José was the first convent founded by St Teresa and it is characterized by its simplicity and austerity. The convent rooms have been conserved and the spirit of St Teresa is still abounded. It was designated a National Monument in 1968.
Basílica de San Vicente - Founded in the 11th century, it was not finished until two centuries later. It mixes Romanesque elements with other Gothic ones.
The basilica of San Vicente was built outside the walls of the town. Its foundation dates from the 11th century and is dedicated to San Vicente and his sisters Cristeta and Sabina. Building was begun in the Romanesque style, and was finished later according to the Gothic canons. Maestro Fruchel participated in is construction. The interior has vaults with ogives on a Romanesque structure. Basilica stands on the site of the martyrdom of St. Vincent.
Burgos Cathedral - Did you know that at the end of the 11th century Burgos already had a cathedral? And that it was destroyed because it was not grand enough for the city's growing importance? In its place, Spain today treasures the iconic Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Santa María, better known as Burgos Cathedral.
It all began in the year 1080, when Alfonso VI, who was king of the ancient kingdom of Castile, ordered the construction of a Romanesque cathedral in the city of Burgos: the Church of Santa María de Burgos. In 1219, this church hosted a ceremony of great importance for the kingdom of Castile, the wedding of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile and the Germanic princess Beatrice of Swabia (daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Swabia Hohenstaufen).
In the 13th century, Burgos had already been recognised as an episcopal see and an important commercial centre, which was also beginning to gain fame beyond Spain's borders as a stopping place on St James’ Way. It was then that Bishop Don Mauricio, who officiated at the wedding ceremony of Ferdinand III and Beatrice of Swabia, proposed to the king to build a new cathedral that would imitate European stylistic trends. And so it would have a majesty to match that of its Parisian neighbour, Notre Dame Cathedral. The bishop had studied at the University of Paris, so he was familiar with the Gothic style dominating French architecture at the time. He also had to undertake a journey across this country to reach the Holy Roman Empire, where he arranged the marriage between the King of Castile and the Germanic princess. That is why he took advantage of his friendship with the monarch to build the first Gothic cathedral in Spain.Construction of the cathedral began in 1221, and it is said that the first architect was of French origin, as the pure Gothic style was not yet well known in Spain. It was completed almost forty years later, but over the following years it was remodelled and enlarged until 1765 (without taking into account subsequent restorations).
That is why it also includes artistic styles as they emerged during that period. For example, Baroque constructions such as the main Sacristy, the Chapel of Santa Tecla and the Chapel of the Relics were added to it. Earlier additions include such popular creations as the Chapel of the Constables, the spires crowning the towers and the central lantern-tower over the transept of the cathedral that was replaced in the 16th century by the present one.In 1885, the cathedral was recognised as a National Monument, which aided its restoration after it was looted by French troops during the War of Independence. In 1984, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Sanctuary and the birthplace of St Ignatius of Loyola -
Sanctuaries have their own special halo for the mysticism that surrounds them. In the Basque Country, there are two especially important places that stand out, not only for their religious importance but also for their artistic importance: The Sanctuary of Arantzazu and the Sanctuary of Loyola. The Jesuits established a place of veneration along the Urola River, in the town of Azpeitia where their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, was born. The sanctuary is built around the tower house of the Loyola family. The building dates from the 14th and 15th centuries and is divided into the lower half built in stone, which recalls its past as a fortress, and the upper half built in brick, which demonstrates its evolution into a palatial house. The house remains in perfect condition.
The family home played an important role in the life of St. Ignatius. Before he decided to devote himself to God, he had been in the military and had been seriously injured during a battle with French-Navarrese troops; his right leg was struck by a cannonball and shattered. He was returned to his father’s castle and lodged on the third floor where he underwent several surgical operations and almost died. While recovering from surgery, he underwent a spiritual conversation following the reading of books on the life of Christ.
This took place between 1521 and 1522 and the room on the third floor became the Chapel of the Conversion – a place of absolute veneration where you can see the books that shaped the Saint.
The birthplace of St. Ignatius is the heart of the sanctuary and centre for pilgrimages. As such, the main building was built in a grandiose Baroque style to honour of the great Saint. The majestic circular-shaped basilica is the central part of the building and includes an impressive dome. It was designed by the Italian architect Carlo Fontana, disciple of Bernini.
The story of Lourdes -
Following in Bernadette’s footsteps in Lourdes is a chance to discover the places that were familiar to her: the mill where she was born, the Moulin de Boly, the gloomy Cachot, a former dungeon where she lived with her family including at the time of the apparitions in 1858, the Hospice where she was educated by the Sisters of Nevers and where she took First Communion, the parish church where still can be seen the baptismal font used at her christening, the old Presbytery where she met Abbé Peyramale, and Bartres, where she lived twice, as a very young child and at the age of 13 in 1857. Lastly, the Maison Paternelle, known as the Moulin Lacadé, was home to Bernadette’s parents after the apparitions.
Thursday 11th february 1858: the first meeting
Accompanied by her sister and a friend, Bernadette went to Massabielle on the banks of the Gave to collect bones and dead wood. Removing her socks in order to cross the stream, she heard a noise like a gust of wind, she looked up towards the Grotto : “I saw a lady dressed in white, she wore a white dress, and equally white veils, a blue belt and a yellow rose on each foot.” Bernadette made the Sign of the Cross and said the Rosary with the lady. When the prayer ended the Lady suddenly vanished.
Sunday 14th february 1858: holy water
Bernadette felt an inner force drawing her to the Grotto in spite of the fact that she was forbidden to go there by her parents. At her insistence, her mother allowed her; after the first decade of the Rosary, she saw the same lady appearing. She sprinkled holy water at her. The lady smiled and bent her head. When the Rosary ended she disappeared.
Thursday 18th february 1858: the Lady speaks
For the first time, the Lady spoke. Bernadette held out a pen and paper asking her to write her name. She replied; “It is not necessary” and she added: “I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the other. Would you be kind enough to come here for a fortnight?”
Friday 19th february 1858: the first candle
Bernadette came to the Grotto with a lighted blessed candle. This is the origin of carrying candles and lighting them in front of the Grotto.
Saturday 20th february 1858: in silence
The Lady taught her a personal prayer. At the end of the vision Bernadette is overcome with a great sadness.
Sunday 21th february 1858: “Aquero”
The Lady appeared to Bernadette very early in the morning. About one hundred people were present. Afterwards the Police Commissioner, Jacomet, questioned her. He wanted Bernadette to tell what she saw. Bernadette would only speak of “AQUÉRO” (“that thing” in local dialect)
Tuesday 23th february 1858: the secret
Surrounded by 150 persons, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto. The Apparition reveals to her a secret “only for her alone”.
Wednesday 24th february 1858: «Penance !»
The message of the Lady: “Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for sinners. Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!”
Thursday 25th february 1858: the spring
Three hundred people were present. Bernadette relates; “She told me to go, drink of the spring (….) I only found a little muddy water. At the fourth attempt I was able to drink. She also made me eat the bitter herbs that were found near the spring, and then the vision left and went away.” In front of the crowd that was asking “Do you think that she is mad doing things like that?” she replied; “It is for sinners.”
Saturday 27th february 1858: silence
Eight hundred people were present. The Apparition was silent. Bernadette drank the water from the spring and carried out her usual acts of penance.
Sunday 28th february 1858: the ecstasy
Over one thousand people were present at the ecstasy. Bernadette prayed, kissed the ground and moved on her knees as a sign of penance. She was then taken to the house of Judge Ribes who threatened to put her in prison.
Monday 1st march 1858: the first miracle
Over one thousand five hundred people assembled and among them, for the first time, a priest. In the night, Catherine Latapie, a woman from Loubajac, 7 kilometres away , went to the Grotto, she plunged her dislocated arm into the water of the spring: her arm and her hand regained their movement.
Tuesday 2nd march 1858: message to the priests
The crowd becomes larger and larger. The Lady asked her: “Go and tell the priests that people are to come here in procession and to build a chapel here.” Bernadette spoke of this to Fr. Peyramale, the Parish Priest of Lourdes. He wanted to know only one thing: the Lady’s name. He demanded another test; to see the wild rose bush flower at the Grotto in the middle of winter.
Wednesday 3rd march 1858: a smile
From 7 o’clock in the morning, in the presence of three thousand people, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto, but the vision did not appear! After school, she heard the inner invitation of the Lady. She went to the Grotto and asked her again for her name. The response was a smile. The Parish Priest told her again: “If the Lady really wishes that a chapel be built, then she must tell us her name and make the rose bush bloom at the Grotto.”
Thursday 4th march 1858: the day all were waiting for !
The ever-greater crowd (about eight thousand people) waited for a miracle at the end of the fortnight. The vision was silent. Fr. Peyramale stuck to his position. For twenty days Bernadette did not go to the Grotto, she no longer felt the irresistible invitation.
Thursday 25th march 1858: the name they waited for !
The vision finally revealed her name, but the wild rose bush, on which she stood during the Apparitions, did not bloom. Bernadette recounted : “She extended her arms towards the ground, then joined them as though in prayer and said Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou (I am the Immaculate Conception)”. The young visionary left and, running all the way, repeated continuously the words that she did not understand. These words troubled the brave Parish Priest. Bernadette was ignorant of the fact that this theological expression was assigned to the Blessed Virgin. Four years earlier, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared this a truth of the Catholic Faith (a dogma).
Wednesday 7th april 1858: the miracle of the candle
During this apparition, Bernadette had to keep her candle alight. The flame licked along her hand without burning it. A medical doctor, Dr. Douzous, immediately witnessed this fact.
Friday 16th july 1858 : the final apparition
Bernadette received the mysterious call to the Grotto, but her way was blocked and closed off by a barrier. She thus arrived across from the Grotto to the other side of the Gave. “I felt that I was in front of the Grotto, at the same distance as before, I saw only the Blessed Virgin, and she was more beautiful than ever!”