200 kilometers NE of Lisbon, Castelo De Vide was a breath of fresh air. A tiny town only 20k from the Spanish border whose attractions boasted of castle ruins, a juderia (old Jewish quarter), old synagogue (converted to museum), church and a fountain.
The narrow cobbled streets were lined with whitewashed houses bursting with colourful flowers.
Every now and then you would come across some elderly residents sitting around chatting, whichwas good for Deb to practice her street photography.
Not far from the town was a fantastic campsite on a beautiful lake but on our way there we discovered some more menhirs.
Further south we stopped off at Evora for a few days to catch sights and have some minor repairs done on the fridge.
After a day of looking at fine examples of Romanesque, Baroque, Manueline, Gothic & Moorish architecture we were surprised to come across this well preserved Roman ruin in the middle of the town.
This site tells a story which is typical for Spain & Portugal. First the Romans came and setup shop around 100 BC defeating the local Visigoths & Celts. Then when the Roman Empire collapsed somewhere in the 700s the Moors invaded from North Africa. After 500 years of rule the Crusaders reconquered the area and set about spreading Christianity.
Quite often during these centuries of conquest the victor would build their forts/temples/palaces/churches on the foundations of previous structures, and so it was with the above Roman temple. First enclosed by a fort by the moors and then a castle by the christians and as time went on it was forgotten until restoration work was carried out in the 18-19th century.
Finally reaching the Algarve (Portugal’s southern coastline area) we desperately wanted to avoid the over commercialised resort towns and fortunately we were still able to find some treasures like these that so far has escaped.
The last major town in Portugal we visited was Tavira. Filled with similar sights to those we had already witnessed we managed to find one attraction that was different. An entrepreneur had converted an old water tower that had excellent views over the city to a camera obscura. For the uninitiated this is a primitive form of photography dating back to Greek & Egyptian times where a darkened space such as a room had a very small hole in one wall (or floor or ceiling) and the an image of the outside world would be projected on the opposite surface in reverse, making this method very popular with Renaissance painters.
One should note that it was not until the 18th century that a way of ‘fixing’ the image was discovered leading to todays technology which in principle is still the same. In this particular installation they were using a lens & rotatable mirror in the roof and projecting the image on to a concave dish mounted on a mechanism allowing it to be raised & lowered thus effecting focus.
We had certainly enjoyed our time in Portugal and found the people very friendly and the landscape different to that of France & Northern Spain. Only a small country in size & population (10 million) it had not taken as long as we thought to cover it which helped us make up some time we had lost in the French vineyards.
As we start heading for Southern Spain the skies have turned clear blue and the temps are up…..I’m definitely ready for some more seafood paella.