Robin's Adventures

Morocco, Spain, & Portugal
A Picturesque Adventure

Evora Cathedral

The Evora Cathedral, which was built between 1186 and 1250, is the largest medieval cathedral in Portugal. This impressive building is made completely of rose granite. Gothic style statues of the apostles, which were added in 1330, surround the door at the main entrance to the cathedral.

Cathedral Interior

The cathedral interior was remodeled several times over the years. The most recent remodel of the main chapel was in the early 18th century. There are two beautiful rose windows as well as some paintings by Italian artist Agostino Masucci.

Roman Temple

The Roman Temple of Evora, which was built in 1 AD, has had a very interesting history. The temple was destroyed by invaders in the 5th century and the columns were removed in 1467 and used in the construction of a tower of a castle. This building was later used as a butcher shop until 1836.

During the late 19th century the columns were restored to the original site and the remains of the temple are now a tourist attraction.

Cooking School

We spent a wonderful afternoon at a Portuguese cooking class. The class was held in a large modern kitchen located in an 18th century family home. The cooking was not just about the smells and the flavors, it was also about the delightful cultural and historical perspective in the teacher's stories that brought each of the recipes to life.

More Cooking School

Sofia, was a gracious hostess and an amazing teacher. Most of the ingredients came from her garden and were fresh and flavorful. We made a cheese and honey appetizer, several types of salads and vegetable side dishes, chicken with a traditional Portuguese stuffing, and an excellent rolled orange cake with jam.

One of the most interesting things we cooked was alheira, a type of sausage referred to as "Jewish sausage." This sausage was invented in 1497 by Portuguese Jews who were given the choice of converting to Christianity or leaving Portugal. Many claimed to have converted, but secretly practiced Judaism.

Sausage, whose main ingredient was pork, was a staple food during this time period. In order to blend in and not attract the attention of the Portuguese inquisition, the Jews began to prepare sausages made with vegetables or chicken mixed with bread. The Jews would hang the sausage to cure and the authorities would pass them by thinking they must be good Christians.

Cooking School Adventures

Queluz Palace

Our last day in Portugal began with a visit to the National Palace of Queluz. This elegant palace, often referred to as the Versailles of Portugal, was built as a royal residence for Queen Maria I and her husband Dom Pedro III. Maria was actually Dom Pedro's niece, and 17 years younger than him.

In 1786, after the death of her husband, Maria started to descend into a state of madness. She was confined to her room and kept away from the public eye. Although she retained her crown until her death in 1816, their son actually ruled in her name as the Prince Regent.

More Queluz Palace

The interior of Queluz Palace was lavishly decorated. The ballroom, for example has a great deal of gilding on the walls and ceiling.

There was a chapel in the palace because Maria and Dom Pedro were very religious and attended mass several times each day.

The bedrooms also had all of the latest conveniences, such as a cabinet with a chamber pot so the royal couple could take care of personal business.

Still More Queluz Palace

Portuguese azulejo tiles, which were prevalent throughout the palace, were most exquisite in the Sala das Mangas. The walls in this room were filled with tiled scenes, mostly in blues, whites, and yellows.

The Hall of Ambassadors, also known as the Throne Room, is one of the largest rooms in the palace.

National Palace of Pena

Pena Palace began in 1511 as a small chapel and monastery, but it was damaged by lightning and then very severely damaged by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. King Ferdinand II, in 1838, acquired this badly damaged abandoned property and began to renovate and add on to the structure to create a very unique castle.

The castle itself is a mishmash of different styles and looks as though someone took bits and pieces from various different castles and threw them together into one structure. Some pieces look like a medieval castle complete with towers and parapets, other sections look like Moorish towers with domes. To add to this eclectic flavor, different sections of the castle were painted in different colors.