Impressions of Portugal, Rota Vicentina (2)

Henry the Navigator, Aljezur

Henry the Navigator, Aljezur

The first photographs in the slideshow are of Aljezur. Aljezur, now inland, was a major port in the 15th century “before the river silted up.” [Rough Guide to Portugal] It is also the “crossover point of two major long-distance walking trails, the Via Algarviana” and the Rota Vicentina (Historical Way). [Rough Guide]

Henry the Navigator, whom we first encountered in Belém on the prow of Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries), is here as well, with two sculptures and an accompanying plaque commemorating the 550th anniversary of his death. The Castle of Aljezur also sported a historical plaque, dated 1940, the same year as the Portuguese World Exhibition in Belém. What connection there might be, if any, I wasn’t able to discern. I’d be surprised, though, if restoration of the castle walls in 1940-41 wasn’t related to overall restoration work under the Salazar regime to offer “physical proof of the regime’s commitment to restoring the values of a national past in order to spearhead a ressurgimento nacional.” [citation] 

But rather than giving the last word to Salazar, let’s see what Fernando Pessoa has to say:

Prince Henry

God wills, man dreams, the work is born.
God willed that all the earth be one,
That the sea unite rather than divide it.
Anointed by Him, you unveiled the foam,

And the white crest went from island to continent,
A path of light to the world’s end,
And all at once the entire earth
Appeared, round, from out of the blue.

The One who anointed you made you Portuguese,
A sign to us of our pact with the sea.
The Sea was won, the Empire undone.
Lord, we still must win Portugal!

From Message, Fernando Pessoa, tr. Richard Zenith, p. 81. 

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The photographs, as always on the blog unless otherwise indicated, are mine. For Impressions of Portugal, Rota Vicentina (1), click here.

12 thoughts on “Impressions of Portugal, Rota Vicentina (2)

  1. George Mattingly

    Great post, Sue. Love the Pessoa poem. And your photos (as always) are terrific: love what you choose to shoot (and not to shoot). The seaside plants and dunes remind me very much of northern California (but then of course there are the occasional big differences).

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      George: Phew, just now catching up, but of course you know why! The coast reminded me very much of California also (though I don’t know it like you do, of course). The Pessoa poems are really grabbing me, particularly now that I have the landscape and a bit of the history in my head.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Mark: It was so beautiful, Mark, that is was definitely a case of point and shoot. I would have liked to have access to a wildflower book (in English!), but then again, it was lovely to just drift through the landscape without knowing what was what.

  2. hilarymb

    Hi Susan – loved both posts … glorious way to introduce us to this part of Portugal – Interesting to read about Aljezur and the silting up of the valley and river … and I loved the photos of the town – you’ve enticed me! While the poem was a delight … Cheers HIlary

  3. David N

    What a wealth of flowers on the beach. So happy to see the cistus in your other photogallery too. You went at a good time for all the blooming.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      David: We were a little early for a profusion of blooms, but yes, we certainly had plenty. I recognized so many of the flowers, but was handicapped by not having access to a Portugal wildflower book, so I’m pleased you’ve ID’d the cistus (aka rock rose, I think?).

  4. shoreacres

    The natural world always is changing. On the Texas mid-coast, silting bays have turned former Spanish shipyards into farmland, and formerly coastal towns now sit inland. It’s a slow, gradual, and terrifically interesting process. One place where it’s happening in spades is the http://nautil.us/issue/36/aging/the-birth-and-death-of-a-landscape?platform=hootsuite near Morgan City, Louisiana. While wetlands disappear elsewhere on the Louisiana coast, a new delta is being built.

    The photos of the beach flowers are lovely, but I confess to liking the cat, and the roof tiles. What a lovely, lovely place.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      I, too, love the cat and the roof tiles, so pleased to have your company there. Louisiana has to be one of the great examples of silting and shifting coastline, don’t you think?

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