We set off this morning for the Lisbon bus tour, always a good way of getting to know a new city. These red buses are everywhere it seems, and if you can bear the stiff breeze the top level is best for photos. On the way to the depot, I took a photo of the Perilous Paving, just to show you that it can look very nice indeed. (I have since discovered that it’s made with limestone and basalt.)
Anyway, we discovered lots of interesting things about the city and there is no shortage of attractions to visit, only a shortage of time and the likely exhaustion factor! We hopped off the bus at the Monasterio de Jeronimo which is a fabulously huge old monastery now used to house museums while retaining the central part of it more or less as it was. (Without the monks).
The first museum we visited was the Museu Archelogico. (I hope I spelled that correctly). The star attraction there is a recently discovered Roman kiln which is the first one I’ve ever seen. I found myself wondering about these anonymous potters, and imagined what their response would be if they could know that people like us are admiring their work two thousand years later…
There were some Egyptian artefacts, but the most impressive room was the Treasures Display. Here there was a map showing where the known gold deposits were during the Roman era, and the Iberian peninsula was one of the most richly endowed. The cabinets showed how the Romans progressed from simple beaten armlets to sophisticated filigree earrings, rings inset with precious stones or small cameos, entwined ropes of gold necklaces and really fancy torcas decorated with military symbols. (Torcas are those necklet things that held men’s togas on).
From the museum we went into the monastery. The cloisters were breathtaking – every column and surface was carved with exquisite images of fruits, flowers, vines, animals, people and of course religious symbols as well. In the refectory there were beautiful tiled pictures and the chapel had lovely stained glass windows. The only thing that spoiled all this was a group of very badly behaved secondary school students screeching and shouting all over the place, and no supervising teacher in sight.
More later, we’re off to dinner.