Picture the World!

Who knows what will land in your inbox next?  I had a lovely surprise this week, courtesy of Lucy Dodsworth of On The Luce.

Lucy has one of the best travel blogs I know, and always keeps her ear to the ground for what’s going on in the travel world.  So it’s no surprise to find that she was the first person to provide a representative photo to display on the Picture the World Project.

The Departure Board website have a great initiative to create a gallery of wonderful photos, one from each country in the world.  It’s a great honour for me to be nominated to provide a photo from my collection to represent Portugal.  I dearly love the country, so hope that I can do it justice.

I’ve been through my photo albums a time or two, and have finally settled on this one.

Porta da Vila, Obidos

Everywhere in Portugal you can observe these beautiful blue and white azulejo tiles, though seldom used to better effect than in the town gate at Obidos.  Most frequently they tell religious stories in churches, Sao Lourenco in the Algarve a stunning example.  Railway stations are common places to find them- Sao Bento at Oporto has some of the best known.  Sometimes they relate to life at sea, or to agricultural scenes from Portuguese life.

Modern homes, too, often have tiled panels displayed, and they are easily obtained from garden centres. (we have two in our patio)  It’s a nice tradition to perpetuate.

Of course, I considered many other photos, and you might like to see some I rejected.

Tile fronted houses in Tavira

This is my personal favourite, but I discarded it because I felt that this style of housing, designed in part to keep the houses cool, though fabulously decorative, is more representative of the Algarve than of Portugal as a whole.

Faro roof tops from the bell tower of the cathedral

I love this one too, with it’s wonderfully shabby walls and the tessoura roof, but again I felt it more typified the Algarve than Portugal as a whole.

Praca do Giraldo, Evora

This one focuses on historic Evora, in Portugal’s Alentejo.  Cobbled streets are seen everywhere in Portugal, and regularly painstakingly renewed.  There’s a beautiful church in the photo.  In this religious country even tiny villages have a lovely place of worship.  The mix of Moorish and modern architecture is also a common sight in Portugal, nowhere more beguiling than in Evora.

The pelourinho (pillory) in Elvas

This one in Elvas was a strong contender.  It has cobbles, washing hanging in the street, and of course the Moorish connection.

Back street fonte in Sintra

Finally, this one, stumbled upon in Sintra, and again typical of the azulejo panelled features you can find everywhere in Portugal.

So what do you think- did I make the right choice?  The Departure Board advised me that they prefered Landscape photographs, so that narrowed it down a bit.

It’s also my task to nominate two people to submit photos of another country.  There are so many to choose from but I’m passing this on to Cathy of A nomad in the land of Nizwa for her wonderful depictions of life in Oman, and to Andrew Petcher of Have Bag, Will Travel as we all know how passionate he is about Greece.

If you have a great shot which you think typifies any of the world’s countries, you too can submit your entry to Picture the World.  Go on- you know you want to!


  1. So difficult to choose one out of so many wonderful photos. I’m sure you chose the right one, although the others are all utterly charming, especially that last one. 😉


  2. Loved all of them! Can imagine how hard it was to choose. But you did good. I still can’t seem to make up my mind about what I am going to post.


  3. Lovely photos Jo, love the azulejo tiles! I remember camping in Evora, beautiful city, and eating in that square! I’ll have to see if The Departure Board have a photo from one of my previous trips. Cath.


      1. It’s a great idea, and there’s lots of places I could send a photo and write about but like everything else, it’s finding the time!!!! Sorry, ranting on here, school hols does that to folk. Have a great weekend! Cath


  4. All beautiful photos, reminding me of my one visit to Portugal, taking the train along the south coast after crossing by boat from Spain my friend and I spontaneously jumping off at Tavira because it looked so beautiful and because it seemed everyone else on the train was heading for the same town further along the coast, Faro I think.

    Many of my photos from Tavira are of rooftops, I loved the tiles and we had an open rooftop at our hotel. I recall sitting there drinking a glass of rosé and enjoying the moment.

    Thank you for a wonderful reminder of a lovely part of the world.


  5. Congratulations. You chose well, though every single one of your photos is superb.

    I read this sentence 3 times before I realised what you meant: “Modern homes too often have tiled panels displayed,” – I think a comma either side of ‘too’ would fix it!


    1. Well spotted Viv! I’m on it! I was in a bit of a hurry as I’m off to Cambridgeshire today, visiting a friend, and wanted to get the post up first. More haste, less speed. Cheers!


  6. Hi Jo! I love your choice for Portugal, although all the photos you “rejected” are beautiful. After looking at your blog and Shanghaied Away (http://shanghaiedaway.com/) ~ she shanghaied her husband to Portugal ~ now I know I may have to put Portugal on my list for next year. Since I’m in the region, I want to spend time exploring the Moorish influences (Morocco, Spain and Portugal) in the architecture and culture.

    Thank you so much for nominating me to share a picture of Oman. I will need to choose carefully something that is really representative of the country! What a cool idea!!


    1. You’re very welcome. The project is just getting off the ground so there aren’t many photos up yet. Mine’s going up at the end of the week. I thought Oman was a good choice as I don’t know anybody else there and your photos make it look far more inviting than I would ever have thought. Will check out Shanghied Away- great notion!


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