Jo’s Monday walk : Almodôvar, and the red shoes

It can get very flower laden around here at this time of year, so today I’m going to take you on a stroll around Almodôvar, a little known village in the Alentejo.  Why?  Well, just because I can, and also because I was intrigued by these red shoes.  Seriously, don’t you ever want to go somewhere just to see what’s there?  I do it all the time.

It’s not the easiest place to get to, and after an hour and a half of rocking and rolling along switchback country roads, car sickness was beginning to threaten.  I knew that, once over the border from the Algarve, the land would begin to flatten out.  Still, it was a relief to step out of the car.  An elderly lady was pegging out her washing and regarded me with some curiosity. Visitors from out of town are obviously a rarity.

It’s an ordinary enough place, the likes of which you will find throughout Portugal.  The charm lies in wandering the quiet streets, simply observing life.  It was just before Easter and preparations were underway in Igreja Matriz de Santo Ildefonso, the imposing 16th century church which dominates the main square.

A map on a nearby wall points out places of interest in the village.  Just what’s needed!   Number 2 is the clock tower, or Torre do Relogio.  In the 8th century, Almodôvar (literally ‘place in the round’) was rebuilt by the Muslims, with a surrounding wall.  No trace of this exists today.  A clock tower, served by an outside staircase, would typically have been part of the ramparts from the 17th century.  The clock was housed in the right tower of Santo Ildefonso, but was removed in 1889 when the parish church was struck by lightning.

As so often in Portugal, the smartly modern sits alongside the shabby and forlorn.  A pedestrianised shopping street comes as something of a surprise, but I am no longer surprised by wall art.  Meet poet Fernando Pessoa, and friends!

Still loosely following the map I headed along Rua do Convento, the convent of Our Lady of Conception inviting me closer.

What to make of this?  I hunted high and low for an explanation of this fanfare of an art installation.  Why red shoes, I was at a loss to know.  No clues inside either, but the interior was a show stopper. All that glitters…

I did solve the mystery, though.  Close by the convent there’s a 6 metre high sculpture of a cobbler on a roundabout.   Marked ‘Aureliano, 2001’, in researching it I discovered that Almodôvar had a history of shoe making.  Between the years of 1940 and 1970 there were around 200 manual shoe makers working in the town, and selling their wares at fairs throughout the county.  This sculpture, made by Aureliano Aguiar of Coimbra, from cogs and recovered bits of metal, is in their honour.

I strolled back to the sleepy little square with a fountain, and found a cafe opposite the museum. In the shade of the trees, sensible villagers idled to pass the time of day.  This place would be like a furnace in full summer.  I was melting in March.  So when I was offered a half litre bottle of vinho verde (they didn’t sell it by the glass) there was nothing to do but sit and watch the world go by.  Of course, I needed a substantial amount of food.

Back in the car, we rolled down the N2 towards the coast, passing the village of Ameixal with its Thursday morning roadside market.  The stalls were all but empty.  A venue for another day?  I had been thrilled by the wild irises, dusting the kerbside, on our way north.  Worth a last quick leap!

And that was Almodôvar.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  I do like a wander.  Sorry about the lack of cake again.  I was too full after that enormous toastie.  Speaking of which, it must be time to put the kettle on.

Cuppa to hand, it’s time for this week’s wonderful shares.  Thank you all for your company and the great support I receive on here.  If you’d like to join in at any time, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  You’ll be made very welcome.

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Look where Lexi’s landed!  Doesn’t it look fine?  You just might be surprised :

Happy in Houston- Part 1

I love a sing-a-long, and where better than the charms of Paris? (and Drake) :

Unforgettable

From one magical city to another! So lucky to have Debbie show us the heights :

Views from Montjuic

There’s always something to be thankful for in the company of Lady Lee :

52 Weeks of Thankfulness- Week 43

Geoff’s lessons on life, ably assisted by Dog :

Brecon Beacons- a lesson in green living

Jackie’s not quite so exuberant this week, but then, look at the weather!

Day 2- So Cal, Monterey

It’s not every day that I’d go walking around a complex, but Sedona surely makes a stunning backdrop.  Thanks, Marsha!

Resort Walk Reveals 15 Top Things to Love

Woolly wins it for excitement this week.  Up, up and away!

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk16-Hot-Air2

Amy goes hunting for wildflowers in Texas, and finds boots and saddles!

Texas Hill Country

But Dawn is more than happy with her finds :

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge : Surprised and Delighted 

I went looking for wood sprites or elves with Denzil, in Belgium :

The Valley of the Hoegne

And then I really struck lucky when Gilly found me a baby dragon!

A Forest walk

And finally, what did Carol find at the top of a hill?

Unrivalled Views

My English walk today has been rained off!  And it’s not even a Bank Holiday.  That’s next Monday, isn’t it?  See you then!

151 comments

  1. Jo, this is a real treat of a post! 😀 Your words and pictures bring Almodôvar to life – I’m glad you endured the stomach churning journey to reach it and share your day with us. It is so beautiful and a wonderful dichotomy of the old and new. The church is stunning inside, I can imagine you almost stepping back in surprise! Phew…glad you solved the red shoe mystery – for my sanity! I would have been guessing away otherwise. A beautiful eye-catching art tribute to the town’s shoe-making history. Wonder what happened to all the cobblers? Where did they find alternative jobs? Ahh…that’s my kind of lunch and never mind, sometimes you just have to accept that half litre of wine!! 😀😃

    1. It’s a lot of cobblers and I wondered what happened to them too. If I’d managed to visit the museum I might have found out more. Thanks Annika xx

  2. Fantastic pics! That worn window is just amazing – I will ask my girlfriend to paint it (maybe she will ne keen). Your shots just make me want to visit that place.

  3. What a wonderful red shoe sculpture! I wonder if there’s a pair in my size. 😕 I think I might prefer a giant toastie to a piece of cake, especially if I could have a bouquet of wild irises to take home. Great post, Jo. I was here yesterday, enjoying strolling along with you, but before I could comment, your post disappeared before my very eyes *Poof* and I couldn’t find it again. 😯

  4. I love those red shoes, Jo! We have a writing award in Australia called the Scarlet Stiletto – I’ve won prizes in that award three times coming second (but never got my hands on that elusive 1st place stiletto shoe!) 🙂 That first picture really reminded me of it. And the parish church being struck by lightning? I think this happens a lot because of the height of the steeple. When I lived in Canberra many years ago the church was blown away by a small tornado (and nothing else was touched – which makes you wonder) 😀

    1. Oh my! You’d think the Lord would take better care of his buildings, wouldn’t you? Oops- blasphemy? One day I’m convinced that shoe will be yours. 🙂 🙂

  5. This was an interesting walk Jo – I rather liked seeing fewer people and just enjoy the town in its natural state. Red shoes – a symbol of all those hundreds of years ago to the shoemakers of yesterday past (sculpture was awesome).

  6. Jo, I’ve been a follower for awhile as you know. I took a few week trip and then I thought I haven’t seen a Jo post in my inbox. Well, how could WordPress eliminate one of my favorite follows. I’m back on and hope they don’t mess me up. Missed you. Gorgeous photos as always.
    Best, Ruth in Pittsburgh

    1. Hi Ruth 🙂 🙂 WP can be a bit mean like that sometimes. 🙂 To be fair I saw one of yours in the Reader yesterday but just didn’t have time to come and see you, so no worries. I do appreciate your time and trouble so thank you very much.

    1. It was a nice one, Carol. Mick usually likes driving switchback roads but even he was feeling a bit sickly when we got there! It always seems easier on the way back 🙂 🙂

  7. Wow. So many interesting photos, but the coincidence is incredible how to use shoes. Conclusion is: shoes are made for art. 🙂

    Have a nice day!

  8. The church is not really to my taste – too glitzy – but that installation is intriguing… and those wild irises! Wow! Thanks for taking us on yet another lovely walk.

    1. The churches in Portugal are often in the ornate Baroque style. You might think that the money would be better spent on the poor (and there are a good number of those) but it’s the way of a Catholic country. I did love the red shoes though 🙂 🙂

  9. Jo you do find the coolest things I have to say. So glad you found an explanation for the red shoes. Am I right in understanding they are cascading out of the church window. Well knowing what an impact shoe making had on the town I can see they would be a thing to be almost worshiped. wonderful post and would love to explore these hidden gems with you.

    1. Hiya darlin! You must be posting again 🙂 I haven’t been in the Reader for a day or 2 but I know you were reacclimatising. Me too! It’s perishing here in the UK. Hail stones this morning. Gulp! I’ve managed to piece together more bits of info about the shoes and the place but I hadn’t a clue when I got there, Sue. Welcome back 🙂 🙂

  10. What an interesting place! I like those shoes and that was excellent street art.
    Alentejo is on my list. For horses, but I see there are many other reasons to go. Including vinho verde 😄

    1. Expect nothing and you’re sure to be surprised, Debs. I had no idea about the cobbler background till I got home. Such a well-researched travel blogger 🙂 🙂

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