A hazy beauty, not quite real? Looking back to just over two weeks ago, I have to wonder if I dreamt it. But no- as so often, my photographs tell the story. Castelo de Vide, in Portugal’s Alto Alentjo, a world away from our current woes.
I had come in search of a mighty fortress, at hilltop Marvão, and all I knew of Castelo de Vide was its spa waters, bottled on shelves as far away as the Algarve. But where there are castles, there is often a sad interlude in history, and so it is, here. During the Spanish Inquisition, many Jews fled across the border to make their home within these castle walls. And the resulting Jewish quarter is like nowhere I’ve ever seen. Complete with Synagogue, though the international crisis was catching up with even this remote place, and I was unable to look inside.
The castle itself was closed for renovation, but I had climbed the hill anyway. How glad I was, for it was not the castle itself that was the prize. The medieval streets within the walls were astounding, with solid stone doorways, preserved in all their beauty, though some needed a little help.
Within the castle walls, the 17th century church of Nossa Senhora da Alegria, resplendent with Moorish-styled tiles, and surrounded by the tumbling, spellbinding streets of the Juderia. In the sleepy warmth below, the town was awakening to market day, the calls of the vendors noisily jostling for trade. I slipped inside the main church, Santa Maria da Devasa, to pay my respects. A lady, rummaging in her handbag, pulled out spectacles and a sheaf of music, and into the hush began to practise on the organ. As I listened, smiling, another bustled in with two bags full of white lilies, which she placed beside the altar. The life of the church, unchanging.
Outside the church, a modern sculpture, mother tenderly regarding small child. And a fountain, one of 300 in the area, I’d been led to believe. I came across several more. In a quiet square, the Fonte da Vila, with four marble spouts, a coat of arms, and a tribute to Jewish victims.
I was beginning to need a coffee, and hoped to sample boleima, a type of Jewish unleavened bread with apple and cinnamon. Or something sweet.
The clock on the town hall chimed and it was time to move on. Sadly my visit was coming to an end. King Dom Pedro V described this town as the “Sintra of the Alentejo”, and I had felt something of the same magic.
As if sorry to see me go, the clouds began to swoop in across the hills. I crossed the gardens, turning for one last look.
It’s a tenuous link, but here I am, back in the Algarve, looking at the lovely Serra de Sáo Mamede and its towns and villages, from a Distance. Easter and Holy Week are very special and traditional in this part of the world. I can’t conceive of it this year, but I hope that one day, in the future, I might cross that distance again. Meantime, many thanks to Tina and the lovely Lens-Artists ladies for keeping us strong.
Still sharing! It’s what we do best here in blogland. Stay safe out there!
As heart warming a walk as I’ve ever taken. Thank you so much, Drake!
It’s therapeutic getting out there in nature, as Alice will tell you :
And Eunice is still determined to enjoy beach and countryside :
Margaret sums it all up succinctly :
And Rupali smiles at us, from a distance :
I think we’re all agreed that Becky is a ‘Top Notch’ blogger. It’s 1st April soon (no fooling!) :
Happy to share a poetic stroll beneath the birch trees, with Jude :
And I found a fascinating walking tour of Porto, for the future :
While Cathy shares a good slice of the exotic :
Saving this treat for last. Don’t miss Pauline’s lovely photography and wonderful artwork!
It’s an amazing world out there, isn’t it? I’m so glad we can share it together.