Jo’s Monday walk : Beja Blues

Last week was such a dreamy post, wasn’t it?  I’m moving a little nearer home, and reality, this week, to the main town of the Baixa Alentejo.  It was a long haul, going north to Marváo, and we decided to break the journey at Beja, where we had a little unfinished business.  Namely, the Convent of Our Lady of Conception, part of the Regional Museum of Beja since 1927.  Foolishly we had tried to visit once before, on a Monday but, like most other churches and museums in Portugal, it was closed on that day.

I’ve never really hit it off with Beja.  Some places speak volumes to me, others simply mutter.  Beja comes in that last category.  Still, everywhere deserves a second chance, and I knew that the museum was worth visiting.  The day had turned sullen as we left the Algarve, and the skies hung heavy over the castle.  Not an auspicious start, and the square in front of the castle was being dug up and re-tiled.  Skirting around a digger, I looked in through the Cathedral doors, not feeling inclined to linger.  I knew that the museum would be closing soon for lunch.

It’s a short distance through the narrow streets to the Convent square.  The former Convento da Conceição was founded in 1459 by Dom Fernando, brother of Afonso V of Portugal, and his wife Dona Beatriz.  Part of the Franciscan order, it was one of the richest and most important in the country.

Now part of the Rainha Dona Leonor Regional Museum, a hush descended as we entered through the Manueline portico, beneath beautifully curved arches.  Immediately in front of us, the church.  The lights were low and my eyes took a moment or two to adjust.

The first thing to hold my gaze was the tiled azulejo panel, dated 1741 and depicting the life, birth and death of St. John the Baptist.  The church is covered in carved wood and gold leaf, dating back to the 17th century.  Excessive to modern eyes, as was the array of highly polished silverware from the 18th century.  I felt truly grateful not to be the lady with the polish, but I did admire the altar of inlaid marble.

Leaving the subdued atmosphere of the church, I found myself in fabulously, fully tiled cloisters.  This was what I had come to see.  There is always an atmosphere of soothing calm to cloisters, and the soft glow of sunlight enhanced their beauty.

Beautiful, isn’t it?  Even in its unrestored state, it’s one of my favourite pieces.  But there’s no doubt there is money to be spent here… one day!

Some of the detail was extraordinary, but don’t take my word for it.  Becky does it so much better in Convento de Nossa Senhora da Conceicáo’s Extraordinary Azulejos  Speaking of the lovely lady, are you taking part in #SquareTops today?  It’s a blockbuster!  Here are my two.

The colours and mix of styles is captivating.  I’ve seen many cloisters here in Portugal, but none quite like these.

I ventured up the stairs, hoping to be able to get out onto the roof space, but it was closed to the public.  I learned instead of Mariana Alcorforado, a nun at the Convento, who fell in love with a French officer.  Noel Bouton, Count de Chamilly, was in Beja with his troops in 1666.   The evidence of her unrequited love lives on in five love letters.  The fabric below, I included for my daughter.  She loves antique embroidery!

Back in the open, we found a café in the square overlooking the museum.  It was unbelievably quiet, though the virus had barely been heard of.  I wasn’t really hungry but wanted to sit peacefully with a glass of wine, before continuing our journey.  We ordered a toastie, but the waitress explained that they didn’t sell wine.  We could, though, buy it at the store next door!  Seeing our baffled faces, she must have taken pity on us.  Five minutes later she reappeared from next door, bearing two very delicious glasses of wine.  I think perhaps Beja looked better for it.

A wander through the streets revealed a strange mish-mash of old and new.  I didn’t really warm to Beja, but it doesn’t lack for character and humour.  And there’s a chance I’ll return, for I’ve realised that a substantial part of the museum is sited within the Church of Santo Amaro, beyond the castle walls.  Oh, dear!  But I did enjoy the street art.

They say a cat can look at a king!  Or a queen, in Becky’s case.  Do join her!

walking logo

Let’s share some walks now, shall we?  I’ve a humdinger to start with!  In Portugal too, with Debbie :

Remains of past industry

While Drake takes us to that tiny island he knows so well :

A fugitive crosses his tracks

And Terri shares some truly spectacular scenery :

Walking in the Valley of Fire

Everybody round to Margaret’s for Drenched Lemon Cake!  Well, virtually, anyway  🙂

Round the Edge of the Village: It’s All About the Texture

We can no longer walk on our beaches in the Algarve, so this is very poignant from Miriam :

Virtual walking on Phillip Island

In the early morning mists, we find Irene :

View from the Top

With first hand knowledge of China, share this epic journey with Indra :

Suzhou… Gossamer Antiquity

Always with a gentle, distinctive touch, there’s no mistaking Lynn’s love for nature :

LOCAL WALKS: Heart Lake

While Rupali looks at her world through eyes filled with beauty :

Simplicity

And Cathy experiences the excesses of tourism in Italy.  Certainly not any longer!

The Cinque Terre: A crowded hike to Vernazza

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for another cuppa.  Did somebody mention cake?  Please, stay safe out there!

100 comments

  1. I’m glad you venture back as the cloisters are stunning. How very nice of the waitress to get wine for the two of you. Stay safe and enjoy your rooftop during the lockdown, it is not a bad place to be.

    1. Bless you, darlin! That’s very kind. How are you doing? It poured all morning but we got out for an hour this afternoon. Brought cake home, of course! 🙂 🙂 Take good care!

      1. You’re welcome. Well deserved, Jo. We have a summer day the first at 21 C today. Rain in the works for tomorrow. I’m following the better sanity through gardening home stay plan. 😉

    1. Such a quiet place for a city, Carol! This was just before the outbreak so I’m not sure if that was normal or not. I was really glad that we managed to see the convent though. Amazing place! And the sweetest waitress 🙂 🙂

  2. Very ornate, detailed panels and sculptures, Jo. You are right, there is likely one or two ladies in charge of the polish. An atmosphere of soothing calm is welcome today and always. I cannot imagine how intricate the the antique embroidery looked in real life. A fascinating walk. Thank you for sharing, Jo. Take care and stay safe.🙂

  3. I’m glad you gave this amazing place a second chance and took us along with you Jo. It is so beautifully extravagant in all its ornamentation. But I, of course, was intrigued with the street art. Now tell me we’re those 2 blokes on the balconies real people or painted, even enlarging the shot I couldn’t make up my mind….🙄 Are your beaches closed now? 3 of our main beaches close tonight, but fortunately our local beach, that I walk to each afternoon, remains open. Better take the camera with me tonight in case it closes too. The mayor is threatening to close all beaches if we don’t obey social distancing and 2 person rules….

    1. They are painted, Pauline. I had to look twice! 🙂 🙂 And I agree that the cloisters were well worth going back for. All of our beaches and boardwalks closed this week. I hate it, but they are trying to discourage people from coming here for Easter. A lot of second home owners will be kept away, but so far numbers affected here are low. Who knows what the end result will be? Take care, darlin!

  4. True, not everyplace takes your heart, but those azulejos are beautiful.

    I haven’t much from/about Portugal in this current crisis. Is it as badly affected as neighbouring Spain?

    1. Hi Draco! 🙂 🙂 The Lisbon and Porto areas are quite badly affected but the President here declared a State of Emergency 3 weeks ago to try and keep it contained. My freedom to wander has been curtailed, but so far as I can tell it’s working. There are very few cases reported in the Algarve and we are almost in lockdown until after Easter. It will be a very strange one here. No processions and not much joy, but there are many worse places to be. Sad that I can’t walk on the beaches and even sadder that I couldn’t get back to the UK to see my family. Take care of yourself 🙂

  5. “Some places speak volumes to me, others simply mutter.” 😁 How right you are! That juxtaposition of gorgeous wall tiles and arched windows, however, was positively singing to me! Stay safe and healthy!

  6. Those cloisters are amazing. I can’t fathom why you aren’t a fan of this town: for me it shouts! Stay well, my friend, and don’t suffer too much as you are forced to curb restlessness.

    1. The cloisters are absolutely amazing, Meg, but you know my tendency to show the best of a place. Much of it was tedious, and that doesn’t make good copy, does it? 🙂 🙂

  7. I prefer the cloisters, the inside of the church seems a bit OTT, but then I am a simple soul and prefer unadorned churches on the whole, they seem so much more restful. But the town does have its plus points. And cake it appears 🙂 Hope you have had a happy Monday! I need to go downstairs now and think about what to have for dinner. Oh, to be able to go out for lunch again!

    1. Definitely OTT and not too much my style either, though I don’t mind a few curlicues 🙂 🙂 The cloisters are the jewel though. Just had spicy turkey stir fry, own recipe (chuck things in a pan 🙂 ) Lovely sunny afternoon reminded me that I was in the Algarve.

  8. Interesting place, and great pictures, Jo. The richness of that church’s interior is overwhelming, and leaves me as usual with mixed feelings. I do like the street art. Thanks for sharing. Be well 🤗

    1. I do sometimes think that the money could be better spent, when it comes to churches, Francina, but I suspect that’s sacriligious. Still very beautiful 🙂 🙂

      1. It might be that is it , Jo.. Yes, it’s is beautiful and very skillful too. When travelling I will visit churches too. There are so many varieties among them. Be well ❤

    1. It’s quite a special place, the museum, Terri. Portugal has numerous treats if you go looking for them. Not always in the obvious places. Stay safe hon, 😍❤️

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.