Ponte Romana

My Top View of Tavira

A little tenuous, this one, but it’s a view I love.  Church ‘on top’ of a hill.  The Ponte Romana, ‘atop’ the River Giláo.

It’s a good follow up to yesterday, and I’m hoping Becky will like it.  It’s all getting a little crazy over at her #SquareTops.

Cross on Top

Walk down the Avenida da Liberdade, in Tavira, and you can’t miss the beautiful bridge, Ponte Romana.  This crest sits proudly atop it.  Although the existing bridge doesn’t date back to Roman times there was a river crossing here linking the main Roman road from Faro to Castro Marim.

Becky’s been gazing at the Super Moon.  Why not join her at #SquareTops?

Six word Saturday



The view that draws me back…

Looking down the years of our Portuguese home, there’s an image that appears over and over. It’s the bridge, Ponte Romana, in Tavira, with its lovely backdrop.  Many’s the evening I’ve idled, with a glass of port, watching the dip and swoop of the swifts.  Trying hard to catch their flight on camera, in an unsuspecting moment.

It’s just one reason to keep me going back.

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This week Brie Anne at The Daily Post asks if you have a ‘muse‘.  Something to which you are drawn again and again.

Meanwhile Cate has just six words at Show My Face.  How about you?


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Muse.”

Water under the bridge

Or stunningly,as part of a "waterfall" light installation

I seem to have done quite a few posts on bridges.  But Jake is back, so how can I say no?   Jake’s Sunday Post is always a cause for celebration.  I might even have to open another of those bottles of wine!

I love the violet hues of this photo.  It was taken in Durham in 2011, during a biennial event called Lumiere.  The light installations over and beside the River Wear were like nothing I have seen before.  If you’re fortunate enough to be near Durham this November, I can promise you a beautiful evening of colour and sound when Lumiere comes to town.

Water flowing under a bridge will always hold me captive, drifting in the current.  Where would it take me, if I let it?  A lifetime has slipped past while I wonder.  All just water under the bridge.

And it wouldn't be complete without my favourite bridge, and we're back with the subtle colour.

You probably recognise this bridge, but I can share a view of it you won’t have seen before.  It hangs on the wall in my favourite cafe, Anazu, on the riverfront in Tavira.  It’s in 3-D, though you really can’t tell from my photo.

IMG_6221Not that I’m often inside the cafe.  The pavement outside has the view that I love.  I have watched so much water pass under the bridge, but some will have seen very much more.  I found this black and white photo in the Galeria Palace museum in the town.  Times may have changed but the water flows on.

Ponte Romana B & WThe evening light fades and the moon rises in the sky on a warm Summer’s night.  I stand beside my bridge and look out to sea.  I’m filled with hope that I might return.  Well, who wouldn’t be?

IMG_6522It only needs me to remind you that Jake’s place is a good place to be, on a Sunday or any other day.  Please click on the logo below or any link to pay him a visit.


CBBH Photo challenge- same subject, different time

Marianne at East of Malaga knew I was going to be predictable in her CBBH challenge this month.  Well, when you know a lovely spot, why not share it?  So here we have Tavira, in the Eastern Algarve, at different times of day.

Ponte Romana in Tavira

Ponte Romana in Tavira

And in the evening, it gets better

And in the evening, it just gets better

And better, don't you think?

And better!  I love those reflections under the bridge.

And when the tide's in, it's different again.

And when the tide’s in, it’s different again.

I can’t compete with the drama of Marianne’s disappearing mountain.  It’s a stunner!  But by this stage of things I’m getting mellow, with a glass of port and the swifts for company.

I like the view in the other direction, too, looking away from the Ponte Romana to the Old Military bridge. (which is so old it has holes in!)

It's peaceful and calm in the evenings

It’s peaceful and calm as the sun sets

And sometimes the colours are simply stunning

And sometimes the opalescent colours are simply stunning

I don't take many full evening shots

Then the lights come on, and it’s different again

Maybe Cabanas is more your kind of place?  You won’t often see it this empty.

I can almost hear the clop of sandals on the boardwalk

No telltale clop of sandals on the boardwalk

Or flip flops!  Much more peaceful.

Ssh, flip flops are quieter!  Who IS that smiley lady?

Later in the day, there’s a little more vibrance.

Is this what's called a rosy hue?

I guess this is what’s called a rosy hue?

I’m not certain that this is quite what Marianne had in mind, but I’ve got 4 weeks before the challenge finishes, so I can always try again.

But first, let me introduce Ventisqueras.  Sometimes a blog comes along that really excites me, and this lady does exactly that.  We struggle with language because my Italian is just a few words, but sometimes that doesn’t matter.

I um and err when I have to choose blogs, but I know there are a lot of pet lovers out there.  I found Bailey Boat Cat quite recently and it did make me smile.  Such an elegant feline.  Enjoy checking them out and have a great month!

Sunday Post : Morning

I’m humming away to myself this morning.  But then I’m a morning person, especially if that sun comes peaking over the rooftops, calling to me.  I mean, how can it be a hardship to get up and start a brand new day?

Jakesprinter’s theme for the Sunday Post this week is Morning.  I walk through a park very like yours on Saturdays, Jake.  I don’t have time to linger on a bench, but I always smile at the swans on the peaceful lake, the dog walkers, and sometimes an early morning toddler, kicking a ball with his dad.  Very often I’ll be singing Cat Stevens’ “Morning has broken”…  that most gentle celebration of the new day.

More prosaicly, my day always starts with a cup of coffee, and a book (though these days , the laptop sometimes wins).

Sparkling grapefruit?  A bit of toast, and I’m good to go.

That doesn’t vary much, even when I’m in the Algarve, but the scenery’s a whole lot different.  Often I sit up on the rooftop, gazing out over the salt marshes to the sea.  Sometimes I do a little t’ai chi, before it gets too hot.  Then maybe a stroll down to the bakery for fresh rolls.  I can seldom resist that early morning wander through the town.  Coming along?

There’s always a church spire, whichever way you look, in Tavira.

Irresistibly I’m drawn to the river, the boats tethered securely against the tide

It’s high tide beneath the Ponte Romana

The riverside houses need a touch of paint, but no less beautiful for that.

Looking back you can almost see Anazu, our favourite cafe, just out of shot.

If I’m feeling very energetic, then maybe a climb up to the castle walls

More often it’s a stroll through the riverside gardens

Especially if the bandstand’s festooned for one of the many local festivals

In the side streets you encounter many of Tavira’s exquisite town houses

Admire the prettiest church facade in Tavira

Or loiter in the shady chapel gardens

Just time to play on the stepping stones when nobody’s looking

Then off to the bakery before they sell out! Just one quick look back.

I’m going again in a few weeks, so thank you Jake for reminding me what I’m missing.  Apologies to those of you who’ve seen some of these images already in Talking about Tavira.  I hope it’s worth a second look?

This started as a morning post and it’s teatime already!  The evening will be spent checking out the other entries in Jakesprinter’s brilliant challenge.  Click on the flying dragon logo or the links to come with me.

Talking about Tavira

Having made the comparison in my last blog between Tavira in the Eastern Algarve and the lovely city of Durham, it must be time to introduce you properly to Tavira.  At this time of year we rush towards Christmas but, when the cold nips and the nights are dark, I can’t help longing for the skyline that I love.

Ponte Romana and the skyline

Ponte Romana and that compelling skyline

I first arrived in Tavira on an October day when the streets were full of puddles.  Blue sky peeped around the fluffy white clouds, but I had eyes only for the buildings.  Rainbow coloured tiles washed their faces, and I had my first introduction to the azulejo- a blue and white tile used throughout Portugal for telling a story.  And I do love a good story.

Carmo church

Igreja do Carmo

Parking and the one way system wasn’t easy for a newcomer but we found a space by the Igreja do Carmo, the mother church, and happily abandoned the car.  The cobbled streets wander erratically down to the river.  Gardens line both riverbanks, and across the River Gilao a tempting panorama of churches and castle walls awaits.  Two bridges provide easy access- one to admire the other from, with Ponte Romana effortlessly winning the beauty contest.

Rio Gilao and Ponte Romana

Rio Gilao and Ponte Romana

Ponte Romana

Ponte Romana

From the riverside cafe

From the riverside cafe

The river bank and Military Bridge

The river bank and Military Bridge

Off the main square, Praca da Republica, steps lead up to Igreja da Misericordia (Church of Mercy).  Here I was to discover the power of the azulejo.  The life of Christ and Works of Mercy are depicted in blue and white panels on the walls.  Our Lady of Mercy looks down from above the imposing main entrance.

Igreja da Misericordia

Igreja de Misericordia-copyright Wikipedia

On up the steep steps, I pause to admire the fine building that is the Palacio da Galeria.  Stepping inside I am entranced to discover that I can see through glass plates, down to the foundations.  To the rear, excavation continues slowly into Tavira’s history.  Restoration has created a beautiful museum, with sloping wooden ceilings.

View from the Castle Walls

View from the Castle Walls

Gardens and Santa Maria

Santa Maria through the castle gardens

Castle walls

Castle gate and walls

Just a little further up and you can rest in the gardens within the remains of the Castle walls.  A peaceful spot, the views from here out over the river mouth and the salt marshes are lovely.  The traditionally styled tessoura roofs are everywhere below.  Opposite the gardens another church, Santa Maria, contains the tomb of Dom Paio Peres Correia and the seven knights for whom he took back the town from the Moors in 1242.  The town had been ruled from Moorish Cordoba since 711 but the treacherous murder of his knights during a time of truce provoked Dom Paio.  Much of the town was destroyed during the conflict, and the church of Santa Maria was built on the site of the razed Mosque.

The name Tavira is thought to be derived from Arabic tabira, “the hidden”, but its history is long, dating back to the Late Bronze Age.  It was one of the first Phoenician settlements on the Iberian Peninsula and later the Romans built a port nearby.  The 17th century was a boom time for trade; salt, dried fish and wine were shipped.  The massive earthquake of 1755 destroyed much of the town, which was largely rebuilt in the 18th century, including the Misericordia church.

Bus station

The grand looking bus station with Santa Maria and the water tower(Camera Obscura) behind

Behind the Santa Maria, the landmark water tower has been converted for use as a Camera obscura.  On sunny days it is quite amusing to look up at the ceiling to view all of Tavira reflected there.  The charge is small and refreshments can be taken while you wait your turn.  Much grander refreshment is available at nearby restaurant A Ver, “the view”.  Outside tables provide one of Tavira’s finest, but at a cost.  The lunchtime menu is more reasonable, if you can’t resist the experience.

Conversion of fine buildings is almost a compulsion in Tavira and I watched with immense pride the reconstruction of the Convento de Graca, now a pousada– a state owned hotel.  The cloisters are stunning and it’s a place I would love to stay if I didn’t have a home here.

I can wander for hours in the back streets, noticing the detail on different buildings and choosing from the endless supply of pastelaria, the cafes the Portuguese love so much.  Almost all of the cakes are almond based and sticky sweet, delicious with a bica, the small strong hit of coffee.  My favourite remains the traditional pastel de nata, the custard tart- I was hooked from that very first bite.


Bandstand in riverside gardens,complete with terrapin

Blue tile building

One of many beautifully tiled buildings

Military Quarter

Military Quarter

Mercado-fish exhibition

Tavira repays wandering, with many peaceful small squares and unpredictable buildings: the Military Quarter on Rua do Poeta, with its soldiers reclining on the roof and the immaculate parade ground within; the new library with its designer-look corten steel wall; the old Mercado beside the river, now home to restaurants and shops and quirky exhibitions.  Most of all, the numerous churches, each so different in character.  These days I regard it a personal triumph if I can find open a church that I have not been inside.  The opening hours are somewhat unpredictable.  Another lovely place to linger with a book, or just to sit – the gardens of the Igreja de Sao Francisco, off Praca Zacarias Guerreiro.

Weir at sunset

Sunset Ponte Romano

Sun sets on the Ponte Romano

Shoreline at sunset

That view again!

Always, as evening descends, I’m drawn back to the waterfront, stilled from the bustle of the day.  Seated outside our old friend, café Anazu, many evenings have come and gone, watching the swifts dart about, and sipping at a port wine.  It isn’t easy to do justice to this place, and the calm I feel on my return.  Nor have I yet mentioned Tavira Island and our numerous boat trips, for they are the subject of a different blog. To be fair, I suspect that the more northerly Tomar with its winding river and Convento, of which I have already written in Festa dos Tabuleiros, is a better comparison with Durham.  Nao faz mal as they say in Portugal- it doesn’t really matter.