DEKL

Praça de Espanha, Lisboa, Portugal, DEKL, religion, Germany

Not only catholic bells toll in Lisboa. The DEKL (Deutsche Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Lissabon), commonly known in the city as ‘the German Church’, takes pride in claiming for itself “the only protestant bell, calling for prayers in the Iberian Peninsula“. This historical bell lays upon the tower of the 1934 building designed by the german modernist architect Otto Bartning, which used to stand nearly alone in the area once known as Palhavã, but has since been engulfed by a central business district.

Em Lisboa não dobram apenas sinos católicos. A DEKL (Deutsche Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Lissabon), conhecida na cidade como ‘a Igreja Alemã’, orgulha-se de ter “o único sino protestante a chamar pelo culto na Península Ibérica“. Este sino histórico repoisa no topo da torre do edifício de 1934 desenhado pelo arquitecto modernista alemão Otto Bartning, que costumava estar quase isolado na zona conhecida outrora como Palhavã, mas que desde então foi submersa por uma zona de escritórios.

Praça de Espanha, Lisboa, Portugal, DEKL, religion, Germany

The church gathers a small but faithful community of worshipers every Sunday morning. The few dozen voices sung during the service – all in German language – which, coupled with the wooden details, the simplicity of the ornaments and the lazy Sunday morning sunlight filtered through the warm stained glass, brought a feeling of peacefulness to the community. One could feel among old friends, watching as the choir sang, as pastor Leif Mennrich spoke to the community in a humorous tone and as the children partook in the service, stepping up to the microphone and telling everybody what they had learned that day. There was a feeling of closeness between the familiar faces and at the same time, openness to new faces – mine and that of a pastor that was on vacation in Lisboa and sat besides me, chatting and translating what she could.

A igreja reúne uma pequena mas fiel congregação todos os domingos de manhã. As poucas dúzias de vozes cantaram em coro durante a missa – tudo em língua alemã – que, junto com os detalhes em madeira, a simplicidade dos ornamentos e a luz do sol de domingo de manhã filtrada pelos vitrais quentes, espalharam uma sensação de paz pela comunidade. Poder-nos-iamos sentir entre velhos amigos, assistindo ao coro, ao pastor Leif Mennrich falando à comunidade com algum humor e vendo as crianças participarem na missa, subindo ao microfine e contando a todos o que tinham aprendido nesse dia. Havia uma sensação de proximidade entre caras familiares e ao mesmo tempo abertura a caras novas – a minha e a de uma pastora que estava de férias em Lisboa e se sentou a meu lado, conversando e traduzindo o que pudesse.

Praça de Espanha, Lisboa, Portugal, DEKL, religion, Germany

Later, after the service was wrapped up, the children ran outside to play catch in the yard, while some members of the community stepped in to the pastor’s home, right next to the church, for some coffee, tea and cake. The previous week, Mário Linhares had prepared the community for the presence of a sketcher, so I had a brief moment to capture the scene. But soon enough, people got curious and I was immersed by tea, cake and joyful chatter. It’s not only faith that ties this community together, but a sense of family, of siblinghood as well.

Mais tarde, depois da missa terminada, os miúdos correram para o jardim para jogar à apanhada, enquanto que alguns membros da comunidade entraram na casa do pastor, mesmo ao lado da igreja, para café, chá e bolos. Na semana anterior, O Mário Linhares já havia preparado a comunidade para a presença de um desenhador, portanto, tive alguma margem de tempo para captar a cena. Mas logo, os curiosos aproximaram-se e fiquei submergido por chá, bolos e conversa animada. Não é só a fé que une esta comunidade, mas um sentido de família e de irmandade também.

Praça de Espanha, Lisboa, Portugal, DEKL, religion, tea, Germany

These sketches will become part of a sketching exhibition on religions of Lisboa, organized by GLEM (Gabinete Lisboa Encruzilhada de Mundos) and Urban Sketchers Portugal. Mário Linhares and I were partnered to portrait DEKL. Check out Mário’s delightful graphic reportage, which includes a recording of the singing during DEKL’s service.

Estes desenhos farão parte de uma exposição sobre religiões em Lisboa, organizada pelo GLEM (Gabinete Lisboa Encruzilhada de Mundos) e os Urban Sketchers Portugal. O Mário Linhares e eu fomos encarregues de retratar a DEKL. Espreitem a extraordinária reportagem gráfica do Mário, que inclui uma gravação do canto durante a missa na DEKL.

 

Poland sketches #7 Music in Krakow

Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:

street singer, street musician, opera, music, Krakow, singer, Poland

“I like to focus in people, in their facial features – a legacy from Hugo Pratt, who used to study the features of the different peoples in his stories. The opera-singing lady in a street corner in front of the Church of St. Andrew in the Old Town of Kraków abused her features in a lofty exaggeration.

Sofia, fado, fadista, Poland, Krakow, Piękny Pies, music, Talking Dog, nightlife

Whereas Sofia, a portuguese girl we stumbled upon rehearsing for a mini fado show a few minutes later, expressed herself subtely with proud postures and slight movements, traits of a proper fado singer.”

Sofia, fado, fadista, Poland, Krakow, Piękny Pies, music, Talking Dog, nightlife

Poland sketches #5 Sights of Krakow

Krakow, Poland, Wawel, cathedral, Katedra Wawelska

Kraków is definitively more touristy than Warszawa. The medieval town’s survival during WWII made it possible for the city to skip the soviet-style modernist renovation and helped preserve the atmosphere of a historical European city, with all the layers of the preceding epochs in plain view. The historical center is peaceful, if a tad busy with mostly Russian and other European tourists going about. It was at a time, the capital city of Poland, until Sigismund III Vasa, part of a Swedish dynasty of kings moved the capital to Warszawa, to be closer to all the territories that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ruled over.

Krakow, Poland, hot chocolate, chocolate, Wedel

Kraków’s historic center (the Old Town, Kazimierz and Wawel) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since ’78 and was one of the first of its kind. The cultural DNA of the city feels very different from that of Warszawa, partly because while Warszawa was closer to Russia, Sweden and Germany, and prey to their invading armies, Kraków was closer to the Habsburg Empire’s ambitions.

 

Lisbon sketching tour

sketching, workshop, students, S. Domingos, St Domenick, church, dominican, Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal

A couple of friends traveled all the way from Istanbul with their multi-national art class, for a few days’ field trip to Lisboa. I was honored to be invited as an instructor in a 3-hour sketching workshop/tour around the old squares of the capital’s downtown. It was one of those rainy April days, and neither one of the sketching stops I had planned were sheltered. I had to resort to a sketchy (pun intended) plan B. We took shelter wherever we could and altered the route just enough so that we’d be a little bit more comfortable. The workshop took us to Terreiro do Paço, Largo Camões and Largo de S. Domingos, city squares with different atmospheres and historical backgrounds. I didn’t have much time to sketch myself as I was trying to go through the sketching activity of the talented young ones.

fado, Bairro Alto, Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal, show, guitar, music

After a brief respite, we all went to a fado show in an auditorium in Bairro Alto. The singers started off slow, but got a hold on the crowd soon after. He whose dedication never waned was the man playing portuguese guitar. His strong but intricate fingering of the strings was what was keeping the show in pace!

dinner, Cervejaria Trindade, Trindade, Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal, food

The afternoon ended in the only semi-traditional semi-touristic restaurant that was large enough to fit the entire crew of talented young artists and their talented not-so-young teachers. I was most happy and proud to join them in this short journey across my adopted home town.

 

The historical downtown of Lisboa under discussion

On the 21st of April, the Central Bank of Portugal, together with GECoRPA – A business organization dedicated to heritage, and ICOMOS – International Council on Monuments and Sites, held a full-day conference about the future of the Baixa Pombalina, the historical downtown of Lisboa, as a potential UNESCO world heritage site. The application process seems to be stuck in the meanders of political maneuvers and no one has the full picture as to what is actually going on. The conference’s mission was to put everything in evidence and in perspective to everyone involved directly or indirectly in this process. The contributions ranged from engineering and architectural specialists, showing studies and successful architecture designs, but also representatives from the political arena and historians and thinkers with some degree of knowledge about the matter at hand.

Lisboa, Baixa Pombalina, Baixa, downtown, earthquake, seismic construction, conference, history, historic building, building, urbanism, urban design, architecture

The core value of the Baixa Pombalina is that it was a landmark in the world’s urban design. It was a exemplary masterplan in the broader sense of the word, as it solved the housing problem for countless victims of the 1755 earthquake, managed to bring Lisboa’s center to the state-of-the-art cities club with a seismic-resistant prefab architecture design, established the terms for the city’s growth for centuries to come, and was planned with financial and political mechanisms that enabled it to be built and to endure for ages to come.

Lisboa, Baixa Pombalina, Baixa, downtown, earthquake, seismic construction, conference, history, historic building, building, urbanism, urban design, architecture, Museum of Money, Banco de Portugal

While the final goal – the application to take the Baixa Pombalina to the UNESCO council – remains fuzzy and distant, and in the hands of far too many variables (such as political shifts and economic winds of change), the gains to be had were a full grasp of the complexity of the matter to everyone present. A lot of students were there alongside professionals and bureaucrats, and it is possible that some of them might have something to say in the future on this matter.

There was still time for a quick tour to the future Museu do Dinheiro. Fitting for a building owned by the Central Bank of Portugal, except that the building is actually a former church in the heart of the Baixa Pombalina. Any conspiracy theorists out there?