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?


Pedro & Inês

Mosteiro de Alcobaça, Alcobaça, monastery, coffee, pastry, bell, church, tomb, sarcofagus

Inside the monumental monastery in Alcobaça rest the sarcophagi of Pedro and Inês, the protagonists of a tragic medieval love story – with a Game of Thrones level of gore and treachery!

Pedro, the Crown Prince of Portugal in the 14th century was soon to be married to Constança of Castille. When they first met, Pedro caught a glimpse of one of Constança’s maids: Inês de Castro, a Galician noblewoman with ties to the Castillan court, and soon after, they fell in love for each other.

Pedro was committed to his marriage with Constança of which he had three children. However, Pedro’s and Inês’ love for each other never waned and they kept meeting in secret. Rumors about the affair spread throughout the court and, after Constança died giving birth, the outraged king Afonso exiled Inês – already mother of four of Pedro’s children – to a convent in Coimbra. Pedro was not allowed in, but kept roaming around the walls of the convent, smuggling in love letters.

Seeing the futility of keeping the lovers separated, and fearful of bastard claims to the throne, the king ordered three noblemen to assassinate Inês by decapitating her. An enraged and vengeful Pedro spent years hunting his lover’s assassins down, finally capturing two of them. He executed them in a public display, ripping their hearts out from their bodies.

Legend has it that after being crowned king, Pedro exhumed the corpse of Inês, claiming to have married her in life and forcing the whole court to acknowledge his queen and kiss her hand.

They now rest together in stone for eternity, in the halls of the church of the monastery of Alcobaça.

Mosteiro de Alcobaça, monastery, Alcobaça, kitchen, monument, tiles

It’s a pretty impressive tale of love, hate and betrayal! Impressive as well is the monumental tiled chimney of the kitchen of the monastery! A sight to be seen and an architectural work of art.Mosteiro de Alcobaça, Alcobaça, monastery