Category Archives: Travel

Pandemic Art Adventures: Commonwealth Avenue Mall

The closing of museums during the pandemic put me in a state of art withdrawal.  In search of a fix, I traveled to various locations in the Greater Boston area looking for publicly-accessible art.  On several days in June 2020, I wandered around downtown Boston, looking for public art. One day, I walked along the tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue Mall in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood and photographed the various statues and monuments along the way. The Mall was designed by Arthur Gilman, using the new boulevards of Paris as his inspiration, and was created between 1858 and 1888. The dominant trees were American elms, although many of them have succumbed to Dutch elm disease; other tree species include sweetgum, green ash, maple, linden, zelkova, and Japanese pagoda. Interestingly, public sculpture was not a component of Gilman’s original plan, although it is now a highlight of the Mall.

The tour begins at the Public Garden (Arlington Street) and moves west to finish at Charlesgate East. For more information and photos, check out the website of the Friends of the Public Garden.

Sculptor: William Rimmer

Born on the Caribbean island of Nevis (and thus not eligible to be president), Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) helped draft the U.S. Constitution. He founded the Federalist Party, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the New York Post. He was George Washington’s secretary of the treasury and authored the nation’s early financial policies. He was killed in a duel with then-Vice President Aaron Burr.

Sculptor: Martin Milmore

A merchant and fisherman who was born in Salem, Massachusetts and lived in Marblehead, John Glover (1732-1797) served as a brigadier general during the American Revolutionary War. The regiment he commanded evacuated George Washington’s army after losing the Battle of Long Island, and ferried Washington and his troops across the Delaware to surprise Hessian forces at the Battle of Trenton.

Sculptors: Henry Kitson and Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson

Patrick Collins (1844-1905) was an Irish immigrant who became a prominent Boston politician. He served in the Massachusetts Legislature from 1868-1871, in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1883-1889 and as Mayor of Boston from 1902 until his death in 1905.

Sculptor: Theodore Clausen
Landscape Architect: Peter White 

The memorial honors the nine firefighters who were killed on June 17, 1972 in a fire at the Hotel Vendome, which was located across the street from the memorial.

Sculptor: Olin Levi Warner

The most prominent Boston abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) published the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator from 1831 until 1865 and was a co-founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society. He fought to give women the right to vote and supported other social reforms.  

Sculptor: Penelope Jencks

Boston-born Samuel Eliot Morison (1887-1976) was a Harvard professor and distinguished historian, who specialized in naval and maritime history.  Morison was also an accomplished sailor who recreated Columbus’s voyages using the original log books.

Sculptor: Meredith Bergmann

The Boston Women’s Memorial includes representations of Lucy Stone (left), Abigail Adams (center), and Phillis Wheatley (right).

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts. She was married to second U.S. President John Adams and served as First Lady from 1797-1801. She served as informal advisor to John Adams, who consulted her on most matters. Abigail Adams was also the mother of sixth U.S. President John Quincy Adams.  Her letters are the source of important information about the early United States.

Massachusetts women’s rights activist Lucy Stone (1818–1893) was a public speaker and writer who helped to organize the first National Women’s Rights Convention and establish the Women’s National Loyal League and the American Women’s Suffrage Association. She was also an abolitionist who campaigned for the passage of the 13th Amendment.

An acclaimed poet, Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784) was born in West Africa, sold into slavery and brought to Boston, where she was sold to the Wheatley family.  In 1773, she published Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, the first book of poetry published by an African-American, which received praise from many, including George Washington.  Following the publication of the book, Wheatley was emancipated.

Sculptor: Yvette Compagnion

Domingo Sarmiento (1811-1888) was an Argentine writer, intellectual, and politician who became the 7th president of Argentina, serving from 1868-1874. Sarmiento modeled his country’s education system on that of Boston’s Horace Mann, and Argentina gave this statue to the city in gratitude. 

Sculptor: Anne Whitney

Leif Eriksson (c. 970-c. 1020 CE) (also spelled Erikson) was a Norse explorer from Iceland, who may have been the first European to establish a settlement on continental North America. Some scholars believe that the settlement of Vinland described in Icelandic sagas corresponds to a Norse settlement, remains of which have been discovered in Newfoundland, Canada at L’Anse aux Meadows. The statue in Boston, which is the oldest public sculpture of Leif Eriksson in the U.S., was donated by patent medicine maker Eben Horsford, who mistakenly believed that Vinland was located on Boston’s Charles River.

For other Pandemic Art Adventures, check out these posts:

Brandeis University
Harvard University
Boston University
Boston Common
Boston Public Garden

Pandemic Art Adventures: Brandeis University

The closing of museums during the pandemic put me in a state of art withdrawal.  In search of a fix, I traveled to various locations in the Greater Boston area looking for publicly-accessible art.  College campuses are great place to find art, so one day in June I visited the Brandeis University in Waltham, MA to see what art I could find without having to go inside.  I found quite a bit of art, most of which I was able to identify either through plaques or an online search. Brandeis has an excellent website with additional information here.  There were a few sculptures I couldn’t identify, which are shown at the end of the post – if you have any information about them, please share in the comments!

Louis Brandeis sculpture
Robert Berks (1922-2011) – Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1956).
K3B Robert Berks -Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1956) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

L6B Peter Grippe - The Three Freedoms (1963) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Peter Grippe (1912-2002) – The Three Freedoms (1963)

L9D Nathan Rapaport - Job (1967) (detail) Brandeis University
The statute of Job (1967) by Nathan Rapaport (1911-1987) is part of a larger Holocaust Memorial outside the Jewish Chapel at Brandeis.
L9C Nathan Rapaport - Job (1967) Brandeis University

M4B Maurice B. Hexter - Non-Objective (1970) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA M4C Maurice B. Hexter - Non-Objective (1970) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Maurice B. Hexter (1891-1990) – Non-Objective (1970).

M8F Jacques Lipchitz - Pegasus (Birth of the Muses) (1972) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973) – Pegasus (Birth of the Muses) (1972)

O1H Ernest Trova - Tree (1982) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Ernest Trova (1927-2009) – Tree (1982)
O1I Ernest Trova - Tree (1982) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

O2B Lila Katzen - The Wand of Inquiry (1983) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Lila Katzen (1925-1998) – The Wand of Inquiry (1983).  The mockingbird is not part of the sculpture, but it insisted on remaining for the duration of my visit.
O2C Lila Katzen - The Wand of Inquiry (1983) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

O8B1 Penelope Jencks - Student and Knowledge (1986) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Penelope Jencks (1936- ) – Student and Knowledge (1986)
O8B2 Penelope Jencks - Student and Knowledge (1986) (2) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

P3D David Bakalar - Duality (1990) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
David Bakalar (1924- ) – Duality (1990)

P6B Rita Blitt - Inspiration (1993) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Rita Blitt (1931- ) – Inspiration (1993)

Q1E David Aronson - Ruach Yisrael (The Spirit of Israel) (1997) (1) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
David Aronson (1923-2015) – Ruach Yisrael (The Spirit of Israel) (1997)
Q1F David Aronson - Ruach Yisrael (The Spirit of Israel) (1997) (2) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

A6E Unknown Artist - Brandeis Peace Monument (2002) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Brandeis Peace Monument (2002). I have been unable to locate the identity of the artist(s) who created this work.  If you have any information, please let me know.

E1A1 Paul Belenkey - A Golem for Brandeis University (2014) Waltham, MA
A Golem for Brandeis University (2014) was created by Brandeis student and artist Paul Belenkey (Class of 2014).

E1A3 Chris Burden - Light of Reason (2014) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Chris Burden (1946-2015) – Light of Reason (2014). These photographs were taken during the day; for the full effect, the work should be seen at night when the lamps are lit.
E1A4 Chris Burden - Light of Reason (2014) Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Brandeis sleeping sculpture 2
Muslim at Prayer (?).  I have been unable to locate any information about this statue, which is located in a small wooded glade near the university chapels.  At first I thought it was someone asleep or collapsed (after too much studying?), but I have been told it may represent a praying Muslim figure (perhaps intended to draw attention to the lack of a Muslim chapel?).

Brandeis sculpture 2
Armillary Sphere with Zodiac Signs.  I have been unable to find out any information about this artwork.  If you know anything about it, please let me know in the comments.

Gryzmish Brandeis
This abstract sculpture adorns the exterior wall of the Gryzmish building.  I have been unable to find out any information about it.  If you have any knowledge of the sculptor, date, etc., please contact me or leave a comment.  Thanks.

POSTSCRIPT: Outside the sculpture studio, I found a number of student works in various states of completion, waiting for the students to return after the untimely interruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Pandemic Art Adventures: MIT

The closing of museums during the pandemic put me in a state of art withdrawal.  In search of a fix, I traveled to various locations in the Greater Boston area looking for publicly-accessible art.  College campuses are great place to find art, so one day in June I visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA to see what art I could find without having to go inside.  I found quite a bit of art, which I was able to identify either through plaques or an online search. MIT has an excellent website with additional information here.

K2B Eero Saarinen - MIT Chapel (1956) Cambridge, MA
Although Eero Saarinen’s 1956 MIT Chapel is a work of architecture, it’s compact size and modernist belltower make it feel like a sculpture, so I am including it here.  Other interesting works of architecture on campus are Baker House (1948), one of only two permanent structures in the US designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (see below),
baker house 3
and of course, the whimsical Stata Center (2004), by Frank Gehry.
stata center 1
stata center 5

L8B Alexander Calder - La Grande Voile (The Big Sail) (1965) (1) MIT
Alexander Calder’s La Grande Voile (The Big Sail) (1965), made of painted steel, is located in McDermott Court.
L8C Alexander Calder - La Grande Voile (The Big Sail) (1965) (2) MIT

N1C Louise Nevelson - Transparent Horizon (1975) (1) MIT
Transparent Horizon (1975) by Louise Nevelson is made from Cor-Ten steel painted black and is located in front of the Landau building.
N1D Louise Nevelson - Transparent Horizon (1975) (2) MIT

N9B Gary Wiley - Invaders (1981) (detail 3) MIT
Gary Wiley’s Invaders, completed in 1981 and installed in 1982, consists of three different butterfly figures and is made of wrought iron, soft steel, mirrored and colored Plexiglas, marbles, and paint. The sculpture is intended to be mobile and is moved to different locations on campus from time to time.  I saw it at the alumni pool building.
N9C Gary Wiley - Invaders (1981) (detail 2) MIT N9D Gary Wiley - Invaders (1981) (detail 1) MIT

B1C Mark di Suvero - Aesop's Fables, II (2005)(1) MIT
Mark di Suvero’s Aesop’s Fables, II (2005) is made of steel painted red and is located on the northeast sector lawn.
B1D Mark di Suvero - Aesop's Fables, II (2005)(2) MIT

C6C Jaume Plensa - Alchemist (2010) (2) MIT
Alchemist (2010), by Jaume Plensa, is made of stainless steel painted white and is located on the lawn of the Stratton Student Center.
C6B Jaume Plensa - Alchemist (2010) (1) MIT

Pandemic Art Adventures: Harvard University

The closing of museums during the pandemic put me in a state of art withdrawal.  In search of a fix, I traveled to various locations in the Greater Boston area looking for publicly-accessible art.  One place to find art is college campuses, so one day in June I visited Harvard University in Cambridge, MA to see what art I could find without having to go inside.  I found quite a bit of art, and some of it was fairly easy to identify either through plaques or online searching.  In one case, I had no luck with IDs.  If you know anything about the unidentified artworks, please leave a comment!

29A1 Brunswick Lion (original 1166, replica 1900-03) Adophus Busch Hall, Cambridge, MA
Outside Adolphus Busch Hall proudly stands a replica of the Brunswick Lion. The original was made in 1166 and is located in Dankwarderode Castle in Braunschweig, Germany.  This replica was made in about 1900-1903.

Speaking of lions, these two Chinese protector lions are located at the entrance to the Harvard-Yenching Library, but I have been unable to locate any information about them. If you have anything to share (artist, date, provenance, country of origin, etc.), I would appreciate it.

99C Daniel Chester French - John Harvard (1884) (1) Cambridge, MA  99B Daniel Chester French - John Harvard (1884) (2) Cambridge, MA
Certainly the most famous sculpture on the Harvard University campus is Daniel Chester French’s 1884 statue of John Harvard, which, as any student can tell you, is not a likeness of 17th Century benefactor John Harvard (there are no paintings or drawings of him) but of 19th Century Harvard student Sherman Hoar.  Daniel Chester French’s most famous work is the statue of Abraham Lincoln inside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

J4A Richard Lippold - World Tree (1950) Harvard University, Cambridge, MAAlthough much of the architecture at Harvard consists of traditional 19th and early 20th Century brick  and stone structures, in 1948, the University commissioned The Architects Collaborative, led by Bauhaus innovator Walter Gropius, to design a Graduate Student Center on campus.  The modernist features of the multi-building complex serve as a stark contrast to the ivy-covered walls of old Harvard.  As part of the project, Gropius commissioned a number of artworks, including this one, called World Tree (1950), by Richard Lippold.
world tree photo
An archival photo from the 1950s shows Gropius and his colleagues (including John Harkness) posing on the sculpture.

M8E Louise Nevelson - Night Wall I (1972) (2) Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
My personal favorite work of public art at Harvard is Night Wall I (1972) by Louise Nevelson, which is located outside Hauser Hall at Harvard Law School.  The multi-component sculpture, made of steel painted black, presents many different views as you walk around it, and reveals more layers of detail the more time you spend with it.  As seen in these photos, the play of light and shadow on the various steel surfaces is an added component of interest – the time of day and season of the year will affect the viewing experience.
M8D Louise Nevelson - Night Wall I (1972) (1) Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

G9A Marla Allisan - Hope (pandemic series) (2020) Harvard University, Cambridge, MA G9B Marla Allisan - Uncertainty (pandemic series) (2020) Harvard University, Cambridge, MA G9C Marla Allisan - Hope III (pandemic series) (2020) Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
During my June 2020 walk through a deserted campus, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this triptych in the windows of the Sherman Fairchild Biochemistry Building.  The works are (from left): Hope, Uncertainty and Hope III (all 2020).  They are part of the Pandemic Series by Marla Allisan, who is listed on Harvard’s website as a member of the University’s Health Services staff.


Modernist Architecture in Cambridge, MA: A Tour

Cambridge, Massachusetts (“Our Fair City”, to CarTalk fans) is home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and each of these institutions of higher learning is home to two major works of modernist architecture.  I took a self-guided tour today of the four buildings (actually one of them consists of multiple buildings) and thought I’d share some photos and info with you.


Harvard University Graduate Center (1949-1950)
: Walter Gropius (Germany/US, 1883-1969) with The Architects’ Collaborative (Jean Bodman-Fletcher, Norman C. Fletcher, John C. Harkness, Sarah Harkness, Robert S. McMillan, Louis A. McMillen, and Benjamin Thompson)
gropius complex 1
gropius complex 5
gropius complex 2
gropius complex 7
gropius complex 4
gropius complex 6
Originally built as the university’s graduate center, the Gropius Complex (as it is sometimes called) consists of eight buildings – seven dormitories and a dining hall/student center – arranged around larger and smaller four-sided courtyards. The dormitories are situated so that no one faces another. The dormitories are now used to house Harvard Law School students. The dining hall (Harkness Commons) can seat up to 1,000 students. All the buildings are four stories or fewer and are constructed of concrete; the exterior walls are made of buff-colored brick or limestone. According to, “The Harvard Graduate Center is the first modern building on the campus, it was also the first endorsement of the modern style by a major university and was seen in the national and architectural presses as a turning point in the acceptance of the aesthetic in the United States.”

Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts (1961-1963)
ArchitectLe Corbusier (Switzerland/France, 1887-1965) with Guillermo Jullian de la Fuente. On-site coordinator: Josep Lluís Sert.
carpenter center 5carpenter center 2
carpenter center 1
carpenter center 4
carpenter center 3
carpenter center 6
Le Corbusier was a driving force in modern architecture and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard is the only building in the United States that he designed. Le Corbusier was famous for his “five points of architecture”: (1) The building is raised up on reinforced concrete pylons, which allows for free circulation on the ground level, and eliminates dark and damp parts of the house. (2) The sloping roof is replaced by a flat roof terrace, which can be used as a garden, for promenades, sports or a swimming pool. (3) Load-bearing walls are replaced by a steel or reinforced concrete columns, so the interior can be freely designed, and interior walls can put anywhere, or left out entirely. The structure of the building is not visible from the outside. (4) Since the walls do not support the house, ribbon windows can run the entire length of the house, so all rooms can get equal light. (5) Since the building is supported by columns in the interior, the façade can be much lighter and more open, or made entirely of glass. There is no need for lintels or other structure around the windows. The building now houses Harvard’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, and is the venue for screenings by the Harvard Film Archive. The building was completed in 1963, just two years before Le Corbusier’s death; he was too ill to attend the opening ceremonies and never saw the completed building.


Baker House (1947-1948)
: Alvar Aalto (Finland, 1898-1976)
baker house 3
baker house 4
baker house 2baker house 1baker house 5baker house 6
Finnish architect Alvar Aalto once described his design for Baker House – a six-story MIT dormitory on Memorial Drive in Cambridge – as a mix between a ski lodge and a ship. An aerial view of the building shows its wave shape. The website docomomo-us opined: “Baker House is the first major building to synthesize European Modernism with the regional material vernacular of New England. It is also a pivotal building in architect Alvar Aalto’s career and the most significant of his works in North America.”

Stata Center (2004)
Architect: Frank Gehry (Canada/US, 1929- )
stata center 1
stata center 5
stata center 6
stata center 7
stata center 4
stata center 8
The Stata Center houses classrooms and auditoriums used by MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department, the Linquistics Department and the Philosophy Department, as well as other departments and on-campus groups. It is also home to the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems. Noam Chomsky, Richard Stallman and Tim Berners-Lee are among the academic A-listers with offices there.  In a 2004 review of the building, Boston Globe columnist Robert Campbell wrote: “the Stata is always going to look unfinished. It also looks as if it’s about to collapse. Columns tilt at scary angles. Walls teeter, swerve, and collide in random curves and angles. Materials change wherever you look: brick, mirror-surface steel, brushed aluminum, brightly colored paint, corrugated metal. Everything looks improvised, as if thrown up at the last moment. That’s the point. The Stata’s appearance is a metaphor for the freedom, daring, and creativity of the research that’s supposed to occur inside it.”

I’ll conclude with a Stata Center self-portrait:
stata center self portrait


My Favorite Places: Monument Valley

Straddling the border between Arizona and Utah, Monument Valley is a mythic landscape deep in the heart of the Navajo Nation.  Its sandstone buttes have become part of American western iconography through the camera lenses of John Ford and many lesser filmmakers, including those selling cars and other merchandise.

We encountered the Valley close-up and personal on our Arizona trip in 2007.  We arrived at Goulding’s Lodge in the late afternoon and drove over to the park, where a dozen or so photographers had set up to catch the Mitten Buttes in the magic light just before sunset.  

We stopped and played with some dogs and horses, with no one else around.

The next morning we watched the sun rise over the buttes from our balcony.  

Then we returned to the park for a horseback tour with Jasper, our Navajo guide to the off-road areas of the Valley.  

He told us about life in the Navajo Nation, and sang a bit of a tribal chant, which echoed off the bizarre rock formations.  We will never forget that mystical place.

That’s churches, to those of you who don’t speak Portuguese. Actually, not just igrejas but also mosterios (monasteries) and conventos. We just returned from two weeks in the Westernmost country in Europe, and we toured many religious sites. Not because we’re religious (though we were both raised Catholic), but because these structures contain the best examples of Portuguese art and architecture from the Middle Ages until the 19th Century. In fact, there were so many beautiful churches that we had to skip some of them, using the mantra, “We can’t stop for just gorgeous.”

13. Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, Porto (1709-1739). The azulejos (tilework) was the impressive thing here, both inside and out.
Church of St. Ildefonso, Porto

12. Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, Lamego (1129, 1760s). I’m told there isn’t much to see inside the church which was built by Afonso Henriques before he became Portugal’s first king and then rebuilt in the 18th Century, so we didn’t go in. The real attraction is the 686-step staircase (also mid-18th Century) that leads up to the church from the center of town, and the tiles, fountains and sculptures that adorn it.Our Lady of Remedies Church and Staircase, Lamego Our Lady of Remedies Church and Staircase, Lamego

11. Mosteiro de Santa Cruz, Coimbra (1123-1232, 16th Century). Another mix of styles from over the centuries, but well worth the visit. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, is buried here, in a tomb designed many centuries after his death (see photo). The Santa Cruz cafe next door appears to have been built in a side room of the monastery.Church of Santa Cruz, Coimbra

10. , Lamego. (1129, 16th-18th Centuries). It wasn’t in any of our books, but this Gothic Douro Valley cathedral was quite impressive. The bell tower (see photo) is the only 12th Century element remaining after extensive renovations in the 1500s and 1600s. The ceiling paintings, relying heavily on tones of orange, are breathtaking (see photo).Cathedral, Lamego.Cathedral, Lamego

9. Sé Velha, Coimbra (1139-1220, additions in 16th Century). This cathedral was built at a time when Coimbra was the capital of Portugal, and Portugal’s second king, Sancho I, was crowned here in 1185 (before it was even finished!). It is considered a masterpiece of the Romanesque style. There were major additions, including the tilework, in the 1500s.Old Cathedral, Coimbra Old Cathedral, Coimbra

8. Igreja da Madalena, Lisbon (Alfama) (latest version: 1783). This may be the unluckiest church in Portugal. It was first built in 1150 or 1164 under King Afonso Henriques. A fire destroyed it in 1363, so King Ferdinand I rebuilt it. Then, in 1600, a cyclone demolished it, requiring another rebuild. Then came the 1755 earthquake – you see where I’m going here. Queen Maria I rebuilt the church again in 1783. When we visited in 2013, everything seemed very sturdy and stable, and we hope it stays that way.
Madalena Church, Alfama

7. Igreja de Santa Maria, Óbidos (mid-12th Century, revisions 14th-17th Century). Wonderful floor-to-ceiling azulejos inside, from the 1700s. Site of 1441 marriage of King Afonso V, age 10, to his cousin, Princess Isabella of Coimbra, age 8. When we visited, a wedding had just been performed inside and a crowd of revelers was gathered in the square. The bride and groom appeared to be above the age of consent.

Church of Santa Maria, Óbidos Church of Santa Maria, Óbidos

6. , Lisbon (Alfama) (1147-1203, 1290-1320, 17th Century, 18th Century). Lisbon’s cathedral contains a mix of styles due to frequent rebuilding and renovation, esp. after the 1755 earthquake. It was built after the Christian conquest on the site of Lisbon’s main mosque. A popular story has it that during a war with Spain, an angry mob threw the bishop out of one of the belltowers after finding out he was Spanish. The tombs of nobleman Lopo Fernandes Pacheco (with his dog and sword) and his wife Maria de Villalobos, reading a book (see photos) are delightful.

DSC_0051 Stitch Tomb of Lopo Fernandes Pacheco, Lisbon Cathedral, Alfama, LisbonTomb, Lisbon Cathedral, Alfama, Lisbon

5. Convento da Ordem do Carmo, Lisbon (Chiado) (1389-1423). The roof of this magnificent structure collapsed during 1755 earthquake, but the ruins, now open to the sky, are still impressive.

Carmo Convent, Chiado, Lisbon Carmo Convent, Chiado, Lisbon

4. Jerónimos Mosteiro, Lisbon (Belem) (1501-1600). A masterpiece of Manueline architecture. In the rear of the main church are the tombs of poet Luís de Camões (d. 1570) and explorer Vasco de Gama (d. 1570) (see photo).

Hieronymite Monastery Jeronimos Monastery, Belem, LisbonTomb of Vasco da Gama, Jeronimos Monastery, Belem, Lisbon

3. Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça, Alcobaça. (1178-1300). The first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, decided to build this monastery to commemorate his victory over the Moors at Santarém in 1147. In the main church are the tombs of King Pedro I (d. 1367) and Inês de Castro (d. 1355), who are facing each other across the aisle. The figures carrying Inês’s tomb include several of her murderers, who were acting on orders from Pedro’s father, King Afonso IV.
Batalha Monastery, Batalha Alcobaca Monastery

2. Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória (Mosteiro Batalha) (1386-1517). Going into battle of Aljubarrota against Spain in 1385, King John I promised Mary that if they were victorious, he would build a church on the site. Portugal was victorious in the batalha (battle) and building of a monastery for the Dominicans began the next year. The Founder’s Chapel contains the tombs of King John I (d.1433) and his wife Philippa of Lancaster (d.1415), their effigies holding hands. The tombs of their children, including Prince Henry the Navigator (d. 1460) are also present. The monastery contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, where members of the Republican Guard stand at attention during the day.Batalha Monastery, Batalha Batalha Monastery, Batalha

1. Igreja de São Francisco, Porto (1383-1425, 1700-1750). After visiting some magnificent buildings, nothing could have prepared us for the interior of this church, with its Baroque gilt wood carvings (known as ‘talha dourada’). Some churches awe by their simplicity and grandeur, or by the delicate detail of their architecture, painting and sculpture. This was just completely over-the-top dazzling. No photographs were allowed, but no photograph (and I’ve looked at many on the Internet) can capture the intense effect of all that gold.