Local Heart, Global Soul

December 5, 2010

An Unexpected Discovery, and distinctive déjà vu Moment.

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When Himself and I were in northern Portugal for our honeymoon fifteen years ago, we spent some time in in the small city of Braga. Naturally, if you are visiting Braga, then you will probably also visit  it’s most famous attraction: The sanctuary of ” Bom Jesus do Monte” (“Jesus of the Mount“).

It’s located on a steep hill and one of the main features of Bom Jesus is the ornate Baroque staircase that the pilgrims use to climb the hill.

The staircase is almost 120 meters (approx 390 feet) and is in layers, with fountains at each level, in the same style as the upper staircase here at Our Lady of the Snows.

I reflected upon this striking similarity when we were on the upper staircase, but remembered one important difference: at Bom Jesus, there were also hexagonal chapels at the various levels, representing the Stations of the Cross.

Here in the Peneda-Gerés National Park, there was the staircase/fountain arrangement alone.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After we had looked around the small market, seen the church and been up and down the staircase to it, we started back to the car at the side of the central square. The two tour buses that had been next to us were now gone, as had a mass of extra cars and all of a sudden I glanced to my left and saw something that made me smile.

A short distance away,further down the hill,  there was a second staircase. Not the tightly formatted style of the one leading to the church, or with ornate fountains, but one with little chapels almost identical in style to Bom Jesus in Braga.

There were stairs of course, but they were short series of steps connecting the  wide paths that clearly descended  further down the hill, and as my eye was lead by the path into the distance, there were a whole series of the hexagonal chapels to go with them.

Wow, a mini Bom Jesus…  you don’t have to be at all religious to feel the moment of recognition, to feel like a small circle came full circle, to feel like you actually know this place better than you actually do.

The only small element of history not repeating itself were the weddings, but that’s an amusing anecdote to be recounted in a future  post.

The kids were hot and tired and retired to the shade of a tree above with Himself…  whilst I went to investigate my new discovery further.

I didn’t go all the way down, and if the kids had not been impatient I think it would have made a very interesting walk. I like this very northern Portuguese style of architecture, simple, elegant.

Let’s take a look at the views…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The figure statues here have a entirely different style to the ones in the upper staircase that leads to the church, these are less Romanesque, less romantic and far more medieval looking. They have been designed to have metal halo’s around their heads, sadly of the four main statues, three of the halo’s had slid down, giving the appearance of them having very large ears instead.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Thus I discovered them with a smile and left them with a smile…

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