weekly photo challenge: one shot, two ways

Sunday, August 11: The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is One Shot, Two Ways.

Cheri Lucas of WordPress writes: This week, photographer Jeff Sinon talked about his process of finding the best shot. Before taking a picture, he studies his scene — looking at a shot horizontally (as a landscape) and vertically (as a portrait). With this honed, critical eye, he decides what orientation works best for his photograph.

For this challenge, capture two images — a horizontal and a vertical version — of the same scene or subject. There are no concrete “rules” here, but a) it should be evident that both shots are of the same place/location or person/thing, and b) your photographs should ideally have been taken during the same shoot.

Here are mine from Europe, from the beautiful town of Sintra in Portugal, one of my favorite places so far in the world!  The first set is the Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira.

Click on any of the photos for a larger view and mini-slideshow.

Here are two shots inside the Main House at Quinta da Regaleira.  This is from the Hunting Room, where the theme of the “cycle of life” is evident throughout the room.

Finally, also in Sintra, is the Palace of Monserrate.

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sintra: quinta da regaleira

Saturday, July 20:  This morning I have another leisurely breakfast in Cafe Piela’s, where I take a picture of Manuel and Leonor, the owners of the Hospedaria.  I also catch a man having his cup of coffee standing at the glass pastry case.

Manuel and Leonor at Cafe Piela's in Sintra
Manuel and Leonor at Cafe Piela’s in Sintra

Then I take a different Scotturb bus to Quinta da Regaleira, an estate located near Sintra-Vila and classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the “Cultural Landscape of Sintra.”   It has a Romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious park featuring lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, towers, fountains, and sculptures. The palace is also known as “Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire”, from the nickname of its first owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.

Quinta da Regaleira ~ Main House
Quinta da Regaleira ~ Main House

Quinta da Regaleira was the summer residence of the Carvalho Monteiro family built in the neo-Manueline style.

The Chapel was also built in the Manueline style.  Its icons revolve around scenes from the Life of Mary and the Life of Christ.  There are also symbols from the Templar Order and its successor in Portugal, the Order of Christ.  The crypt has a subterranean passage that links it with the Main House.

Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira
Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira

The celebrated capitalist Carvalho Monteiro was of Portuguese descent but was born in Rio de Janeiro, at a time when Brazil was governed by an Emperor.  He graduated in law from the University of Coimbra, was a distinguished bibliophile, collector and philanthropist.  With his scientific and cultured mind, he determined the mysterious iconographical program for Regaleira, his residence in Sintra.

Main House at Quinta da Regaleira
Main House at Quinta da Regaleira
Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira
Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira
Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira
Inside the Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira
Inside the Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira
Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira
Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira

The Quinta da Regaleira was the last commission in Portugal of Italian architect Luigi Manini.  He devoted 14 years of his life to the palace, until he returned to Italy in 1912.

Inside the Main House is the Hunting Room, which is really a dining room.  It is overwhelmed by the massive fireplace that supports the statue of a woodsman.  The mantelpiece depicts wonderfully carved hunting scenes.  The theme of the “cycle of life” is evident throughout the room from the Venetian mosaic floor to the ceiling carvings.

Hunting Room in the Main House
Hunting Room in the Main House
Fireplace in the Hunting Room
Fireplace in the Hunting Room
Hunting Room
Hunting Room
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Tiles in the Main House
Tiles in the Main House

I climb up to the Panoramic Terrace, surrounded by eight profusely decorated finials featuring naturalistic and fantastic figures.  From here I can see a sweeping view of the extensive gardens.

view of the garden at Quinta da Regaleira
view of the garden at Quinta da Regaleira
me on a balcony of the Main House
me on the Panoramic Terrace of the Main House
view of the Chapel from the Main House
view of the Chapel from the Main House

Outside the house, I follow the long winding paths through the gardens.  The garden is designed as an image of the Cosmos, revealed through a series of magic and mysterious places.  References to mythology abound: Olympus, Virgil, Dante, Milton and Camoes.  Leda’s Grotto is one of the first places I encounter.

Leda's Grotto
Leda’s Grotto

I climb up a narrow circular staircase to Regaleira Tower, where I can see a view of Sintra-Vila.

Regaleira Tower
Regaleira Tower
view of Sintra-Vila from the Main House
view of Sintra-Vila from the Main House

Near the Lake of the Waterfall, I find the Portal of the Guardians, a dramatic structure with twin towers flanking a central pavilion.  Under the central pavilion is one of the entrance ways to the Initiatic Well, a “subterranean tower” that sinks some 27 meters into the earth, made accessible by a monumental spiral stairway.   It is symbolic of the connection between Heaven and Earth.  Since I don’t like closed dark spaces, I don’t go inside here!

Portal of the Guardians
Portal of the Guardians

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These gardens go on forever!  It takes me a long while, but I finally make it down to the Labyrinthic Grotto, which is very peaceful and lovely, though the photos don’t do it justice.

Labyrinthic Grotto
Labyrinthic Grotto
Labyrinthic Grotto
Labyrinthic Grotto

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At the bottom of the hill, I come to the Promenade of the Gods, an avenue that links the Pisoes Loggia to the Main House, with statues of classical gods: Fortune, Orpheus, Venus, Flora, Ceres, Pan, Dionysus, Volcan and Hermes.

Promenade of the Gods
Promenade of the Gods
Promenade of the Gods
Promenade of the Gods
Promenade of the Gods
Promenade of the Gods

It’s taken me about two-three hours to make my way through Quinta da Regaleira, and it’s been truly lovely and peaceful.  Besides that, the weather continues to be perfect in Sintra.

Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira

I leave the palace and wait outside about a half hour for the next Scotturb bus to Monserrate Palace.  While waiting I have a long conversation with an English-speaking taxi driver who tells me that when I go to Lisbon, I should take a taxi door-to-door instead of hauling my suitcase on the train.  He tells me it will only cost 25 euros or so.  Hmmm.  Now he’s put a bug in my ear, and I may have to consider that tomorrow when I leave for Lisbon.  🙂

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sintra’s castelo dos mouros

Friday, July 19:  This morning I must fortify myself for a big day of castle-hopping through Sintra with a coffee and the decadent Portuguese egg tart pastry, pastel de nata, downstairs at Café Piela’s.  Today’s weather is superb, cool and crisp with cornflower blue skies overhead.  The owner of the café, Manuel, whose English is excellent, is chipper and welcoming and makes me feel like I’m eating breakfast at home.  It’s so lovely when traveling alone to have someone who makes you feel like you’re a part of the family, and not some pariah. 🙂

pastel de nata at Café Piela's
pastel de nata at Café Piela’s

I walk straightaway to the bus station where I catch the Scotturb Pena Sightseeing circular route bus (#434) to Castelo dos Mouros.

It’s quite a long walk through a fern and moss-filled forest up to the Castelo dos Mouros, or the Moorish Castle.

on the path to Castelo dos Mouros
on the path to Castelo dos Mouros
on the path to Castelo dos Mouros
on the path to Castelo dos Mouros

When I reach the castle, and climb up on the ramparts, I am stunned by the view.  This is the second heart-stopping experience I have on my journey, the first being my initial encounter with the Mezquita in Cordoba (andalucía: córdoba’s stunning mezquita).  I know it sounds corny, but I feel a lump in my throat and actually feel like I’m going to cry!  It is so majestic and such a gorgeous panorama that it’s unbelievable that a place such as this actually exists.  There’s a wonderful breeze and the air is crisp and I can just imagine the Moors enjoying their mountaintop view over their kingdom all those centuries ago.

Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros

The castle is an irregularly planned military outpost that follows a 450-meter perimeter on top of a mountainous cliff. It consists of a double line of military walls that meanders over the granite terrain of the promontory. Its place on the hilltop, surrounded by and including the natural and exotic vegetation, accentuates the romantic character of the place (Wikipedia: Castle of the Moors (Sintra)).

From the castle walls, I can see Sintra-Vila below with the chimneys of the Palácio Nacional da Pena.

View of Sintra from Castelo dos Mouros
View of Sintra from Castelo dos Mouros
View of Sintra-Vila from Castelo dos Mouros
View of Sintra-Vila from Castelo dos Mouros

According to Sintra-Portugal.com: Castelo dos Mouros, Sintra, the origins of the castle date back to the 8th century with the Muslim invasion from the north of Africa.  The site of the castle provided a suitable vantage point with views over the estuary of the river Tejo and the plains to the north of Lisbon, with the aim of controlling the strategic land routes linking the Mafra, Sintra, Cascais and Lisbon.  Arab chronicles depict the Sintra region as being very rich in cultivated fields and the Castelo dos Mouros was one of the most important castles in the region, more important than the castle of central Lisbon.

The initial crusade led by King Alfonso VI of Castile captured the Castelo dos Mouros in 1093 but with limited forces was driven out the following year. The castle flourished with the return of the Moors and defensive fortifications were improved.

Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros

The increase in fortifications was not enough to repel the second much larger crusade which freed Lisbon (and then Sintra) from Moorish rule in 1147. The crusader army led by Afonso Henrique’s army was comprised of drunks and thieves, who upon liberating Lisbon promptly sacked the capital.  Sintra and the Castelo dos Mouros withstood longer than Lisbon but succumbed to the siege and sheer numbers of the crusaders’ army. Afonso Henriques and his son D. Sancho both strengthened the castle’s defenses but the royal court favored Lisbon. The castle remained in the background, with its prestige steadily declining.  By the early 15th century, the only inhabitants were Jewish settlers. With the Jews’ expulsion from Portugal in the mid-15th century, the castle was abandoned (Sintra-Portugal.com: Castelo dos Mouros, Sintra).

View of Sintra-Vila from Castelo dos Mouros
View of Sintra-Vila from Castelo dos Mouros

Much of the Castelo dos Mouros was reconstructed during the 19th century as part of King Ferdinand II’s transformation of the Pena Palace and surrounding area.

Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
me at Castelo dos Mouros
me at Castelo dos Mouros
View of Sintra-Vila from Castelo dos Mouros
View of Sintra-Vila & the Royal Palace of Sintra from Castelo dos Mouros

I can also see the fairy tale-like Quinta de Regaleira and its grounds.

View of Quinta da Regaleira from Castelo dos Mouros
View of Quinta da Regaleira from Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros with Sintra below
Castelo dos Mouros with Sintra below
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros

On an adjacent mountain, I can see the Palácio Nacional da Pena, which I will visit after leaving here.

view of Palace of Pena from Castelo dos Mouros
view of Palace of Pena from Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
me at Castelo dos Mouros
me at Castelo dos Mouros
hydrangeas abound on the grounds of Castelo dos Mouros
hydrangeas abound on the grounds of Castelo dos Mouros
leaving the castle through the forest
leaving the castle through the forest
the forest at Castelo dos Mouros
the forest at Castelo dos Mouros

After leaving here, I catch the Scotturb bus on its circular route to the Palácio Nacional da Pena.