AFTER Lisbon, Oporto is the most important place in Portugal, with a population of about ninety thousand, or nearly half that of the capital. It lies on the north bank of the Douro, near the mouth, in the province of Minho e Douro. This noble river, which for nearly five hundred miles winds a narrow, tortuous course through tremendous gorges and over dangerous rapids, separates the province of Beira from the two northernmost departments of the Minho and Tras os Montes. Port wine, par excellence, is all made in the district of the Alto Douro, in the southern part of Tras os Montes, along the banks of the Douro, down which the wine is eventually brought in boats to Oporto. The average yield is fifty thousand pipes, of which thirty-five thousand are exported to England, and the business is entirely controlled by the English. Old port in Oporto is something similar to nectar of the gods; few are the privileged mortals who ever taste anything equal to it beyond the confines of Portugal. To be really worth drinking, it must mellow at least ten or twelve years in the dark lodges or vaults at Gaia, opposite Oporto where immense quantities of this “liquid sunshine” are stored. As it grows old it assumes a tint suggesting alternately ruby and molten gold, as the light happens to strike it. Many other wines, more or less good, bad, or indifferent,—collares, barcellos, tinta, vinho verde, and others,— are made in Portugal, but are chiefly for home consumption. Collares is a superior table wine, but loses its virtue when over four or five years old.
Oporto also exports to England ten thousand cattle annually, of the fine fawn-colored sort, with enormous horns, peculiar to the Minho district; and vast quantities of cork are shipped from this port. The imports are considerable, and the trade of the place is constantly growing. But no port of such importance was ever so lacking in a good harbor. In the course of ages a spit has been formed athwart the mouth of the river, which is but four miles from the city. The entrance is, therefore, barely two hundred and fifty yards, and across this lies a bar which has broken the back of many a good ship. Sometimes vessels wait five weeks for a chance to pass, and only those of moderate size can get over. Having crossed it twice, the writer can speak of its dangers from personal observation. Not a year goes by without the destruction of some ship on that bar, often with much loss of life. The river is also subject, during the winter and spring, to sudden freshets which rise forty feet and sweep vessels in the harbor from their moorings. The situation of Oporto, however, is superb, at the opening of a gorge, on an acclivity excessively steep and high, and so divided by a ravine as to offer some very effective massing of light and shade with delicate tints at sunrise and sunset. There is nearly the same lack of spires as at Lisbon, but the want is partially obviated by the magnificent tower of the Eggrego dos Clerigos, on the highest point of the southern portion of the city, sustaining its gilded cross nearly six hundred feet above the river. On the abrupt, pinnacle-like hill at the northern end of the city the towers of the cathedral and the bishop’s palace, although in themselves not remarkable, contribute by their position to that general effect which makes Oporto from a distance one of the finest cities in Europe. The city, of great antiquity, has suffered to such a degree from earthquakes and wars that the greater part of it is now comparatively new; many of the streets are wide, though very steep, and the houses well built and exceedingly neat with their facing of azulejos or glazed figured tiles. The place has a much more thrifty air than Lisbon; the people are active, generally good-looking, and inclined to express discontent by revolts. Strangers will be struck with the elegant equipages common here as well as at Lisbon, and with the reckless speed with which they are driven down the steepest slopes. Another feature peculiar to Oporto, and worthy of imitation elsewhere, is the place where fresh milk is sold. It is a neat stable, into which the cows are driven each morning. In front is a counter, and when a customer requires a quart of milk it is drawn before his eyes; adulteration is avoided, while the condition of the cows shows that the quality of the milk must also be pure.
At Oporto I took the diligence for Braga and a trip through portions of the Minho district, which has the reputation of offering some of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe. I was not disappointed in what I saw. The diligence started at nine, and was drawn by six horses, three abreast, the common mode of harnessing horses in Portugal. As usual, the luggage and eight passengers were on the top. We started at full gallop, going at a rapid rate up the long slope leading out of the city. Crossing the Lego we came to Villanova, changed horses, and reached Braga towards night. The country increased in beauty with each mile, giving everywhere evidence of high culture. Vines were trained on trees as well as on trellises, adding luxuriance to the verdure; the villages were always neat and thrifty, and new houses were going up everywhere in the Minho, sufficient proof of the growing prosperity of the country. The landscape was very broken and the road was rarely level, sometimes winding up a long, steep ascent. Mountain ranges were to be seen on every side. Braga lies on a hill in the centre of a noble valley; its battlements and towers were visible a long distance, through embowering foliage, before we finally dashed up its narrow streets at a furious rate, amid a lively tarantara from the bugle of the postilion and a continuous volley from the long whip of our coachman. Every diligence driver in Portugal carries two whips, a short one for the wheel-horses, a heavy and fearful weapon, and a long lash for the leaders, which the driver cracks in a manner that may be ranked with the fine arts. Braga is a city of great antiquity, numbering sixteen thousand inhabitants. It was founded by the Romans 296 B. C., afterwards became the capital of the Suevi, and later an important place in the early history of Portugal. The archbishop of Braga disputes the primacy of the Spains with the archbishop of Toledo, and the claim is indicated by a cross with triple bars wherever a cross can be planted, besides weather-vanes on every spire, representing cherubs holding mitres, keys, crosiers, and the like; but as most of them have lost their gilding and are black with rust, they as often look like imps as like angels. The cathedral has a beautiful flamboyant porch with triple arch, and the exterior of the choir or apse is also highly ornate and elegant; but the interior lias been improved and restored out of all character with the original. Braga is full of choice bits of antiquity: here an old tower, and there a mullioned window or quaint chapel. But the glory of the place is in its situation. One may allow his steps to wander at random in any direction and he will discover some beautiful prospect or idyllic nook. The eliapel of St. John, in a vale near a brook spanned by two arched bridges close at hand, shaded by lime and cork trees, and nusical with the singing of nightingales, or of girls washing their clothes, is a lovely spot morning and evening. Nostra Senora de Guadaloupe is situated in the midst of an inclosure on a knoll shaded by olive and cypress trees and stone-pines. The view in every direction is enchanting.
Two miles from Braga, on the summit of an eminence some eight hundred feet above the plain, is the church of Bom Jesus, one of the most beautiful and curious resorts in the kingdom. It is a pilgrimage shrine, and is reached by an excellent zigzag road densely shaded. But the devout pilgrim will prefer to climb the steep ascent by the elaborate stairway, that leads directly to the sacred spot and is provided at the landings with chapels. These chapels are sixteen in number, square, with conical roof, and have a grating through which is visible in each a group of life-size figures representing some scene from the life of the Saviour. These groups are colored, and are, in some cases, not without merit. Near the summit the hill on each side the stair-way is most elaborately terraced and planted with flowers and cedars. The terrace expands to a semicircular platform before the church, and is surrounded by marble statues of the more noted characters who took part in the world’s great tragedy. The church is of considerable size and has little pretension to beauty, but is, on the other hand, free from the vulgar tinsel work which cheapens so many Roman Catholic churches in Portugal and Southern Europe. The prospect from this terrace is one of the most beautiful in Portugal, at once lovely and sublime, commanding the silver line of the ocean, the verdure and the glory of the Minho valleys, and the grandeur of the sharply-formed and purple-hued pinnacles of the Gerez. Under the lime and plane trees adjoining is the place where pilgrims bake their bread in rude ovens in the open air. The hotel of Boa Vista, the best I met outside of the capital, is a stone’s throw from the church. The spot affords many pleasing walks, and may be recommended to tourists or invalids as well as to pilgrims. I like the idea of the place better than that of most religious resorts, because no saint, mythical or otherwise, is obtruded; the shrine is dedicated to the founder of the Christian religion, and to him alone, and is more Christian than any Roman Catholic church I have seen elsewhere.
From Braga I went to Ponte do Lima, twenty-five miles distant, by way of Ponte Prado, a pretty village and bridge on the Cavado, where the Miguelites were defeated in 1826 after a severe battle. The ride, after crossing the ridge on the descent to the Lima, is of extraordinary beauty. Ponte do Lima itself is a town of two thousand inhabitants, full of the remains of antiquity, and abounding in shady, fustic lanes. The river is crossed by an ancient and picturesque bridge of twenty-four arches. The Lima was reputed by some to be the Lethe of mythology, for which reason Lucius Brutus had great difficulty in persuading his army to cross. Many Portuguese poets have celebrated the charms of the Lima. Indeed, this spot is considered the most beautiful in Portugal. As my expectations were great, the quiet character of the landscape at first failed wholly to realize my anticipations. There is nothing about it to make a vivid impression at a glance. But the longer I gazed the more my rapture grew, until I was able to see that it is not on any one feature that Ponte do Lima depends for the subtle influence it weaves over the soul, but on a happy combination of mountain, grove, and river, hoary bridge and ivied battlement, in a harmonious whole. As one looks from the bridge, on either side a picture is presented so calm, so beautiful, so majestic, so satisfying, that it seems impossible for the highest art to add to the felicitous arrangement.
I returned to Braga by way of Ponte Novo and Palmiera. The vendas or wayside pot-houses, and the estalagems or inns are always known by a bush hung over the door in the Minho e Douro, and generally through Portugal; hence the proverb, " Good wine needs no bush.” The road was often blocked with oxcarts of the most primitive character, consisting of two solid wheels and a round axle, the whole turning; the cart rests in a groove on the axle, and is kept in place merely by its own weight. Nothing simpler could be devised. The cart is drawn by a hand of hide attached to the horns of the oxen, sometimes to their foreheads. The yoke, which plays quite a subordinate part, is often over a foot broad, of oak elaborately carved, and hung with tassels. Some of these yokes are very old, dating even four centuries back. The enormous horns of the oxen give a very picturesque effect to one of these rustic turn-outs, although nothing quite so foolish ever was seen as the expression of young bullocks with their prodigious appendages. The carts of Portugal are gifted with an almost incredible power of sound. This is kept in view in their construction. The sound is alternately a squeak anil a groan long drawn out, and so loud that, it may be heard nearly a mile on a quiet day. The chorus from a train of carts is deafening’. The noise was devised, it is said, to frighten away the wolves, which are still abundant in the mountains. It is certainly hideous enough to accomplish the desired end, and would doubtless fill a legion of demons with unqualified dismay.
Four coaches started out of Braga at six A. M., sharp, for Guimaraens, from the street of San Marcos, — which, by the way, is quaint enough with its projecting stories and balconies, gaudy colors, and trumpet-like spouts. We went at a gallop much of the way, the drivers endeavoring to pass each other, although we had to climb and descend the Falaperra range. A sharp angle in the road suddenly disclosed Guimaraens, embosomed in foliage, on a gentle slope in a hollow of the mountains, and crowned by a mediaeval castle. This place was the first capital of Portugal. Alfonso Henriques was born here, and built the castle, which is scarcely injured by “Time’s effacing fingers.” The stately keep, the pointed battlements common in the old fortresses of the country, all are there as of old. The palace first occupied by the sovereigns of Portugal is close to the castle, — a quadrangle in good preservation, in three sides of which troops are quartered. The streets of Guimaraens were the most quaint and picturesque I saw in Portugal, narrow, with projecting eaves and balconies, and marvelous water-spouts of many fantastic forms.
Having “done” Guimaraens, I took an outside passage for Oporto, via Santo Thyrso, one of the most charming and delicious little rural towns imaginable. From the summit of the high mountain which separates it from Oporto, a third of Portugal may be seen. The Minho and the Beira districts he spread out as on a map,bounded by the Atlantic. In the extreme north rises Gaviarra or Outiro Major, the highest mountain in the kingdom, soaring eight thousand feet; in the south the rugged range of the Estrella which is nearly as lofty. We approached Oporto towards night, and the road was thronged with peasants returning home from market in holiday attire: the women in black felt hats over a red or blue handkerchief, often with a load on the head, and with massive ear-rings and breastpins — one might almost call them breast-plates — of the yellow filigree gold for which Oporto is famous; the men wish red sashes, and thrumming a guitar. The coachman, a galliard blade, was able to guide his long team through the mingled masses of carts, unruly bullocks, unmanageable kids and pigs, and sparking swains and lasses, and at the same time find leisure to wind his whip within half a hair of the eyes of some gaping urchin, or drop a bit of honeyed flattery into the ear of some giggling damsel, or fling jokes or epithets, sometimes of the broadest character, at this or that swaggering gallant. On reaching the harrier our baggage was examined, the invariable rule in Portugal. The contents of the tin chest of one of our passengers excited considerable mirth. An orange, a pair of slippers, a night-cap, and a brandy bottle only served to display the emptiness of a large trunk. As he was “a lean and slippered pantaloon,” with red nose and eyes, who had been drinking all the way, the empty bottle evoked almost as much laughter as if it had been full.
Returning from Oporto to Pombal by rail, I took the coach for I.eiria, three hours’ ride, in the department of Estramadura, westward of the Tagus. The day after my arrival was a festa, and the praça exhibited a lively and characteristic spectacle. Early in the morning every road leading to the town was thronged with peasants on their way to the fair. Extensive rows of booths exhibited stuffs likely to tempt the rustic eve, ranged in masses of brilliant colors, scarlet, blue, green, and orange, with all the effect of flat tints; and homely as were the goods, the bazar of Leiria was gorgeous. Pottery was also arranged on the ground, according to its color, outside the tents. The women were dressed in kirtles of black with broad blue border, or blue with scarlet or orange border; the bodice was gray, blue, or brilliant check; the head-dress was a scarlet handkerchief under the not unpleasing fringed, low - crowned black hat of the Portuguese peasantry. The men were girt with scarlet sashes, and wore pointed blue caps with tassels. The glossy raven hair and warm, brown complexion set off those costumes in a most effective manner. A multitude of horses, mules, and donkeys, the latter in a large majority, and fully aware of their consequence. added spirit to the scene with their various manœuvres and discordant braying. Three bears dancing to the beat of the rebec and the tambourine attracted a large crowd and contributed to the grotesque mirth of the occasion. At Leiria I took a carriage to visit the celebrated churches of Aleobaca and Batalha. No public conveyance accommodates tlie traveler who desires to visit these interesting spots. Tourists generally go from Lisbon to Carregado by rail, thence to Caldas da Reinhas by diligence, and there take a private conveyance to these places. But, whatever route be adopted, Alcobaça should be seen first. The points are but ten miles apart, separated by the battle field of Aljubarrota, where in 1385, around the village of that name, João I., at the head of nine thousand men, met and routed the Spanish army numbering thirty-five thousand. It is one of the most magnificent episodes in Portuguese history. The massive helmet worn by Dom João on that day is still preserved at Batalha.
Alcobaça is both church and convent, and was erected in the twelfth century. It was of the Cistercian order, and the monastery was the largest in Europe, numbering for a long time nearly a thousand inmates. The church is in the French style of Gothic. There is neither triforium nor clear-story; the aisles are the same height as the nave and very narrow, while the twelve piers supporting the nave are so lofty, simple, and yet majestic that the effect, as one.looks down the aisles from the entrance, is in the highest degree impressive, notwithstanding the moderate size of the building. The choir and. chapels surrounding it, as well as the façade and towers, have unfortunately been Italianized. In a chapel adjoining the south transept are the tombs of Dom Pedro and Iñez de Castro, but unless the visitor makes some effort he will not be permitted to get beyond the grating, so little does the sacristan understand the purposes which attract the traveler to this spot. The French sadly defaced parts of these monuments, but enough remains to gratify the most enthusiastic. The tombs are upheld by couchant human-faced lions, and, contrary to the usual custom, are placed foot to foot, by Dom Pedro’s command, in order that when the trump of the archangel summons the dead to rise, the first person to meet his eyes shall be Iñez, his beloved queen. In richness of design and exquisiteness of workmanship these tombs rival tlie celebrated gates of Ghiberti, and are probably the finest mortuary monuments in Christendom. There is no reason to doubt that each effigy is a correct portrait. Although somewhat injured, the face of Iñez retains marks of great beauty; the countenance of the king is severe, yet noble, and suggestive of powerful emotions. By the side of each effigy are six angels with half-spread wings, in the act of raising the dead who slumber there when the archangel calls. Under six straight-sided arches on each side of the tomb of the queen are scenes from sacred history: at the head is the crucifixion, and in a circle at the foot, formed like a rose-window, is represented the great doom. The faces do not exceed three quarters of an inch in length, yet the rising of the dead, the rapture of the redeemed as they pass to the abodes of glory, the agony of the condemned as they descend to the abodes of woe, are all engraved on the stone with singular power. In the circular compartment at the head of the king is represented in twelve parts the history of Iñez de Castro, from the cradle to the grave. It is full of pathetic beauty. The convent is now entirely abandoned. There are two cloisters: those in the Italian style are the only ones shown to the traveler, unless he insists on seeing the others, which are in the richest style of Gothic art. The garden they inclose is overgrown with weeds, a picturesque solitude.
From Alcobaca I went to Batalha. This building, unfortunately, stands on low ground. It was left in its present state by Dom Manoel, and is the work of Portuguese architects. Mattheus Fernandez, who designed the cloisters and Capella Imperfcita, lies buried inside the church, near the door; he was the last Gothic architect — I had almost said the last great architect — the world has seen, for certainly nothing to equal those two masterpieces has been erected since he died. Batalha combines two essential qualities rarely found united, simplicity of form with richness of detail. The building consists of five parts, each entirely distinct, and yet joined in a perfect whole: the church, which was first built; the Capella do Fundador; the great cloisters; the monastery and smaller cloisters north of the great cloisters; and the Capella de Dom Manoel, called generally Capella Imperfcita, because it is the only portion never finished. The church was completed in 1416: it is cruciform; the brevity of the chancel is almost its only apparent fault. The interior length is two hundred and sixty-six feet; the height is ninety feet. The pier-arches have an altitude of sixty-five feet. There are many cathedrals much larger; there are none more impressive. The Capella do Fundador is the chapel where Dom João and his descendants of the houseof Aviz are buried. It is square, crowned by a central octagonal lantern resting on eight elegant piers. The key-stone of the vault is nobly embossed with the arms of Portugal supported by angels. Immediately under it is the tomb of Dom João I., the founder, and his consort Dona Philippa, surmounted by their effigies. Around the chapel are magnificent recessed and canopied tombs, of the same general design. The greater cloisters are entered by way of the sacristy and eliapter-liouse. The vaulting of the latter is one of the most exquisite tilings of many that on every side fill one with rapture and amazement. The cloisters are one hundred and eighty feet square. Christendom can offer nothing to surpass the beauty of these or that of the Capella Imperfeita. It is a mockery to undertake to give in these brief pages any description of the two poems in which the imagination of one of the greatest poets of the ages has reveled at will. No two windows are the same: each suggests a different fancy, but in all is seen the armillary sphere, common in Portugal; the menials present a variety as boundless as the tracery, — volutcd, cheeky, or filleted; here the fir cone, there wreaths of pine, or grotesque lizards winding under interweaving ivy or oak. At the northwest angle two bays project inward; ihe square net-work of carven stone incloses a fountain that once spouted silver rain. The subtle beauty, the astonishing wealth of imagination, the conscientiousness of the carving, defy description. The exterior of the building and every minutest detail are finished in the most complete manner, with that fidelity and truth which belong to true genius and indicate profound love for his art on the part of the artist. The Capella do Fundador was formerly surmounted by a spire, which was overthrown by the great earthquake. The spire at the northwest end, struck down by lightning, has been restored entirely like the original, as may be said of all the restorations at Batalha. The finegrained limestone used in constructing ihe building lias assumed a warm, golden hue, greatly adding to the magnificent effect of cloisters and rose - windows, statues and tombs, of carven battlements, buttresses, pinnacles, gargoyles, and linials, —all contributing harmoniously in turn an epic, a lyric, an elegy, and embodying in stone the poetical dreams of the poets of a great nation at the zenith of her glory.
Returning to Lisbon by way of Chao de Maças, I took a trip to Evora, in the Alemtejo, going by rail from Barreiro, directly opposite Lisbon, on the Tagus. For some distance the road lay by beautiful clumps of stately stone-pines, and picturesque villages. Palmela, belonging to the dukes of that name, a town and castle on a site formerly occupied by the Moors, was visible for a long distance on the right, crowning a lofty eminence. But at Pegoes we entered the entirely flat, apparently limitless plains of Alemtejo, the largest province of Portugal, although the most thinly peopled. Long tracts were passed without a village or a house in sight; nothing hut a slightly undulating waste, skirted in the dim distance by here and there a faint blue range of mountains. But these moors were covered with ranlc herbage, cistus, heath, and wild flowers; the prevailing tint was soft russet-gray, most satisfying to the eye, full of harmony and sentiment. Closer observation revealed numberless royal hues, wild flowers forming a mass resembling rich, dark Persian stuffs with vague patterns interwoven in a sort of poetic license, — fancy run wild in arabesques of silk. It is said the Alemtcjo was, in former ages, a vast granary, yielding abundant crops of cereals. Such must have been the ease to explain the existence in those remote times of places like Beja or Evora, now occupying positions isolated and otherwise almost inexplicable. Evora stands on a gentle eminence sloping to the plain like a cape extending into the ocean, its white walls partially concealed by the only foliage which is to be seen for many a mile. I saw no other place in Portugal that gave such numerous evidences of great age as Evora, which at present numbers some ten thousand inhabitants. The city already boasted a hoar antiquity when taken by Sertorius and made his headquarters, 80 B. C. He adorned it with many edifices, and a Roman tower attributed to him remains in good preservation in the heart of the city. A street and square are also named after Sertorius. Fourteen columns of the temple of Diana are standing in tolerable preservation near the cathedral, and have been divested of the unsightly rubble walls that in later ages marred their beauty. The temple, although small, was an elegant structure, after the best Roman art. An aqueduct, twelve hundred paces long, dates from the same period. At its termination, near the church of San Francisco, a tower stood until recently, which is said to have been of rare beauty, of the Ionic order. But within two or three years it has fallen, a shapeless inass of ruins. In the porch of the tower hall are some very graceful Doric columns, relics of an ancient, unknown building. On the face wall of the lower story some Latin and Arabic marbles, with inscriptions, are preserved, and one can hardly turn a corner without seeing a porch supported by a row of Roman columns, or some other fragment that lias survived the wreck of ages. The small Roman pillars in the upper porch of Morgado 8alema’s house, placed there in 1816, are very elegant. The cloisters of the convent of Madre de Deos are composed of a considerable number of Doric pillars. The last three antiquities I have seen mentioned nowhere, and their existence, therefore, doubtless escapes the attention of most tourists. The cathedral is a very fine structure, imposing and elegant. It was erected in 1186, and is excellently preserved, having suffered but little from Italian restorations. The exterior of the church is also impressive and picturesque. The library of the archbishop’s palace includes a gallery of paintings containing several small works by Rubens and other masters, and some by Morgado de Setubal, indicating talent and a close study of nature, but with no idea of composition and a Chinese disregard of perspective. The church of San Francisco, founded by João II., although not erring on the side of richness, is yet a pleasing edifice, in capital condition. The porch is simple and beautiful, somewhat after the Saracenic. A few small paintings, attributed to Gran Vasco, are shown here; they merit careful study. Adjoining the church is the charnel-house, — the only one of the sort now in existence, it is believed. It occupies a chapel sixtv-six feet long. The piers and walls are completely covered with a coating of skulls and bones set in cement with a certain attempt at grotesque designs. It is a ghastly place. It is worthy of mention that Evora contained twenty-five convents, fortunately all suppressed now. Close to the church of San Francisco is the beautiful public garden, surrounded on the exterior side by the old city walls. The palace of Dom Manoel is within the grounds, and is judiciously protected from the ravages of time. It seems to have been originally a pleasure-house of the Moors, and Dom Manoel, in altering and rebuilding, retained much of the first edifice. Although not comparable either in size or beauty with the better works of Saracenic and Portuguese architects, it is still very interesting and poetical, especially when the moon shines through the dedicate Moorish arches, and throws a pale light over the pavement of the pavilions once trod by royalty and beauty.
Flying back to Lisbon at the frightful rate of twelve or fourteen miles per hour, I made an excursion to Cintra and Mafra. As these are within eighteen and thirty miles, respectively, from Lisbon, they are visited by all tourists who make a pretense of seeing anything in Portugal; they have been rendered famous for readers of English in the poetic prose of Beckford and the verse of Byron. But neither familiarity nor comparison Can detract from their natural and artistic attractions. Cintra clusters around the needle-like pinnacles of a granitic range, which crops out for four or five miles and soars nearly three thousand feet above the sea. During the summer it is the resort of many wealthy families. The ancient palace of the kings of Portugal, originally a Moorish serai, stands in the centre of the town, on the edge of a natural terrace, which plunges abruptly to the plain below. It is a straggling structure of no external beauty, but remarkable for the two conical chimneys side by side, nearly one hundred feet high, resembling a huge opera-glass, and hollow throughout. The interior is an indescribable blending of the Portuguese and Saracenic orders, inextricably interwoven, — courts, fountains, horseshoe arches, arabesque and Gothic tracery, and terraced gardens. The Sala das Armas or Sala dos Cervos is a large hall built by Dorn Manoel, who was an accurate herald: he caused the vaulted ceiling to be painted with stags in two concentric rows. From the head of each stag is suspended a shield bearing the arms of one of the seventy-four noble Portuguese families. To point to his arms in this hall is the highest armorial honor of which a Portuguese can boast. The escutcheon of the dukes of Aveiro and Tavora were effaced on account of their attempt to assassinate João V. Here is shown the chamber where Alfonso VI. was confined for eight years following his deposition. Also a marble pavilion perforated on all sides; without warning, water from innumerable secret ducts shoots forth in a dense shower. In the audience chamber of Dom Sebastian is the seat he occupied at the last audience he gave before his ill-starred expedition to Africa; the crown at that time fell from his head, an omen of fearful import. Magnificent avenues of ancient trees and sumptuous gardens hug the lower slopes of the crags, while at a dizzy height, hundreds of feet above the town, the turrets of the Moorish castle and the Penha convent are perched on the apex of pointed peaks. From the former a stone might be dropped nearly one thousand feet on the roofs below. The latter was originally a Jeron vmite convent, grafted possibly on a Moorish ruin. Dom Fernando, the father of the king, is the present owner. He has made some changes and additions, and there is probably in Europe no palace more picturesquely and magnificently situated. The Saracenic is the prevailing style, with fine specimens of the Manoelite Gothic. Every crag and splinter of rock, every coigne of vantage, has been seized for a pavilion or a turret. The contrast between the fiat plains of the Alemtejo and the rest of Portugal is especially noteworthy. The Tagus divides the two by an inflexible line; on the north, mountains; on the south, the Alemtejo stretching away till it is lost in the haze of the offing, purple and emerald-blue fading into impalpable gray, so much like the ocean when seen from a great height that at first I took it for part of the Atlantic, which is here spread over near half the prospect commanded from the matchless heights of Cintra. Montserrat is another of the spots which every visitor to Cintra is expected to see. It was formerly the residence of Mr. Beckford. But little if any of the original building now remains. It is owned by an English gentleman, Mr. Cook, created Viscount Montserrat by the king of Portugal. The gardens are elaborately beautiful. The villa, although not very extensive, is of the most sumptuous character, and built of marble in the Saracenic style ; the exquisite execution of its colonnades, porches, and door-ways, literally stone filigree, in the highest degree delicate and fanciful, indicates that the talent for stone-work displayed at Mafra and Batalha is not yet extinct in Portugal. Various other interesting objects are to be seen in and around Cintra, but it is a place to visit at leisure, aud the diverting little donkeys, which are the usual mode of conveyance, enable one to look about as the mood for sauntering may seize him.
Mafra is visible from Cintra, flanked by the famous lines of Torres Vedras. There is a village of the same name, but when Mafra is mentioned the palace is generally understood. Palace, convent, and barraeks are included in this vast pile, which was erected to gratify a pious whim of João V., the prodigal king at whose feet Brazil laid her riches only to be squandered on mistresses, and on palaces and churches erected where they could be of little use. He made a vow to change the poorest convent in the kingdom into the richest, if Heaven would grant him a son. The son arrived, and Mafra was built. The position is not such as might be selected in so beautiful a country as Portugal, but, excepting its distance from the capital, it is tolerable, overlooking the ocean two or throe miles away, and the undulating verdure of Estremadura. Fabulous sums were expended in its construction. Forty thousand men were employed towards the close, hurrying it to completion. It forms a parallelogram seven hundred and seventy feet square, the palace occupying the entire front on each side of the church; the convent, with cells for three hundred and fifty monks, is in the centre, and the quarters for a battalion of guards in the lower story. A tower terminates each angle of the palace, and the two belfries of the church spring two hundred and fifty feet from the ground in the centre of the façade, flanked by the elegant dome of the transept. But the general effect of the exterior is disappointing, for the windows are closed with faded red shutters, and the remaining three sides of the building are very plain. However, the magnitude of the. design grows on the imagination, and a survey of the whole plan from the roof is very impressive. The interior is entirely destitute of furniture, excepting one hall left exactly as in the days when the whole palace was furnished in the Louis Quatorze style. But there are two objects at Mafra that more than compensate for whatever disappointment one may feel on first seeing this enormous structure: these are the church and the chimes of bells in its towers. Ludoviei, the architect, may be content to rest his fame on this church, which places him in the very first rank of Renaissance architects. It is of but moderate size, in the form of a cross, with a dome over the transept, and six collateral chapels. The entire interior is inerusted with colored marbles, cut and polished to the last degree. The dome can only be alluded to: its wreaths of white palmbranches encircling roses of red marble are superb. The lantern, which is one hundred and eighty-five feet from the floor, is roofed by a single block of marble. Every portion of the building, inside and out, from the pavement to the cross at the apex, will bear the closest inspection. No expense, no labor, was spared to bring it to perfection. I do not admire the Italian style of architecture; it seems cold and too purely intellectual. But it must be confessed that the beauty, the harmony, the majesty of the church at Mafra cannot fail to impress even those who are least in sympathy with the Renaissance. The chimes number one hundred and fourteen bells; they are exquisitely modulated, and are the finest in Europe. They were made in Holland, and cost a sum equal in our day to at least three millions of dollars.
In leaving Portugal, it may be worth while to say that Murray’s Hand-Book is generally conscientious and correct, and gives considerable information about most of the objects and places of interest. But an occasional error may be found, and the tourist must always search about independently, and in this way he will often discover something not mentioned in the guide-book. Bradshaw cannot be recommended. Macedo’s Guide to Lisbon, including Cintra and Mafra, is valuable, but some of its statements are weakened by the too evident Jesuitical bias of the author. The minute description of Mafra by Gomez is indispensable if one can read Portuguese. Unless the traveler can speak the language a little he should not undertake a trip through Portugal without an interpreter, as, of course, those who speak anything but Portuguese are to be met only casually, and their aid cannot he relied upon. Portugal should be visited in the spring.
S. G. W. Benjamin.