Where did you go?
Lisbon, Alcochete and Setubal
What did you find inspiring about the architecture?
The history of Portugal is written into its architecture (as in any European country), but there especially, the building style evolved to make all these stories legible within the facades and the streets. Look up and you’ll see evidence of both the wealth of the age of the discoveries and the tumultuous 20th century.
Personally I’m really drawn to Manueline architecture – the chunky ornament and the narrative elements are so distinct, it’s playful without the flamboyance of Rococo.
You can recognise motifs and colours drawn from Northern Africa intertwined with European building typologies. At the time the Portuguese were travelling the world and bringing back ideas and images that were then embedded in the architecture. These are buildings that celebrate the wonder of travel, exploration and discovery of foreign lands, cultures, flora and fauna.
What was your favourite building or design feature?
It’s definitely an example of architecture as sculpture. Contemporary Portuguese architecture is often associated with monolithic concrete volumes that strive for purity of form, but here the material is used in a surprisingly tactile way. The red concrete is expressive, textural and exciting!
What would you recommend visiting?
It’s a tourist hot spot but the Monastery of Jerónimos (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) is definitely worth a visit. It is a building that is at once highly symmetrical and yet idiosyncratic. For example the columns in the cloister form a rhythmic composition mirrored in all directions, but if you look closely they are all carved with unique designs – each one tells its own story. Another discovery from this visit was Casa do Alentejo in Lisbon, it was empty when we snooped around – it felt like you were stepping back in time!
What was the food like?
Moreish! Where to start? We couldn’t get enough of the beautiful seafood, grilled fish and the endless variety of pastries (that come from a long tradition of conventional sweets).
How would you summarise your experience in a sentence?
I can’t wait to go back! ;)