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architecture

queluz: what a palácio!

Everyone raves about the Palácio da Pena. Spectacular for sure, but endless crowds & high ticket prices make visiting the palace little more than an exercise in patience. Zero fun. Go to Sintra for natural beauty, but a better glimpse of royal family life can be found without the crowds on the same train line halfway between Lisboa & Sintra. Twenty years had passed since my first visit to the Palácio de Queluz, & strolling through its well-kept grounds made for a gorgeous, crowd-free morning.

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porto: palácio da bolsa

Portugal, Porto, Palácio da Bolsa

Porto may have never been the official home of the royal family, never the capital of Portugal or never the seat of an archdiocese. However, Porto has long been homebase for the Portuguese bourgeoisie: a vibrant class of businessmen, merchants & all the wealth they generated. No wonder one of the most visited sights in Porto is a monument to trade & a way of life that continues to define the city’s entrepreneurial character.

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sevilla: almohad baths, rediscovered

España, Andalucía, Sevilla, Bar Giralda, Almohad, baths, baños árabes

I’ll wager that almost everyone who visits Sevilla has walked past the Cervecería Bar Giralda on Mateos Gago. Beginning as a kiosk in 1923 on nearby Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, owners moved to this more permanent spot when architect Vicente Traver renovated a pre-existing structure. Regionalist style was all the rage in 1920s Sevilla, so Traver incorporated what he found into his design then left no written record of his work. Archaeologists would uncover this gem one hundred years later…

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lisboa: igreja da memória

Portugal, Lisboa, Lisbon, Ayuda, Igreja da Memória, Baroque

No one expected second son José to inherit the throne of Portugal, but his older brother died the year of his birth & José moved to the top spot. He married Mariana Victoria of Spain at the age of 15 who shared his love for hunting & opera… but she never cared much for his affairs! Crowned king in 1750, José I continued to enjoy a carefree life; most administrative decisions fell to Prime Minister Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo. Later granted the title of Marquês de Pombal, Carvalho e Melo rebuilt the city of Lisbon after a devastating earthquake-fire-tsunami combo destroyed the capital in 1755.

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buenos aires: domes

Buenos Aires, domes, cúpulas

Back to Buenos Aires! Well, not literally… but I’ve neglected to place in this blog one very popular series of posts from the past. From 2007 to be exact. Back in the day when my only internet presence was line of sight, I wrote one of the most widely read English-language blogs about Buenos Aires. At the same time as I researched early housing projects in the city, I also began looking up & paying attention. I saw more domes than I’d ever noticed before, regardless of where those rambling walks took me.

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elvas: forte da graça

Portugal, Elvas, Forte da Graça, SIPA

Elvas not only boasts a massive wall around the entire city that dates from the great age of fortress construction in the 1700s, but the nearby Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça also impresses from its commanding location. As a modified 400-meter (1,300 ft) mountain, the fortress could easily defend Elvas & see any invasion force coming from Spain next door. Most of the fort sits submerged into the mountaintop, making this a fantastic feat of engineering. I have no drone, but this gives you an idea of the scale:

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sevilla: heliópolis

España, Spain, Andalucía, Sevilla, Heliópolis

The 1929 Iberoamerican Exposition radically transformed the city of Sevilla, with major projects such a large public park (Parque María Luisa) & the creation of cortas (artificial canals) in the Guadalquivir River. Cortas served several important purposes: shortening the river’s course, providing a means for more rapid water flow & thereby reducing sediment deposit, allowing for better flood control, creating new port facilities & opening new land for development. Although plagued with constant delays, this new infrastructure turned Sevilla into a modern city.

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lisboa: palácio galveias

Portugal, Lisboa, Palácio Galveias, Arquivo O Século

I practically grew up in our local branch of the public library in Memphis. I think my mom figured out it doubled as free child care, & I could spend hours going through the stacks without ever noticing time pass. So when I heard the Lisbon city government spent 2.5 million € to fix up this public library, I couldn’t wait to check it out.

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sevilla: san luis de los franceses

España, Spain, Sevilla, Jesuit, San Luis de los Franceses, Baroque

Sevilla —as any city with a 2,000-year history— has seen its share of ups & downs. But one of its most prosperous periods came after the discovery of the Americas in 1492. Possessing an inland location on a river navigable all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, Sevilla became the heart of all trade for the Spanish empire. Wealth & power concentrated in a walled city rich with tax income & bursting with new products as well as new ideas… even for Catholicism.

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