May 21, 2010

Flags on Rossio Railway Station

Flags on Rossio Railway Station
Lisbon’s most famous station, Rossio Railway Station, with its splendid Neo-Manueline (i.e. 16th-century-Gothic-inspired) façade, used to be known as Central Station, reflecting its historical importance.

Another feature of the station that continues to proclaim that “centrality” is the display of flags that fly smartly from its apex of its entranceway.

In this photo, you can see four flags being flown above the station. They are, from left, the flag of Europe, the flag of Portugal, a flag that looks like it should be the flag of Portuguese Railways – but isn’t (please leave a comment if you know), and the flag of Lisbon.

Flags on Rossio Railway Station, Lisbon, Portugal.

The black and white pattern of the flag of Lisbon is known as a gyronny (or gironny) in heraldry parlance – made up of eight alternatively black and white gyrons - indicating city status. This plain version is the civil version. The “full” version includes the city’s coat of arms in the middle.

Interestingly, in spite of Lisbon having existed more or less as “Lisbon” (originally "Olissipo") at least since the time of Julius Caesar, and in spite of it being incontrovertibly the capital city of Portugal, its status as capital city has never been officially enshrined. It is a purely de facto capital. Besides the fact of Lisbon being the seat of government, the city’s flag is therefore one of the most important visible assertions of its historical status.

© Portugal

May 19, 2010

Regimento de Lanceiros nº 2

The Ajuda district is well known for its Palacio Nacional da Ajuda and it accompanying Museum, and for the Jardim Botanico da Ajuda (Ajuda Botanical Garden).

Of course, both are well worth the visit, but if you’re in the area, try and include the base of the Regimento de Lanceiros nº 2 in your route.

The 2nd Lancers Regiment is a Portuguese Army unit with its headquarters on a hill in the Ajuda district of Lisbon. The Regiment runs Portugal’s Army Police (Polícia do Exército).

The Regiment’s headquarters have a light earthy-colored entrance, jaunty red flags, candy-striped sentry box, and colorful crests, with an almost festive atmosphere, offset by the stern retired tank displayed to the left of the entrance (just visible in the photo).

The photo above of the entrance of the Regiment’s headquarters shows its crest at the right with the motto “Murte ou Gloria” (“Death or Glory”) - not really legible in the photo - and the skull-and-crossbone emblazoned shield.

This close-up photo shows the crest in more detail, rendered in brass, but without the motto.

If you tarry long enough, you’ll also experience the thrill of real men in uniform. Careful with your camera!

© Portugal

May 16, 2010

Blazons Hall National Palace Sintra

Sintra is a short day trip out of the city of Lisbon. Of its many wonderful sights, the National Palace is one of the best. After the area was recaptured from the Moors, the Palace became royal property. Embellishments followed from the 13 century onwards.

One part of the Palace of particular note is the Blazons Hall in its western part. Its decorations are overwhelmingly heraldic. The ceiling, with its octagonal dome, is its most spectacular feature, with the royal Portuguese coat of arms, framed by a winged dragon, at its very top.

Below it, around the beautifully tiled walls are scores of other coats of arms of the children of the great Dom Manuel I, and below it, of 72 other noble clans.

© Portugal