Saturday, April 24, 2010

Douro River Cruise--Part 3

The Porto airport is beautiful--seems very new with open spaces and free WiFi. Works for me.

A highlight of our cruise for me was our visit to Casa de Mateus near the town of Vila Real.

We learned that although wine is produced from grapes grown on the estate, it not the rose wine bearing the Mateus label and photo of the Mateus Palace. Rights for the label and name were purchased in the 1940s by a large distributor. You just never know.

Interestingly, the architect for the Baroque-style building was the same Italian man who designed the Sanctuary of Lamega, Nicholau Nazoni. An especially beautiful piece was an 18th century harpscord that still works and is used for concerts.

An outstanding library in the home is filled with numerous books that have been computerized to facilitate reading and research without book handling. The most precious piece is a history of the people, Os Lusiadas, by Luis de Camoes. Also noteworthy in the palace is an entire room of reliquaries, paintings by Archiboldo, and an unsual chest called a “contadore“ originally from Santiago de Compostella, our next stop.

Count Fernando Albuquerque is now the owner of Mateus Palace who still lives in the private quarters on the property, and his daughter the countess is next in line.

The small chapel opens to public mass only twice yearly.

Our substituted visit to Spain the next day was to Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city dates back to the 9th century when the tomb of St. James the Apostle was discovered there. Although his remains were apparently lost for a while, it is said that his tomb was rediscovered and that the cathedral is built around it. Fortunately for our visit, the tomb behind the altar is open this year--timely, since it opens only during a Jubilee or Holy Year when July 25 falls on a Sunday, commemorating the martydom of St. James. Turned out to be a pretty good “Plan B“ for our itinerary.

We had just finished our walking tour when the deluge begain. I'm talking rain here. Lots of it. It proved a soggy day, but well worth the trip.

Some final notes about Porto and our cruise after we return home.

1 comment:

Tracy Barnett said...

Nice blog - beautiful descriptions. Thank you for sharing your passion for travel!