The church of São Lourenço #Portugal

As you drive west from Faro in the Algarve along the busy N125 towards the popular holiday resorts of Quinta do Lago, Vilamoura and Albufeira you might catch sight of the roof of an intriguing church.  Once you know that this is the amazing Igreja de São Lourenço you can follow the signs and visit the church.

Originally a crumbling medieval church it was rebuilt in the mid-18th century after the villagers prayed to Saint Lawrence for water as they dug a well, during a desperately dry season.  As an abundant gush of water appeared, they determined to build a new church, in gratitude.  The Brotherhood of the Church of São Lourenço had important connections within the Algarve and worshippers contributed to the building of a simple white church with an extravagantly ornamented interior.

Two brothers, Manuel Borges from Faro and Antão Borges, an azulejo artist, from Lisbon started the rebuilding.  Azulejos are the beautiful blue and white tiles which can be found on buildings, especially churches, all over Portugal, but in this case the entire church surface was lined with the tiles apart from the gilded areas.  Generally, the tiles are attributed to Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes, a famous painter from Lisbon, but possibly some of the azulejos may have been made by a painter in his vicinity.

Luckily the earthquake of 1755 which so badly damaged Lisbon and was strongly felt in the Algarve, only damaged 5 glazed tiles.  There is a barrel-vaulted nave and a small cupola.  The azulejos show scenes from the life of St Lawrence, who was martyred in 258 AD.

On the pillars of the church are the seven virtues: wisdom, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope and love.  This stunning Baroque church is well worth visiting, preferably when there are no coach parties present.

You can see other Azulejos on my Pinterest page here

Once again Ed Mooney has kindly included me on his Capturing History Challenge here

La Tour de Bridiers near La Souterraine #Castle #France

Last week we were staying near the small French town of La Souterraine in the Limousin area.  Just on the outskirts of the town are the ruins of what appears to be a small castle.

The tower of Viscount de Bridiers was first built on its feudal motte towards the end of the 12th century but after it collapsed, the tower was rebuilt in the 13th century in the newly fashionable cylindrical style and the castle was enlarged in the 15th century.  It was abandoned for many years until its restoration in 1993.

The tower itself is only open during the summer but we were able to walk all around the site.

We were surprised to discover a happy band of goats living inside the outer walls.

The most charming part of the grounds is the medieval garden with its guard lion and pig(?)

In front of the castle is a wide amphitheatre where, each August since 2006, the Fresque de Bridiers, a Son et Lumieres production, depicting the history of the area, has been re-enacted by 400 amateur actors.  In 2016 the story will be about a local soldier and a nurse at Verdun during the First World War.

I am thrilled to be included in this week's Capturing History Challenge at Ed Mooney Photography
This week's selection of Heritage sites are from all over the globe.

On the Road Again #Nostalgia

We have just returned from a holiday on which we drove to Portugal through France and Spain.  In recent years we have flown away on holiday so this was a return to our roots.

Motoring along the fairly quiet French motorways and smaller roads listening to Best of Queen, Simon and Garfunkel and Elton John took us back to holidays in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

My husband took me camping for the first time in the sweltering summer of 1976 so of course I was sold on how wonderful it is to sleep in a tent on dry balmy nights.  We bought a tent called an igloo, with rubber tubes at the corners inflated by a foot pump and managed to cram all we needed into our small MG Midget.

But then he took me to Wales.  For a week in Bala followed by a week in Brecon it rained non-stop.  It was time to buy a very slightly bigger car and a trailer tent.  By this time we had two children and they loved the freedom of camping too.

After an August holiday by Loch Lomond, when we found frost on the tent at night, we moved on to a VW camper.  Now we were kings of the road, driving to Switzerland, Germany, Holland and all over France with our own cooker, sink and a bracket on the side of the roof for the windsurfer.

 These days we drive to hotels but there is nothing like the freedom of the open road.