Azulejos at Sintra National Palace, Portugal

Sintra (Portugal). The Sintra National Palace (or, in Portuguese, “Palácio Nacional de Sintra”) is a very popular destination located 25 kilometers west from Lisbon. For this reason, it’s easily crowded with tourists (in my case, it took 30 minutes to reach this place with a car, but more than an hour to find a parking lot) and I can’t say that I was particularly pervaded by the atmosphere of the place – unfortunately.

Except when I entered into the dining room, characterized by fantastic azulejos (painted tin-glazed ceramic tile-works) decorating the walls – reminding me the Cloister of Porto Sé Cathedral visited few days earlier. I found this scene, with the armchair in the corner and light filtering from the window, very nice and worthy of being captured (and shared here of course).

I prepared this photo yesterday, almost one year after I went to Portugal. The reason is because at the beginning I was not finding it so interesting, probably because it was mixed with ordinary (for me) images of a place with many tourists. But whereas I was working on it, I thought that travelling to a popular destination can be challenging for those, like me, who live their trip as something beyond the simple “visiting a place” and – as written here above – try to be pervaded by the atmosphere of a place. For this reasons, sometimes, I think it’s a good idea to dedicate more time to observe details, than to waste minutes waiting for remaining alone and finding the right “isolation” from the mass.

It’s my personal opinion (feel free to write yours) but in my case it works!

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The Cloister of Porto Sé Cathedral

Porto (Portugal). The Sè Cathedral in Porto is one of the most important city’s landmark and attracts thousands of people – tourists and worshippers – every day: for this reason it is normally quite overcrowded.

However its cloister – which is accessible paying a small entrance fee – is totally another place, and when I was walking around it, I was particularly moved by its silence and tranquility. This made my visit particularly pleasant and gave me the opportunity to shoot these amazing Azulejos without anyone around.

What really impressed me and captured my attention, is the visible contrasts on the walls: the grey color of the structure contrasts magnificently with the Azulejos highlighting them and without giving the filling effect of “being too much”; but I found also particularly pleasant another contrast, given by the vertical and regular lines typical of Gothic architecture, versus the irregularity, the fantasy and the two-dimensional shape of Azulejos.

The light coming from the center of the cloister was perfectly enhancing the composition: this is one of my favorite photographs I have taken in Porto.

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