National Palace of Mafra

What can we do to entertain our friend, when he can hardly walk half a mile? We drove him about a bit, but sitting in the back I was completely bored. He did not seem much better. We parked by the Atlantic, and he said, “You get out, I will stay in the car”. “We could go to Mafra,” said the other, doubtfully, and I said,

“Why would we go to Mafra? What is there possibly to see in Mafra?”

So we went back to the villa. Such is the problem of not having the proper references to hand. I thought it would be a town with a caff and a few shops, rather than the site of the Baroque palace of João V. We went there on the last day. Unfortunately, our friend could not climb the steps, so had to sit in a caff while we went round the palace. In the ticket office, I met a couple I knew from Nupton Quaker meeting. I don’t like João V. His great palace had a monastery attached, as if that made it alright. We saw a bare cell with a desk, almost a reasonable size of bedroom, which I thought might be bearable for a moderately ascetic academic, but realised that was for the abbot when we saw the dormitory. Monks had a recess, but not a closed cell. How strange, to be immured and institutionalised here while the King enjoyed his hunting! You would be part of the Christian framework which made his every excess acceptable before God, in the convenient fiction everyone went along with.

I don’t like it, still, with this bird tethered. You can have your photo taken with it for a fee. It spreads its wings periodically, either nervously or because it cannot balance.

mafra-1-tethered-falcon

A sign of the great piety is this bizarre sculpture. The bloody neck and fallen head shocked we Quakers.

mafra-2-martyrdom-sculpture

“Soft porn again,” I thought dismissively. Still, it’s all a matter of taste. I like the men grovelling before an enthroned woman, in my featured image, it’s far more my thing.

mafra-3-ceiling-art

mafra-4-ceiling-art

Men on the murals are being tortured.

mafra-5-ceiling-art

-What do you think this is?
-An instrument of torture.

Well, it’s clearly a game. I wonder how it works.

mafra-6-game

It’s a hunting lodge, and you might see this at Atholl Castle. I would hate those chairs. It delights in cruelty.

mafra-7-antler-chandelier

mafra-8-antler-and-hide-table-and-chairs

It delights in cruelty, and the appearance of learning.

mafra-9-library

The attached church has six separate organs, with six separate consoles, around the transept. They have recitals monthly.

mafra-10-three-out-of-six-organs

In the afternoon we went to Cascais, where I tripped off to the Paula Rego exhibition, tempted by “sexually vulnerable women and animals, and men dressed in women’s clothes or with the heads of fish”. I did not read the small print, that it is closed on Monday, so wandered round the park, where I found this folly.

cascais-folly

In the free Town Museum some of the English is translated picturesquely: they had an “Outbreak of tourists”.

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