Thursday, 23 March 2017

Lisbon Chronicles | The Secret Abbey

In the basement of Palácio Foz lies the secular space of the old Abadia Vínica Restaurant. This mysterious place (unknown to most locals) is surrounded by secrets, full of stories and all covered with symbols. Private clubs, secret societies, groups of conspirators are the ingredients of the stories your guide will tell you in the scenic ambience of this underground place.

After an opulent beginning, in the beginning of the 20th century the palace was repurposed and, in 1917 a Patisserie (Pastelaria Foz) was inaugurated in the ground floor. This posh establishment was the place of choice for the elegant ladies to reunite for the afternoon tea.  But, in the basement, there was happening something totally different.

The Abadia Vínica (Wine Abbey) was the place of reunion of a private gentleman's club known as the Makavenkos. The club, founded in 1884, presented gastronomic and bohemian purposes, but the rumors and stories associate its members to the masonry. In 1917, the Abadia Vínica Restaurant becomes one of the meeting points of the Makavenkos that held there amazing feasts while fraternizing with beautiful ladies (Makavenkas), some would most probably be of easy virtue, as one of the rules was that no Makavenko could relate to the same Makavenka for more than two weeks.

The interiors reproduce the Cloister and Refectory of a medieval abbey, both profusely decorated with all sort of symbols. You can find there revivalist decorative elements, so much to the taste of the Belle Epoque. An initiation well in the Cloister and the busts of 20 known masons in the Refectory contribute to the perception that the Makavenkos was indeed more than just a foodies and womanizers group of men.

Although the place is not open to the public, you can schedule a visit with Lx Secret Places tours that I strongly recommend. Jorge, the guide, has a deep knowledge of the place and of the Makavenkos club and will catch your attention with a detailed description of the past days of Abadia and of all of its decorative and architectonic features.

Lx Secret Places has regularly planned visits, but you can contact them to check if its possible to held a non-programmed visit in the days you are visiting Lisbon. The tour includes the visit to the Claustrum, to the Refectorum, without forgetting to go through the mysterious cells. This visit has a duration of 45 minutes and it can be held in English (for booking a non programed tour, please visit the site).

In this visit I was a guest to Lx Secret Places, but as you can read above, this article and all the opinions included are my own and result of my experience in visiting Abadia Vínica.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Chronicles from Barcelona | Parc Güell

The dawn of the 20th century found a modern and cosmopolitan Barcelona, vibrant with its growing population and strong economy. A prosperous bourgeois class looked for the best and most selective places to live. Is in such conjuncture that the entrepreneur Eusebi Güell commissions the architect Antoni Gaudí to draw up the plans for a housing estate to be built in a large property situated in a outstanding location.

The healthier air and climate of Muntanya Pelada and the splendid views over the city and the sea had no match. The project had everything to be a success! Nevertheless, that didn't happen and of the 40 houses that were projected only 2 were actually built.

Today, Parc Güell is a public park and a touristic hotspot of Barcelona. But don't get me wrong. Although is always crowded is quite an amazing place to visit and one of the sites where the imagination and geniality of Gaudí can be fully appreciated.

The colored and bright Trecandis mosaic are absolutely amazing and the organic shapes chosen for the construction of the arcades, benches and gatehouses give an almost surrealistic ambience to the site.

Apart from the architectonic features, the park of 15 hectares has beautiful gardens and vegetation that the visitors can enjoy, walking around the carefully designed pathways or resting in the many benches scattered trough the park.

Is important to schedule your visit some days ahead and to book the tickets online. If you are also visiting Sagrada Família (and you must!) you can buy a combined ticket at a much convenient price. At the park you can also visit the house of Gaudí that has a museum dedicated to the famous architect. The museum has a specific entrance fee, not included in the park admittance fee.

Parc Güell
Carrer d'Olot, s/n, 08024
Phone: 934 091 831

Opening Hours and Ticket Prices:

From 27th March to 1st May, daily from 8am to 8.30pm.
From 2nd May to 28th August, daily from 8am to 9.30pm.
From 29th August to 29th October, daily from 8am to 8.30pm.
From 30th October to 26th March, daily from 8.30am 6.15pm.

Adults 7€ | Children (7 - 12 years) 4,9 € | Children under 7 is free

The best way to get to Parc Güell is by bus and, depending on where you are you can choose the lines  24, 92 or 116.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Lisbon Chronicles | Spring is Here!

Spring arrived and the long Winter is finally behind our back. Blue skies above, sunny days and small flowers blooming among the grass, bring the news of warmer days. And that makes me happy!

Spring becomes to Lisbon. The city looks prettier and happier. The people walk around and lay down on the gardens, enjoying the sun. Is, perhaps, the perfect time to visit the city, before the high temperatures of Summer hit Lisbon.

If you are in Lisbon, enjoy Spring and the city, admiring its perfect views from the numerous Miradouros (viewpoints). Walk around the large avenues and take your time at the many gardens scattered all trough the city (like Jardim Gulbenkian). A good walk followed by some relaxing moments on a beautiful lawn or terrace are a great way to enjoy the best of the new season.