Monument of Discoveries - Within and Without

Updated: Oct 23, 2021


Padrão dos Descobrimentos or Monument of the Discoveries is proudly displayed along the Tagus River (Photo by Sona Schmidt-Harris)


After our visit to Castelo de la St. Jorge, our tour continued. Bruno took us to the Tagus River. First stop (and a short stop it was) was the Jerónimos Monastery.



The Jerónimos Monastery near the Tagus River.


The monastery is beautiful, but I only had time to take a couple of pictures from the outside.


The people of Portugal are remarkably resilient as were a couple of their buildings which endured the 1755 earthquake. The earthquake nearly flattened all of Lisbon. There were only a couple of buildings said to survive, and The Torre de Belem or Belem Tower, is one of them. No one can explain exactly how it did.



The Torre de Belem or Belem Tower, remained intact after the 1755 earthquake. No one can explain exactly how it did.


Then, it was on to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos or Monument of the Discoveries, the iconic statue that contains famous Portuguese explorers from the 15th and 16th centuries. Though the statue ideally portrays the era and explorers, it is impressive nonetheless. As is clearly the case, terrible things were done in the name of colonization; however, the spirit of discovery is what the Portuguese are most proud of.


I believe that the spirit of discovery is portrayed beautifully in Mary Black’s lyrics, “Columbus." My apologies if it offends anyone with echoes of colonization, but I believe it captures the hunger for travel that I and so many feel:


"Columbus"


Better keep your distance from this whale

Better keep your boat from going astray

Find yourself a partner and treat them well

Try to give them shelter night and day

'Cause here in this blue light

Far away from the fireside

Things can get twisted and crazy and crowded

You can't even feel right


So you dream of Columbus

Ever time the panic starts

You dream of Columbus

With your maps and your beautiful charts

You dream of Columbus

With an ache in your travelling heart


See how the cormorant swoops and dives

Must be some thrill to go that deep

Down to the basement of this life

Down to where the mermaid gently sleeps

Not like here in this blue light

Far away from the fireside

Where things can get twisted and haunted and crowded

You can't even feel alright


And as tide must ebb and flow

I am dragged down under

And I wait the livelong day

For an end to my hunger


So I dream of Columbus

Every time that the panic starts

I dream of Columbus

With my maps and my beautiful charts

I dream of Columbus

And there's peace in a traveling heart

I dream of Columbus


I now have “peace in my traveling heart,” for I am here in Portugal. May the rest of you also have peace in your traveling hearts.

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