As inspired by Ablarc's "A Nice Looking City" Posts, and as promised
in a post to the daily 12:00 question from Michaelskis, here are a few
photos from recent travels to Portugal that show good exapmles of the
country's urbanity, and its lack thereof.
Hope you enjoy!
PS- not all of these pictures are mine, some were culled from
the web. It should be pretty obvious which are which.
We'll start off with Lisbon - The capital, center of culture,
and Portugal's major port. "Lisboa esta muito bonita!"
Here is a view over the Rio Tejo and the Baixa district, which
was built on a grid after most of Lisbon was destoryed by an
earthquake in 1755.
A couple pictures of the Baixa and the Caixa. Notice the
streetcars and the buildings covered with Azuelos (blue painted tile).
Azuelos, and really any color glossy tile is very common for building
covering in Portugal, where clay is a widespread and abundant resource.
Beats the hell out of vinyl siding!
The Alfama, the old fisherman's quarter, is most of what is left
of the pre-1755 town. Here the streets are hilly, winding, and are
likely to turn into a (public) stairway or become too narrow for a
car at any moment. Fruit stands, fish markets, bakeries and cafes
line the streets, with people living above and in between. It seems
that everyone washes their clothes in basins on the street and hang
their clothes from the balcony to dry.
Also notice that all the streets are cobbled and everything else is
either plaster or stone. You're hard-pressed to find cement or asphalt
until you're out on the expressway.
But they still manage to squeeze in a car or two wherever possible.
Mostly for deliveries and such - most people here would have no use
for a car.
A Couple More:
Porto, the country's second-largest city, and the home of Port (wine)
is also quite urban. Its a workaday town in the north and is
surrounded by some very mountainous and beautiful wine country.
Here's the city center:
How would these 12' wide 50' tall buildings be built in America?
Would each need an elevator?
The Dom Luis I Bridge, designed by Eiffel, carries two levels of
traffic, one at riverfront level, and one at the level of the city center.
It functions very well and means less disruption to the river.
And more azuleos...
The Portuguese countryside is VERY rural, by and large, except
the areas immediately surrounding Porto and Lisbon. This is
particularly true in the far north - much of this region has been dedicated
to a natural and cultural park, and development is controlled very strictly.
Some pictures of this area:
This town is literally at the end of the road, and has no streets. It is
unlikely that anoyone owns a car for miles around.
The portuguese are a resourceful people. Here we have terraced
fields for grazing and granaries made from corn stalks and husks.
Notice the thatched roof on this house! And also the "barn door" at
the base of the house. That's where the animals sleep. The family
lives in the upper level, kept warm by the heat of the animals below.
This is a common sight in many rural villages. Also notice the public
fountain at the intersection of the streets, with a lower basin for animals.
And how about this place, 14-A Rua do Megalco? Would this meet
minimum floor area requirements? What about the fire code??
The other rural areas of the country aren't quite so stoic, but still have
a quaintness and a connection to history that is impossible to miss.
Most of these pictures are from the Alentejo region, which is the dry
inland area along the spanish border. This is a land of olive groves and
cork oaks. Notice that nearly every one of these vilalges has a castle -
this was part of a system of casltes to defend Portugal's wide-open
border from the spanish invaders.
What's the width of the ROW here? What about the shoulder? And
the bike lane?Do you think there are proper sight clearances and turning
No urban sprawl in this part of the world.
And here are just a couple of photos of other nicities:
A typical streetsign:
Hard to read when zipping by at 25! but easy if your on foot, and
one less pole sticking out of the sidewalk.
Again, no cement, almost every open 'hardspace' over 50sf has some
sort of pattern in the cobbles. And these spaces all over the place:
Instead of tearing down the bridge built by the Romans and replacing
it with a 4-lane standard highway bridge, they left it, and it functions
just fine. And its much more picturesque to boot.
And some more non-planning related that you might enjoy: