Crown Publishing Group/Penguin Random House LLC
Think of the word Portugal and, immediately, vibrant colors spring to mind: the gorgeous tones of terracotta roofs set against paper-white façades; marigold yellow cable cars and warm gray cobblestone streets; the Atlantic glittering on the horizon of coastal cities. The country offers scenes and vistas for every kind of traveler, but there's something special about having the beauty of such a place captured and curated by an expert artist with a trained eye—and that's exactly what the photographer, writer, and Condé Nast Traveler contributor Christine Chitnis has done in her new book Patterns of Portugal: A Journey Through Colors, History, Tiles & Architecture, out February 6.
In Patterns, Chitnis’ sublime photos tell a comprehensive tale of the tiny country's history, distilling the conversations between the natural landscapes, the man-made terrain, and the quotidian lives of the Portuguese people who shape both. “My travels throughout Portugal were shaped by the people I met along the way, who extended to me the warmest reception I could have imagined,” writes Chitnis in the book's introduction. “It became clear that the Portuguese take great pride in their country, and they are eager to show off its many gifts.”
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“The Portuguese can trace their origins back to the mountainous North Region. It is here, in the land of medieval coastal villages and verdant landscapes, that Portugal is said to have been founded in the 12th century. Because of the area’s historical significance, the Traje à Vianesa is the most highly regarded of local Portuguese costumes, and it was traditionally worn by country girls from the rural villages around Viana do Castelo on special occasions, such as festivals and holidays. The region's skilled weavers and embroiderers elevated these costumes with their artistry. The aprons seen here, beautifully woven on looms, are often the boldest red component of the layered Traje a ̀ Vianesa and predominantly feature embroidered geometric patterns.”
“Towering churches dot the skyline in Porto, the country’s second-largest city, while houses with red-tiled roofs tumble down the steep hills toward the banks of the Douro River, where flat bottomed rabelos, traditional Portuguese wooden cargo boats used to transport goods, meander downstream stacked with barrels of port wine. Compared to Lisbon, Porto has a grittier feel, thanks in part to the hardworking industry of the riverfront. It is also home to some of the oldest and most well-preserved tiled façades in Europe, and stunning examples of Baroque, Gothic, and Romanesque architecture.”
“Surrounded by 40 acres of pine, cork, carob, and olive trees, plus gardens and orchards, Companhia das Culturas is an eco-boutique hotel and spa in Castro Marim. The owners, Eglantina and Francisco, restored this farmhouse, which had been in the family for seven generations, using local and sustainable materials such as lime, cork, and reed for the thatched ceiling. The vintage and recycled furnishings create a unique and bold space, one of my favorite places to stay in when visiting the Algarve.”
“During Viana do Castelo's annual Feast of Senhora da Agonia, parades, concerts, cultural performances, and religious processions make up the week-long summer celebration, which draws hundreds of thousands of attendees from across the country. The highlight of the week for textile enthusiasts is the Mordomia Parade, a living ethnographic display of more than six hundred women walking through the streets in Traje à Vianesa. Here, a mordoma—a young woman selected by the village to help the church prepare for festivities and pilgrimages—displays her traditional costume and Portuguese gold jewelry, which is an important form of feminine adornment. Owning gold was considered as essential as owning land and livestock, reflecting the social and economic background of the family, and still holds true in some communities today. And in the streets of Tavira, a charming town in the south of the Algarve near the Spanish border, spill over with bougainvillea that almost represent the bright energy of Portugal.”
"Built in the sixteenth century, the Jerónimos Monastery is a stunning example of the Portuguese late Gothic style of architecture, known as the Manueline style. Next door, Pastéis de Belém is famed for its Portuguese egg tart—and in every tourist “must-do” guide. It lives up to the hype. They are warm, straight from the oven, and a bite of pure heaven. Grab your pastéis de nata, cross the underpass of the busy street to the riverfront, and walk down to the MAAT Museum, which is a stunning modern architectural site, a perfect counterpoint to the historic architecture of Jerónimos Monastery. This is what I love about Lisbon; the juxtaposition of the historic and contemporary.”
“Just a short train ride from Lisbon, the glamorous coastal town of Cascais is beloved for its sandy beaches and chic eateries. However, its history as a summer retreat for royalty means there is much more to do besides sunbathing. Visit the Bairro dos Museus (Museum District) to learn about the area's rich history, and the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, which houses 630 works of art from one of the great names of Portuguese painting. The Capela de São Sebastião, located in the Marechal Carmona Park in Cascais, dates back to the seventeenth century, although the tiles depicting the life and deeds of Saint Sebastian were added later in the twentieth century. The Municipal Library of Porto houses a stunning collection of azulejos, such as this panel from Convento de São Bento de Avé Maria do Porto.”
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler