The Cursed Town
Its enormous monastery has been hated for centuries, for what it historically represents: a way of spending the tons of gold coming from Brazil in the 18th century, without any profit, while in Europe the Industrial Revolution started development.
Meanwhile, Europe was investing in industry and development!
Of course it is big, of course it is beautiful, of course it is rich.
The image went worse 50 years ago, when it became the “factory of express officers” preparing thousands of students and graduated Portuguese to fight in Africa.
But… its unfair! Mafra has nothing to blame, and the wasted money built something impossible to miss nowadays. It is important to see, and even more important to understand. We, Portuguese, are still paying the invoice.
Immense, rich, millions spent for… what? It is the greatest monument of the Portuguese baroque, and that is useful nowadays, when tourism became an important industry.
The church and the royal palace are very beautiful, the carillon is famous (unique in the world), the library one of the most important of Portugal, and those 10% of the building justify the visit.
It’s a long walk, visiting all the palace.
The most remarkable thing is that the luxury placed in the building is not followed inside: many large rooms, well decorated, good artworks, but not the richness I expected.
Anyway, the contrast with the eastern side, where, for nine months, I was on of the more than 2000 training officers, is absolute!
From outside, the monastery impresses for its size; from inside it’s the richness of the used materials that call our attention.
The careful combination of the colored stones is gorgeous.
Built in the years when the gold came in tons from Brazil, it is the perfect monument to the useless ways of spending fortunes.
Mafra is said to have more than 450 statues. I spent there 9 months (yes… living INSIDE the monastery), and never found them!
“Smashed” by the immense building, it’s easy to miss the details.
In a couple of recent visits I remembered it, and could find two of them.
There are only four hundred and fifty something left to see!
I didn’t know!
I have a statue in Mafra.
Not inside but close to the monastery, and celebrating its use as Infantry school, it was built a recent statue.
I was in Infantry…
I was in Mafra school…
I fought the war in Africa…
Look at the guy in the left! Where did they get my picture?