Tuesday, 9 June 2009


Drawn by Lieut.-Col. Batty.

Then slowly climb the many-winding way,
And frequent turn to linger as you go ;
From loftier rocks new loveliness survey,
And rest ye at' Our Lady's House of Woe,'
Where frugal monks their little relics shew,
And sundry legends to the stranger tell."

Childe Harold, canto i. st. 22.

" On the highest point to which we were now approaching, across the heath-covered serra, is situated the Convent of the Pena, or Our Lady of the Height, according to the true import of the Celtic word pen. Passing to the southern side of the mountain, we ascended, by a winding and tediously steep road, to the platform upon which the convent is built; leaving to our left, lower down the hill, an enclosed arena, as we were informed, for the exhibition of bull-fights, which we rather wished than believed to be a misrepresentation. There is nothing remarkable in the convent, beyond some alabaster ornaments in the chapel, and upon one side a curious organ-case, on which, in imitation of the Chinese style, is represented a scene, in gilt and brilliant colours, of a Chinese singer upon a raised platform, surrounded by instrumental performers, in the act of holding a piece of music in his left hand, and giving full effect to the chant, or beating time with his right; and this, with the usual ' celestial' observance of the laws of perspective. There was not one monk in the building to greet our arrival; and we learned from the Galician domestic, who conducted us over the apartments, that the society was about to be dissolved, and that he had the distressing prospect before him of returning, after five years' service, to starve amidst his native mountains.

" The best idea of the rudely shaped masses of rock which are scattered over the serra, and the volcanic appearance of the upper part of the wild range of the Cintra heights, is to be obtained from a wall on the western side of the convent, whence the view runs along the wooded side of the whole mountain course, skirting Cintra and Colares, down to the shores of the Atlantic. The mountains of Cintra are said to have been known to the ancients as the Montes Lunse, and the Cabo de Roca as the Promontorium Magnum, upon which was erected a temple dedicated to Cynthia, whence some etymologists fancifully trace the origin of the appellation Cintra."—Kinseys Portugal Illustrated.

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