Happy Easter! For millions of Christians world-wide, Easter means faith and hope reconfirming God’s enormous power of love and grace for human-beings. But no matter which religion one is Easter remains a good time to reflect on one’s deeds and get closer to the divine within. As I have already traveled with you, my reader, in many places, it is now time to make a journey from the outside to the inside. This is why I will take you this time to the Sanctuary of Christ in Lisbon, Portugal.
Lisbon has been witness of destruction and war, but is has always resurrected from its own ashes. Dating from the daybreak of the human kind, it has been occupied consecutively by the Celts, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Moors and Napoleon. Its name derived in Ulyssippo, the city where Ulysses started his journey back home, sealing forever the destiny of a city as the onset of travels. Later on, in the 17 hundreds, Lisbon was devastated by the most violent earthquake of a series that has shaken it during centuries.
I get to Lisbon after an early flight providing me with a spectacular view on the city before landing. Just beneath, I can recognize the gigantic statue of Cristo-Rei, inspired by the Brazilian version of Christ the Redeemer. The 82-meter statue inaugurated in 1959 from the order of the dictator Salazar, was supposed to have spared the Portuguese form entering the Second World War. Christ the King is standing with arms wide open, laying peace and grace on the world underneath.
I land safely in a crazy airport where I was told that usually luggage gets lost. Fortunately this has not happened. The hotel I stay in is close to the heart of the historical Lisbon, where I will begin my journey towards my inner soul. The metro-stop called Parque is one of the nicest decorated ones, being full of symbols related to Portuguese discoveries and quotes from famous thinkers.
The best place to get prepared for the adventure is Avenida da Liberdade. This is also the starting point of Gregorius from “Night Train to Lisbon” (Pascal Mercier) in his search to get back his soul and the life he has never lived. Following the models in Paris, this 90 meter long avenue shelters the Restauradores Square with the allegoric statues of Rivers Tagus and Douro, but also shops with famous brands. This time I avoid being seduced by them and carry on my way to spiritual ascension.
I arrive in Chiado, the commercial area of the city and feel the pulse of the Portuguese culture, while wandering amongst countless bookshops, theatres, museums and cafes. I have a seat and savour a coffee in the famous A Brasileira, the café boasting to having had the writer Fernando Pessoa as a client.
Next, I reach the coast-line, to see where the river Tagus embraces the ocean. It is a magnificent view still dominated by Cristo-Rei Statue. I get lost on the Portuguese style streets nearby Praca do Commercio, which once hosted Paço da Ribeira Palace and get close to the beach. It is calm and quiet, the seagulls only tear the silence with their sharp cry. The sky is crystal clear and the sun rays bless me with a warm caress. I stay long to day-dream and prepare myself for a personal Golgotha, the ascension to the highest parts of the city.
To be continued in Part 2