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9/27 - We cycled today to the "marble town" of Estremoz,

and eventually up to the Convent of Sao Paulo (Saint Paul).

                   

ABOVE - Jose begins with his infamous cork lecture.

Portugal accounts for 50% of the world's cork production.

The trees need to be 25-35 years old, but then they can be stripped every 7 years.

                   

ABOVE - Jose tells us about the traditional colors of Portugal. The homes are white-washed

to reflect light and heat, and trim is either yellow (for the sun) or blue (for the sky).

The colors are passed on to generations of family.

                   

After stopping at a church for some pics, we cycled on to the picnic lunch

                   

Below - Estremoz is internationally known for its fine to medium-grained marble 

that occurs in several colours: white, cream, pink, grey or black

and streaks with any combination of these colours.

                             

Especially the pink marble (Rosa Aurora and Estremoz Pink) is in high demand.

                               

ABOVE - There is so much marble around Estremoz, it is used for street paving.

                   

ABOVE- Arrival at the Convento de Sao Paulo

                  

Built in the 14th century, on the slopes of the Ossa mountain range, by monks

who wanted a place where they could pray and find spiritual peace,

the Monastery of St. Paul is now a refined and comfortable hotel.

                   

The sumptuous collection of Portuguese tiles (50,000 glazed tiles lining its walls),

 the terracotta bas-reliefs, the frescoes, a Florentine fountain and the old church,

 all make for a great exploratory visit.

                   

Exhibiting a precious collection of around 54,000 portuguese tiles, the Convento de São Paulo

owns the largest private collection of its kind in Portugal.

                   

The exquisite tiles, in a wonderful shade of cobalt blue, date back

to the reigns of King D. João V and King D. José I.

                   

A magnificent collection produced in some of the finest and most well-known workshops

in Lisbon back then, some of the tiles were ordered with specific spaces in mind

and must have been crafted by some of the most renown artists of the craft .

Most of the panels, however, are the work of a master that undersigns his work as P.M.P.

and are considered a remarkable work of craftsmanship.