In Search of the Thieves’ Market

The Panteao NacionalInside the The Panteao NacionalI was up bright and early on day two.  My tuk tuk driver had told me about the flea market that they had on Tuesday mornings, and where it was, next to the Panteao Nacional, which used to be the Church of Santa Engrácia, but was converted in the 20th century to a pantheon for famous people to be buried in.  Finding the market on my own, was a different matter, and the subway stop I chose turned out to be at the bottom of the large hill where the flea market was.  Of course, in typical Lisbon fashion, there was no direct street to the market.  I weaved my way back and forth up the hill through side streets, some of them too narrow and small for a car.

Cenotaph of Vasco da GamaLooking down on the Thieve's MarketEventually I found myself in front of the Panteao Nacional, which I was fairly confidant was the same church she had pointed out to me, saying the flea market was somewhere next to it.  The doors to the church were open, so I decided to take advantage of it and check out the church.  It has a far newer feel than the other churches I saw in Lisbon.  Perhaps it was remodeled when they converted it to a pantheon instead of a church.  I was surprised when the first tomb I came across was a name I knew, Vasco da Gama.  I was unaware at that point in time, there is such a thing as a “cenotaph.”  This is an empty tomb for somebody who is buried elsewhere…  Why they had to do this, I’m not entirely sure, since Vasco da Gama is buried in Lisbon!  Just in a different church, which surprised and puzzled me immensely when I stumbled upon his “second” tomb!

On top of the Panteao NacionalThere is a set of stairs in the church you can take to upper levels in the church for view down into the church or close-up views of the dome.  The best part, though, the stairs continued up to the roof and you could walk around the outside of the dome for a 360° view of Lisbon, or at least that area of Lisbon.  With all of the hills that comprise the city, I don’t think there’s a view anywhere that would allow you to see it all.  From the roof I was able to see that I was in the right local for the flea market, which was on the street behind the church.

The Paroquia De Sao Vicente De ForaThe azujelos lined cloistersI quickly hurried back down, keen on getting a chance to wander through this flea market, which from my vantage point, seemed to cover a decent area of several small side streets.  The flea market is called the Feira da Ladra or “Thieve’s Market.”  According to my tuk tuk driver, this was supposedly where pirates and other vagabonds would come to sell their wares.  Now-a-days, it is not very impressive.  Most of what is for sale is tiny electronic gadgets or other items from ten years ago, or older.  Things most people would have no desire for.  There were some people selling small antiques and other odds and ends.  Some jewelry, and some clothing.  I did find a pretty slate blue, belted skirt to add to my wardrobe for the trip and then continued on my way.

Azujelos everywhere!The Paroquia De Sao Vicente De ForaOn my way back down the hill, I found the Paroquia De Sao Vicente De Fora, or in English, the “Church of São Vicente of Fora.”  The church’s cloisters next door turned out to be one of my favorite spots in Lisbon.  The exterior walls were pure white, with the blue and white azujelos all along the bottoms of them!  I wandered around, enjoying the various scenes of life in past times painted on the tiles.  It turned out, the building housed a little museum of sorts, with a large collection of azujelos presented on partitions, with information about the scenes and painters.  Imagine my delight when I realized that I had found a meseum of azujelos!!  Blue, by the way, is my favorite color, and I have always loved blue with white, especially on ceramics.  I was in heaven!

"Death and the Malcontent"

“Death and the Malcontent”

"The Donkey Carrying Sponges and the Donkey Carrying Salt"

“The Donkey Carrying Sponges and the Donkey Carrying Salt”


Reliquary chest containing the remains of seven martyrs.

Reliquary chest containing the remains of seven Portuguese and Spanish missionaries who were martyrized in Maraquesh, Morocco in the year of 1585.


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