Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yesterday I went to the Maritime Museum, a museum on ships and Portuguese navigators. There where many models of ships that represented real ones used on missions lead by Vasco Da Gama, Infante Dom Anrique; who we now know as Henry the Navigator, and a few other men. In one part of the museum, there was a display of three ships; the Naus S. Gabriel, the S. Rafeal, and the Carare Beerio, used for an expedition lead by Henry the Navigator: they were used when he discovered the spice route around Africa and India. On that journey, the crew started with 220 men and by the end, lost 116 men along with a whole ship. Here is a picture of one of the ships:
Even with more than half his men gone, Henry was one of the first to realize that taking the short cut for the spice route would not make it faster for him; it would make it faster towards the wrong place. Henry made his plans by studying this map:
This map shows the direction of the wind. Henry also realized that taking the shortcut would be a battle against the wind that he wouldn't win, so he made his plan using his knowledge through the map.
Then we left that room, walked through a courtyard and came to a huge room full of life size models of ships. There were so many, and one that I liked had a silk red fabric cover, in replacement of what we use today as sunroofs on boats. Another one was like a mini palace on a boat, with gold engravings and beautiful patterns. I thought it looked like a palace even before I knew that it was designed by a queen, Queen Maria of Portugal (a long time ago).
There is so much care put into each boat, and each one is different which makes it very special: they are not the same model built 100 times. In the same room there were also models of planes, the kind I built (I built miniature ones) with my friend at a construction camp earlier in the summer. They also had a lot of old fashion steam engines. Everything was a different size and you could view the ships from a ground level or from up above: they had stairs leading up so you could see the top. All of the ships were either moved by sail or oar, and the oars where so huge that it took two people to row them. It is a very cool museum. I also think the setting, and the way they present it, is very nice. First you enter through a regular door into a small room where you by tickets. Then, through a huge and carved door way, (so bug its even hard to say its a doorway), you emerge into a dark, low lit hall which has all the models and statues of ships and navigators, then you go back to real time in the interior courtyard, and the end comes to a huge, white painted with stain glass room, naturally lit with bug windows, with all the life size planes, boats, and steam engines.
On most of our trips, we tend to go in a circle. We came to this museum on the first day but it was closed, so it became the last thing we did in Portugal too.

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