This city has the most amazing light! It is a light that is sharp and sparkly and does the most amazing things to the city. The contribution of this light first dawned on me when traversing the city one morning early in my stay of the city. Moving from the cold shadows of the Rua do Loreto into the light in the Praça de Camões, one realised how privileged one was to live in this incredibly beautiful city of light. Whether it is out in the squares, or on jacaranda shaded avenues, the light that this city receives converts the golden yellow, salmon pink and powder blue façades of its buildings into so many Fabergé eggs. Polished by the scores of feet that daily caress the limestone cobbled streets of the city, in this light these sidewalks shine like so many silken ribbons nestling these exquisite precious eggs.
And this light induces ecstasy. Standing on the edge of the Praça de Camões is the neo-classical façade of the church of the Incarnation (Igreja da Encarnação). Surmounting this façade are a series of dramatic ornamental urns sculpted to appear as if with flames at their mouths. Come sunshine and these urns catch the rays of the sun to incarnate variously as the burning bush of Sinai, or the icon for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. If light ever contributed to the drama of architecture this is a perfect example. The profound changes that this sight works on one’s sentiments can only be experienced every attempt at description falling short. It does drive home the point however to the perfection of
(First published in the Herald 5 March 2011)