It was a happy morning because Don joined me for the next part of the trip in Portugal. His colleagues cued us in to the best places in Lisbon, so we were ready to go. We jumped on a tram to Belem, which is 3 miles from the city center where voyages departed during the Age of Discovery. This area houses the Monastery of Jeronimos, Tower of Belem, Monument to the Discoveries, gardens and pastries.
The Monastery of Jeronimos was our first introduction to Manueline style architecture, which I quickly came to love. It is uniquely Portuguese decorative style that elaborately details structures with motifs of sea exploration (ropes, shells, water, knots, etc.). The Monastery contains a beautiful church and cloisters that are an architectural highlight in Lisbon! When I walked into the cloisters, I was so excited to see the rectangular prisms, cylinders, and cones repeating along the center green space of circles, rectangles and trapezoids. I couldn’t have asked for more direct connections to my 2-D and 3-D units! Another characteristic of the Manueline style are the detailed geometric patterns and carvings in the ceilings, which covered both the cloisters and church. Check out the photos for a few (of many) shots with triangles, circles, and rectangles galore!
The Belem Tower was next on the list and turned out to be another dream come true. Well at least for a geometry teacher. =) We tromped around the tower, down into the cellar, up the spiral staircases, peered out the windows and documented the 3-D figures on each level. My hope is to use this site as when my students learn about geometric nets, surface area and an introductory model-building project.
The last stop in Belem had a different focus than the first two. I viewed photos of the Monument to the Discoveries before I arrived and didn’t have great expectations. What I didn’t realize was the sheer size of the monument. It was enormous – 170 feet! We stood and stared for a long time, then read the blurb in the Rick Steves’ book (have I mentioned that he is awesome?). I haven’t thought of a way to connect this directly to math, but it will provide ties in the history curriculum unit on colonization.
Our evening paseo was up to the Barrio Alto neighborhood for a splendid view of the city and another opportunity to get lost. =)