Archive for August, 2019

PALACE OF MAFRA (PORTUGAL), IMMORTALISED BY JOSÉ SARAMAGO, JOINS UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LIST

Admirers of the writings of Portugal’s Nobel laureate José Saramago should be delighted to learn that the Palace of Mafra, built between 1717 and 1750 under King João V, is among the latest additions to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Its construction was the prime subject of Saramago’s historical novel of 1982, ‘Memorial do Convento’ (in English, ‘Baltasar and Blimunda’), which has sold over a million copies in Portugal and has been translated into numerous languages. Located near Lisbon, the complex consists of a royal palace, a basilica, a convent and a garden. Its consecration by UNESCO (dated 7 July 2019) in parallel with that of another Portuguese site, the Basílica do Bom Jesús do Monte near Braga, brings Portugal’s tally of World Heritage sites to 17.

See UNESCO’s official site, at (for the news):

https://whc.unesco.org/en/news/2005/ and (description of the complex):

https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1573/

See also article on this blog of 22 November 2007: ‘THE CONVENT OF MAFRA AND 25 YEARS OF JOSÉ SARAMAGO’s “MEMORIAL DO CONVENTO”’

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CULTURE OF PLANTS AND VALUES: FLORAL DISPLAY IN ESCH-SUR-ALZETTE (LUXEMBOURG)

 

Each summer, the town of Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg), where I live, hosts a special floral garden in its main square, Place de l’Hôtel de Ville. This year`s garden, baptised ‘Culture.S’, combines the natural language of plants with the human language of ethical concepts.

The title also plays on the double meaning of culture, as cultivation of plants and of values. Five pillars, each in the shape of a book, make up the display, integrated with the plant kingdom and proclaiming respectively (in French) the virtues of Bienveillance, Liberté, Solidarité, Tolérance and Unité (Benevolence, Liberty, Solidarity, Tolerance and Unity). The concept is the work of Luxembourg artist Florence Hoffmann, and apart from commemorating summer 2019, is also part of the run-up to the year 2022, when Esch-sur-Alzette will be joint European Capital of Culture. An artistic creation like this, simple yet profound, augurs well indeed for 2022!‘profound, augurs well indeed for 2022!