13 November 2014

I was just amused between
the castle and the cloisters

Simple facilities for men on the ramparts of the castle in Lisbon … (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Patrick Comerford

I was just amused in Lisbon last week. There was one place for men in the castle. And there was one place for monks in the cloisters.

On the steep climb up through the mediaeval streets of Lisbon to the the Castle of São Jorge, I stopped for a moment to look into the courtyard of the Palacio Belmonte, a chic retreat and boutique hotel in the heart of this atmospheric area. It stands at the top of one of Lisbon’s seven hills, tucked inside the ramparts, behind plum-red portals in a narrow cobbled passage.

But just beside the entrance to the dignified main courtyard is a convenient convenience, for the use of men only, and with far less dignity.

It is clearly signed “Urinol.”

Poor Molly Bloom was caught short on the way back to Lombard Street from a party in Comerfords on Clanbrassil Street.

But there is no need for men to be caught short on their way up the ramparts to the Castle of Saint George. But where can you put down your bags of souvenir shopping safely?

… and more discreet facilities for monks in the cloisters of Jerónimos Monastery in Belém (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

The following day I was in the cloisters of the Monastery of Jerónimos , near the shore at Belém. There, there was a more discreet Gothic door leading to the facilities for men, with a discreet, gently signed door, and less public facilities that obviously offered greater comfort ... and places to put down your shopping bags.

Obviously, monks were a more refined category of men than knights in mediaeval Portugal.

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