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A Sacred Place

One of the first places I visited in Portugal was Buçaco (pronounced boo-sock-oo), and I have the privilege of living 15 minutes away now. Buçaco covers the larger portion of a mountain. It's so close; we can see it from the Lighthouse! It sits above the quaint little village called Luso, where we fill our water bottles each month from a fresh underground well.

I will not begin to give you the historical details because I'll likely botch up the information. But I can tell you that centuries ago, the top of this mountain was part of a

monastery. The monks planted hundreds of trees from various places worldwide in orderly rows and created vibrantly beautiful gardens. I posted some of the landscapes below, but they will be more beautiful in another month or two. In 1885, the last king of Portugal built and lived in the castle pictured above, which is now a hotel.

Several "stations" along the trails depict stages of Jesus's journey, His death, and His disciples and followers. But in my opinion, the most breathtaking place is the "Porta de Coimbra" (Gates of Coimbra). Approaching the gateway wall is impressive enough, but once you enter the opening, the scenery not only takes your breath away but also takes you to what seems to be another place and time.

Passed the crispy view of a blooming variety of trees, including one mysteriously twisty olive tree, is the view of the city and villages in the valley. Walking through the dusty path pressed out in the thick, vibrantly green grass that makes shade for a million wildflowers, a wave of historical fantasy washes through your mind. It's easy at this point to imagine the royal family, monks, and nuns from the convent praising God for His incredibly beautiful creation, chatting with one another, or standing silently on the edge of the cliffs for hours in awe and prayer.

But the trails and pathways, fountains, streams, waterfalls, and the sound of birds fill this magical place with wonder. It's a place all of us love to visit for times alone with the Lord, much like I imagine those of centuries ago who added to the beauty of this mountain. I spent my first time alone here last week and took over 200 photos! I can't even imagine how many more I will take on my next solitary hike up and around the grounds when all the budding flowers bloom! But for now, I'm sharing the best parts of the late rainy season view of Buçaco with you in the gallery below. Enjoy the red cedars, palm trees, ducks, falls, and all the incredibly beautiful Buçaco!

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