Armchair travel

Sunset Areia Branca

In the 1920s, the writer Raul Proença started editing a collection of Guides to Portugal. Published between 1924 and 1970, eight thick volumes compile texts from some of our country’s most eloquent writers. These erudite travel guides describe in detail the landscape, architecture, history, and culture of Portugal.

One of the essays by Raul Proença included in the first volume is about the Portuguese sky. Proença writes that “There are days with a splendorous light in which under a very clear sky all is golden: the earth, the trees, the waters, even the smiles of people and things are golden. It is a prodigious dazzle that cannot be described.  We are all but surprised at how a sapphire blue dome emanates such golden light.”

Most of the guides were published when traveling was arduous and expensive. So one of their purposes was to serve as a substitute for travel. If you could not visit the cities and villages these books describe, the evocative prose of Raul Proença and his collaborators would take you there.

In these days we’re spending at home, we can seat in an armchair, open the pages of these tattered tomes and travel to Portugal.

7 thoughts on “Armchair travel

  1. Would love to read these guide books some day!

    If you read Portuguese, As Ilhas Desconhecidas by Raul Brandão is a gorgeous read about the Azores.

    If you read English, Tagus Press published the English version as The Unknown Islands.

    Abraço virtual


  2. I also recommend Azorean writer João de Melo’s Açores, O Segredo das Ilhas (Narrativa de Viagem). Alas, I don’t think it’s available in English but if you read Portuguese, there’s a beautiful edition by D. Quixote press.

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