Culture

THE MESSENGER, by IRENE VILAR
13 February, 2019 / ,

A statue planted by the river that brings hope to the city of Porto

Irene Vilar was born in Matosinhos in 1930 and is the owner of a vast work in many countries such as Germany, South Africa, Brazil, Belgium, Holland and Macau. Distinguished throughout the life with several prizes, the artist affirmed itself in diverse areas like the sculpture, numismatics, medalhística and painting. It was about five decades of artistic production and affirmation that won him several prizes and distinctions

The artist had since very young a great connection to Foz do Douro, where she lived from the age of 19 and where she set up her atelier.

One of her most emblematic works is undoubtedly “The Messenger”. Sculpture in bronze – one her materials of choice -, expressionistic, majestically marks the bank of the Douro River next to Cais de Sobreiras, in Foz do Douro.

Inaugurated in 2001, “The Messenger”, or “The Angel” as is commonly known by the people of Porto, brought, according to the author ” good hope to the city of Porto.” Maybe that’s why it has become almost a place of worship, where people lay flowers and candles at its feet.

Irene Vilar died at the age of 77 in 2008.

Church “Dos Grilos” – MUSEUM OF SACRED ART AND ARCHEOLOGY
4 February, 2019 / , , ,

Church of S.Lourenço also known as The Church of the Crickets, a visit not to be missed, with a panoramic view of the river Douro, Invicta and the Margin of Gaia

A walking tour through the city center to the Porto Cathedral is a common itinerary for tourists visiting this proud unconquered city. Discovering downtown is an adventure. As we walk through the narrow streets of the ancient city we discover its secrets and its curiosities.

Today we invite the tourist to venture into Bairro da Sé. The imposing Sé is the starting point of our adventure. Just a few meters away, in an alley that seems to have no exit we encounter the Church of S. Lourenço, better known as the Church of the Grilos, which, together with the Homonymous College, is classified as a National Monument.

It began to be built by the Jesuits in the sixteenth century and was only completed in the eighteenth century. If most of the churches have a wealth and opulence often exaggerated, the Church of the Crickets surprises by its simple, bare and unadorned walls.

In the Church stand out the beautiful altar of Our Lady of Purification, the fantastic organ with 1500 tubes that, according to  records was built at the end of the century. XVIII and the crib, a unique construction, dating from the XVIII century and whose authorship is attributed to Machado de Castro. At Christmas time, along with the tradition of many other churches in the city, it is possible to appreciate this very rare crib composed of large dozens of figures placed right at the entrance of the monument.

The Church of the Crickets, although correctly denominated by Church of S. Lourenço, was initially the Church and the College of the Jesuits. With the extinction and expulsion of the Jesuits by the Marquis of Pombal in the eighteenth century, the Church was donated to the University of Coimbra and later bought by the Barefoot Friars of St. Augustine who, due to having their main residence in Lisbon, were commonly known as The Cricket Fathers. And hence the Church became commonly known as the Church of the Crickets although they no longer reside there.

The Museum of Sacred Art and Archeology of Porto – with access by a contiguous door to the left of the Church – displays a collection of interesting pieces from the statuary of saints, religious jewelery and other liturgical pieces. It is also here in the Museum that, from the magnificent balcony, one can have an unparalleled view of Porto and Gaia and the Douro River. A breathtaking view you can not miss!

Guilhermina Suggia
10 January, 2019 / ,

She was born in Oporto in 1885. Guilhermina Suggia grew up surrounded by music, much due to her father who was a cellist. Very early she began to take cello lessons and at the age of 7 she made her first public appearance in Matosinhos. At the age of 13 she was already a member of the Orfeão Portuense and quickly fell in love with Porto. It was a step up to give the first shows, often accompanied by her sister. At age 16, she received a grant from Rainha D. Amélia to attend the best European Conservatory. She passed the most respected rooms in London and around the world, but never forgot her hometown. It is in this course that she meets the director of the Conservatório de Música do Porto it is also in this saga that the Orquestra Sinfónica do Conservatório is born. Guilhermina Suggia travels Portugal from North to South and enchants everyone with her talent. In the Florbela Espanca Municipal Library, in Matosinhos, there are various documents such as her personal and official correspondence, photographs …

She passed when she was only 65, but left her mark as the best Portuguese cellist.

Hidden Porto
9 January, 2019 / , , ,

Cities are built over cities. This is an idea that both archeologists and architects notice in the reality of their daily work, which conditions them, motivates them and is at the root of the future of any city.

Since humans became sedentary, that is, since the groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers in search of the best hunting grounds gave rise to permanent settlement in villages whose inhabitants began to live from agriculture and livestock, the type of housing was modified and became stable, with the adoption of materials such as adobe, brick and stone, in addition to wood, which has always been used.

We find this in settlements as old as Çatal Hüyük (Anatolia, southern Turkey) or Jericho (Palestine), perhaps the oldest known towns, built between 8,000 and 7,000 BC, and where constructions have been succeeded, cities grown horizontally, but also at the expense of the overthrows of previous constructions, often taking advantage of their foundations to build new ones.

Porto hasn’t surely been any different. But those who fly over it, who come from the other riverside or who cross their streets and observe their houses, do not have this perception and see only what their eyes catch, the streets, houses, buildings, infrastructures, not remembering that this isn’t just our city, but our grandparents’ and other ancestors’ as well.

Those, their cities, are sometimes buried beneath ours, and at a time when Porto vibrates with its recovery, especially with the recovery of its Historical Center, signs of these “cities” that preceded us are exposed.

Perhaps the earliest ruins are found in the building of the no. 5 in Rua D. Hugo, behind the Porto Cathedral, where it was possible to trace an occupation with signs from the 8th century BC, with round houses. To that, other houses overlap, these ones quadrangular, of the Roman period.

Another fantastic example of how the city was built is provided by the archaeological excavations of Casa do Infante, already in a low part of the city, in which a large and luxurious Roman and late Roman house (IV-VI centuries) are superimposed to the medieval buildings, with the construction of the King’s warehouses, the Royal Customs Building and Casa da Moeda, with its occupation and successive enlargements lasting throughout the Modern and Contemporary Age.

But the example that we’re going to bring up is equally representative: in the works of a building with fronts to Rua de S. Francisco and to Rua Nova da Alfândega, where the former company of transits A. J. Gonçalves de Moraes was located, excavations shown signs of the nineteenth century city, more specifically the old Quarter of Baths.

Landed during the great urban transformation inherent to the construction of the Alfândega Nova building (1860-1870), construction of Rua Nova da Alfândega and Rua Ferreira Borges, which led to the destruction of the Monastery of S. Domingos, the old quarter of Baths was buried under 5 meters of rubble.

The excavations showed another facet of the city, a poorly-known riverfront area, which began at the beach already described by Ranulfo de Granville in 1147 and where some of the city’s bathhouses were located, next to Rua dos Banhos.

It was one of those alleys, still with buildings on both sides, that was exposed. One of the houses, in front of the entrance door flanked by windows with iron bars, had a paved patio.

In a contiguous area, about a meter below, the strong foundation of what may have been the medieval building of the public baths. The diggings stopped there.

But the finding of Roman construction materials may indicate the presence of much older ruins…

 

Marcelo Mendes Pinto, archeologist and CITCEM researcher

Fenianos, for Porto
15 December, 2018 / ,

Clube Fenianos Portuenses was founded on March 25, 1904, in the Batalha Square. In 1935, it was moved to its current location, in the Aliados Avenue, right next to the Porto City Hall.

The club was recognized as Commander of the Military Order of Christ for the services rendered throughout its 111 years of existence to that moment and with the Gold Medal of Porto as well, reinforcing its motto “Pelo Porto” (For Porto).

Around 1903, four of its founders, Porto citizens and future Fenianos, sought to obtain the necessary knowledge for the organization of a Carnival-like corso with the exuberance of the Carioca Carnival and the aesthetic beauty of the one in Venice, having made a trip to Brazil with this goal.

Clube Carnavalesco Fenianos Portuenses was born from this collaboration, later renamed Clube Fenianos Portuenses. The main goal was to give the city a Carnival at the level of its artistic sensibility.

As a note of curiosity, the floor of the Salão Nobre (Noble Room) also brings with it the “Brazil effect”, since all of it is of pau-cetim of light tone and macacaúba.

The history, patrimony, memories and civic and cultural intervention of Fenianos in Porto became entrenched in the city. The club was cherished by its populations, erudite, notable and anonymous, becoming a memorable tradition of Porto.

Its centenary and noble history, its gold books and the tombstones and pictures, that internally cover its old walls, register the presence of some of the most important living forces of the city, industry and commerce, great names of writers like Aquilino Ribeiro, Jorge de Sena, José Régio, of playwrights like Pirandello, of plastic artists, photographers and renowned painters such as Guedes de Oliveira and Amadeu de Sousa Cardoso, of folklorists and musicologists such as Armando Leça, of lectures with the historian of the city of Artur de Magalhães Basto and many, many other national and international figures.

Nowadays, the club continues to maintain an annual program of permanent socio-cultural activities, ranging from Music, Choral Singing and Instrumental to Illusionism, Theater, Dance, Billiards, Table Tennis and other ballroom games, not only for members, but for everyone who visits.

D. António Ferreira Gomes: look for the good without fearing the penalty
15 December, 2018 / ,

It would be dishonest and even bizarre to deny the size and political impact of a figure like the former Bishop of Porto, D. António Ferreira Gomes (1906 – 1989) identified as a critic of the dictatorial regime of the Estado Novo in Portugal that was in force in 1933 until April 25, 1974. But it is easy to blur our gaze and diminish the person he was once if we look into it from a narrow perspective. To understand that in God one can find the liberating force, the confidence that gives gestures and words the emancipation of all the powers that pass (especially of those who believe them to be eternal), would prevent many mistakes. It is a mistake to reduce D. Antonio to a mere political figure and to read from there his gestures and his intentions.

The Bishop of Porto was a man of God, moved by the desire for faithfulness to the Church and his Social Doctrine. He did not want to be ahead of his time. It was because he was a man of his time that he learned to read the human, social and religious dramas of the days he lived. That is why he created so much resistance. The letter he wrote to Salazar, which eventually contributed to his ten-year exile (1959-69), reveals his ability to understand reality. Written on July 13, 1958, those lines intended to prepare a meeting with Salazar. It was a “pro-memory” through which D. António wanted to present to the President of the Council the themes and issues he would like to discuss at the meeting they would have.

The letter revealed his sensitivity to injustice. Following the Doctrine of the Church, he spoke of the need for the fruits of labor to be evenly distributed, recognized the Right to strike, denounced human miseries and opened the possibility of creating parties. He wished upon Catholics a political and civic formation that would enable them to participate consciously and freely in social life. The letter would eventually be revealed publicly. The Bishop of Porto has always denied any responsibility in this incident.

What D. António Ferreira Gomes moved were not fruitless games or the search to be a protagonist. From the deep and demanding reading of reality, freed from fears, because founded on God, he desired good and justice.

This spiritual way is often difficult to grasp. There are few who are able to understand the human being from such deep convictions and motivations. But only these sustain free men. And only those who are free find the detachment of seeking the good without fearing the penalty.

Clerigos Museum
14 December, 2018 / , ,

The journey through the Casa da Irmandade (1754-1758), where the Museum is located, provides a return to the past as you get to explore spaces that once were private and destined for the daily life of the Brotherhood of Clerics.

Walking through the Casa do Despacho, the Sala do Cofre, the Archives, and the old infirmary, one can see that the Museum has a collection of cultural assets of considerable artistic value from the 13th to the 20th century, which spreads through its collections of sculpture, painting, furniture and jewellery. These goods are messengers of a historical and cultural patrimony, whose function was lost throughout time but gave way to the creation of the museum.

 

The infirmary of the Brotherhood of Clerics, which operated until the end of the 19th century and dedicated to the treatment of sick clerics, has been converted into an exhibition space and currently houses the Christus collection. This exhibition, conceived from the donation of a collection by a private collector, reveals the passion for collecting and tells a story complemented by objects, once of devotion, considered today cultural legacies of interest. They are important pieces of sculpture, painting and jewellery making that enhance the encounter of art with faith.

The exhibition, distributed in three rooms – Núcleo da Paixão, Viagem das Formas e Imagens de Cristo – invites you to travel through time and space, through image and devotion.

The Museum of the Irmandade dos Clérigos, is part of the Portuguese Museum Network, since August 28, 2018.

 

The magic of Christmas in Lapa
5 December, 2018 / , , ,

If we ask different people what Christmas is like in Porto we will get different answers. They will say that it is the beauty of the Aliados Christmas tree, the color of the lights downtown, the frenzy of Santa Catarina, the Bolo Rei from different traditional pastries or the cod of a certain grocery store, which has been conceptualized by years of infallible service to the palate of Porto. All this is true, and there would be more to add. However, all this is part of something infinitely more important, all this underlines the joy of what Christmas really is, but it does not exhaust or overshadow it. Christmas is the birth of Christ, the proclamation of redemption, the celebration of God’s supreme trust in His people.

Living, or being in Porto, on this date makes it mandatory to witness to the way the city lives this significant moment of its spirituality. I venture to say that, at least once in my life, so as not to steal the limelight of other parishes, it is mandatory to participate in the extraordinary Missa do Galo in Lapa. Christmas is also magic, and magic is not incompatible with solemnity. The experience of the Missa do Golo in Lapa is just that, magical and solemn. Here, the spirit is awakened through the different senses in a sublime way. As the eyes marvel at the artistic richness of the Church and with the aesthetic rigor of the celebration, the scent of traditional incense reinforces the intensity of the moment and the music of extraordinary execution and delicate choice fills the time between words that give meaning to everything else. It is a unique experience!

The very special care put into this Mass, the strict observance of a tradition that is strengthened with each passing year, has had the power to attract more and more people, giving more meaning to the Christmas of each one who chooses to join this celebration. One can say that there is pomp, rigor, staging even, but without ever losing sight of the essential. Everyone gives their best to receive the Christ who has come. I would say that it is the gold, the incense and the myrrh that Porto has to offer.

 

I would dare say that this is not an exclusive moment of believers; it would be terribly selfish. This is also a time for those who do not believe, but like to feed their spirit with the beauty of creativity and the sublime power of art in different forms, architecture, painting, sculpture, music, the word. Believers and non-believers, for different reasons, some of them communal, leave from there full of soul and with the clear notion of the privilege of participation in such a special moment. And Christmas happens.

Francisco de Sá Carneiro – Bold in Life and Politics
7 November, 2018 / , , ,

If you arrived in Porto by landing at the Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport, or if, walking through the streets of Antas, you met his statue in the square with the same name, this article is for you!

Born and raised in Porto in 1934, Francisco de Sá Carneiro is a Portuguese lawyer and politician who early stood out in opposition to the dictatorial regime in force at the time, of which the most outstanding expression was the struggle for the return of Bishop António Ferreira Gomes (whose statue can be admired next to the Clérigos Church) to the country. The Bishop had been exiled by Salazar’s Estado Novo.

In 1969, as an independent, Sá Carneiro was elected to the National Assembly of Portugal and soon became the face of the so-called Ala Liberal (Liberal Wing). He was responsible for several initiatives aimed at Portugal’s peaceful and progressive transition to a free and democratic regime.

Failing to implement his democratic, personalistic and humanist views, he resigned as deputy and returned to Porto, where he helped develop the idea of creating a social democratic party that would see the light of day after the revolution of the 25th of April of 1974, that ended the dictatorial regime. On the 6th of May of 1974, the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) – later, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) –, of which Francisco de Sá Carneiro was a co-founder and main promoter, was born.

As President of PPD, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly of 1975, which was responsible for the preparation and approval of the first Constitution of the Republic of the new democratic regime.

At the end of 1979, he created the Democratic Alliance, which came to win the next Legislative Elections. At the leadership of the largest government coalition since April 25, 1974, Sá Carneiro was named the Portuguese Prime Minister in January of 1980, a position he held until his unexpected and tragic disappearance on the 4th of December of 1980, when the plane in which he was traveling to Porto crashed in Camarate, in circumstances that, to this day, could not be ascertained.

His public side did not prevent him from living his own private life and risking criticism in a traditionalist country where divorce was not even allowed when he separated from his wife to join Snu Abecassis, the Danish founder of Don Quixote Publications, who would also end up dying in the Camarate accident. Bold as always in life, Sá Carneiro soon clarified: “If the situation is deemed incompatible with my duties, I’ll choose the woman I love.”

Considered by many to be a true good man of his city and country, with a particular nobility and straightforwardness of character, the death of Francisco de Sá Carneiro was an irreparable loss to Portuguese public life and his memory is still an inspiration today for all those who recognize, in his example, the greater form of being in life and politics, for all of those who know, as he did, that, “above Social Democracy, Democracy, and, above Democracy, the Portuguese People”.

Gomes Teixeira – The mathematician who could have been a priest
15 October, 2018 / , , ,

Gomes Teixeira, illustrious mathematician who would become the first rector of the University of Porto, only did not study Theology by mere chance.

Born in January 1851 in Armamar, he was soon distinguished by his intelligence and good grades obtained in all subjects. At that time, it was common for boys with good schooling to be referred to the Seminary, but the young man was also brilliant at Mathematics. Thus, when it was time to go to university, the family decided that it would be the good fortune to decide between Theology and Mathematics.

Luck dictated Mathematics and since he arrived at the University of Coimbra, Francisco Gomes Teixeira stood out by the maximum notes obtained. At the age of 20 he published his first work and in 1874 he finished the course with a grade of 20 values. Such a brilliant academic course would, naturally, have to lead him to a teaching career. He excelled at the University of Coimbra and at the Polytechnic Academy of Porto, which he would eventually direct.

In 1911 the University of Porto was founded and Gomes Teixeira was chosen to be its first rector. He died in Porto in 1933. After his death, three busts were made in bronze, later placed in his native land at the University of Porto and at the University of Coimbra.

Source: O Tripeiro 7ª Série Ano XIX nº1 e 7ª Série Ano XXX, Número 12