Culture

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

Praça Gomes Teixeira (Praça dos Leões)
12 October, 2018 / , ,

The centre of Porto’s student life, this square is named after an illustrious mathematician, but it is the lions of its imposing fountain that have made it known.

The official designation of this square in Baixa do Porto is homage to Gomes Teixeira, a mathematician who was the first rector of the University of Porto. However, it is best known for the Praça dos Leões (Lions Square), due to the granite and bronze fountain that exists in the central zone.

In fact, this place dates much earlier than the fountain and even the university itself. According to legend, in the 12th century, the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques and his wife, D. Mafalda, were on their way to Guimarães when the queen fell on a precipice. In that moment of distress, each element of the couple invoked a saint. Grateful for having rid themselves of the danger, they built chapels in that place, Nossa Senhora da Graça and São Miguel-o-Anjo (already demolished).

Already in the XVII century the Convento dos Carmelitas (where the GNR barracks is nowadays) and colleges where orphans were housed, which led to this place was also known as Largo do Carmo or Campo dos Meninos  Órfãos. Later, and because flour and bread were sold there, it was also known as Praça do Pão (Bread Square) or Praça da Feira do Pão (Bread Market Square). Already in the XIX century, it became Praça dos Voluntários da Rainha, thus honoring the liberal battalion of the Portuguese army that had occupied the Convento dos Carmelitas.

When the University of Porto was created, it was renamed Praça da Universidade and, later, Praça Gomes Teixeira.

The current building of the Rectory of the University of Porto was built throughout the nineteenth century and it also served as the Faculty of Sciences and Engineering. The square then gained a new life; the presence of the students was decisive for the emergence of cafes, such as the mythical Café Âncora d’Ouro (better known as O Piolho), bookstores and other services linked to academic life. The shops and warehouses nearby also created, along with the people of Porto and who visited the city, the habit of shopping in this area.

Nowadays it is one of the main places in Porto for nightlife activities and it continues to be a meeting point in the main moments of the academic life of the city, such as Queima das Fitas or the Reception to the new students of the University of Porto.

The churches of Carmo and Carmelitas, separated by the narrowest house of the city, are another point of interest in the place.

 

The fountain

Imposing, this emblematic source was commissioned by the Companhia das Águas do Porto in 1882, with the purpose of supplying water to that area of ​​the city. Built in France by the Compagnie Générale des Eaux pour l’Etranger, it is 8 meters in diameter and 6 meters high, consisting of a granite tank and a central bronze fountain with four winged lions and seated at the ends. Two cups on the top complete the decoration of this fountain, once protected by an iron fence.

University of Porto
11 October, 2018 / ,

Founded on March 22, 1911, the University of Porto is increasingly sought after by Portuguese and foreign students. With 14 colleges and three hubs (in the center, Asprela and Campo Alegre), it has about 30 thousand students from all over the world.

The origins of the University of Porto are in the Nautical Classroom, created by D. José I in 1762 and designed to prepare sailors and pilots to board ships departing from Barra do Douro to the whole world. Drawing Class followed right after, created in 1779; Royal Academy of the Navy and Commerce, in 1803; Polytechnic Academy in 1837. All these schools were designed to prepare cadres qualified to work in the naval area, in commerce, industry and the arts.

In 1825 the first medical school of Porto, the Royal School of Surgery, was founded, which 11 years later gave rise to the Medical-Surgical School. The Drawing Class was also the origin of other schools linked to the arts.

In March 1911, a few months after the Implantation of the Republic (October 1910), this university was established, which has since continued to grow in terms of courses, number of students and international prestige. Initially divided in two faculties (Sciences and Medicine), it received in 1915 the Technical Faculty (renamed in 1926 of Faculty of Engineering), in 1919 the Faculty of Letters and, in 1921, the Faculty of Pharmacy. The Faculty of Economics was established in 1953.

With the revolution of April 25, 1974, the University of Porto would see great growth, receiving more faculties: Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences (1975), Faculty of Sports (1975), Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences 1977), Faculty of Architecture (1979), Faculty of Dental Medicine (1989), Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences (1992), Faculty of Fine Arts (1992) and Faculty of Law (1994). The Porto Management School was created in 1988 and since 2008 it has been designated as Business School of the University of Porto.

The rectory

It is the headquarters of the University of Porto. Located in the centre of the city, at the Praça Gomes Teixeira, this imposing building also houses the Museum of Natural History and the Science Museum. Between 1803 and 1837 it received the Royal Academy of Navy and Commerce and the Polytechnic Academy of Porto between 1837 and 1911. Installed in the space that housed a college for orphans, this building had a time-consuming construction and was often re-adapted for new functions. On April 20, 1974, a fire destroyed a part of the building, which was again the target of works and renovations. Between 1976 and 1996 the rectory worked in a building near the Palácio de Cristal.

Church São Pedro de Miragaia
9 October, 2018 / , ,

Close to the Douro and in the middle of the historical area, this church with a richly decorated interior is a sign of devotion from the fishermen to São Pedro.

The current church, rebuilt in the eighteenth century, emerged in the place where there was previously another temple of medieval origin. Miragaia, along the Douro River, was one of the first inhabited zones in the city. Born in the heart of a devout fishing community, this church was dedicated to São Pedro, patron saint of fishermen.

The previous temple gave place, in 1740, to a temple with a simple structure and with a unique ship. However, the richness of the interior decoration compensates for this stripping. The chancel is fully lined with gilded carving. A work that lasted for several years and that made this decoration reflect the evolution of the aesthetics of different periods. The ceiling and the triptych in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, attributed to the Flemish painter Van Orley, also deserve a close look. In the exterior, the simple tiles – placed in the 19th century – stand out on the façade and the bell tower and the baroque ornaments on the lateral pilasters.

Largo de S. Pedro de Miragaia, Porto

Visiting hours: Tue-Fri 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sun. 10:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Closed: Monday

The crickets and their church ( O TRIPEIRO)
19 September, 2018 / , , ,

Legend has it that in the place where the Igreja de São Lourenço was built, one could hear the constant singing of the crickets. For this reason, the church is still known today as the Church of the Crickets.

The legend, which has long been known in the city, tells that the Jesuit temple was built in the place where the gardens of the Bishop of Porto, who donated these lands to the Society of Jesus, existed. A place that, due to its abundance of these singing insects, was known as the Campo dos Grilos (Field of the Crickets). Thus, the Porto residents never adopted the official designation of Igreja de São Lourenço and since it was built in the sixteenth century, this temple was always known as … Igreja dos Grilos (Church of the Crickets).

Another explanation, more based on historical facts, is related to the expulsion of the Jesuits from the country in 1759. The church and college belonged to the University of Coimbra, which eventually sold the buildings to the congregation of the Agostinhos Descalços, also known as “Cricket Fathers” since their headquarters was on the Calçada do Grilo (Curbside of the Cricket).

The history of the name may not be consensual, but the imposing facade and the richness of its interior justify a visit.

Source: O Tripeiro 7ª Série Ano XXXIV number  5 – May 2015

The Siege of Porto
14 September, 2018 / , ,

It was 13 months that marked the city forever. The Siege of Porto lasted from July of 1832 to August of the following year, but its memory remains in the toponymy and the soul of the city.

The city will always be marked by the months in which it was surrounded: in addition to material damages and loss of human life, this period of history gave Porto the title of  “antiga, Mui Nobre, Sempre Leal e Invicta Cidade do Porto” (old, very noble, always loyal and invicta Porto) attributed by D. Pedro as a form of gratitude for the loyalty and courage with which the Porto residents defended the liberal cause. The king would even offer his heart to the city as a form of giving thanks.

“Bairro do Cerco do Porto”, “Rua do Heroísmo” (Heroism, in memory of a bloody battle that took place there) or “Rua da Firmeza” (Firmness) are names that perpetuate “the dignity and resignation with which the Porto residents valiantly resisted”. They evoke this time and a war between two brothers with opposing convictions.

Porto never accepted the ascendancy of the absolutist D. Miguel to power (1828) and when D. Pedro took command of the Liberal movement, he found in the people of the city a powerful ally. On July 8, 1832, D. Pedro, coming from the Azores, disembarked in Pampelido (Mindelo) to take the city of Porto, arriving at the present Praça da Liberdade at noon. D. Miguel’s troops had been moved to Lisbon so the Liberals had no difficulty entering the city. The next day, the absolutist army, coming from the south, settled in the Serra do Pilar, on the other side of the river, to bombard the city and expel the Liberals. Thus begins the siege: D. Pedro’s supporters remain in the port, surrounded. Food and essential goods became scarce and, as the situation got worse, cholera and typhus became opponents of those fighting for the liberal cause.

In June 1833, the Liberals altered the strategy and resolved to attack from the Algarve. The absolutist troops, convinced that the adversary was weakened, decide to launch a great attack on the Port but end up being defeated. On the 26th July, the Liberals occupied Lisbon but Porto remained surrounded. On the 18th August, under the command of Marechal Saldanha, the Liberal army obtained a decisive victory that two days later lead the supporters of D. Miguel to retreat. The Siege of Porto was finished.

The metro station that is a museum
14 September, 2018 / ,

The metro station Campo 24 de Agosto keeps a real treasure: the ruins of a reservoir of water that existed there.

Besides being designed by the renowned Portuguese architect Souto Moura, this station in the center of the city has other reasons for its significance: it accommodates the archaeological traces of a reservoir that supplied the existent fountain. In the nineteenth century, the river that flowed there was buried along with the bridge that crossed it. Over time, and with the urbanization of the surrounding area, which was formerly rural, the memory of this past was forgotten until progress recovered that memory.

During the construction of the underground station, at the beginning of this century, what was left of the old reservoir was discovered along with other objects, including shoe soles, Portuguese ceramics, Italian glass or Chinese porcelain. To preserve these memories, the ruins were dismantled and then rebuilt in the place where they can be visited today, accompanied by explanations that contextualize the importance of these remains.

Agustina Bessa-Luís
14 September, 2018 / ,

“I live here, but Porto is not a place for me; it’s a feeling”

Agustina Bessa-Luís is one of the most emblematic women of Portuguese culture. With dozens of published works and a unique personality, she has an enormous passion for Porto.

She was born in Vila-Meã, Amarante, on October 15, 1922, but during her childhood and adolescence she lived in several cities, yet maintained a strong connection to the Douro region which was notorious in many of her work. Her maternal grandfather’s library allowed her the first contact with French and English literature, which influenced her.

During her adolescence, she even wrote novels under a pseudonym but it was in 1948 that she published the first book, “Mundo Fechado”. Three years earlier she had married Alberto Luís. She met her husband through an advertisement she published in a newspaper in which she sought a cultured person with whom to exchange correspondence, which clearly reveals her independent and determined temperament. In 1953, with the award-winning novel, “A Sibila” (The Sibyl), Agustina Bessa-Luís gained great recognition.

From then until the first years of the 21st century, she published dozens of works, some of them adapted to the cinema by Manoel de Oliveira. Although often dissatisfied with these adaptations, this collaboration was long and fruitful. Agustina even wrote the text that accompanies the film “Visita ou Memórias e Confissões”, made to be exhibited after the director’s death. The “Corte do Norte” was also adapted to the cinema by João Botelho and several works were adapted to the stage. In addition to novels, she also wrote plays, biographies, essays and children’s books. Between 1986 and 1987 she was director of the newspaper O Primeiro de Janeiro and between 1990 and 1993 she was in the board of the Teatro Nacional de D. Maria II.

She is a member of the Academie Européenne des Sciences, des Arts et des Lettres (Paris) and the Academia Brasileira de Letras and the Academia das Ciências de Lisboa. Among the honors received are the Order of Sant’Iago da Espada (1980), the Medal of Honor of the City of Porto (1988) and the Officier’s degree of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the French Government (1989).  Her work has been translated into German, Castilian, Danish, French, Greek, Italian and Romanian.

Undaunted, intelligent, sarcastic, and fearless in defying conventions and powers, Agustina Bessa-Luís was never afraid to say what she thought or let herself be intimidated for being a woman or of not belonging to the circles of power. For health reasons, she has been away from public and literary life for several years.

Capela dos Alfaiates
13 September, 2018 / , ,

Discreetly situated at the angle of two streets and with an apparently simple architecture, this chapel deserves to be visited.

Although it is known as the Capela dos Alfaiates (Chapel of the Tailors), as the Brotherhood of Tailors built it, this small church is designated as Capela de Nossa Senhora de Agosto, and it displays the image of this saint on its facade.

It was built in 1554 very close to the Cathedral of Porto but, due to the opening of the Terreiro da Sé, it was removed from the site and in 1953 rebuilt in the place where it is currently. It is a National Monument since 1927.

Nossa Senhora de Agosto is the patroness of the Tailors, hence the veneration that led them to decide to build this small monument. Its architecture makes the transition from late Gothic to Flemish inspired Mannerism.

In the interior, besides the image in limestone of the Saint and S. Bom Homem (17th century), stands the altarpiece of Nossa Senhora de Agosto, made in gilded carving of the 16th century and in Mannerist style. It consists of a set of eight tablets with episodes of the life of the Virgin and Jesus: Annunciation, Adoration of the Shepherds, Adoration of the Magi, Assumption of the Virgin and the Child among the Doctors. To set is complete by the Coronation of the Virgin, flanked by the Visitation and the Escape to Egypt. The paintings were made between 1590 and 1600.
Rua do Sol / Rua S. Luís, Porto

Schedule: Monday to Friday 15:00-17:00

GPS: 41.143277204857, -8.6074742674828

 

Forte de São João Baptista
3 September, 2018 / , , ,

Also known as Castelo de São João da Foz, this fortress was built to protect the city from attacks by pirates and ships from enemy countries.

Built on the right bank of the Barra do Douro, the genesis of this fort was the residence of the bishop of Viseu, developed according to the design of an Italian architect. Considered as the first manifestation of Renaissance architecture in the north of Portugal, this house, as well as the adjacent buildings – such as the Church of São João Baptista and the chapel of São Miguel-o-Anjo – was surrounded by walls in the reign of D. Sebastião (1567). The strategic location, essential for the defence of the city and the region, would justify several interventions made over the years, trying to avoid attacks by pirates and ships from the nations with whom Portugal was at war with throughout its history.

When Portuguese independence was restored after 60 years of Spanish domination (1580-1640), D. João I wanted to know the state of the national fortresses and the need to build them stronger. The French engineer Charles Lassart was sent to Porto to delineate the necessary works in the fort; it was decided to demolish the church and the residence, making the fortress safer. After the works were completed, the presence of troops in the area was reinforced. In the 18th century the fortress was described as having four ramparts and 18 pieces of artillery, but by the end of this century it was concluded that it would be necessary to strengthen security, namely with the completion of the pit and with the construction of two batteries. In 1798, a portal in neoclassical style was also included, with a drawbridge, which replaced the primitive door of arms.

The evolution of the deployment and the capacity of defence caused this fort to lose its importance during the nineteenth century. In the middle of the twentieth century, it was abandoned but ended up being considered a Monument of Public Interest and in the 80’s and 90’s it was part of a cleaning and consolidation work.

Curiosities:

In the sixteenth, the works were paid with the amount raised by the tax on the salt.

During the Peninsular War (1808-1814), on June 6, 1808, Sergeant Major Raimundo José Pinheiro occupied the premises of the fort. The next morning he had the Portuguese flag flying on his mast. It was the first act of Portuguese reaction against the Napoleonic occupation.

During the Portuguese Civil War (1828-1834), he protected, during the siege of Oporto (1832-1833), the landing of supplies for the liberal troops in the city.

In the nineteenth century it served as political prison.

The poet Florbela Espanca, married to one of the officers, lived in the fort in the early 1920s.

GPS: 41.148445879541, -8.6748862266541

Schedule: From Monday to Friday 9:00 to 17:00