Culture

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

The two images of Senhora da Luz
13 August, 2018 / , ,

Before the lighthouse of São Miguel, which was built in 1758 in Foz, there was a chapel dedicated to Senhora da Luz.

According to some studies, in prehistoric times that place would have a special meaning, as evidenced by marks made on rocks. The reference to Senhora da Luz (“Lady of Light”) and its chapel already emerges in 1680. It would be a simple construction, but of great importance for fishermen and sailors.

Bombarded during the liberal wars, the chapel would be destroyed but from its interior, an altar was spared with the image that is today in the Church of São João da Foz do Douro. This image of “Our Lady” invokes the light, so essential for those who sailed the seas. Framed by gilded carving and adorned with images of angels, the “Lady of Light” is still adored today.

In the same church, there is still another image representing Our Lady with Jesus on his lap, measuring 30 cm high and made in ivory. Despite its small size, it stands out for the rarity and beauty of its details, as it is decorated with a mantle embroidered with gold and colored stones. The image was intended to be carried and kissed by its faithful followers on festive days.

Source: O Tripeiro 7th Series, Year XV issue 9 September 1996
The traditional barber shops in Porto
20 July, 2018 / , , ,

These are nine of the traditional barbershops in the city of Porto and all are located between the Hospital Santo António and the São Bento Station.

Also traditional is the decoration of these barbershops, with iron armchairs and brass instruments capable of withstanding decades of use. Professionals also follow this longevity: many are elderly gentlemen with weather-discolored hair and clever fingers wrapped in wrinkles.

  • Barbearia Porto: It was born in 1946 but from that date only the chairs and a shoebox are left. The new owners brought in the rest of the vintage decor. It is two steps from the Avenida dos Aliados.
  • Barbearia Garrett: Since 1979 in the hands of Acácio Branco, this barbershop is just a few meters from the Porto City Hall. With an old-fashioned décor, this establishment only has male guests.
  • Oficina do Cabelo: Formerly known as Tinoco, reopened under this name. From 1929 it maintains the marble washbasins, iron chairs, huge mirrors and floor covered with fan mosaics. It is now considered part of Porto’s heritage.
  • Barbearia Santo António: It is not much bigger than a corridor, but it brings a lot of history in the hands of António Cardoso. There are more than 50 years of cuts at the beginning of Rua 31 de Janeiro.
  • Barbearia Norton: In this barbershop, in the Batalha area, we talk about everything and keep alive the tradition of the neighbourhood barber with leather chairs, beard brush and razors.
  • Salão Veneza: It is almost 90 years old and more than 70 years as a barbershop. Some of the most unforgettable characters of our history have already sat in these red armchairs.
  • Barbearia Sport: It was in 1942 that this barbershop settled in Porto. It happened in an era where one would spend more time embellishing their moustache than cutting hair.
  • Barbearia Invicta: Aventino Silva has been in this barbershop since the age of 10 and despite the arrival of the blades, he has not lost clients.
  • Barbearia Orlando: It already has two spaces in Porto but it is in the Rua Álvaro Castelões that the tradition, the customers and the conversations are kept on point.

Source: “Os bigodes à antiga e a arte de os fazer bem feitos” – Prova de Aptidão Artística (Artistic aptitude test) by Edgar Duarte (Escola Artística Soares dos Reis)

The Guindais elevator
16 July, 2018 / , ,

Today, we have a funicular but at the end of the 19th century an elevator made the route between the Batalha and the Guindais Pier. Inaugurated on June 4, 1891, it suffered, two years later, an accident that forced it to shut down for more than 100 years.

The lift emerged to link the Guindais Pier, where the boats came with food, and the Batalha which, by its central location, was a point of distribution of these products to other parts of the city. The difference between the highest and the lowest point was 75 meters but there were two different slope levels (7% and 47%). The Porto engineer Raul Mesnier made the project and the works began in 1889. The Guindais quarry was dismantled, the lift built and, after several tests, inaugurated in June 1891.

Transportation was made by three cars – one of balance and two main ones, with 5.6 meters of length and capacity for 40 people. In the central part of these cars there were luxury compartments, with rugs, upholstered seats and blinds. The trips were running every five minutes and cost 40 kings, but the huge investment needed to build and maintain the lift has never been offset by revenue. In 1893, an accident – with only material damages – dictated its closure. The current funicular was inaugurated in 2004.

Source: O Tripeiro 7ª série Ano XXII nº 3 March 2003

St James Anglican Church
6 June, 2018 / , ,

In a city with such strong connections to the British community, getting to know the St James Anglican Church and the Cemetery of the British is to know a little more about this relationship that has lasted for centuries.

The links between Porto and the British are ancient and have become even more intense thanks to the Port wine trade. It was in 1671 that the Port Chaplaincy was founded, but since Protestants could not have places of worship or openly celebrate religious services at that time, English families residing in Porto met discreetly in private homes. They could not also be buried in Catholic cemeteries so they were buried on the banks of the Douro.

In 1787, the British consul John Whitehead was allowed to buy land outside the city limits to be used as a graveyard. In 1815 the church began to be built which would be completed three years later. Of Neoclassical character, it had works of enlargement in 1866/67 increasing the nave and turning into the shape of a cross.

Surrounded by a wall – a requirement of the Portuguese authorities during its construction – the property also includes the cemetery. Here are buried members of the Forrester family, English airmen who lost their lives when flying over Portuguese territory during World War II and the Consul John Whitehead. The church and the cemetery can be visited.

Information:

Largo da Maternidade Júlio Dinis, 45

Website: www.stjamesoporto.org