Culture

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

 

From traditional transport to symbol of a region
6 June, 2018 / ,

Rabelo Boat is one of the major symbols of Porto and the Douro. Originally created in the 18th century for the transportation of the Port wine barrels, between the Alto Douro wine-growing lands and the Ribeira do Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Today, this traditional boat is preserved in the cities memory and constitutes a privileged element of the tourism in the region.

Due to the inexistence of appropriate road and rail routes, Rabelo Boat was the most reliable and exclusive means of transportation for the wine industry. It was generally manned by ten to twelve navigators and, if going towards the current, crews sought to ensure the stability of the most valuable product of the region’s trade over turbulent waters; otherwise, the vessels were taken by towpaths drawn by ropes along the banks of the Douro River.

Without keel, with a flat bottom and with a length of between 19 and 25 meters, it integrates a wooden structure called apégada and a long oar on the stern, the espadela, used to manoeuvre the boat.

The introduction of the Douro railways in the late nineteenth century and the development of roadways during the twentieth century dictated the decline of river traffic provided by Rabelo Boats.

Today, anchored on the banks of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, they are used exclusively for its recreational character in the famous Regatta de São João, on June 24 of each year, for the celebrations of popular festivals in the city of Porto.

An updated version of the original vessel was created to transport passengers on tours through the Douro. They are wooden boats, with the traditional appearance, but meet the safety and comfort conditions demanded today.

Burning of the Ribbons – The great party of Porto students
26 April, 2018 / , ,

From May 6 to 12 the Porto university students are celebrating and the city is invaded by a huge wave of color and joy. Concerts, a gigantic parade and other cultural activities involve more than 350,000 students.

The tradition stands for decades. For a week, Porto’s university students are partying, going out in the street with their academic apparel, black robes and their top hats, walking sticks and ribbons in the folders that bear the color of each course. The party begins with a monumental serenade, at midnight on Sunday, the 6th. On Tuesday, during the afternoon and night, the students walk the streets of the city in a procession that ends up involving their relatives, townspeople and tourists. The march begins next to the Rectory of the University of Porto and ends in the Aliados.

The Blessing of the folders Mass, which also takes place in the Aliados, is another high point of an intense program, which also includes concerts in the City Park.

Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
18 April, 2018 / , , ,

The church of Santo Ildefonso has about 11,000 tiles on the front and sides of the bell towers.

These tiles were designed by Jorge Colaço, who also created the tiles of São Bento Station, and represent scenes from the life of Saint Ildefonso and the Gospel. They were placed only in 1931, but the construction of the church is much older.

The church of Santo Ildefonso began to be constructed in 1709, the first phase (still without the bell towers) being completed in 1730. In the interior there are eight stained glass windows and a retable in carved baroque and rococo of the first half of the 18th Century by Nicolau Nasoni. When visiting this church, located in the middle of downtown Porto, do not forget to pay attention to two large canvases measuring 5.80 x 4.30 meters, suspended on the side walls, painted between 1785 and 1792.

In the area of the choir there is a pipe organ of the early nineteenth century, which has been restored. The church also has vestiges of an old cemetery, discovered during the restoration works of recovery executed in 1996.

It was from the staircase of this church that in 1891 shots were fired that would end the revolution that was the first attempt of the implantation of the Republic in Portugal.

Majestic – From the splendor of Belle Époque to the jewel of the city
29 March, 2018 / , ,

In Rua de Santa Catarina, in the city
centre, Majestic is a must stop for those
who visit Porto. The privileged location,
the facade and the decoration make this a
unique venue in the city.

 

The space was inaugurated on the 17 of December
of 1921, but at that time it was called Elite.
Designed by the architect João Queirós, it functioned
as a kind of private club; with the change of name
to Majestic, it became a meeting point for the high
society, bohemians and intellectuals. Throughout its
history would be place of social gatherings, a point
of passage of artists that visited the city as well as
for statesmen and celebrities.
With the advent of World War II the cafe would enter
a period of decadence, the sale of its very rich estate
going to auction.
During the restoration carried out in the 1990s,
only wall fixtures, mirrors (from Antwerp) and
sofas were kept. Replicas of some pieces which had
disappeared were made so that the original spirit
could be maintained.
Since the mid-90s the Majestic has won a unique
place in the heart of Porto residents and tourists,
and has also won several international awards.

 

The space
The Majestic is a superb example of Art Nouveau,
featuring an imponent marble façade with three
elegant porches facing Rua de Santa Catarina. In the
interior, the great mirrors, the metal candelabras the
sculptures in stucco stand out.
The interior courtyard, built in 1925, was designed
as a winter garden. There was a time when there
was a window facing Rua de Passos Manuel, where
newspapers and tobacco were sold. In this courtyard
there are concerts during the summer, but all year
round the Majestic is also a cultural space, thanks to
the grand piano and the painting exhibitions on the
lower floor, which was once a billiard room.

Curiosities:
J. K. Rowling was a frequent patron of the
Majestic cafe when she lived in Porto and it is
believed that she started working on the book
“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”
there.
Former Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek
responded as follows when asked what he most
liked about his visit to Portugal: “Well … it was
Majestic … after all I am also a child of God … !!!”