Curiosities

The Camellia and Tea … because Camellias can also be drunk
5 April, 2021 /

Tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis or Chinese rose.

Morphologically the tea plant is a shrub and presents a delicate white flower.
This Camellia species needs acid soils, a warm and humid environment, as in Porto.

For tea production we only collect the young leaves and buds from the crown of the shrub.
We can collect the leaves throughout the year, when new leaves sprout.

Porto has a long and intimate relationship with tea. Their paths crossed somewhere in the 16th century, a Jesuit priest being the first European to come across the tea plant on a mission to China.

It is very possible that the English ships that came to the Douro carrying Port wine on their return trip took with them some camellia plants, perhaps the first to enter that country.

It was probably Catherine of Bragança, married to the English King Charles II, who introduced “5 o’clock tea” to the English court. The love for tea spread throughout the country, and it is a habit that still lasts today.

Arrábida Bridge
1 March, 2021 / , , ,

The Arrábida Bridge is an internationally recognised masterpiece of bridge engineering.

When it was completed in 1963, it was the longest span reinforced concrete arch bridge in the world. It is considered a masterpiece of Bridge Engineering. It is 500 metres long and 70 metres above river level.

It is the first large bridge over the Douro River entirely conceived, designed and built by Portuguese Engineering. Its author has signed bridge projects on four continents – the Engineer Edgar Cardoso.

Its construction lasted 7 years (between 1956 and 1963) and the small house from which the construction of the bridge was coordinated is still there. Nowadays it is the Casa D’Oro restaurant.

The Arrábida bridge filled the need for a road link between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia and was the second bridge to allow this.

Of the various bridges over the Douro River estuary, the Arrábida Bridge is the closest to the estuary.
This bridge was also designed to allow the circulation of pedestrians and, therefore, four lifts were installed, two on each side, which had the capacity for about 25 people. They stopped working for safety reasons.

It is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, symbol of the City, probably the one that in the future will best symbolize the Porto of the 20th century.
It is Heritage in the noblest sense of the word. And it is where new and beautiful perspectives of Porto are often discovered.
It was classified as a National Monument in the year of its 50th anniversary, in 2013.

Did you Know?

Visits to the arch of the Arrábida Bridge began in 2016, this being the only arch of a bridge that can be visited in Europe – 262 are the steps you have to climb to visit it.

The 1st Christmas Tree of the Portugal was in Porto
24 December, 2020 /

According to history, it was in Porto that for the first time a Christmas tree was built in the country.

It took place in the old Crystal Palace, in 1865, during the international exhibition, and this was also the first international exhibition in the Iberian Peninsula.

The legend says that it was chosen as a Christmas symbol for its triangular shape, which in Christian tradition represents the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Christmas Tree or Christmas Pine has been known in its present form since the 16th century.

It appeared in Germany where small pine trees were decorated with colourful fruit and sweet paper.

The tradition spread throughout Europe and arrived in the USA in 1800.

The nativity scene is a tradition in the home of the Porto’s Christian. There are records of cribs since the 13th century, created by St. Francis of Assis in 1223, in a cave in Assis, and its present form dates from the 16th century. Normally set up at the foot of the Christmas tree and the presents, it recreates the birth of Jesus in a stable.

Christmas is a magical time to visit Porto, a city full of traditions and craft wonders, delicious traditional wines, and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

On Christmas Eve, the family from Porto gather around the Christmas tree and the nativity scene.

The tradition of the Christmas eve dinner in Porto
9 December, 2020 / , ,

Christmas traditions have always had a very special meaning in the families of Porto, but 100 years ago it was all a little different.

The Christmas Eve dinner (dinner on the 24th of December) only existed in the north. In the south of Porto, from Advent, families fasted meat, and this day was spent in strict fasting. Only after the “Missa do Galo” (rooster’s mass) was the supper served.

Porto already followed the tradition of the Middle Ages, with the Christmas Codfish. The family gathered at the table to celebrate the “Consoada” (Christmas Eve), which comes from the verb consolation.

As one could not eat meat, and the codfish was the cheapest fish, the meal consisted of boiled codfish, accompanied with boiled cabbage and potatoes, watered by a good extra virgin national olive oil; the codfish pastries, the stewed octopus, or the octopus rice were other of the most chosen meatless dishes.

But since the 2d World War, only the richest families continued to be able to consume codfish on a regular basis, and for those the codfish became only for festive days.

There is a legend that in Toledo, before the 12 chimes, the farmers killed a rooster, which they took to church to give to the poorest, to have a happier Christmas. So the meat was reserved for Christmas Day (25 December) with the stuffed turkey being the king of this day.
The “Missa do Galo” was not part of Porto traditions, as family life should not be interrupted. In the north no one prayed for Child Jesus at midnight, because at that time everyone was around the octopus and the codfish.

For dessert, the Christmas “broas de natal” stand out, and later the famous “Bolo-rei”, in a round shape, with a hole in the middle. Traditionally, inside the cake there was a dried bean, and a small gift made of metal or ceramic. Whoever got the dried bean had the duty to pay for the next Bolo Rei, and the gift was lucky for whoever found it.

Behind this cake there is a symbolism about 2000 years old. The legend says that the cake represents the gifts that the Wise Men gave to the Child Jesus. The crown symbolizes gold, the crystallized and dried fruits are myrrh, and the aroma of the cake is incense.

This tradition was imported from France, from the court of Louis XIV, where this cake was made for New Year’s Eve and Kings Day celebrations. The Bolo-rei arrived in Porto in 1890 by the Confeitaria Cascais (pastry shop).

Another dessert that a Porto native does not dispense on Christmas Eve is “Aletria”. It has Arab origin and was made with fine pasta, almond milk and honey. It is usually covered with drawings made of cinnamon.

Also the “Rabanadas” are a sweet delicacy in the house of the Porto’s families. Here it is customary to get them drunk with port wine. In the south they are called “Fatias Douradas”.
The first recipes date back to 1611. In the early 20th century they were very common in Madrid, where the recipe came from.
Port wine is the nectar of the Porto’s Christmas, and it is always a good time to drink, buy and offer. Without ever forgetting the choice of the best wines to put on the table in these festivities.

The fire alarm system, in Porto city, in the 19th century
13 November, 2020 / , ,

– HELP ME, HELP, HELP….

Maria das Dores Bernardes, butcher´s daughter, Bernardo, screamed at the top of her lungs, that her house was on fire and distressed, asking for help from her neighbors, who half-walled , lived with her in other wooden houses in Ribeira do Porto.
The neighbors did what they could with a buckets of water and little else, because there was nothing more to do …

Screams of terror and cries of women were heard, crying out for divine intervention …
It took a few hours for everything to be destroyed and the few goods consumed by the fire.

This story of pure fiction, would have been a situation that would surely have occurred several times in the early years of the 19th century in the city of Porto, where a small fire created chaos in the city and there was no one to help the fires that consumed the small houses. It was necessary to take measures so that these fires did not further aggravate the difficult situation of those who, with very little, managed to survive and fires were the worst of all evils.

There were no firefighters, nor fire-fighting cars, and in the absence of electricity (only invented many years later), only candles and lamps illuminated houses at night, increasing the risk of fires, particularly in the closed urban centers.
The scare was permanent and the risks increased, because the population was increasing – they came from the interior, from Minho and from all regions of the country looking for better living conditions which the new industries of the industrial revolution brought to all these people.
The small houses became more and more crowded and the risk increased.
Something had to be done quickly…
It was there that, by agreement between the representatives of the different masters of the city, the City Council and the Cabido, an innovative solution was sought to calm the populations and reduce the risks of fire.
Eureka! Finally a solution…Everyone was called to go to a fire, wherever part of the city was – everyone would be a volunteer.
A contraption was designed, a “device” capable of warning everyone that there was a fire so that everyone could come to the rescue.

FIRE ALARM SYSTEM

Stored inside an iron box, a lever pulled a protected rope inside an iron pipe that would ring the bell of the Church high up there giving a number of rings on the bell announcing the place of fire, so that the whole population would know where to go to help those in need.

A uniform regulation was created throughout the City and depending on the number of times the Church bell rang, anyone who could go to that place would go. For this purpose, a table was created of the number of chimes that the bell would ring, where the fire would occur according to the places.

So, if the fire occurred in the Sé area, the bell would ring 4 chimes and so on. As soon as the bell rang 3 times, the alarm signalled that the situation was under control and everything could return to normal. This system was then set up in various churches in the 50s, in the 19th century, located at strategic points of the city, and it worked well.

Only years later, in 1875 the Associação dos Bombeiros Voluntários was founded in Porto by a group of influential people in the City, merchants and industrialists who, concerned with safeguarding their goods, decided to put their hands to work, and create the best conditions so that in case of fire the firemen could put out the fires. So, no wonder that influential people in the City and with financial capacity to organize an Associação dos Bombeiros Voluntários had been essential to set in motion an organization that would defend everyone from that common enemy – the fire!

Names such as Alexandre Theodoro Glama, Hugo Kopke, Walter Kendall, Alexander Miller Fleming, were essential in the realization of this need increasingly felt in Porto, installing its first headquarter in Rua do Bonjardim.
Specific wheelbarrows were built with water pumps that were carried in barrels and that could calm the anger of the blazes.

In 1876, the publication “O Bombeiro Portuguez” (The Portuguese Fireman) was created to publicize the activity of the Voluntary Firefighters, which was a fortnightly leaf, where the creation of other machines and techniques for fighting fires was taken into account, as well as other news.

Since it was necessary to increase the number of volunteers, in 1872, notices were placed in the City’s commercial houses for recruitment to make themselves available for this noble and altruistic function.

And here comes the registration as a volunteer of a young man of 19 years, born in Brazil in 1850 from a wealthy family who settled in Porto.

Guilherme Gomes Fernandes, developed a remarkable evolution in the creation of conditions for the Voluntary Firemen of Porto until his death in 1902 in Lisbon, following a septicaemia after a surgery.
He is honoured in a square that carries his name (ancient Santa Teresa Square), where a bust keeps his memory forever.

Well…

As for the “contraptions” they no longer have any reason to exist and to fulfil their role, rusting and almost lost forever, and I say almost, because fortunately, some have been recovered recently and put into operation as at the time they were created, such as the one on the façade of S. Lourenço Church, in the Cathedral, among other cases which it is pleasing to note and continue to protect because they are already part of the history of the City.

Today they no longer play their role of fire alarm, but keep alive the memories of the city that are always worth preserving.

Commercial Association of Porto – since 1834
7 October, 2020 / , ,

Despite the fact that it was officially founded in December 1834, the Commercial Association of Porto which dates back to the twelfth century, when trade and tradesmen, especially in coastal areas, were gaining more power.

Over the centuries, owing to its strategic location and the entrepreneurial spirit of its people, the city of Porto acquired great importance, becoming an important financial center in Europe and the world. It was at this stage that a shared “Trust fund” was established, created by merchants to cover risks and shipment losses of their commodities. This fund was recognized in 1295 by King Dinis and in 1402 by King John I.

However, until 1834 there was no organization of traders with legal status and competent to meet the needs of local entrepreneurs. At this point, meetings, the exchange of information, business and auctions were held in the “Juntina”, located at the then Rua dos Ingleses. After the Liberal Revolution of 1822 and the enactment of the Commercial Code, the Juntina was the basis of the founding of the Porto Commercial Association, which is currently the second oldest Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Portugal mainland.

Porto city of Labor and Freedom
7 October, 2020 / , , ,

To affirm that Porto is the city of work – it is a brand image, certainly adequate and fair, but that does not guarantee, by itself, that all Porto people love the work or that there are not many other lands that deserve the same praise.

In any case, such fame reflects the external recognition that its people are hardworking and that throughout history they have been affirmed by work, that is, by business as opposed to leisure.
However, Porto is not just the city of work.

The Portuguese tradition, corroborating the opinion of 19th century scholars and historical events of ‘national projection’, attributes the epithet of Land of freedom to it, an older and more noble coat of arms than the previous one, which, contrary to hypothetical considerations about a deep lost paradise biblical, not only does not belie it but even complements it.

In fact, work, whether or not it is a consequence or punishment of the original fall, is a condition of success for the common man.

But … work without freedom is always slavery
Fonte: O Tripeiro 7ª série Ano XVI Número 6 e 7 Jun/Jul 1997

King Carlos Alberto Chapel
22 September, 2020 / , , ,

Carlos Alberto of Sardinia was born in Turin, Italy, in 1798. He was King of Sardinia from 1831 and was one of the fathers of the unification of Italy, a country that was divided into several political entities, all more or less controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Carlos Alberto wanted to unify all Italy under his scepter, but he had to take refuge in Porto in 1849, after being defeated by the Austrians in the Battle of Novara.

Upon arrival, the dethroned monarch stayed at the Hospedaria do Peixe, operating in the majestic Palace of the Viscounts of Balsemão, in the then Praça dos Ferradores, today Praça Carlos Alberto. There he stayed, until he was offered a place to live. He later moved to Quinta da Macieirinha, where today the Solar do Vinho do Porto and the Romantic Museum are located. There he died.

His body was transferred to the Pantheon of Savoy, in Italy, but the half-sister had a chapel built on the grounds of the farm currently incorporated in the gardens of the Crystal Palace.

The day the king visited Porto
21 September, 2020 / , , ,

In November and December 1908 D. Manuel II, who would become the last king of Portugal, made a long journey to the north of the country and spent several days in Oporto.

On one of these days, and after his mother, Queen Amélia, having shopped in a large store in the city, the people gathered at Campo da Regeneração (currently Praça da República) for a military parade.

The newspapers of the time headlined that many people went up to the rooftops to watch the parade, however, cars, trams that headed to the place had to turn back due to the concentration of people.

The Royal cortege toured several streets of the Baixa and on Rua de Santa Catarina, they were received with a shower of flowers. At the end of the day a gala dinner was held at Palácio dos Carrancas.
Dona Amelia had a full day, having visited the atelier of the sculptor Teixeira Lopes.
After having traveled several localities of the north, D. Manuel II returned to Oporto, having participated in a soirée at Ateneu Comercial of Porto.
In another tribute to the king, the baths of Praia do Ourigo were named after the King. In October of 1910 the Republic was implanted and the designation was forever forgotten.

SOURCE: The Tripeiro 7th grade Year XVI Number 1
and 2 February 1997