Curiosities

Synagogues of Porto
23 April, 2017 / ,

The Jewish presence in Porto predates the very existence of the city, but the earliest records date back to the 12th century, when many Jewish merchants had settled in Ribeira.

The first known synagogue has appeared on the hill of the Cathedral. Later on, in the 14th century, there was another prayer house in the current Rua do Comércio do Porto, near the Palácio da Bolsa.  Judiaria de Monchique (Monchique Jewish quarter), is part of the city where, even today, the Jewish presence is visible in the name of the place. There also used to be a synagogue of great importance. The sign commemorating its inauguration is in permanent exhibition at Museu do Carmo in Lisbon. The Jewish cemetery would be near the place where Passeio das Virtudes is located.

In the same century, the Judiaria do Olival (Olival Jewish quarter) was  built, which also had a majestic  synagogue that  later on gave way to the Mosteiro São Bento da Vitória (Monastery of St. Benedict of Victory). The Inquisition and the forced conversion of many Jews left their mark in Porto as well. In the seventeenth century many Jews left the city.

In the twentieth century, the Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue (at Guerra Junqueiro Street, 340) was built, the largest in the Iberian Peninsula.

Cedofeita: a street with many lives
23 April, 2017 / , ,

It was one of the marks of urban revitalization in the eighteenth century and one of the starting points for the rebirth of Baixa in the 21st century. A large part of this street is used for pedestrians only, which makes it perfect for shopping, sightseeing and for a quiet meal.

The origins of Cedofeita seem to go back to the sixth century and the Church of São Martinho in Cedofeita. However, being away from the medieval walls and the riverine area, it only fully developed in the eighteenth century. At that time, and in view of the economic and demographic growth of the city, it became important to make the connection between the port and the high zone. Rua de Cedofeita was then known as Rua da Estrada and was one of the pillars of the urbanization plans that were then outlined.

Then the houses that still exist today began to be built: buildings with two to four stories, with balconies on the upper floors and shop windows facing the street. The electric tram used to pass in this street, famous for the shops, like the extinct Bazaar of the Three Vinténs (the sign still exists).

Despite being “forgotten” for some time, Cedofeita has become, in recent years, one of the central points of new life of the Port of Porto, taking advantage of the proximity to places such as Rua Miguel Bombarda or Praça Carlos Alberto.

Curiosities:

On Cedofeita street number 395 King D. Pedro used to live, during the siege of Oporto, where the liberal troops, led by D. Pedro, were surrounded by the supporters of his brother, Miguel.

Carolina Michaelis inhabited at number 159; she was an illustrious literary critic and writer, who was the first woman to teach at a Portuguese university

Rua de Cedofeita is 840 meters long: it starts at Carlos Alberto Square and ends at Rua da Boavista.

The Portuguese writer Agustina Bessa-Luís said that Rua de Cedofeita was “the most beautiful” of Porto.

In the first decade of this century, there was a project to cover the Street of Cedofeita with a glass roof canopy.

 

A friendship of centuries
14 March, 2017 /

A friendship of centuries

The influence of the English in the city of Porto and specifically the Port wine is well known, but the relationship between Porto and British is much older.

The first contact took place around June 1147, when the English Crusaders who were going to the Holy Land stayed in Porto for 11 days waiting for the forces commanded by the Count of Areschot and Cristiano de Gistell, who had separated from the fleet due to a tempest at sea . The first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, on learning of this fact, tried to establish an agreement with their leaders, convincing them to help in the conquest of Lisbon from the Moors.

The relationship intensified during the middle Ages, with the establishment of commercial relations. Cloths, wine, wood, furs and fish were the products traded between the two countries.

The 2 of February of 1367 the Cathedral of the Porto was stage of the marriage between D. João I and D. Filipa de Lencastre, a union that would offset the support of the British in the fight against Castile. In 1642, two years after the restoration of Portugal’s independence, Porto receives the first British consul, Nicholas Comerforde.

The Duke of the People
2 March, 2017 /

The Duke saved many people from the dangerous waters of the Douro River. Oporto paid him homage with a bust, placed in Ribeira.

Deocleciano Monteiro was his birth name, but his mother began to call him Duke and that was how he became known. The Duke of Ribeira, who died in 1996, was one of the most emblematic figures of the city. At the tender age of 11 he saved a man from drowning in the Douro River. Throughout his life as a ferryman he carried out many other rescues, having also collected the bodies of those who could not resist the treacherous waters of the river he knew like no one else.

He became one of the most famous personas in the history of Porto and met illustrious figures like Queen Isabel II and other heads of State. The city did not forget him and paid him homage in the place that was the scene of his heroism. In Rua da Lada, next to D. Luís I Bridge, a tombstone with a bust by José Rodrigues was placed.