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Church of São Francisco de Assis
7 October, 2019 / , ,

The construction of the Church of São Francisco de Assis (St. Francis of Assisi) began in the 14th century, during the reign of king Dom Fernando (Ferdinand I of Portugal), in the place where a modest temple belonging to the Franciscan Order already existed, which had been established in the city of Porto in 1223.

With a structure that obeys to the rules of the mendicant Gothic style, i.e., a church with three naves, a protruding transept and a tripartite headboard, with the main chapel on a deeper level, the Church of São Francisco de Assis is the main Gothic style temple in the city of Porto.

In the 16th century, João de Castilho designed the Chapel of São João Baptista (St. John the Baptist), but it was during the 17th century that this temple acquired the baroque splendour, a style that is preserved until today through its interior covered in gold.

The exuberance of gold made the Count of Raczyński refer to the Church of São Francisco de Assis as “The Golden Church”. It is believed that the three naves of the church are covered with about 300 kilograms of gold dust. This abundance of gold even caused the church to be closed to worship, because it was too ostentatious to the poverty that surrounded it.

In the altarpiece of the main chapel, you can find one of the main attractions of this temple: the Tree of Jesse, a polychrome wood sculpture, which is considered one of the best of its kind in the world.

Another of the great attractions of the Church of São Francisco de Assis is the Catacumbal Cemetery, where the graves of brothers of the Franciscan Order, as well as some of the city’s noble families, are located.

In addition to the graves, it is also possible to see an ossuary with thousands of human bones through a glass placed on the ground.

The Church of São Francisco de Assis has been classified as a National Monument since 1910 and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.

Parade of the paper costumes is back to Foz do Douro
7 August, 2019 / , ,

Almost two thousand years ago, Saint Bartholomew died skinned in Turkey andnowadays he inspires a curious festivitycelebrated anually, in August, in the city of Porto.
The celebrations of Saint Bartholomew are one of the most anticipated events in the city, with gastronomic activites, animation and musical shows guaranteed until the beggining of September.
The tradition dates back to the 16th century, when local populations used to bath in the expectation of curing diseases such as stuttering, gout or epilepsy.
Oficially, the celebrations of Saint Bartholomew exist since the 19th century.

The festivities in honour of Saint Bartholomew have as a high point the Court of the Paper Costume. With a lot of work and months of preparation, colored paper sheets turn into authentic costumes and props that fill the streets of Porto with colour and happiness.
The parade finishes, as usual, with a dip in the waters of the Atlantic. The tradition dictates that the rictual “holy bath” should always include seven dives.

Only then will the participants be able to thank Saint Bartholomew for his favors and expect ample healing and protection benefits provided by the saint for the following year.
The parade will take place on the 25th of August and the theme of the Union of Parishes of Aldoar, Foz do Douro e Nevogilde will be a tribute to Sophiade Mello Breyner Andresen in her Centenary.
This is one of the most original events in the city and in the country, and a unique tradition in the world that, year after year, attracts a growing number of participants, both national and international.

Miguel Veiga – An illustrious portuense
29 June, 2019 / , ,

Miguel Luís Kolback da Veiga was born in Oporto on June 30th, 1936, where he died on November 14th, 2016.

An illustrious portuense lawyer, Miguel Veiga was famous for his careful, almost literary production of his procedural pieces and for the brilliant way he presented himself in court.

From early on, he integrated academic movements of opposition to the regime of Salazar, which prevented him years later to be admitted as a university professor.

After the April revolution, in May 1974, he was responsible, alongside with Francisco Sá Carneiro, Magalhaes Mota and Francisco Pinto Balsemão, for the founding of the Popular Democratic Party, now Social Democratic Party, of which he was a member until his death and one of its most brilliant members, even when in order to disagree directly with the course followed. Therefore, against the indications of his party, he was a supporter of Mário Soares in his first candidacy for President of the Republic and, more recently, Rui Moreira, current mayor of Porto.

Although requested to do so, he never exercised governmental functions. He said, in response to invitations received, “not wanting to lose his freedom or leave Oporto,” city of his passion.

Alongside his work, civic and political intervention of high level, Miguel Veiga was still a lover of the arts, from literature to painting, from cinema to sculpture, collecting contributions that often illustrated his public interventions.

The name of Miguel Veiga is important to the history of portuguese democracy, for the search and affirmation of the values ​​of freedom and justice, for the frontality, independence and firmness of character that is so much a part of the good men of Oporto.

Miguel Veiga was also the author of several legal and cultural essays, and a voice present in the written press where throughout his life he collaborated.

He is Grand Officer of the Order of Liberty and received the Medal of Honor from the City, the highest distinction of Porto.

S. João Novo Church
22 May, 2019 / , ,

Built on the escarpment down to the Douro, in a place called “Boa Vista”, stands one of the most significant religious buildings in the historic center of Porto. The Igreja de S. João Novo was built in the middle of the 16th century and displays great artistic and architectural similarities with the Church of S. Lourenço.

The building, with a Latin cross plan, was built just above the former hermitage of S. João Belmonte. The building also took advantage of the wall that anchored the construction of the church and its monastery. Outside, it is possible to observe parts of the wall and follow its path. Inside the church, there are several carved altars, from the Baroque period (17th century) and tiles from the same period.

In the main altar, enriched with altarpiece, dating from the period between 1757 and 1766, is a moving screen reserved for the theme of the Vision of St. Augustine. The work is attributed to João Glama Stroberle, painter of German origin, who was born in Lisbon in 1708. In the same high altar it is also possible to observe a mausoleum that captures the attention of anyone due to its magnificent decoration – the author of the work is unknown.

The Alto Coro of the church consists of a single-row chair and on the side of the Gospel there is a pipe organ. Also noteworthy are the tiles alluding to the life of Santa Rita de Cássia, by Bartolomeu Antunes, located on the side altar of Santa Rita, the image of Santo Ovídeo and the image of Our Lady of Guia, by Manuel Miranda, located  collateral to the altar. Also of great interest is the altar of Senhor dos Passos, located on the right side; the image of the invocation of Jesus Christ is of great dimensions and presents features, deeply, realistic. It is probably the image that stands in this lateral altar that was brought out for the traditional Senhor dos Passos procession.

In front of the church we can find the Palácio S. João Novo, built at the end of the XVIII century, in Baroque style and that many attribute to Nicolau Nasoni.

Although it is closed more than a decade ago, the Palace served as a hospital during the Siège of Porto, in the Liberal Wars, and later as a Museum of Ethnography.

In addition to the similarities with the church of the former Jesuit College of S. Lourenço, the Church of S. João Novo also reveals the influence of the Igreja dos Grilos, due to the composition of the facade and the interior design.

The building is suitable for people with physical limitations and although it is closed on Sundays, it is possible to visit the Church of S. João Novo from Monday to Saturday, free of charge.

This year, the Church of S. João Novo is one of the spaces in the city of Porto that integrates the programming of In Spiritum – the festival proposes the discovery of the historical heritage through music.

In our city of Porto
29 March, 2019 / , , ,

In our city of Porto, a town of great ancestry, the discovery of its origins and the understanding of its urban fabric is, of course, an extensive and endless program. The twentieth century would give us one of the most representative and consistent chronicler and investigator of the history of the city.

On March 4, 1894 Artur de Magalhães Basto was born at number 556 of the so-called Duquesa de Bragança Street, in a distinctly well-designed house built by his father António José de Magalhães Basto, circa 1875, then architect and professor of the Academy Portuense of Fine Arts José Geraldo da Silva Sardinha.

His training in Law at the University of Lisbon would serve him well in the future, as from a very young age his  interest in research and paleography became apparent , namely through his teaching career integrating him in  the first Modern Language Faculty of the city, where he lectured  between 1922 and 1931. Being part of the City Hall of Porto up to his death, on June 3, 1960, heading as from 1934, the Services of Palaeography and Manuscripts of the library;  and as from 1938 became Director of the Office of History of the City and became head of cultural services,  until 1960. He was also Director of the Porto District Archive from 1939, as well as head of the great Office of the Holy House of Mercy of Porto, since 1933.

But it is as a chronicler of the city that Magalhães Basto would stand out: from his writing would flow the most diverse themes of history and art always linked to the city of which we will give just a few examples: the indispensable “Falam Velhos Manuscritos”, 1445 weekly articles in the Oporto newspaper The 1º de Janeiro “between 1930 and 1960; and his fundamental articles in the magazine of History of the city “The Tripeiro”, of which he would be director between 1945 and 1960. Some of his 160 published works are transcriptions of conferences, one of his specialties, for us worthy of special reference , because of the urgency and style with which he was able to reach out to us all, without discrimination, in a very simple and direct way, his historical narrative and his studies about Our City of Porto. In fact, these lectures would be a way of counteracting the silence, the solitude of “Poeira dos Arquivos”, his natural routine, as he would so well refer to in a February 1960 text: “How boring a life must be, or even a year, a day, or even a single hour, all alone in an arquive, to read, to decipher old paper, crumpled, yellowed by time, gnawed by rats, holed by moth, and stale air.

Our beloved and distinguished researcher died at his last residence, in Oporto, at nr. 500  Gondarém street,  a dignified note left by Professor Luís Duarte in the  exhibition catalogue dedicated by the master in 2005 in the Palace Gallery : “We realize that in the history country, there was a before and after of the magisterium and the work of Artur de Magalhães Basto”.

 

Church “Dos Grilos” – MUSEUM OF SACRED ART AND ARCHEOLOGY
4 February, 2019 / , , ,

Church of S.Lourenço also known as The Church of the Crickets, a visit not to be missed, with a panoramic view of the river Douro, Invicta and the Margin of Gaia

A walking tour through the city center to the Porto Cathedral is a common itinerary for tourists visiting this proud unconquered city. Discovering downtown is an adventure. As we walk through the narrow streets of the ancient city we discover its secrets and its curiosities.

Today we invite the tourist to venture into Bairro da Sé. The imposing Sé is the starting point of our adventure. Just a few meters away, in an alley that seems to have no exit we encounter the Church of S. Lourenço, better known as the Church of the Grilos, which, together with the Homonymous College, is classified as a National Monument.

It began to be built by the Jesuits in the sixteenth century and was only completed in the eighteenth century. If most of the churches have a wealth and opulence often exaggerated, the Church of the Crickets surprises by its simple, bare and unadorned walls.

In the Church stand out the beautiful altar of Our Lady of Purification, the fantastic organ with 1500 tubes that, according to  records was built at the end of the century. XVIII and the crib, a unique construction, dating from the XVIII century and whose authorship is attributed to Machado de Castro. At Christmas time, along with the tradition of many other churches in the city, it is possible to appreciate this very rare crib composed of large dozens of figures placed right at the entrance of the monument.

The Church of the Crickets, although correctly denominated by Church of S. Lourenço, was initially the Church and the College of the Jesuits. With the extinction and expulsion of the Jesuits by the Marquis of Pombal in the eighteenth century, the Church was donated to the University of Coimbra and later bought by the Barefoot Friars of St. Augustine who, due to having their main residence in Lisbon, were commonly known as The Cricket Fathers. And hence the Church became commonly known as the Church of the Crickets although they no longer reside there.

The Museum of Sacred Art and Archeology of Porto – with access by a contiguous door to the left of the Church – displays a collection of interesting pieces from the statuary of saints, religious jewelery and other liturgical pieces. It is also here in the Museum that, from the magnificent balcony, one can have an unparalleled view of Porto and Gaia and the Douro River. A breathtaking view you can not miss!

Hidden Porto
9 January, 2019 / , , ,

Cities are built over cities. This is an idea that both archeologists and architects notice in the reality of their daily work, which conditions them, motivates them and is at the root of the future of any city.

Since humans became sedentary, that is, since the groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers in search of the best hunting grounds gave rise to permanent settlement in villages whose inhabitants began to live from agriculture and livestock, the type of housing was modified and became stable, with the adoption of materials such as adobe, brick and stone, in addition to wood, which has always been used.

We find this in settlements as old as Çatal Hüyük (Anatolia, southern Turkey) or Jericho (Palestine), perhaps the oldest known towns, built between 8,000 and 7,000 BC, and where constructions have been succeeded, cities grown horizontally, but also at the expense of the overthrows of previous constructions, often taking advantage of their foundations to build new ones.

Porto hasn’t surely been any different. But those who fly over it, who come from the other riverside or who cross their streets and observe their houses, do not have this perception and see only what their eyes catch, the streets, houses, buildings, infrastructures, not remembering that this isn’t just our city, but our grandparents’ and other ancestors’ as well.

Those, their cities, are sometimes buried beneath ours, and at a time when Porto vibrates with its recovery, especially with the recovery of its Historical Center, signs of these “cities” that preceded us are exposed.

Perhaps the earliest ruins are found in the building of the no. 5 in Rua D. Hugo, behind the Porto Cathedral, where it was possible to trace an occupation with signs from the 8th century BC, with round houses. To that, other houses overlap, these ones quadrangular, of the Roman period.

Another fantastic example of how the city was built is provided by the archaeological excavations of Casa do Infante, already in a low part of the city, in which a large and luxurious Roman and late Roman house (IV-VI centuries) are superimposed to the medieval buildings, with the construction of the King’s warehouses, the Royal Customs Building and Casa da Moeda, with its occupation and successive enlargements lasting throughout the Modern and Contemporary Age.

But the example that we’re going to bring up is equally representative: in the works of a building with fronts to Rua de S. Francisco and to Rua Nova da Alfândega, where the former company of transits A. J. Gonçalves de Moraes was located, excavations shown signs of the nineteenth century city, more specifically the old Quarter of Baths.

Landed during the great urban transformation inherent to the construction of the Alfândega Nova building (1860-1870), construction of Rua Nova da Alfândega and Rua Ferreira Borges, which led to the destruction of the Monastery of S. Domingos, the old quarter of Baths was buried under 5 meters of rubble.

The excavations showed another facet of the city, a poorly-known riverfront area, which began at the beach already described by Ranulfo de Granville in 1147 and where some of the city’s bathhouses were located, next to Rua dos Banhos.

It was one of those alleys, still with buildings on both sides, that was exposed. One of the houses, in front of the entrance door flanked by windows with iron bars, had a paved patio.

In a contiguous area, about a meter below, the strong foundation of what may have been the medieval building of the public baths. The diggings stopped there.

But the finding of Roman construction materials may indicate the presence of much older ruins…

 

Marcelo Mendes Pinto, archeologist and CITCEM researcher

The magic of Christmas in Lapa
5 December, 2018 / , , ,

If we ask different people what Christmas is like in Porto we will get different answers. They will say that it is the beauty of the Aliados Christmas tree, the color of the lights downtown, the frenzy of Santa Catarina, the Bolo Rei from different traditional pastries or the cod of a certain grocery store, which has been conceptualized by years of infallible service to the palate of Porto. All this is true, and there would be more to add. However, all this is part of something infinitely more important, all this underlines the joy of what Christmas really is, but it does not exhaust or overshadow it. Christmas is the birth of Christ, the proclamation of redemption, the celebration of God’s supreme trust in His people.

Living, or being in Porto, on this date makes it mandatory to witness to the way the city lives this significant moment of its spirituality. I venture to say that, at least once in my life, so as not to steal the limelight of other parishes, it is mandatory to participate in the extraordinary Missa do Galo in Lapa. Christmas is also magic, and magic is not incompatible with solemnity. The experience of the Missa do Golo in Lapa is just that, magical and solemn. Here, the spirit is awakened through the different senses in a sublime way. As the eyes marvel at the artistic richness of the Church and with the aesthetic rigor of the celebration, the scent of traditional incense reinforces the intensity of the moment and the music of extraordinary execution and delicate choice fills the time between words that give meaning to everything else. It is a unique experience!

The very special care put into this Mass, the strict observance of a tradition that is strengthened with each passing year, has had the power to attract more and more people, giving more meaning to the Christmas of each one who chooses to join this celebration. One can say that there is pomp, rigor, staging even, but without ever losing sight of the essential. Everyone gives their best to receive the Christ who has come. I would say that it is the gold, the incense and the myrrh that Porto has to offer.

 

I would dare say that this is not an exclusive moment of believers; it would be terribly selfish. This is also a time for those who do not believe, but like to feed their spirit with the beauty of creativity and the sublime power of art in different forms, architecture, painting, sculpture, music, the word. Believers and non-believers, for different reasons, some of them communal, leave from there full of soul and with the clear notion of the privilege of participation in such a special moment. And Christmas happens.

Francisco de Sá Carneiro – Bold in Life and Politics
7 November, 2018 / , , ,

If you arrived in Porto by landing at the Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport, or if, walking through the streets of Antas, you met his statue in the square with the same name, this article is for you!

Born and raised in Porto in 1934, Francisco de Sá Carneiro is a Portuguese lawyer and politician who early stood out in opposition to the dictatorial regime in force at the time, of which the most outstanding expression was the struggle for the return of Bishop António Ferreira Gomes (whose statue can be admired next to the Clérigos Church) to the country. The Bishop had been exiled by Salazar’s Estado Novo.

In 1969, as an independent, Sá Carneiro was elected to the National Assembly of Portugal and soon became the face of the so-called Ala Liberal (Liberal Wing). He was responsible for several initiatives aimed at Portugal’s peaceful and progressive transition to a free and democratic regime.

Failing to implement his democratic, personalistic and humanist views, he resigned as deputy and returned to Porto, where he helped develop the idea of creating a social democratic party that would see the light of day after the revolution of the 25th of April of 1974, that ended the dictatorial regime. On the 6th of May of 1974, the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) – later, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) –, of which Francisco de Sá Carneiro was a co-founder and main promoter, was born.

As President of PPD, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly of 1975, which was responsible for the preparation and approval of the first Constitution of the Republic of the new democratic regime.

At the end of 1979, he created the Democratic Alliance, which came to win the next Legislative Elections. At the leadership of the largest government coalition since April 25, 1974, Sá Carneiro was named the Portuguese Prime Minister in January of 1980, a position he held until his unexpected and tragic disappearance on the 4th of December of 1980, when the plane in which he was traveling to Porto crashed in Camarate, in circumstances that, to this day, could not be ascertained.

His public side did not prevent him from living his own private life and risking criticism in a traditionalist country where divorce was not even allowed when he separated from his wife to join Snu Abecassis, the Danish founder of Don Quixote Publications, who would also end up dying in the Camarate accident. Bold as always in life, Sá Carneiro soon clarified: “If the situation is deemed incompatible with my duties, I’ll choose the woman I love.”

Considered by many to be a true good man of his city and country, with a particular nobility and straightforwardness of character, the death of Francisco de Sá Carneiro was an irreparable loss to Portuguese public life and his memory is still an inspiration today for all those who recognize, in his example, the greater form of being in life and politics, for all of those who know, as he did, that, “above Social Democracy, Democracy, and, above Democracy, the Portuguese People”.