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The Coliseu do Porto or the thousand and one lives of a classic
5 March, 2020 / ,

In Porto’s imaginary, the Coliseu do Porto occupies a very special place and is, without detriment to the others, the first showroom in the city, perhaps because it has been regularly and from the beginning involved in controversies.

 

Whoever is in the city center and crosses Praça D João I, on the east side sees Rua Passos Manuel. Going up on the left side, you come across a modernist building whose exterior does not reveal the singularity of its interior. This is the Coliseu do Porto.

 

For decades this area of ​​the city has been the center of entertainment and nightlife in Porto. In the neighborhood, there was, and coexisted, most of the city’s concert halls: From the sadly celebrated Bachet theater on the street of Sto António, which on 20 March 1888 burned in a dreadful fire during a rite with more than one hundred fatalities ; The later theater of Sá da Bandeira, rebuilt in the same place as Bachet and which still has its doors open; The theater of S. João à Batalha, also victim of another fire, this time empty, in 1909, and later rebuilt with the risk of the architect Marques da Silva; and also the curious Jardim Passos Manuel lounge, opened in 1908 and built just below the Coliseu, on the street of the same name and which had an ephemeral life for three decades.

 

The idea of ​​building a large concert hall in Porto dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, but it was not until the early 1930s that a group of notables from the city encouraged the administration of Companhia de Seguros Garantia to design and materialize the Coliseu.

 

About the dismantling of Jardim Passos Manuel in 1938, the Coliseu was built. The first architectural studies are by José Porto. Artist without academic training but with eclectic knowledge of construction. The risk of the main room is yours. Then came the collaboration of Yan Wills, Dutch and belonging to the modernist movement De Stijl. Although he elaborated several studies, none was carried out on site.

Initial hesitations in the program and a lead from the Aesthetics Committee of the Porto City Council led to the removal of the third designer – Arch Júlio de Brito- who had replaced colleagues José Porto and Yan Wills, who had already been consumed in the maelstrom of changes to the project and variations of language.

 

In 1939, the insurance company Garantia hired the services of Arqº Cassiano Branco (1897-1970), then a rising star in the Portuguese architecture world of the 1930s. In the short space of two years, Cassiano finished the work, although in I disagree with the prosecutor, who dismissed him by letter on October 10, 1940, for “very serious errors and deficiencies in the works”. Without prejudice, it was Cassiano who most marked the general image and above all the exterior image of the Coliseum. His performance for the whole of the work was decisive to the point of being able to attribute the authorship of the building that is there.

 

Meanwhile, at the invitation of Cassiano Branco, Frenchman Charles Siclis also collaborated by introducing some changes to the interior of the building, namely the design of doors and lamps.

 

The last architect to work at the Coliseu was Mário de Abreu. That made changes to several elements, namely the alteration of the tower designed by Cassiano, which initially envisaged the assembly of colored neon lighting elements and which he removed.

 

Finally, on December 19, 1941, just two years after the beginning of the work, Joaquim José de Carvalho, chairman of the board of directors of the insurance company Garantia, solemnly inaugurated the Coliseu, with the recital of a concert by the Orchestra of the Issuer National directed by maestro Pedro de Freitas Branco. Then there was a ball in the Atrium. About the date, the writer at O ​​Comércio do Porto wrote: “the modern, comfortable, elegant and well-succeeded tendency of the building”. And yet “the facade to which Cassiano leaves his name attached contributes to making the Coliseum a big box of surprises”.

The building plan shows affinities with the organization of the famous Teatro Total by Walter Gropius. There are also formal affinities with the post-World War I German and European functional movement. The room has a capacity of 3000 seats. In addition, it has a large bar next to the audience on the ground floor, a complementary room, with capacity for three hundred people and dedicated to medium-sized events, and on the top floor, a restaurant with a terrace with a good view of the city.

 

The interior of the Coliseu is magnificent in its fluid forms and organic circulation. The seduction of the circular room is difficult to describe in words, but evident to those who visit it. The friezes and cabins follow each other on several floors, ending at the upper level, involving the circular audience on the ground floor vertically.

 

Among so many artists who performed there, the following stand out: Fado singer Amália, pianist Sviatoslav Richer; the best clown in the world Popov; Rudolf Nureyev; the father of Portuguese rock Rui Veloso; Miles Davis or diva Claudia Schiffer.

 

In 1991, the Sala celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a large tribute concert, in which the inaugural concert was replicated. He was a soloist, pianist and teacher Helena de Sá e Costa, accompanied by Pedro Burmester and conductor Jan Koenig, conducting the Porto Regie-symphony Orchestra.

 

In the mid-90s, the owner of Coliseu do Porto was Empresa Artística SA / Aliança group -UAP. There is a need for improvement works, as well as to face increasing current running costs of maintaining such a large building. In this context, news of the eventual sale of the Coliseum to IURD, commonly known as Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, with roots in Brazil, which had recently bought the emblematic Império cinema in Lisbon, to convert it into a cathedral, in the general passivity of from Lisbon.

Anonymous Portuenses and the city’s artistic agents came together spontaneously and, in a single gesture, they took to the street one morning in August, speaking out loudly against the deal and the closing of the Room, shouting “Coliseu is ours”. In the collective memory was the image of the singer Pedro Abrunhosa handcuffed to the bars of the Coliseu, surrounded by a small crowd who was shouting at the refusal of the deal. Everyone was not too much to continue the Coliseum.

 

Riding the wave of solidarity that was generated, the owners dropped the IURD business. In turn, on November 17, 1995, the Associação Amigos do Coliseu do Porto was set up, chaired by Mr Eng José António Barros, representing the owners, adding to the new association numerous institutions and anonymous citizens of the City.

 

In the meantime, the deed of purchase and sale became the property of the association Amigos do Coliseu do Porto. A few days later, after a Portugal Fashion show, a fire broke out on the stage, destroying it completely. A new wave of solidarity is generated, with ample monetary contributions from institutions and individuals, which allowed the Coliseum to reopen in the same year.

 

Meanwhile, new maintenance works were carried out introducing some technical improvements to the stage infrastructures. Thus, on November 24, 1998 the Porto Coliseum was reopened, giving a recital of the opera Carmen, by Georges Bizet.

 

With this history of almost eighty years, it is certain that the Coliseum will remain in the future as the great theater of Porto. Hopefully away from controversy, as has happened in the past. It will certainly last in the heart of the people of Porto.

 

Christmas Nativity
23 December, 2019 / , ,

Joaquim Machado de Castro (Coimbra, 1731 – 1822) was one of the most important and renowned Portuguese sculptors, having also been one of the
most influential in Europe in the 18th and early 19th centuries. He produced several Christmas Nativity Scenes, so much so that the oldest Nativity scene in the city of Porto, which dates back to the 18th century, is his own, and it is possible to visit it in the Church of São José das Taipas. But, also, in the Church of Corpo Santo de Massarelos it is possible to see one more of his beautiful Christnas Nativity Scenes. His work isspread throughout the country.

São Gonçalo de Amarante
16 December, 2019 / , ,

The Church, the Convent and the São Gonçalo Bridge, are the “ex libris” of the city of Amarante, inseparable from the figure that gives them the name. The myriad of legends and beliefs that gravitate around this place blur the reality at a crossroads of such cloudiness that throws us into the impossibility of accurately discerning where they end and the other begins. “Gonçalo was a saint, and an admirable saint, in the early age of a boy; holy and admirable in the second of the youth; holy, and admirable in the third of men; holy, and admirable in the quarter of old; and finally holy, and admirable, on the fifth after death ”(excerpt from a sermon by Father António Vieira in Brazil.

São Gonçalo de Amarante was born around 1190, in the parish of S. Salvador de Tagilde, in the municipality of Vizela, in a noble family (the Pereiras). Under the protection of the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Braga, Gonçalo attended ecclesiastical disciplines at the Cathedral School of the Archiepiscopal See, becoming ordained priest and appointed parish priest of the parish of S. Paio (or S. Pelagius) of Riba-Vizela. He first went on pilgrimage to Rome from where he went to Jerusalem, where he took 14 years, leaving the parishioners in the care of a nephew priest. Returning to Portugal, he is chased away by the same that through a plot would have been named like parish priest. Resigned, he leaves S. Paio de Riba-Vizela, joins the conventual life of the Order of Preachers, recently founded by S. Domingos, building a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, on the banks of the River Tâmega. where today stands the São Gonçalo Church and Convent in Amarante. The process of beatification was promulgated on September 16, 1561. Devotion to the most popular saint of the Portuguese saints, after Saint Anthony of Lisbon, spread throughout Portugal and Brazil. In 1540 John III of Portugal and D. Catarina of Austria decided to build a new Dominican temple and convent on the site, under the invocation of Gonçalo de Amarante. The works began in 1543, extending to the eighteenth century, with interventions in the twentieth century.

São Gonçalo, in the sec. XIII, begins the construction of a crossing between the two banks (it is during this period that an immensity of legends appears). The bridge collapsed in the 18th century due to flooding and was later recovered. The famous defence of the Amarante Bridge took place in 1809 and was one of the most remarkable moments of the second French invasions. The heroic defence of the bridge, as the episode became known, came after French troops occupied the Church of São Gonçalo and were prevented from crossing the Tamega. More than 200 years have passed, but cannonball and musket marks still linger on the building’s facade.

Campanhã Railway Station
7 November, 2019 / ,

“El silbido de los trenes, su traqueteo sobre el puente más allá del monte fronterizo, le decía las horas, le delataba la dirección del viento y el tiempo previsto para mañana”. Es así como nuestra Agustina se refiere a ese pulsante ruido cuando el tren rasga la ciudad. Es la paz pobre que se vivía en el fin de siglo. Estancadas las heridas de la nación, degradada por sucesivas guerras civiles, la modernización era el designio y el ferrocarril uno de sus principales símbolos.

La Estação de Campanhã se inauguró el 5 de Noviembre de 1877, junto con el Puente María Pía. Era el resultado de una serie de obras donde había estado la antigua Quinta do Pinheiro. Fue uno de los motores del éxodo rural, con el foco en Campanhã, de una enorme cantidad de gente proveniente del interior del país y que iría a poblar el municipio.

Del tren al autobús, del autobús al metro, la Estação de Campanhã encuentra el futuro de la intermodalidad en un Oporto que se va transformando en una ciudad inteligente. De diseño neoclásico, sujeto a cambios a lo largo del siglo XX, culminando en la terminal actual, que supera en mucho la superficie de la vieja estación, en esta tranquila convivencia entre lo nuevo y lo viejo, marca cada vez más firme de la ciudad invicta.  Y aquí nos encontramos reviviendo las palabras de Ramalho: “finalmente nos bajamos en la Estación de Campaña”.

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”.