History

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.

Writers’ route through Porto ( António Nobre )
13 November, 2020 / ,

António Pereira Nobre Portuguese poet, born in Porto on August 16, 1867, at Rua de Santa Catarina, 467-469. Son of wealthy bourgeois, he lived his childhood and adolescence between Leça da Palmeira, Foz do Douro, Póvoa de Varzim, Lixa or Seixo.

He studied in several schools in the Porto and attended the main centres of the bohemian city. He started writing very early and published numerous poems in newspapers and magazines. His first poems date from 15 years of age.

In 1888 he enrolled in the law course of the University of Coimbra, but he did not fit in with the student life of Coimbra, and he was disappointed with the academic environment and university life, and failed twice.

In 1890 he went to Paris, where he met Eça de Queirós, and graduated in Political Science from the Sorbonne in 1895.

It was in the solitude of Paris, and experiencing financial difficulties, that she wrote many of the poems of the poetry collection “Só”, his only published work in life – one of the great landmarks of 19th century Portuguese poetry, and a mandatory reference in Portuguese Literature, which influenced great names of Portuguese modernism such as Fernando Pessoa or Florbela Espanca.

A victim of pulmonary tuberculosis, he died in Foz do Douro, on March 18, 1900, at the age of 32, at the home of his brother Augusto Nobre, a renowned biologist and professor at the University of Porto.

In the middle of the Cordoaria Garden, on 26 March 1927, a bust was inaugurated by the Porto poet, António Nobre, by Tomás Costa.
In a solitary place, we see a beautiful small bronze bust, which immortalizes his face, with its peculiar characteristic smile, sensitive, delicate, sad and melancholic
On a kind of altar, it rests on a marble pedestal with bouquets of flowers, and an allegorical lyre to its poetic inspiration, which is under a granite base with three steps.

Abel Salazar house museum
13 November, 2020 / , ,

Located in S. Mamede Infesta, it is a construction from the end of the XIX century. An 17th century chapel is attached, which served as a workshop for the patron. It was in this house that the last years of existence of the Portuguese scientist and professor passed.
In the permanent exhibition of the house, in addition to the collection of paintings, drawings and prints, there are utensils and scientific writings by Abel Salazar, as well as original pieces of furniture from the house.

The Casa-Museu restores part of the patron’s family atmosphere, through personal objects and portraits, as well as testimonies of the activity of the researcher, pedagogue and disseminator of civic interventions, through letters, manuscripts, typographic proofs, newspapers and magazines where he collaborated.
The doctor’s library and the Alberto Saavedra library are also located in the house, with a specialized documentary background on the life and work of Abel Salazar.

In the garden, there is the Calouste Gulbenkian Pavilion, with a regular program of exhibitions with contemporary artists.
It was Abel Salazar’s friends and admirers who, after his death, thought that the greatest tribute they could pay him was to transform his home into a foundation.
Several initiatives were undertaken to raise funds in the task of defending and publicizing the Work of Abel Salazar, including the purchase of the house for transformation into a museum. But it was only almost 11 years later that the “Sociedade Divulgadora da Casa-Museu Abel Salazar de S. Mamede Infesta” was created.
However, the difficulties continued and the Sociedade Divulgadora appealed to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which acquired, in 1965, all artistic, literary and scientific work and the property and l

and attached to the Casa-Museu.
During the period that belonged to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the house was closed to the public for restoration works, construction of the guardhouse and the pavilion for periodic exhibitions.
In 1975, the Foundation was no longer able to assume the responsibilities of the House and raises the question of the Casa-Museu being donated to the University of Porto, which was superiorly authorized to accept the donation.

The Abel Salazar House-Museum, under the supervision of the University of Porto, is run with the support of a Sociedade Divulgadora, a cultural entity and considered to be of Public Utility. Centered on the human, social and artistic value of the patron, the Casa-Museu aims to stimulate interest in the work of Abel Salazar in the different branches he cultivated, to activate the publication of studies around the different skills of the scientist, to foster collaboration with schools and cultural and recreational organizations, to complete the work of inventorying and investigating the literary estate both published and unpublished, assuming itself as an irreplaceable information and research center for the artist and scientist Abel Salazar.

Abel Salazar
13 November, 2020 / , ,

Abel de Lima Salazar was not only the doctor and scientific researcher, until today known for his achievements, but also a writer, art critic, essayist and visual artist. Despite his name being inextricably linked to Porto, Guimarães was the city that saw him born on July 19, 1889.

Student of excellence, Abel Salazar finishes the medical course at the Medical-Surgical School of Porto presenting his inaugural thesis “Essay on Philosophical Psychology” which ends up classified with 20 values.

At the age of 30, 3 years after completing his studies, he is appointed Full Professor of Histology and Embryology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, eventually founding and directing the University’s Institute of Histology and Embryology, still in operation today.

His research work was quickly recognized and disseminated, reaching worldwide fame, due to numerous publications of articles in scientific magazines, Portuguese and foreign.

As a researcher, he contributed, in particular, with works related to the structure and evolution of the ovary, creating the now famous, and still used, Salazar’s tano-ferric staining method.

However, the work so intense that he developed, even in very adverse conditions, led to an exhaustion and the interruption of this activity, for a period of four years.
He would then end up dedicating himself diligently to the elaboration and publication of scientific texts, also focusing on the artistic practice of which he was a notable representative, especially in painting, engraving and hammered copper.

This multifaceted man, whose motto was “The Doctor who only knows Medicine, nor Medicine knows”, one of the greatest Portuguese intellectuals of his time, only in 1941, was reinstated at the University, in the laboratory of the Faculty of Pharmacy of Porto.

He died in 1946, in Lisbon, where he was being treated for lung cancer. He was 57 and a heavy smoker. The body was transferred to the city of Porto, where it was deposited at the Prado Repouso Cemetery.

Nowadays, its name is immortalized through the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar, the square, where the Santo António Hospital is located , Secondary Schools and the Abel Salazar House-Museum.

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

Writers’ route through Porto ( Camilo Castelo Branco )
1 October, 2020 / , ,

Although, he was born in Lisbon (1825) the illegitimate son of an aristocrat with his maid, at the age of 5 he came to live to the north – Vila Real, a mother orphan. At just 16 years old he married, and in 1843, 2 years later, he was a father. That same year he came to Porto to live alone, to Rua Escura, in the historic and picturesque district of the cathedral, to study medicine. Later he lived in the Hotel Paris, on Rua da Fábrica.

He was an elegant man, he was a renowned journalist and writer. In 1850, he enrolled at the Porto Seminary, where he studied theology and founded 2 religious newspapers.

Camilo’s life in Porto was intense, controversial and bohemian and caused some scandals of a loving nature. He was celebrated for his passion for Ana Plácido and consequent imprisonment in the jail of Relação. From these events, his most famous work “The Love of Perdition” was born, which was immortalized by a statue of the two, which can be seen next to the jail where both were imprisoned.

In 1868, Camilo returned to Porto to live on Rua de Santa Catarina and Rua de S. Lázaro, after marrying Ana Plácido and with her founded and directed the city’s Gazeta Literária.

The 1980s were very turbulent because they already saw very badly and maintained controversial relations with various masters of society. He was physically threatened several times and bought a revolver to defend himself. Ironically 7 years later he would use it to commit suicide after realizing that his blindness had no cure.
Camilo was buried in the cemetery of Lapa.

Until today, manuscripts of correspondence between Camilo, Ana Plácido and Freitas Fortuna and numerous Camillian objects are found in the Order of Lapa, such as the revolver with which he committed suicide, a silver snuff box, with the last note he used, the spyglass , the quill and the quill pen that served him recently, a book by Droz that Camilo began to translate in Cadeia da Relação, a conch that served Camilo as paperweights and his favorite inkwell.

The iron sculptures of the Palace gardens
1 October, 2020 / ,

In the second half of the 19th century, Europe was teeming with technological progress resulting from the various transformations that occurred during the so-called ‘Industrial Revolution’.

There are some architectural and structural examples in Porto from that time and also some of which unfortunately only have a few memories left.

This is the case of the Palácio de Cristal, which received its name because it was inspired by the Crystal Palace in everything similar, except in size, which had been built in London for the same purpose, that is, the installation of a universal public exhibition.

But if iron was now used as a raw material in large industrial foundries combined with brilliant engineering and architecture works, it was also beginning to see its potential applied to sculpture. It allowed the same type of detail and finishing of more noble metals, but with greater ease and economy of production, as well as the possibility of series production of pieces created by great masters.

Thus, it is common to have public works in landscaped spaces that by that time were created in European cities, sculpture works in cast iron.
The gardens of the Crystal Palace, unlike the building, have been preserved in their original design and their Sculptures as well. If in the case of the Building and in the structural and technological aspects the origins were English, the cultural and aesthetic fields in Porto and Europe were still dominated by French influences, more precisely Parisians.

Upon entering the main gate, we find the garden that preceded the main facade of the Palace and two fountains adorned with sculptural elements and four figures that represent the Seasons of the Year. It is possible to understand its origins because the foundries where they were produced and in in some cases the author or author of the original modeling.

It is curious to observe, according to a study published by Paula Torres Peixoto in the Revista de Arquitectura Lusitana, that since the Works that represent the Seasons come from different origins, we actually have 3 and not the 4 seasons represented, since the one that it is in its base identified with being autumn, it is actually summer that appears twice.

Following Avenida das Tílias, we will pass through the Concha Acústica and the commonly known as “Fonte dos Cavalinhos”, both with excellent sculptural works in cast iron.

For all this and for all the surrounding space, the “Palace” is and will always be one of the most beloved places in the City.

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.

Writers’ route through Porto ( Júlio Dinis )
21 September, 2020 / , ,

Júlio Dinis (1839-1871), was born and baptized in Porto, in the parish of S. Nicolau.

He studied in Miragaia where he wrote the first literary texts, and studied medicine at the University of Porto. In 1852 and 1853, he lived in the village of Noêda, in the parish of Campanhã. In 1874 the writer moved in with his cousin’s family to Rua de Costa Cabral, in the parish of Paranhos, where he would later die of tuberculosis – he was 32 years old.

When he attended the first year of the Polytechnic Academy, he became acquainted and maintained an intimate friendship with the poet Soares de Passos, and from this circumstance he intensified his love of beautiful letters. He also participated in theater groups, and collaborated with Jornal do Porto.

In his books “Os Fidalgos da Casa Mourisca”, “A Morgadinha dos Canaviais” and “Uma Família Inglesa” we can find many references to the city where he was born, lived and died.

A sculptural ensemble, with a female figure who places a wreath near the poet’s bust, in low relief. He was buried in the cemetery of Cedofeita, together with his brother.