History

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

Fenianos, for Porto
15 December, 2018 / ,

Clube Fenianos Portuenses was founded on March 25, 1904, in the Batalha Square. In 1935, it was moved to its current location, in the Aliados Avenue, right next to the Porto City Hall.

The club was recognized as Commander of the Military Order of Christ for the services rendered throughout its 111 years of existence to that moment and with the Gold Medal of Porto as well, reinforcing its motto “Pelo Porto” (For Porto).

Around 1903, four of its founders, Porto citizens and future Fenianos, sought to obtain the necessary knowledge for the organization of a Carnival-like corso with the exuberance of the Carioca Carnival and the aesthetic beauty of the one in Venice, having made a trip to Brazil with this goal.

Clube Carnavalesco Fenianos Portuenses was born from this collaboration, later renamed Clube Fenianos Portuenses. The main goal was to give the city a Carnival at the level of its artistic sensibility.

As a note of curiosity, the floor of the Salão Nobre (Noble Room) also brings with it the “Brazil effect”, since all of it is of pau-cetim of light tone and macacaúba.

The history, patrimony, memories and civic and cultural intervention of Fenianos in Porto became entrenched in the city. The club was cherished by its populations, erudite, notable and anonymous, becoming a memorable tradition of Porto.

Its centenary and noble history, its gold books and the tombstones and pictures, that internally cover its old walls, register the presence of some of the most important living forces of the city, industry and commerce, great names of writers like Aquilino Ribeiro, Jorge de Sena, José Régio, of playwrights like Pirandello, of plastic artists, photographers and renowned painters such as Guedes de Oliveira and Amadeu de Sousa Cardoso, of folklorists and musicologists such as Armando Leça, of lectures with the historian of the city of Artur de Magalhães Basto and many, many other national and international figures.

Nowadays, the club continues to maintain an annual program of permanent socio-cultural activities, ranging from Music, Choral Singing and Instrumental to Illusionism, Theater, Dance, Billiards, Table Tennis and other ballroom games, not only for members, but for everyone who visits.

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”.

Gomes Teixeira – The mathematician who could have been a priest
15 October, 2018 / , , ,

Gomes Teixeira, illustrious mathematician who would become the first rector of the University of Porto, only did not study Theology by mere chance.

Born in January 1851 in Armamar, he was soon distinguished by his intelligence and good grades obtained in all subjects. At that time, it was common for boys with good schooling to be referred to the Seminary, but the young man was also brilliant at Mathematics. Thus, when it was time to go to university, the family decided that it would be the good fortune to decide between Theology and Mathematics.

Luck dictated Mathematics and since he arrived at the University of Coimbra, Francisco Gomes Teixeira stood out by the maximum notes obtained. At the age of 20 he published his first work and in 1874 he finished the course with a grade of 20 values. Such a brilliant academic course would, naturally, have to lead him to a teaching career. He excelled at the University of Coimbra and at the Polytechnic Academy of Porto, which he would eventually direct.

In 1911 the University of Porto was founded and Gomes Teixeira was chosen to be its first rector. He died in Porto in 1933. After his death, three busts were made in bronze, later placed in his native land at the University of Porto and at the University of Coimbra.

Source: O Tripeiro 7ª Série Ano XIX nº1 e 7ª Série Ano XXX, Número 12

University of Porto
11 October, 2018 / ,

Founded on March 22, 1911, the University of Porto is increasingly sought after by Portuguese and foreign students. With 14 colleges and three hubs (in the center, Asprela and Campo Alegre), it has about 30 thousand students from all over the world.

The origins of the University of Porto are in the Nautical Classroom, created by D. José I in 1762 and designed to prepare sailors and pilots to board ships departing from Barra do Douro to the whole world. Drawing Class followed right after, created in 1779; Royal Academy of the Navy and Commerce, in 1803; Polytechnic Academy in 1837. All these schools were designed to prepare cadres qualified to work in the naval area, in commerce, industry and the arts.

In 1825 the first medical school of Porto, the Royal School of Surgery, was founded, which 11 years later gave rise to the Medical-Surgical School. The Drawing Class was also the origin of other schools linked to the arts.

In March 1911, a few months after the Implantation of the Republic (October 1910), this university was established, which has since continued to grow in terms of courses, number of students and international prestige. Initially divided in two faculties (Sciences and Medicine), it received in 1915 the Technical Faculty (renamed in 1926 of Faculty of Engineering), in 1919 the Faculty of Letters and, in 1921, the Faculty of Pharmacy. The Faculty of Economics was established in 1953.

With the revolution of April 25, 1974, the University of Porto would see great growth, receiving more faculties: Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences (1975), Faculty of Sports (1975), Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences 1977), Faculty of Architecture (1979), Faculty of Dental Medicine (1989), Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences (1992), Faculty of Fine Arts (1992) and Faculty of Law (1994). The Porto Management School was created in 1988 and since 2008 it has been designated as Business School of the University of Porto.

The rectory

It is the headquarters of the University of Porto. Located in the centre of the city, at the Praça Gomes Teixeira, this imposing building also houses the Museum of Natural History and the Science Museum. Between 1803 and 1837 it received the Royal Academy of Navy and Commerce and the Polytechnic Academy of Porto between 1837 and 1911. Installed in the space that housed a college for orphans, this building had a time-consuming construction and was often re-adapted for new functions. On April 20, 1974, a fire destroyed a part of the building, which was again the target of works and renovations. Between 1976 and 1996 the rectory worked in a building near the Palácio de Cristal.

Church São Pedro de Miragaia
9 October, 2018 / , ,

Close to the Douro and in the middle of the historical area, this church with a richly decorated interior is a sign of devotion from the fishermen to São Pedro.

The current church, rebuilt in the eighteenth century, emerged in the place where there was previously another temple of medieval origin. Miragaia, along the Douro River, was one of the first inhabited zones in the city. Born in the heart of a devout fishing community, this church was dedicated to São Pedro, patron saint of fishermen.

The previous temple gave place, in 1740, to a temple with a simple structure and with a unique ship. However, the richness of the interior decoration compensates for this stripping. The chancel is fully lined with gilded carving. A work that lasted for several years and that made this decoration reflect the evolution of the aesthetics of different periods. The ceiling and the triptych in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, attributed to the Flemish painter Van Orley, also deserve a close look. In the exterior, the simple tiles – placed in the 19th century – stand out on the façade and the bell tower and the baroque ornaments on the lateral pilasters.

Largo de S. Pedro de Miragaia, Porto

Visiting hours: Tue-Fri 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sun. 10:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Closed: Monday

The crickets and their church ( O TRIPEIRO)
19 September, 2018 / , , ,

Legend has it that in the place where the Igreja de São Lourenço was built, one could hear the constant singing of the crickets. For this reason, the church is still known today as the Church of the Crickets.

The legend, which has long been known in the city, tells that the Jesuit temple was built in the place where the gardens of the Bishop of Porto, who donated these lands to the Society of Jesus, existed. A place that, due to its abundance of these singing insects, was known as the Campo dos Grilos (Field of the Crickets). Thus, the Porto residents never adopted the official designation of Igreja de São Lourenço and since it was built in the sixteenth century, this temple was always known as … Igreja dos Grilos (Church of the Crickets).

Another explanation, more based on historical facts, is related to the expulsion of the Jesuits from the country in 1759. The church and college belonged to the University of Coimbra, which eventually sold the buildings to the congregation of the Agostinhos Descalços, also known as “Cricket Fathers” since their headquarters was on the Calçada do Grilo (Curbside of the Cricket).

The history of the name may not be consensual, but the imposing facade and the richness of its interior justify a visit.

Source: O Tripeiro 7ª Série Ano XXXIV number  5 – May 2015

The Siege of Porto
14 September, 2018 / , ,

It was 13 months that marked the city forever. The Siege of Porto lasted from July of 1832 to August of the following year, but its memory remains in the toponymy and the soul of the city.

The city will always be marked by the months in which it was surrounded: in addition to material damages and loss of human life, this period of history gave Porto the title of  “antiga, Mui Nobre, Sempre Leal e Invicta Cidade do Porto” (old, very noble, always loyal and invicta Porto) attributed by D. Pedro as a form of gratitude for the loyalty and courage with which the Porto residents defended the liberal cause. The king would even offer his heart to the city as a form of giving thanks.

“Bairro do Cerco do Porto”, “Rua do Heroísmo” (Heroism, in memory of a bloody battle that took place there) or “Rua da Firmeza” (Firmness) are names that perpetuate “the dignity and resignation with which the Porto residents valiantly resisted”. They evoke this time and a war between two brothers with opposing convictions.

Porto never accepted the ascendancy of the absolutist D. Miguel to power (1828) and when D. Pedro took command of the Liberal movement, he found in the people of the city a powerful ally. On July 8, 1832, D. Pedro, coming from the Azores, disembarked in Pampelido (Mindelo) to take the city of Porto, arriving at the present Praça da Liberdade at noon. D. Miguel’s troops had been moved to Lisbon so the Liberals had no difficulty entering the city. The next day, the absolutist army, coming from the south, settled in the Serra do Pilar, on the other side of the river, to bombard the city and expel the Liberals. Thus begins the siege: D. Pedro’s supporters remain in the port, surrounded. Food and essential goods became scarce and, as the situation got worse, cholera and typhus became opponents of those fighting for the liberal cause.

In June 1833, the Liberals altered the strategy and resolved to attack from the Algarve. The absolutist troops, convinced that the adversary was weakened, decide to launch a great attack on the Port but end up being defeated. On the 26th July, the Liberals occupied Lisbon but Porto remained surrounded. On the 18th August, under the command of Marechal Saldanha, the Liberal army obtained a decisive victory that two days later lead the supporters of D. Miguel to retreat. The Siege of Porto was finished.

Capela dos Alfaiates
13 September, 2018 / , ,

Discreetly situated at the angle of two streets and with an apparently simple architecture, this chapel deserves to be visited.

Although it is known as the Capela dos Alfaiates (Chapel of the Tailors), as the Brotherhood of Tailors built it, this small church is designated as Capela de Nossa Senhora de Agosto, and it displays the image of this saint on its facade.

It was built in 1554 very close to the Cathedral of Porto but, due to the opening of the Terreiro da Sé, it was removed from the site and in 1953 rebuilt in the place where it is currently. It is a National Monument since 1927.

Nossa Senhora de Agosto is the patroness of the Tailors, hence the veneration that led them to decide to build this small monument. Its architecture makes the transition from late Gothic to Flemish inspired Mannerism.

In the interior, besides the image in limestone of the Saint and S. Bom Homem (17th century), stands the altarpiece of Nossa Senhora de Agosto, made in gilded carving of the 16th century and in Mannerist style. It consists of a set of eight tablets with episodes of the life of the Virgin and Jesus: Annunciation, Adoration of the Shepherds, Adoration of the Magi, Assumption of the Virgin and the Child among the Doctors. To set is complete by the Coronation of the Virgin, flanked by the Visitation and the Escape to Egypt. The paintings were made between 1590 and 1600.
Rua do Sol / Rua S. Luís, Porto

Schedule: Monday to Friday 15:00-17:00

GPS: 41.143277204857, -8.6074742674828

 

Forte de São João Baptista
3 September, 2018 / , , ,

Also known as Castelo de São João da Foz, this fortress was built to protect the city from attacks by pirates and ships from enemy countries.

Built on the right bank of the Barra do Douro, the genesis of this fort was the residence of the bishop of Viseu, developed according to the design of an Italian architect. Considered as the first manifestation of Renaissance architecture in the north of Portugal, this house, as well as the adjacent buildings – such as the Church of São João Baptista and the chapel of São Miguel-o-Anjo – was surrounded by walls in the reign of D. Sebastião (1567). The strategic location, essential for the defence of the city and the region, would justify several interventions made over the years, trying to avoid attacks by pirates and ships from the nations with whom Portugal was at war with throughout its history.

When Portuguese independence was restored after 60 years of Spanish domination (1580-1640), D. João I wanted to know the state of the national fortresses and the need to build them stronger. The French engineer Charles Lassart was sent to Porto to delineate the necessary works in the fort; it was decided to demolish the church and the residence, making the fortress safer. After the works were completed, the presence of troops in the area was reinforced. In the 18th century the fortress was described as having four ramparts and 18 pieces of artillery, but by the end of this century it was concluded that it would be necessary to strengthen security, namely with the completion of the pit and with the construction of two batteries. In 1798, a portal in neoclassical style was also included, with a drawbridge, which replaced the primitive door of arms.

The evolution of the deployment and the capacity of defence caused this fort to lose its importance during the nineteenth century. In the middle of the twentieth century, it was abandoned but ended up being considered a Monument of Public Interest and in the 80’s and 90’s it was part of a cleaning and consolidation work.

Curiosities:

In the sixteenth, the works were paid with the amount raised by the tax on the salt.

During the Peninsular War (1808-1814), on June 6, 1808, Sergeant Major Raimundo José Pinheiro occupied the premises of the fort. The next morning he had the Portuguese flag flying on his mast. It was the first act of Portuguese reaction against the Napoleonic occupation.

During the Portuguese Civil War (1828-1834), he protected, during the siege of Oporto (1832-1833), the landing of supplies for the liberal troops in the city.

In the nineteenth century it served as political prison.

The poet Florbela Espanca, married to one of the officers, lived in the fort in the early 1920s.

GPS: 41.148445879541, -8.6748862266541

Schedule: From Monday to Friday 9:00 to 17:00