History

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

The two images of Senhora da Luz
13 August, 2018 / , ,

Before the lighthouse of São Miguel, which was built in 1758 in Foz, there was a chapel dedicated to Senhora da Luz.

According to some studies, in prehistoric times that place would have a special meaning, as evidenced by marks made on rocks. The reference to Senhora da Luz (“Lady of Light”) and its chapel already emerges in 1680. It would be a simple construction, but of great importance for fishermen and sailors.

Bombarded during the liberal wars, the chapel would be destroyed but from its interior, an altar was spared with the image that is today in the Church of São João da Foz do Douro. This image of “Our Lady” invokes the light, so essential for those who sailed the seas. Framed by gilded carving and adorned with images of angels, the “Lady of Light” is still adored today.

In the same church, there is still another image representing Our Lady with Jesus on his lap, measuring 30 cm high and made in ivory. Despite its small size, it stands out for the rarity and beauty of its details, as it is decorated with a mantle embroidered with gold and colored stones. The image was intended to be carried and kissed by its faithful followers on festive days.

Source: O Tripeiro 7th Series, Year XV issue 9 September 1996
A memorial made of wreckage
13 August, 2018 / ,

 

In the Agramonte Cemetery, in the Boavista area, a gigantic ark filled with burnt and twisted irons, reminds us of one of the city’s greatest tragedies.

On the night of March 20, 1888, a violent fire completely destroyed the Teatro Baquet, a building with two entrances (Rua de Sá da Bandeira and Rua de Santo António, currently Rua 31 de janeiro). That fateful night, the room was full and on stage comic opera was on. During a change of scenery, one of the cloths touched the flame of gaslight. Due to the materials, the antiquity of the building and the lack of a security plan, fire has spread rapidly and 120 people died in this tragedy.

The fire led to the redress of security in all the rooms of the city and, so that such misfortune was never forgotten, a memorial was made in the Cemetery of Agramonte. The mausoleum, which still intrigues people who do not know this episode of the history of the city, was made with pieces of iron and has on top a large crown of martyrs, also in iron.

Procession of the paper costume in Foz do Douro
9 August, 2018 / , , , ,

 

From mid-June to mid-September, the União de Freguesias (Union of Parishes) of Aldoar, Foz do Douro and Nevogilde, host the São Bartolomeu parties – a group of activities that liven up the streets and unite populations and visitors.

The procession of the Paper Costume is admittedly the most awaited moment of the festivities, with a history that has already surpassed 100 years and that in the last decade has gained special notoriety in the city.

 

These are months of work and preparation, with a permanent focus on roots, history and stories of the region. The 2nd French Invasion of 1809 and the Liberation of the City of Porto is the theme for the Paper Costume Contest in 2018, which will take place on August 26. There are meters and meters of paper, surgically worked by dedicated hands that keep this festive moment in the city alive.

This year’s edition has 350 extras, from gatherings and associations of the União de Freguesias, who will join the remaining hundreds who visit Foz do Douro to live this unique experience.

The current format is now 75 years old and integrates a route that seeks to reach the main centers of the history of Foz do Douro. The costumes parade begins at 10:30 am and goes through the Cantareira, rich in its fishing tradition.

After the inevitable passage through the charismatic Jardim do Passeio Alegre, a favourite amongst many intellectuals who fill the culture of Foz do Douro and Oporto, the procession continues to Ourigo Beach where the sea baths take place, one of the most noticeable traditions at the São Bartolomeu parties.

These baths are filled with tradition and folktales. Also known as “holy baths”, these dives in the waters of the Atlantic – seven, as tradition says – are a way of thanking São Bartolomeu’s favors in the last year and for banishing malaria over the next twelve months.

The participants of this year’s edition come from Bloco da União de Freguesias de Aldoar, Foz do Douro e Nevogilde, Associação de Moradores do Bairro Social da Pasteleira – Previdência, Associação de Moradores do Bairro Social de Aldoar and Orfeão da Foz do Douro.

People from all different backgrounds and spaces join in this tradition, showing that the city is made of all and with all even in the most popular of its traditions.

The traditional barber shops in Porto
20 July, 2018 / , , ,

These are nine of the traditional barbershops in the city of Porto and all are located between the Hospital Santo António and the São Bento Station.

Also traditional is the decoration of these barbershops, with iron armchairs and brass instruments capable of withstanding decades of use. Professionals also follow this longevity: many are elderly gentlemen with weather-discolored hair and clever fingers wrapped in wrinkles.

  • Barbearia Porto: It was born in 1946 but from that date only the chairs and a shoebox are left. The new owners brought in the rest of the vintage decor. It is two steps from the Avenida dos Aliados.
  • Barbearia Garrett: Since 1979 in the hands of Acácio Branco, this barbershop is just a few meters from the Porto City Hall. With an old-fashioned décor, this establishment only has male guests.
  • Oficina do Cabelo: Formerly known as Tinoco, reopened under this name. From 1929 it maintains the marble washbasins, iron chairs, huge mirrors and floor covered with fan mosaics. It is now considered part of Porto’s heritage.
  • Barbearia Santo António: It is not much bigger than a corridor, but it brings a lot of history in the hands of António Cardoso. There are more than 50 years of cuts at the beginning of Rua 31 de Janeiro.
  • Barbearia Norton: In this barbershop, in the Batalha area, we talk about everything and keep alive the tradition of the neighbourhood barber with leather chairs, beard brush and razors.
  • Salão Veneza: It is almost 90 years old and more than 70 years as a barbershop. Some of the most unforgettable characters of our history have already sat in these red armchairs.
  • Barbearia Sport: It was in 1942 that this barbershop settled in Porto. It happened in an era where one would spend more time embellishing their moustache than cutting hair.
  • Barbearia Invicta: Aventino Silva has been in this barbershop since the age of 10 and despite the arrival of the blades, he has not lost clients.
  • Barbearia Orlando: It already has two spaces in Porto but it is in the Rua Álvaro Castelões that the tradition, the customers and the conversations are kept on point.

Source: “Os bigodes à antiga e a arte de os fazer bem feitos” – Prova de Aptidão Artística (Artistic aptitude test) by Edgar Duarte (Escola Artística Soares dos Reis)

Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
18 April, 2018 / , , ,

The church of Santo Ildefonso has about 11,000 tiles on the front and sides of the bell towers.

These tiles were designed by Jorge Colaço, who also created the tiles of São Bento Station, and represent scenes from the life of Saint Ildefonso and the Gospel. They were placed only in 1931, but the construction of the church is much older.

The church of Santo Ildefonso began to be constructed in 1709, the first phase (still without the bell towers) being completed in 1730. In the interior there are eight stained glass windows and a retable in carved baroque and rococo of the first half of the 18th Century by Nicolau Nasoni. When visiting this church, located in the middle of downtown Porto, do not forget to pay attention to two large canvases measuring 5.80 x 4.30 meters, suspended on the side walls, painted between 1785 and 1792.

In the area of the choir there is a pipe organ of the early nineteenth century, which has been restored. The church also has vestiges of an old cemetery, discovered during the restoration works of recovery executed in 1996.

It was from the staircase of this church that in 1891 shots were fired that would end the revolution that was the first attempt of the implantation of the Republic in Portugal.

Centuries of tradition of exclusive taste – What you need to know about Port wine
18 April, 2018 / , , ,

Produced in the Douro region, it is world -famous and can be enjoyed in the most diverse occasions.

The terraces and the climate of the Douro allied to the experience gained over the centuries to create a unique wine in the world, with an aroma and unique flavours, which features a wide range of colours – ranging from (ruby to pale white, then passing to golden white) and sweetness (very sweet, sweet, semi-sweet or extra dry).

The aging process results in two different types of Port Wine. Ruby wines keep the red colour, fruity aroma and strength of a young wine. In terms of quality, they can be divided into Ruby, Reserve, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) and Vintage. The wines from the best categories, especially Vintage, can be stored for several years, as they age well in the bottle.

Tawny ports are obtained by blending different matured wines by aging in casks or vats. Colours can be red-tawny, tawny or tawny light and aromas evoke dried fruit and wood, characteristics that are accentuated with age. The existing categories are: Tawny, Tawny Reserve, Tawny with age indication (10 years, 20 years, 30 years and 40 years) and Vintage. They may be consumed shortly after bottling.

Oporto and the English – A friendship of centuries
18 April, 2018 / ,

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

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

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

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

Nicolau Nasoni – One the most influential figures in the architecture of Porto
18 April, 2018 / ,

Having reigned for over 30 years, architect-painter Nicolau Nasoni was effectively a sort of king of the arts without rivals.

Arriving in Porto in 1725, at the age of 34 (he was born in Tuscany in 1691), originally from Valletta, the Isle of Malta, where he had worked for some years for the Portuguese Grand Master D. António Manuel de Vilhena.

His great work of Malta, was painting the corridors of the Palace of the Grand Masters in Valletta. It was there where his fresco style was revealed and it would later be transferred onto the granite of Porto, in works such as the Cathedral or Sé, the Clérigos and the Igreja da Misericórdia. Roque de Távora, brother of the Dean of Porto, recommended Nasoni as a result of his spectacular ability to work.

 Nasoni gave Porto that urban grandeur which originates from possession of palaces and temples, monasteries and stately homes on a large scale, identified with a top notch artistic genius. And in the case of the great artist of Porto, this distinction is not limited to the field of architecture. It is also expressed in the painting, sculpture; both in stone and carving; gold engraving, wrought iron, to name some genius aspects of the extraordinary man who shaped and ennobled the city of Porto.

  

Article taken from the magazine “O Tripeiro” # 7, July 1996, VI series, Year VI

Majestic – From the splendor of Belle Époque to the jewel of the city
29 March, 2018 / , ,

In Rua de Santa Catarina, in the city
centre, Majestic is a must stop for those
who visit Porto. The privileged location,
the facade and the decoration make this a
unique venue in the city.

 

The space was inaugurated on the 17 of December
of 1921, but at that time it was called Elite.
Designed by the architect João Queirós, it functioned
as a kind of private club; with the change of name
to Majestic, it became a meeting point for the high
society, bohemians and intellectuals. Throughout its
history would be place of social gatherings, a point
of passage of artists that visited the city as well as
for statesmen and celebrities.
With the advent of World War II the cafe would enter
a period of decadence, the sale of its very rich estate
going to auction.
During the restoration carried out in the 1990s,
only wall fixtures, mirrors (from Antwerp) and
sofas were kept. Replicas of some pieces which had
disappeared were made so that the original spirit
could be maintained.
Since the mid-90s the Majestic has won a unique
place in the heart of Porto residents and tourists,
and has also won several international awards.

 

The space
The Majestic is a superb example of Art Nouveau,
featuring an imponent marble façade with three
elegant porches facing Rua de Santa Catarina. In the
interior, the great mirrors, the metal candelabras the
sculptures in stucco stand out.
The interior courtyard, built in 1925, was designed
as a winter garden. There was a time when there
was a window facing Rua de Passos Manuel, where
newspapers and tobacco were sold. In this courtyard
there are concerts during the summer, but all year
round the Majestic is also a cultural space, thanks to
the grand piano and the painting exhibitions on the
lower floor, which was once a billiard room.

Curiosities:
J. K. Rowling was a frequent patron of the
Majestic cafe when she lived in Porto and it is
believed that she started working on the book
“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”
there.
Former Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek
responded as follows when asked what he most
liked about his visit to Portugal: “Well … it was
Majestic … after all I am also a child of God … !!!”