Monument

The Eagle and the Lion
21 November, 2019 / , ,

A few years ago, walking along Avenida da Boavista accompanied by my two older nephews…

― Kids, who knows what is that up there?!

— It’s the Eagle and the Lion in Rotunda da Boavista (Boavista Roundabout)!

I smiled while thinking of how right – and also how wrong – the answer was.

The Monument to the Heroes of the Peninsular War was designed by architect Marques da Silva and sculptor Alves de Sousa. Its construction, under the responsibility of the Cooperativa dos Pedreiros, began in 1909, but the monument was only to be inaugurated in 1952, after the premature death of Alves de Sousa, so its completion was the responsibility of sculptors Henrique Moreira and José Sousa Caldas.

The monument is intended to honour the heroes of the Peninsular War, fought in the context of the French invasions, which opposed Portugal – helped by their ally England – to the French armies of Napoleon Bonaparte, in the period from 1808 to 1814.

My nephews didn’t know this part, but as their tender age did not recommend “wars”, I ended up explaining to them that there was a bit of a bad Frenchman who wanted only cheese to be eaten in Portugal! So, we asked our English friends for help and sent the French “to hell” with their cheese! At the time, I couldn’t think of any better nonsense explanation, but they retained the correct basic idea. I hope…

Composed of a pedestal 45 metres high and surrounded by sculptural groups that represent artillery scenes, the monument features a woman – Vitória – in front of the people, holding the national flag in her left hand and a sword in her right hand. At the top, a high column topped by a lion (symbol of the flag of England) over an eagle (symbol of Napoleon’s empire), elements that gave it the popular name for which it is known.

 

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.

Bust of Homage to Guilherme Gomes Fernandes
13 August, 2019 / , ,

By the author Bento Cândido da Silva, the bust of the Commander of the Firemen of Porto, Guilherme Gomes Fernandes, was inaugurated in 1915 in the square that has since adorned the name of this illustrious personage.

Guilherme Gomes Fernandes was born in Bahia on February 6, 1850. At the age of three he went to live in Porto and at thirteen he left for England with the intention of attending high school.

At the age of 19, Gomes Fernandes settled in the city of Porto. Years later, he helped found the Associação Humanitária dos Bombeiros Voluntários (1874-75) and the Corpo de Salvação Pública. He was appointed Commander of the Fire Department in 1877 and Inspector of Fire of Porto in 1885. He then transferred to Companhia de Incêndios, assuming the position of commander. He also developed business activity in the area of journalism, having created and directed the newspaper “O Bombeiro Voluntário”, published between 1877 and 1890.

Guilherme Gomes Fernandes was also notable, among other actions, in the fight against the tragic fire of the Baquet Theater in 1888.

His contribution to the progress of the firefighters in Porto and in the country earned him the title of “Master”, as well as prestigious national and international decorations.

Guilherme Gomes Fernandes died in Lisbon, Hospital of S. José, on October 31, 1902.

 

Luís I Bridge: a sanitation issue
11 August, 2019 / ,

The Luís I bridge, one of the most emblematic structures of the city of Porto, was built in the 19th century and is now considered a World Heritage Site. However, in the mid-twentieth century, the bridge began to show disturbing signs of corrosion due, in particular, to the passage of the tram in the upper board of the bridge.

But there was another corrosion problem. At night, many of the men who frequented bars, both in Porto and Ribeira, used the end of the bridge board to pee.

In 1954, Edgar Cardoso was in charge of the recovery works of the bridge and arranged a brilliant solution to end the corrosion and the nauseating smell. The engineer, taking advantage of the color of the bridge, put metal plates with a slight fold at the end of the bridge tray. Which means that at night, anyone who sought to satisfy their needs in that same place would end up with the “pee”, directly, to their pants.

Discreet but effective, still to this day.

Duque da Ribeira – Symbol and meaning, witness and protagonist of the life of Ribeira
9 August, 2019 / , ,

If you stroll through the Ribeira area, which you will have to do if you come to Porto, it is very likely that you will cross the statue in honor of Deocleciano Monteiro (exact location is at Rua Cimo
do Muro, 12, next to Ponte D . Luís).
If the name tells you absolutely nothing, don’t worry! The same will happen to most people from Porto! But almost everyone will be able to tell you who the “Duque da Ribeira” was, a name by which he has always been and become known. In fact, it is the tradition that it was the mother herself who, in view of the difficulty in pronouncing the name Deocleciano, treated him as “Duke”.
Born in Porto on March 24, 1902 and died on November 9, 1996, the Duke was born and always lived in Ribeira, until his death, being an inseparable and absolutely charismatic figure throughout the twentieth century.

At only 11 years old, he saved a person from drowning in the river. Since then, this heroic brand has never left him, despite his modesty and extreme humility.
The Duke grew up in the river, where all his life there was a boatman. He knew the Douro, its waters, its currents, its life, like no one else! This, coupled with his courage and physical agility and the fact that he is an excellent swimmer, has allowed him throughout his life to save many people from drowning in the sometimes treacherous waters of the river and in other cases from rescue the bodies of those who lost their lives there. Hundreds of people owe their lives – literally – to Duque da Ribeira!
He was also responsible for teaching many children from Ribeira to swim!
Docker, sailor and even actor !, the Duke’s popularity was immense, and it is no wonder that his autograph book contains the signatures of several presidents of the republic and even Queen Elizabeth II of England!

For all this, and finally, a warning: if you venture into the waters of the Douro, do so carefully! We no longer have our Duke guarding the river! He who, according to Mestre José Rodrigues’ bust that would forever perpetuate on the banks of the Douro his memory and the tribute of the city, was “symbol and meaning, witness and protagonist of Ribeira life”.

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!

Clerigos Museum
14 December, 2018 / , ,

The journey through the Casa da Irmandade (1754-1758), where the Museum is located, provides a return to the past as you get to explore spaces that once were private and destined for the daily life of the Brotherhood of Clerics.

Walking through the Casa do Despacho, the Sala do Cofre, the Archives, and the old infirmary, one can see that the Museum has a collection of cultural assets of considerable artistic value from the 13th to the 20th century, which spreads through its collections of sculpture, painting, furniture and jewellery. These goods are messengers of a historical and cultural patrimony, whose function was lost throughout time but gave way to the creation of the museum.

 

The infirmary of the Brotherhood of Clerics, which operated until the end of the 19th century and dedicated to the treatment of sick clerics, has been converted into an exhibition space and currently houses the Christus collection. This exhibition, conceived from the donation of a collection by a private collector, reveals the passion for collecting and tells a story complemented by objects, once of devotion, considered today cultural legacies of interest. They are important pieces of sculpture, painting and jewellery making that enhance the encounter of art with faith.

The exhibition, distributed in three rooms – Núcleo da Paixão, Viagem das Formas e Imagens de Cristo – invites you to travel through time and space, through image and devotion.

The Museum of the Irmandade dos Clérigos, is part of the Portuguese Museum Network, since August 28, 2018.

 

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.

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