During the reign of D. João V, after the signing of a peace treaty between several European countries (1713), a policy of approximation between Portugal and Spain was followed.
A double marriage was then negotiated between the heirs of the two kingdoms: the Portuguese princess Maria Bárbara (daughter of D. João V) would marry the heir to the Spanish throne, prince Fernando; the future king D. José I would marry princess D. Mariana Vitória (daughter of D. Filipe V, 1st king of the Bourbon dynasty, in Spain).
It was also a way of seeking to guarantee peace between the two kingdoms.
The documents for this contract were signed in Lisbon and Madrid in 1727, and preparations for the wedding ceremony began, which became known as the “exchange of princesses”.
On January 10, 1723, were signed the capitulations of the princess’s marriage contract with Prince of Asturias D. Fernando, son of Felipe V, of Spain, the first of the Bourbons dynasty. At night there were fireworks in Terreiro do Paço, all the outbreaks in the Tagus were flagged and lit up with brilliance, and the illuminations throughout the city were equally brilliant. The following day the wedding took place in Lisbon, by proxy in the Patriarchal church.
The exchange of princesses should take place on neutral ground. For this reason, a bridge was built with a wooden palace over the river Caia, a river that marks the border between Portugal and Spain in the Elvas / Badajoz region. The palace, very well decorated, would welcome the royal families and the main guests.
The royal procession left Lisbon on 8 January, followed by the retinues of Queen D. Ana Ana Josefa and the patriarch, D. Tomás de Almeida.
D. João V arrived in Évora on the 10th, accompanied by D. José, and soon tried to order a “solemn and festive reception” for his wife, who was traveling with her daughter, Maria Bárbara de Bragança, and the infant D . Peter. Welcoming them were the city authorities, including the nobility and clergy, two battalions of infantry and two cavalry regiments, in addition to the people who came to the gates of the Lagoon, “from outside the walls”.
The ceremony for the exchange of the princesses, married to the heirs of two crowns, was carried out with the greatest pomp, making the trip with all the magnificence.
Princess D. Maria Bárbara’s trousseau was grand and dazzling. D. João V, to make the ceremony more striking, ordered the construction of the Vendas Novas palace, which still exists today, with the sole purpose of providing accommodation for two nights to the Portuguese and Spanish delegation .
In 1746 Filipe V died, and the Prince of Asturias ascended the throne with the name of Fernando VI, thus crowning Princess D. Maria Bárbara the crown of Spain’s queen.
Princess Maria Bárbara’s entourage consisted of several coaches ordered on purpose for the ceremony. There were still 185 carts and 6,000 soldiers.
Many people came to the banks of the river to watch, as far as possible, the public events of the ceremonies.
The weddings took place on January 19, 1729.
291 years ago.
Swallows are birds that, despite their small size, travel thousands of kilometres to nest. Every year, following an instinct, they fly from North Africa to Portugal and stay until the end of summer. This little flying animal is very dear to the Portuguese because they are the prelude to spring and good weather.
They are birds associated not only with good weather, but with home. Due to its ability to raise its offspring, the Portuguese see this bird as an example of all that the best nature can bring.
The passion is such that the Portuguese hang replicas of flocks of swallows on the walls of their houses as a sign of calm.
This national connection to this black-winged bird is due to Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro who, at the end of the 19th century, produced small ceramic swallows at his factory in Caldas da Rainha and which he himself had designed.
It was he who in 1891 hung ceramic swallows on the telephone wires that decorate the wonderful Tabacaria Mónaco, even today at Rossio in Lisbon (and looking up, on the ceiling, there is also a flock of them painted flying). They spread happily throughout the country throughout the 20th century. Swallows are said to be symbols of love and loyalty, but also of home and family, feelings that are well rooted in Portuguese culture. After long-haul flights looking for milder climates, swallows build their nest in the same place year after year. They are also creatures that, throughout their lives, have a single partner.
Embedded in such meaning, the ceramic swallows of Bordalo Pinheiro and other representations of this bird are commonly exchanged between people in love, enhancing their connotation with feelings of love, loyalty, home and family.
They are also the meaning of harmony and happiness in the homes where they are hung.
Regardless of their faith and their own beliefs, we can not talk about Portugal without speaking of Fatima.
Located 130 km from Lisbon, Fátima also dubbed “City of Peace”, is the most important Marian sanctuary in Portugal.
Between 1916 and 1917, in a climate of war and turbulence of the early twentieth century and the First World War, three children who were tending their flocks in Cova da Iria they will have the experience of an apparition that will change their life forever. The apparitions of Our Lady occurred on the 13th day of each month between May and October 1917. There her great message of peace was transmitted to the world by the three children through faith and devotion to Our Lady and the praying of the Rosary.
It will be Lucia, the oldest of the three children who will tell in her memories what happened in that time.
On 13 May 1917, the children reported seeing a woman “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.”The woman wore a white mantle edged with gold and held a rosary in her hand. The story continues: “Don’t be afraid I don’t want to hurt you,” said the lady; Lucia, astonished, asked: “Where do you come from, Madam?”. “I come from heaven”, She replied, asking the three little shepherds to go to that same place on the thirteenth of each month, for six consecutive months until October, also recommending that they pray the rosary so that the First World War could end.
Jacinta told her family what happened. Lúcia had earlier said that the three should keep this experience private. Jacinta’s disbelieving mother told neighbors about it as a joke, and within a day the whole village knew of the children’s vision.
The second appearance occurred on 13 June. On this occasion the lady revealed that Francisco and Jacinta would be taken to Heaven soon, but Lúcia would live longer in order to spread her message and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
On July 13 the children returned to Cova d’Irìa: this time about five thousand people were gathered there, many of whom were eager to make fun of the children; the vision of hell was shown to the three little shepherds, verbatim reported in the writings of Sister Lucia: «Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire, which seemed to be underground. Immersed in that fire, the demons and souls, as if they were transparent embers and black or bronze, with human form that floated in the fire, carried by the flames that came out of themselves together with clouds of smoke, falling from all similar parts at the falling of sparks in the great fires, without weight or balance, between screams and groans of pain and despair that caused horror and made one tremble with fear“
On 13 August 1917, the provincial administrator intervened, as he believed that these events were politically disruptive in the conservative country. He took the children into custody, jailing them before they could reach the Cova da Iria. Santos interrogated and threatened the children to get them to divulge the contents of the secrets. Lúcia’s mother hoped the officials could persuade the children to end the affair and admit that they had lied.That month, instead of the usual apparition in the Cova da Iria on 13 August, the children reported that they saw the Virgin Mary on 19 August, a Sunday, at nearby Valinhos.
On that occasion, Our Lady promised them that the month of October would do a miracle to confirm the authenticity of their statements
After some newspapers reported that the Virgin Mary had promised a miracle for the last of her apparitions on 13 October, a huge crowd, possibly between 30,000 and 100,000, including reporters and photographers, gathered at Cova da Iria. What happened then became known as the “Miracle of the Sun”.
Various claims have been made as to what actually happened during the event. According to accounts, after a period of rain, the dark clouds broke and the Sun appeared as an opaque, spinning disc in the sky. It was said to be significantly duller than normal, and to cast multicolored lights across the landscape, the people, and the surrounding clouds. The Sun was then reported to have careened towards the Earth before zig-zagging back to its normal position. Witnesses reported that their previously wet clothes became “suddenly and completely dry, as well as the wet and muddy ground that had been previously soaked because of the rain that had been falling”.
What is interesting about Fatima is the mystery and strength of the message. The message was transmitted to three poor shepherd children who were alone with their flocks in the Cova da Iria: a message that speaks of peace, faith and consecration. It is this message and this comfort that pilgrims seek in Fatima and when visiting the Sanctuary.
The message materializes through the believers’ processions and religious activities at the Sanctuary. This is especially true of the candlelight processions that take place from May to October – always at night between the 12th and 13th of each month. They remind each pilgrim of the apparitions of the Virgin in 1917. At these dates, thousands of candles light the huge square and the image of Our Lady passes by in a solemn procession.
Many of you have probably heard of the Portuguese music, a world cultural heritage: the Fado. About this music we will surely find out more in a next article, but today my post is dedicated to a painting that turned out to be the most representative image of fado, the one that we often find on the streets of Lisbon in tiles or posters or advertisements outside the houses of Fado. I am talking about one of the great Portuguese paintings: José Malhoa’s Fado.
Born on 28th April 1855, José Malhoa is considered to be one of the greatest Portuguese painters. He was a pioneer in Portugal following the Naturalism movement and his work stood out for being closed to Impressionism. We’re not getting into more details on his biography, but we will only emphasize a moment, which certainly marked his own personal and artistic life. Everything goes around a painting called – O Fado – which brilliantly portrays the soul of this music style, a symbol of the Portuguese music.
There are two versions known of the painting O Fado by José Malhoa. One is from 1909, and another one from 1910. Most likely from the idea to its conception José Malhoa spent some moments before until finally reaching to the versions we know. The painting’s history began when José Malhoa felt the need to portray Fado music, which started to become a success among the bourgeois, intellectuals and aristocrats as it had been mostly associated to marginality and the poor neighbourhoods.
The painter first used professional models for the first sketches, but it wasn’t enough for him. They wanted to capture the true essence of fado and he could only do that by using real models. He wandered about for a long time through the neighbourhoods of Alfama, Bairro Alto until he found what he wanted in Mouraria, where today its residents defend proudly on being the cradle of Fado.
José Malhoa met the two models portrayed on the painting. He was Amâncio Augusto Esteves, bully, fado singer and guitar player and she was Adelaide da Facada (of the Knife), called that for having a scar on the left side of her face. During the day she sold lottery tickets and at night she was a prostitute. During a month the painter went several times to Adelaide’s home in Capelão street, to portray the closest environment he was watching. Then later he created the same space in his atelier. The people of the neighbourhood were first intrigued by his presence, but got used to it and started to call him the ‘’fancy painter’’. Many times, Malhoa had to explain to the police his presence in the neighbourhood and had to go to the prison regularly in order to release his two models to continue to do his work. The ‘’fancy painter’’ had to use a lot of his patience and diplomacy to get on well with Amâncio. His first plan was to pain Adelaide naked, or almost, causing jealousy and threats by the bully.
In spite of all these peculiar situations, Malhoa managed to complete his work and show it to the upper class but also to the Mouraria’s residents in search of their opinion. The painting got at first bad reviews, defending that he was portraying the minor side of Fado, related to marginality. However, it was critically acclaimed abroad and travelled to Buenos Aires (with the title of “Será verdade), where it got a golden medal, Paris (called “Sous le charme”, Liverpool (called “The native song) and San Francisco.
In 1917 the painting version of 1910 was bought by the city council of Lisbon for the value of four thousand escudos, and it was placed at the noble saloon in Paços do Concelho building until it was moved permanently to the City Museum. Today the museum has lent the painting to the Fado Museum. The 1909 version is in a private collection.
The story of this painting was also told in a fado, which here you can hear sung by the voice of Amalia Rodrigues
In Portugal everything involves a coffee. From a serious conversation to a first date, going through any meal, every meeting has a cup of coffee, in such a way that, many times, we use the expression “drink a coffee” as a synonym for meeting. If we meet someone, we will drink coffee, if we haven’t seen someone for a long time, we have to arrange a coffee, if we arrange to go out with friends, we meet at the cafe, and if a friend is having a bad day, “Come on, I’ll offer to you a coffee”.
Coffee was first introduced as an important commodity by King João V in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, making Brazil the largest producer of Arabica coffee in the world at the time. Due to its historical relations with Brazil, Timor, Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe, all countries producing coffee, Portugal has been at the forefront of the coffee industry. The first public cafes were inspired by French gatherings and became privileged places for socializing and sharing for artists, politicians and writers. Figures such as Fernando Pessoa, Bocage, José Régio or Júlio Resende are easily associated with historic cafés, such as A Brasileira (Lisbon), Café Nicola (Lisbon) or Café Majestic (Porto).
How to order a coffee?
To order an espresso we usually order a coffee, but in Lisbona we have to order a BICA or in Porto a cimbalino (in connection with the Cimbali coffee machine). The story said that, initially, the bitter taste of coffee did not please the Portuguese and that, in the A Brasileira coffee, after the coffee owner tried everything to introduce this drink, he even managed to win the coffee for free, finally he decides to serve coffee with sugar. Served sweet, this drink started to be successful so he posted a sign outside the cafe saying “Drink this with sugar” (Beba Isto Com Açúcar) and this would be the origin of the expression BICA. There is no certainty and there is also a theory that the expression would be related to the way the coffee started to be made, referring to the espresso machine, where the coffee comes out of the spouts (Bicas).
But the task of ordering coffee can be very complicated in Portugal. Knowing how to order the right coffee requires some knowledge! After all, we are talking about a true national institution. So let’s see:
Café: Served as an Italian espresso and a half cup.
Bica: Synonym for coffee, but used in Lisbon
Café em chávena escaldada: In this case, serve with the hot cup.
Café com gelo: Very popular in summer. The coffee is accompanied by a glass with several ice cubes.
Café corto or “Italiana”: The coffee does not reach half the cup. In this way, the taste of coffee is more concentrated.
Café duplo: Unlike the short coffee, it will be served with a full cup, in a double dose.
Meia de leite: Served in a cup of tea, it is coffee with milk.
Galão: Also a coffee with milk, but served in a glass, therefore with greater quantity.
Carioca: It is a weaker coffee. To do this, take a first coffee, and then you use the some coffee powder to do a second coffee.
Garoto: The weakest one, because it consists of milk with a little bit of coffee.
Pingado (or pingo in the north): The opposite, that is, coffee and a few drops of milk
Café com cheiro (flavour) or mata-bicho: It is the coffee served with a little bagasse, a Portuguese brandy
So, which coffee will you drink today?
If Lisboeta and Portuense are the official names of the inhabitants of Lisbon and Porto, it is like alfacinhas and tripeiros that they are known.
But why in Lisbon they are alfacinhas and in Porto tripeiros?
Lettuce is at the origin of ones and tripe at the origin of others and if the reason for being tripeiros is clear, historical and honourable, it seems that the alfacinhas is less clear, although equally historic.
One of the explanations says that the people of Lisbon are alfacinhas because, for many centuries, the hills of Lisbon were filled with this plant that was used for cooking, medicine and also for perfumery. It was the Arabs who cultivated it when they occupied this area of the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century AD.
The plant had, in Arabic, the name “Al-Hassa” which resulted in the word “Alface (lettuce)”, in Portuguese.
Another theory says that it was the inhabitants of the surrounding areas of Lisbon – whom the people of Lisbon called “saloios” – who “gave back” the nickname to the people of Lisbon, calling them “alfacinhas”, in a kind of exchange.
It’s because? Because the inhabitants of Lisbon, in the 19th century, began to adopt the habit of strolling through the saloia area, with trendy bows that looked more like lettuce around their necks.
There are also those who say that the nickname “alfacinhas” is due to the fact that Lisbon people do not move far beyond their city and therefore look like lettuce, stuck to the ground …
The nickname “tripeiros” has an origin that is not only honourable but also very patriotic and that demonstrates Invicta’s dedication to causes that involved the dignity and independence of Portugal.
In fact, the epithet was born from a great spirit of sacrifice and an enormous firmness of character from the people of Porto.
In the 15th century, King D. João I and Infante D. Henrique secretly organized the taking of Ceuta (1415) and, although they ignored the fate of all the preparations and the reason for the construction of so many vessels, at the Miragaia shipyard, the inhabitants of Porto united unconditionally to help Infante D. Henrique, born in that city and responsible for all those preparations.
And in such a way they endeavoured to help, they made a giant sacrifice!
They supplied the entire fleet with the meat they managed to find, leaving the inhabitants with only the tripe. It is a matter of honor and pride to have the name “tripeiros”.
The rivalries between Tripeiros and Alfacinhas have centuries of history.
The said that “Saints don’t do miracles at home” but matchmaker Santo António has always been well received on the streets of the capital. The northerners, on the other hand, do not exempt themselves from celebrating São João, which for its reputation as a seducer is known as the least reliable among the saints.
When you talk about parties, you talk about fun. And fun is synonymous with going out on the street… “From Ribeira to Foz” – says the song, whoever is from Porto likes to feel the night by the Douro. The “crazy people in Lisbon” turn to the Tagus and sing “I’m fine, fine, this morning in Lisbon”.
The feuds between the north and the south have already been painted, sung, spoken and written … but the biggest one is lived in the field. The true patriotism of today is seen in football and nothing better than watching a game of the eternal rivals Benfica and Porto, to realize that relations have not improved over time.
Regionalist discussions aside, there is a common point between Lisbon and Porto: all discussions end at any corner cafe drinking a beer, asking for a fino in Porto or in Lisbon for an imperial. And if in Porto, to order a coffee, you ask for a “cimbalino”, that in Lisbon sounds like Chinese. I advise you to ask for a “bica”. By the way, the cimbalino also has to do with a brand, Cimbali, of coffee machines. And bica? I’ll tell you in the next story.
He is the King known for his splendour, the Baroque era, for the construction of the wonderful palace and convent of Mafra, but also for his extramarital relations. And what is strange about a king who has lovers? In appearance nothing, aside from the fact that D João V had a preference for nuns …
Of all the lovers, the most famous was Mother Paula Silva, a young brunette, a nun at the Convent of Odivelas, for whom D. João V had built sumptuous rooms, with gilded ceilings, where she was served by nine servants. According to the book “Amantes dos Reis de Portugal”, the beds were made of canopy, covered with silver foil and surrounded by red and gold velvets, and the jars in which she urinated were made of silver.
Over the 10 years that this relationship lasted, the King gave her an annual income of 1708 $ 000 réis, but he could only go to Odivelas to have relations with the nun when the palace doctor authorized him.
In 1720, when Mother Paula was 19 years old, she gave birth to José, who was already the fourth bastard son of the Monarch.
The first had been born already after the marriage with D. Maria Ana of Austria and was son of his first girlfriend, D. Filipa de Noronha, sister of the marquis of Cascais, seduced when D. João was only 15 years old and she 22. She was a lady-in-waiting of Queen Maria Sofia of Neuburg, mother of the fiery prince. To conquer her, D. João used madly foolish means, including a promise of marriage. Wooing and jewellery offering strengthened the lady’s love, who cherished the excusable illusion of becoming queen of Portugal. One can understand her frustration when she learned of the negotiations for the union with Princess Maria Ana of Austria.
There followed the three bastards who became known as the Meninos de Palhavã (for having lived in a palace in this area of Lisbon). Before Mother Paula, on his first visits to the Odivelas Convent, the King was intime with a French nun, who gave birth to D. António, and another Portuguese nun, mother of D. Gaspar, who became archbishop of Braga. The King recognized these three of his illegitimate children in a declaration signed in 1742.
When he got tired of his visits to Paula, D. João V started going to a 17th century palace that still exists in Lisbon, on the corner of the streets of Poço dos Negros and São Bento. D. Jorge de Menezes, owner of properties in the Algarve, lived there, but the king chose to go there on the days (or nights) when he knew he was not there. With whom he was going to meet – furtively – it was with D. Luísa Clara de Portugal, the wife of D. Jorge.
But, while visiting Luísa Clara, D. João V also gallant a servant of hers. And he even appointed as diplomat to the Holy See, in Rome, a brother of the girl, a shoemaker!
And the predictable happened: Luísa Clara became pregnant during one of her husband’s absences. Dejected, D. Jorge retired to a farm in Sintra, where he would die. As for the queen, she tried – in vain – to prevent her rival from entering the parties at the Palace. The fruit of these loves was a girl, sent to the Convent of Santos.
Free from her children and her husband, Luísa Clara had time for everything, including being the lover of a half-brother of the king, bastard son of Pedro II. Furious, D. João V thought of having the bold relative castrated, and only the confessor managed to appease his wrath, evoking the pains of hell.
D. João V also got involved with a gypsy woman, Margarida do Monte, but sent her to a convent, so that she would no longer receive other lovers.
The last lover of D. João V, when he doubled the cape of the 50, would be the Italian opera singer Petronilla Basilli. To keep up with the required lyrical performance, the king started taking aphrodisiacs. And when, two years later, he turned his back on Basilli, he began to whisper that it was over. The truth is that, in the final decade of his life, the Magnânimo dedicated himself mainly to the charitable gestures that justified his epithet.
It is the king of the menu of any Portuguese restaurant, according to tradition there are 365 different recipes but the Portuguese promise that there are more than 1000. It is the star of Christmas dinners and also of Christmas Day lunch, where the remains of cod and vegetables are mixed with eggs and fried in the pan, an interesting “recycling” of the previous dinner in the traditional “old clothes”.
A real national dish! But few know that cod is actually caught thousands of kilometres from Portugal!
Worldwide appreciated, the history of cod is more than thousands years old. There are records of factories for processing cod in Iceland and Norway in the 9th century. Vikings are considered the pioneers in the discovery of the cod gadus morhua, a species that was abundant in the seas that sailed. Since they had no salt, they just dried the fish in the open air, until it lost almost a fifth of its weight and hardened like a wooden board, to be consumed in pieces on the long trips they made in the oceans.
But it is due to the Basques, people who inhabited the two sides of the Western Pyrenees, on the side of Spain and France, the cod trade. The Basques knew about salt and there are records that in the year 1000, they traded cured, salted and dry cod. Cod was a revolution in food, because at the time food spoiled due to its precarious conservation and had limited commercialisation (the refrigerator appeared in the 20th century). The method of salting and drying the food, besides guaranteeing its perfect preservation, kept all the nutrients and refined the taste. The cod meat still facilitated its salty and dry preservation, due to the extremely low fat content and the high concentration of proteins.
A product of such value has always aroused the commercial interest of countries with fishing fleets. In 1532, the control of cod fishing in Iceland triggered a conflict between the English and the Germans known as the “Cod Wars”
The Portuguese discovered cod in the 15th century, at the time of great sailing. They needed products that were not perishable, that could withstand long journeys, which sometimes took more than 3 months to cross the Atlantic.
They made attempts with several fish from the Portuguese coast, but went to find the ideal fish near the North Pole. In fact, the Portuguese were the first to go fishing for cod in Terra Nova (Canada), which was discovered in 1497. There are records that in 1508 cod corresponded to 10% of the fish traded in Portugal.
In 1596, during the reign of D. Manuel, the tithing of the Terra Nova fishery was collected at the ports of Entre Douro and Minho. They also fished for cod off the coast of Africa.
Cod was immediately incorporated into eating habits and is still one of its main traditions today.
The Catholic Church, in the Middle Ages, maintained a strict calendar in which Christians should obey fasting days, excluding meats considered “hot” from their diet. Cod was a “cold” food and its consumption was encouraged by traders on fast days. With that, it started to have a strong identification with the religiosity and culture of the Portuguese people.
Cod did not escape the propaganda of the Estado Novo, which transformed the harsh fishing struggles into a romanticised epic, in this contradiction of projecting the Portuguese people as a brave people.
Cod is called a faithful friend, as it is present in the lives of many Portuguese at important moments. This happens, as it is a fantastic ingredient that is the origin of several recipes, claiming for itself the main role.
But how to prepare cod?
After desalting the cod fillet in cold water for three days and changing the water every 5-8 hours, it can finally be boiled, grilled, sautéed, fried, baked in the oven … Bacalhau a Brás (with fries and eggs in the pan) , Bacalhau a Gomez da Sá (cooked with boiled egg and boiled potatoes and baked in the oven), Bacalhau a Nata, (in the oven mixed with french fries and cream), Bacalhau a Minhota, (fried with onions) … and all the recipes that your imagination suggests !
The Romanesque Route is a tourist and cultural route that takes us in the north of Portugal to discover an unforgettable heritage.
Composed of more than 27 programs, with durations that can last from 1 to 5 days, the route takes us through places and monuments with history and brings us memories of the Romanesque style. Three regions, three routes to discover about 60 monuments and Romanesque constructions in Portugal.
DISCOVERING THE ROMANIC DOURO: 14 monuments, among which stands the Church of São Martinho de Mouros, in Resende,
THROUGH THE TÂMEGA VALLEY: a journey through unforgettable landscapes and over 25 monuments. This route starts at the Church of São Pedro de Abragão and ends at the Church of Salvador de Fervença, passing through Amarante, Celorico de Basto, Marco de Canaveses and Penafiel.
THE CHARMS OF THE SOUSA VALLEY: on this route, composed of 16 monuments scattered across Felgueiras, Lousada, Penafiel, Paredes and Paços de Ferreira, the Monastery of Salvador Paço de Sousa stands out. It is one of the most symbolic and charismatic constructions of the Romanesque style in the North of the country. It was a donor by Count D. Henrique, father of D. Afonso Henriques (first king of Portugal), and became one of the most famous Benedictine monasteries.
The Romanesque style arrived in Portugal at the end of the 11th century, during the reign of D. Afonso Henriques, as a consequence of the Europeanisation of culture. The term “Romanesque” is thus derived from the influences of the Roman Empire, which dominated Western Europe for centuries.
With the emergence of Romanesque culture, several works began in the most diverse places in the country, namely the Monastery of Santa Cruz and the Cathedrals of Coimbra, Lisbon and Porto. This style being predominantly religious, most of these works were requested by bishops and abbots from the main national monasteries and dioceses – Braga, Coimbra, Porto, Lamego, Viseu, Lisbon and Évora.
Some of the most characteristic elements of the Romanesque style, and that a large part of the buildings ended up incorporating, were the more theatrical aspects, the wider spaces and without visual barriers – apart from the cult zones -, the longitudinal plants – in the shape of a cross – , the vaults, the few windows, archivolt arches, sculptures, stained glass, tapestries and paintings inspired by the Catholic religion – where the fresco technique was used, with bright and strong colours. These last elements were very important because, in the Middle Ages, few knew how to read and write and, thus, these paintings served as “religious literacy”.
Romanesque sculpture was used, above all, to adorn the sacred sites. Therefore, the main focus was religion. The sculptures had unnatural forms and were usually represented by figures carved on the walls of the churches.
We can find the marks of this culture all over the country, both in terms of architecture and painting and sculpture, especially in the northern and central areas.
A different way to visit Portugal, a time travel that is waiting for you!
Today we are going to talk about a typical Portuguese instrument that has been widely used in many countries such as Hawaii and Brazil: the cavaquinho. Similar to a guitar but small, with four strings, this instrument is widely used in popular music and linked to folklore.
There are currently two types of cavaquinhos in mainland Portugal, which correspond to many other areas: the Minho type and the Lisbon type.
It is undoubtedly fundamentally in Minho that the cavaquinho appears today as a typically popular species, linked to the essential forms of music characteristic of this province.
The cavaquinho is one of the favorite and most popular instruments of the Minho festivals sharing with them, and with their own musical genre, a playful and festive character which excludes other ceremonial or austere uses. Using alone, with a harmonic function and to accompany the singing, the cavaquinho often appears accompanied by the viola or other instruments – in addition to some percussion instruments such as the drum.
The dimensions of the instrument differ little from case to case, not exceeding 52 cm in total length in a common specimen. The height of the box is the least constant element – with 5 cm in most cases -, although very low cavaquinhos appear, which have a more striking sound. The cavaquinho also exists in the Portuguese islands and in other countries that had contact with Portugal at different times in its history.
Regarding its geo-cultural expansion, the cavaquinho seems to constitute a species mainly established in Minho, from where it radiated to other regions – Coimbra, Lisbon, Algarve, Madeira, Azores, Cape Verde and Brazil.
In this way, the cavaquinho will have spread in Madeira by the hand of the Minho emigrant. Far from its focus of origin and its more traditional tradition, it changes its shape by influence and association with other species there, preserving its popular character but acquiring a new higher status in the city of Funchal. It will be like this that it returns to the Continent, Algarve and Lisbon, in the hands of people from those areas who know him there only from this aspect. The same may have happened with Brazil; although it is also possible to admit the establishment of direct relations between Madeira and that country.
The cavaquinho in Brazil, appears in all regional groups of choros, emboladas, sambas, ranches, chulas, etc., with a popular but urban character.
The cavaquinho also exists in Cape Verde, in a larger format than that of its Portuguese counterpart linked to the traditional forms of local music.
In the islands of Hawaii there is an instrument similar to the cavaquinho – the «ukulele» – which seems to have been taken there by Portuguese emigrants in 1879. Like our cavaquinho, the Hawaiian «ukulele» has four strings and the same general shape .
Portuguese navigation also took the cavaquinho to Indonesia. Its local adaptation gained the name of kroncong, a name also given to a musical style influenced by fado and created in the 16th century.
And now that you know more about the history of this instrument, it’s time to enjoy your music!