By : October 29th, 2020 Stories and Legends 0 Comments

In 1514, Afonso de Albuquerque, founder of the Portuguese Empire in the East and governor of the Portuguese Indies, wanted to build a fortress in Diu, a city located in the kingdom of Cambaia, ruled by King Modofar. Afonso de Albuquerque was authorized by King D. Manuel I, to send an embassy to the king of Cambaia, requesting authorization to build the fortress. King Modofar did not give in to the request, but, appreciating the offerings received, he gave Afonso de Albuquerque a rhinoceros. As it was impossible to keep him in Goa, Afonso de Albuquerque decided to send the rhino to King D. Manuel I, as a gift.

The arrival of the animal in Lisbon caused a lot of curiosity, not only in Portugal but in the rest of Europe, mainly because of its appearance – the rhino weighed more than two tons and had a thick and rough skin forming three large folds that gave it the strange appearance of a armour. It was the first rhinoceros alive on European soil since the III century. 

The rhino, which was called Ganda, was installed in the park of the Palácio da Ribeira. Reminding the king of the Roman stories about the deadly hatred between elephants and rhinos, D. Manuel I, who had a small elephant as a pet, decided to check if this story was true. Thus, a fight was organized between the two animals, attended by the king, the queen and their chaperones, as well as many other important guests. The event was organized in the terreiro do paço, nowadays Praça do Commercio and stages were set up to watch this show.

When the two animals met face to face, the elephant, who seemed to be the most nervous, panicked and fled as soon as the rhino started to approach, destroying the stages and spreading the panic among the people.

In 1515, King D. Manuel I decided to organize a new extraordinary embassy to Rome, to guarantee the support of the Pope, following the growing successes of Portuguese navigators in the East, and with a view to consolidating the kingdom’s international prestige. Among the offers he decided to send the rhino, who wore a green velvet collar with roses and golden carnations. The ship left Lisbon in December 1515.

A violent storm arose off Genoa, the ship having sunk, the entire crew perishing. The rhino, although he knew how to swim, ended up drowning, because of the bonds. However, it was possible to recover his body. Upon hearing the news, D. Manuel I ordered the rhino to be stuffed and sent to the Pope, as if nothing had happened. But this animal was not as successful with the Pope as the elephant had previously done!

In Portugal the rhinoceros was immortalized, being represented in the Monastery of Alcobaça, where there is a naturalistic representation of the full-body animal, with the function of a gargoyle, in the Silence Cloister. It was also designed by the great printing master Albrecht Dürer, based on a letter from a Portuguese merchant that contained a drawing of the rhino.

And a small rhinoceros is also immortalized in the Belém tower. Where? You come with me to visit it and we will discover it.

By : October 26th, 2020 Handicraft 0 Comments

The origin of the filigree dates back to the third millennium BC in Mesopotamia. The oldest pieces date back to 2500 BC and were discovered in the, today, Iraq. Other pieces, discovered in Syria, date from approximately 2100 B.C.

It arrived in Europe via trade routes in the Mediterranean Sea, where it became relatively popular in the Greek and Roman civilizations. The oldest discoveries of filigree jewellery were made in modern Italy and are estimated to be from the 18th century. However, the filigree continued its journey and crossed borders to India and China. In the Far East, it was used mainly as a decorative element and not as jewellery.

But how does filigree differ from other jewellery arts?

In the way different fine threads draw patterns and are welded together in order to create a much larger piece. No other jewellery art uses a similar fusion technique to join gold threads. Today – as thousands of years ago – the different threads that make up each piece come together only by heat, without resorting to any other material or alloy.

The oldest filigree pieces discovered in the Iberian Peninsula date back to 2000 – 2500 BC, but their origin is unclear. Possibly, these pieces belonged to traders or navigators originating in the Middle East and were not manufactured here.

Only during the rule of the Romans, during the century. II BC, began to exist in the Peninsula.

But only thousands of years later, in the century. VIII, we were able to ensure with certainty that the filigree was being developed and produced in Portugal. It was with the arrival of Arab peoples that new patterns emerged and that, little by little, the filigree of the Peninsula began to differentiate itself from the filigree of other parts of the world.

The Portuguese filigree mostly represents nature, religion and love:

– the sea is represented with fish, shells, waves and boats;

– nature is the inspiration of flowers, clovers and wreaths;

  • with religious motifs, we find crosses, like the Maltese cross, and reliquaries. 
  • love, of course, is the inspiration of all hearts in filigree.

Other iconic symbols of Portuguese filigree:

– The heart of Viana: a symbol of dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Queen Maria I was the one who, thankful for the “blessing” of having been given a male son, ordered a heart to be executed in gold.

Over time, the heart started to be related to “profane love”, a symbol of the connection between two human beings. It became so popular that the cornucopias and the lines of Coração de Viana began to be reproduced on handkerchiefs and embroidered on all types of fabrics. Eventually, this brought the recognition and popularity of Coração de Viana to the present day.

– Queen’s earrings: it is almost unanimous that queen earrings appeared in Portugal during the reign of Queen D. Maria I (1734 – 1816). The origin of the name, this, seems to go back to the reign of D. Maria II (1819 – 1853), who wore a pair of these earrings on a visit to Viana do Castelo in 1852. After this visit, they became popular as a symbol of wealth and status and won the name “queen earrings”.

– The arrecadas: they started being the earrings of the most humble population and that the most privileged classes started to imitate. At its origin were the Castrejas stonework, inspired by the quarter moon.

Today, filigree manufacturing in Portugal is mainly concentrated in the areas of Gondomar and Póvoa do Lanhoso. The proximity of the raw material – coming, for example, from the mountains of Pias and Banjas – made the region one of the most notable nuclei of the Portuguese jewellery. Even today, in 2018, Gondomar is responsible for 60% of the national jewellery production.

A curiosity: Portuguese gold is 19.2 carats (pure gold is 24).

By : October 23rd, 2020 Personalities 0 Comments

Today we are talking about one of the most disputed saints in history, a saint who for Italians is undoubtedly Saint Anthony of Padua. But be careful to say it here in Lisbon! Here is Saint Anthony of Lisbon. During my tours, I invite my tourists to do a little experiment: look for Santo Antonio on wikipedia. Try and you will see that, if in all languages ​​it is Saint Anthony of Padua, in Portuguese it is Saint Anthony of Lisbon. But then, what is the truth?

He is one of the most loved saints in Christianity, yet Saint Anthony of Padua, as he is known today, has always carried with him this curious controversy linked to his name.

To be fair, it must be said that Antonio lived in Padua for just 3 years, the last of his adventurous life. Fernando Martins de Bulhões – this is his real name – was born into a wealthy family in 1195 in Lisbon; at the time the city had returned to Christianity from about 40 years, after Alfonso Henriques stole it from the Moors thus becoming the first king of Portugal. The father Martinho, a knight of the king, lived with his family in a house near the Lisbon Cathedral, where Fernando was baptized.

In 1210, at the age of just fifteen, he entered the Order of Augustinians at the Abbey of St. Vincent in Lisbon. After about 2 years he was transferred to the Convent of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, he remained there for about 8 years, during which he studied theology assiduously. In 1219 the beheaded bodies of 5 friars sent by Francis of Assisi to Morocco arrived at the convent with the task of converting Muslims. Fernando was so shocked by the incident that he decided to leave the Augustinians to join the Franciscan Order. He therefore chose to change his first name to Anthony, and to leave as a missionary himself.

Antonio embarked for Morocco in the autumn of 1220. However, upon arriving in Africa, he contracted a tropical fever that forced him to return to Europe. But on the return voyage towards the Iberian Peninsula, the ship encountered a fierce storm that diverted its course towards the Mediterranean.

The boat was wrecked in Sicily. Here, Antonio found refuge in the Franciscan convent of Messina, where he learned of the fact that in May of that year (1221) Francis had convened the elective and legislative assembly of the friars of the Order. After a long journey, Antonio arrived in Assisi where he personally met the future patron saint of Italy. Antonio received the order to preach and from there he left for a new conversion mission, this time to northern Italy, and at the end of 1224 he moved to southern France.

After spending 2 years in France, Antonio returned to Italy in 1226 when he learned of Francis’ death. His sermons began to be followed by fools of people, and they did not even stop when, he exhausted by the continuous travels and long fasts to which he underwent, he became ill enough to be forced to be carried in his arms to the pulpit. He died on June 13, 1231, at the age of 36.

Thanks to the fame he gained, from the day of the funeral his tomb became a pilgrimage destination for thousands of devotees who paraded in front of the sarcophagus day and night asking for graces and healings. So many miracles were attributed to his intercession that the Bishop of Padua “by popular acclaim” had to submit them to the judgment of Pope Gregory IX. In June 1232, exactly one year after his death, Antonio was named Saint with “53 approved miracles” and the denomination of Saint Anthony of Padua. That same year, construction work began on the Basilica intended to preserve the remains in the Venetian capital and which today receives millions of visitors every year.

And the Lisboets, your fellow citizens? They still have to be satisfied with a fragment of bone from the left arm, granted by the Paduan Franciscans and kept in the crypt of the humbler, but equally beautiful, Church of Santo António de Lisboa, which stands a few steps from the Cathedral in the exact place where, as the legend, there was the house of his parents.

On the other hand, the largest popular festival in the city is dedicated to the saint, the famous Night of St. Anthony which every year between 12 and 13 June (anniversary of his death) fills all the neighbourhoods with marches, songs, dances and the characteristic scent of sardines, grilled and eaten outdoors. But we will talk about this another time.

By : October 20th, 2020 Personalities 0 Comments

Maria Severa is, perhaps, the first fadista icon in Portugal.

She was baptized on September 12, 1820 in Paróquia dos Anjos, which is why some people say that she was born in Mouraria, where in fact, in Rua do Capelão, she lived part of her life, and where she died. But the most believed theory is that she was born in Madragoa where her mother, Barbuda (so called because she had a beard that forced her to cut her often and cover her with a scarf), a famous and feared prostitute of the  Mouraria that had a tavern on Rua da Madragoa.

Then Severa beat fado with Manozinho, the oldest fado singer on that place, and Mesquita, a fado singer who was also sailor.

She lived only 26 years – from 1820 to 1846 -, but Maria Severa Onofriana, revolutionized the Lisbon of her time, and great was her fame in life and even more after her death.

The writer Júlio Dantas was responsible for this aura of fame for his novel and, later, for the play “A Severa”, which later Leitão de Barros adapted to the cinema, having been the first Portuguese sound film. Starring Dina Tereza, the film premiered in June 1931 at Teatro S. Luiz, where it was on stage for six months and was seen by 200,000 viewers.

The character of the novel, from which the myth of Severa was built, does not fully correspond to the real life of the singer who was, among others, a lover of the last Count of Vimioso. The actress Palmira Bastos who came to embody the character of Severa on stage stated that she was “the Portuguese lady of the camellias”.

Maria Severa was distinguished by the “quarrelsome” character she had inherited from her mother, but essentially by her voice and the way she sang, in addition to her slender figure. She was “tall, thin but not too thin, opulent breast, very white skin, black eyes, a lot of black hair, heavy eyebrows, very small red mouth, beautiful teeth, thin waist and small foot”, as described by a contemporary.

The painter Francisco Metrass (1825-1861) still sketched her portrait, without ever finishing it.

Severa lived in the full advent of liberalism when the end of the Old Absolute Regime began to be felt.

Her contemporaries say that they left memories written about Severa, who besides singing fado, accompanied herself, on a tuning guitar, and even wrote the poems she sang.

A companion of her, Manuel Botas, describes her peculiar way of singing: “Sometimes she kept herself melancholy, in those moments she sang with such a feeling that she made a deep impression on us”.

Severa, of which there is no voice record, is said to have been the first person to sing fados in the street and raise her problems representing the people, and the reason why fado has spread to the level of national entity that today is.

She had several well-known lovers, among them the Count of Vimioso (D. Francisco de Paula de Portugal and Castro) who, according to legend, was bewitched by the way she sang and played the guitar, often taking her to the bullfight. It provided him with a great celebrity and naturally allowed Severa greater prestige and a greater number of opportunities to show off to an audience of young people from the Portuguese social and intellectual elite.

But the social difference was never going to allow a marriage between the both and, the story says, this caused the death of Severa who died from a broken heart. She actually died poor and abandoned, of tuberculosis, in a miserable brothel on Rua do Capelão, on November 30, 1846.

Her last words are said to have been: “I die without ever having lived” – She was 26 years old.

By : October 17th, 2020 Gastronomy 0 Comments

The history of the Ovos moles (Soft Eggs) has a conventual origin in the 16th century. It was in the Convent of Jesus in Aveiro that this typical sweet was first prepared. While egg whites were used for household chores – for ironing clothes, for example -, yolks were not known for use. Until the day they added sugar!

Sugar cane was brought to Portugal by the Arabs in the 8th century and soon they started to try to plant it. However, it was only after a few centuries that they discovered that the ideal place to do it was the island of Madeira. Of this production, a part went directly to the royal house, which in turn distributed another part as alms to various institutions and convents.

Very good confectioners, the nuns of the convent quickly created a delicious egg dessert that would later result in the Aveiro Ovos moles.

The Soft Eggs are served in an host, due to the conventual influence, in forms that refer to the city of Aveiro and its fishing tradition and proximity to the sea – fish, shells. But they are also presented in small hand-painted barrels.

Since the implementation of the Porto-Lisbon railway line, the sale of soft eggs at the train stop at Aveiro station has traditionally been carried out by women dressed in regional costumes. The sweet is traditionally sold in wooden barrels painted externally with moliceiro boats and other motifs of the Ria de Aveiro.

Eça de Queiroz at Os Maias was referring to the Ovos Moles of Aveiro!

In the capital, this delicacy also has a prominent place – The Casa dos Ovos Moles in Lisbon. In wafers or in casks decorated with rigor, the Soft Eggs are part of a list of conventual sweets that are served here with all the tradition and where the eggs are kings. Fidalgo, Trouxas de Ovos, Celestes ou Toucinho do Céu accompanied by a Ginjinha, a Port Wine or a Moscatel.

And how to make soft eggs? Just take a look at the recipe below…

Ingredients: (24 units)

12 eggs-yolk

12 tablespoons of sugar

12 tablespoons of water

4 wafer sheets with molds

White-egg to seal the leaves


Place the egg yolks, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the heat, stirring constantly until the cream thickens. Allow to cool.

Pour small portions of the egg cream, already cold, into 2 sheets of wafer (leave a little cream to spread the other leaves). With a knife, spread the cream well, in order to fill the spaces between the moulds.

Bar the moulds of the other wafer sheets and place them on top of the previous ones.

Cut out the wafer moulds already filled.

Wet your thumb and forefinger in clear to bring the edges together. Cut the shavings from the moulds and you will have your Aveiro soft eggs ready.

Now just put it into practice! Enjoy!

By : October 14th, 2020 Handicraft, Traditions 0 Comments

The Minho region, in the north of Portugal, is known for the quality of its embroidery, so it is not surprising that it was the place where the tradition of the Valentine’s Handkerchief began.

It is said that in the past, Minho girls of marriageable age used to embroider their trousseau, but between one piece and the other, they secretly embroidered a small square, usually with love verses and some drawings.

This Handkerchief was kept with her until she had the opportunity to get him to the boy she loved. This usually happened at Sunday Masses, when she “absentmindedly” dropped him next to the boy. After embroidery, the scarf was given to the boyfriend and the fact that he used it publicly or not, that the courtship was decided. If he accepted, he would put the scarf over his Sunday coat, put it around his neck with the knot facing forward, wear it on the brim of his hat.

Otherwise, the scarf would return to the girl’s hands. If by chance, he accepted, but later changed his partner, he brought the scarf, and other objects that belonged to him, such as photographs, letters, to his former intended.

The scarves represent the girl’s feeling towards the boy, in which she writes small verses of love, or symbols.

The peak of this practice was between 1850 and 1950, especially in the cities of Viana do Castelo, Guimarães, Vila Verde, Telões and Aboim da Nóbrega. The writing was marked by spelling errors, since, for the most part, the girls who embroidered them were from humble families and with few studies.

Today the valentine’s scarf has become a funny souvenir and some older ones, when not family heirlooms, are on display in museums.

Basically the Valentine’s Handkerchief is a handkerchief made from a fine linen cloth or cotton scarf, embroidered with various motifs.

We often notice spelling errors in these handkerchiefs, which denounce the lack of education at the time.

Being embroidered with a cross stitch, these handkerchiefs were very laborious and time consuming, forcing the “embroiderer” to be very patient and careful in making them. Over time, other types of stitches that were easier and faster to embroider have been adopted. With this change the initial decoration of the scarves changes, the original colours of black and red, will give rise to a series of other colours and other decorative motifs. However, the main objective is never lost.

It is believed that it was from these handkerchiefs that the much larger Wedding Handkerchiefs appeared later on, that the bride wore on her head, or that wrapped the bouquet, as well as the pouches worn at the waist embroidered with beads and velvet ribbons.

Fortunately, this heritage has not been forgotten and, today, it remains one of the symbols of Portuguese culture and tradition.

By : October 11th, 2020 Gastronomy 0 Comments

The Portuguese cuisine has countless gastronomic treasures, but, in my opinion, one of the most delicious is the Francesinha in  Porto style.

This typical dish from the city of Porto consists of a sandwich that can be made in different ways, but which normally consists of two slices of bread, fresh different sausage, beef steak and ham.

On top of this delight for the heart, there is a cover almost entirely made with cheese that, in the oven, is melted

But the sauce is certainly its most important component, we would even say: Francesinha’s soul! There are several variants of the sauce, but usually, at least tomatoes, beer and chilli are used. As Francesinha’s secret is in the sauce, there are numerous variants, such as, for example, seafood sauce, liqueurs, Port wine, whiskey or various spices.

The icing on the cake is the fried egg on top of this tower of bread, meat and cheese. In addition, there are french fries and very fresh beer.

But what is the story of this dish so good for our taste (and a little less for our cholesterol)?

Francesinha is as traditional dish emblematic and popular, from a city remarkable as Porto, so it is natural that different stories arise around the history of the famous Porto snack.

Some argue that the author of this creation was Daniel David Silva who, after having emigrated to France, made a national product, based on all the influences of the Parisian city, inspired in particular by croque-monsieur or madame (with egg on the top).

In 1953, approximately, Francesinha appeared in the restaurant A Regaleira, located on Rua do Bonjardim in Porto. The establishment advertises that the remarkable snack was created in its space.

The legend that remains for the story is that the name “Francesinha” is due to this being a snack with piri-piri and, therefore, spicy, a characteristic that Daniel David Silva would relate to French women, for him the more “spicy” .

Francesinha’s success is such that it is easy to be tempted to put the name “Francesinha” to the most varied inventions: with different types of meat, with shrimp, vegetarians, among others. Thus, there is diversity and, although some variants can be considered legitimate, others should be considered a true heresy and blasphemy.

I defend the classic one, mandatory meal for me when I stay in Porto. And you? When are you coming to visit Porto with me and try a francesinha?

By : October 8th, 2020 Traditions 0 Comments

Our post today takes us to the city of Aveiro, in the center of Portugal, also known as the Portuguese Venice for its canals and for its very special “gondola”: the moliceiros.

As Italian, I understand the similarities between the two cities but I think that the moliceiros, for their history and tradition, deserve a place beyond their comparison with the Venetian gondolas. And let’s find out why.

The Moliceiro, as its name indicates, was a work boat used to collect the moliço, an aquatic algae used to fertilize the agricultural land of almost the entire region of Aveiro. Its resource predominated from Ovar to Mira, varying its dimensions depending on the area navigated.

At the risk of disappearing due to the almost extinction of the use of the moliço, the moliceiro was recently preserved. Reinvented as a cultural symbol of the Aveiro estuary, it is now guided by the tourist sector.

It is in Murtosa that these creations are born. On average, it takes about 25 days and 2 men to build a moliceiro. It is essentially built in wood of pine and maritime pine, a predominant species in the region of Aveiro. Its average life span is 7 years.

There are currently very few shipbuilders dedicated to the construction of moliceiros.

The moliceiro boat is about 15 meters long and 2.5 meters wide. Its low edge facilitated the loading of the moliço, but it is its elegant bow and aft that, with its paintings, distinguish it from other Portuguese vessels. They are decorated with paintings that address themes that change with the times. These motives are due to the socio-cultural transitions in the History of Portugal.

The moliceiros’ paintings are always composed of text and image. They started out as a kind of the Ria of Aveiro newspaper, a platform for expressing opinion and events among the people of Ovar, Murtosa, São Jacinto, Ílhavo, Mira… What was happening in these places was represented in these paintings. They were and are a form of communication that reports the news, pays homage to dear figures or lampoons unwanted others.

In the past, it was the shipbuilder himself who painted moliceiros. Then, for savings money, the owners started to do it. Currently, it is a work commissioned to artists in the region who strive to preserve this tradition.

The various topics covered cover religious, burlesque, social, historical and recreational content, depending on the current situation and media coverage. The works and lives of those involved in the boats, public institutions and figures, parties and ceremonies, the discoveries, the military are commented… The most recent paintings speak, for example, of football teams and players, of fado, of politics, the European Union, Big Brother or the economic crisis … Nothing escapes the critical view of a moliceiro painter!

So here’s the tip: when you visit Aveiro, put a moliceiro trip on the program, to discover the city from a different point of view. A 45-minute ride for two people costs between 20 and 30 euros. And if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, don’t miss the chance to go and see moliceiros nearby to discover their interesting paintings.

By : October 5th, 2020 History, Kings and Queens 0 Comments

Son of Dona Maria II and D Fernando II, D. Pedro V had a careful moral and intellectual education, studying among other disciplines, natural sciences, philosophy, writing and languages. From an early age he showed remarkable intelligence: at the age of two he spoke German and French and at the age of twelve he mastered Greek and Latin, and he also knew English.

He traveled to several countries and tried to bring to Portugal the modernity and evolution he found in these trips, he was liberal and innovative but also charitable and concerned with his people. He inaugurated the first telegraph in Portugal and also the railroad between Lisbon and Carregado and was called “O rei Santo” the king saint because he refused to leave Lisbon during the cholera and yellow fever epidemics from 1853 to 1857 where he provided direct assistance to the victims and created the D. Pedro V asylum to welcome the orphans, giving them primary education and teaching them a trade.

D. Pedro V had no great matrimonial interests, refusing his first promised wife but finally accepting his second, Estefânia de Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

In April 1858, King D. Pedro V and Queen D. Estefânia were married by Proxy, but they only met a month later.

The wedding took place on May 18, 1858, at the church of São Domingos, in Lisbon. The entire city was ready to host the event.

In order to please his future wife, D. Pedro V ordered to make one of the most expensive jewels in the Portuguese Crown in his name and specifically for his wedding. A diadem with more than 4,000 diamonds and it is here, that according to the people, the misfortune of this love story begins.

At the time, diamonds should not be used by virgin women at the wedding and as if that was not an omen, the jewel was so heavy that it made an open wound on the Queen’s forehead. When they left their marriage with blood running down the people dictated their sentence: “Oh poor… she will die! 

However, for D Pedro V, after meeting D. Estefânia, everything changed: the couple seemed in love, they walked hand in hand through the gardens of Sintra and Benfica.

But the queen needed to get pregnant. A year after the wedding, the queen felt bad and was hospitalized. At just 22 years of age, the queen died of diphtheria that was contracted at a railroad inauguration in Alentejo.

The husband stayed at the head of her bed, without sleeping, for two whole days. The doctors of the royal house performed an autopsy, but its result was not made public until 50 years later in an article by the famous doctor Ricardo Jorge: the queen died virgin!

On the day of the funeral, Estefânia took with her the precious jewel that on arrival at the place was exchanged for a crown of orange flowers … the jewel, worth 86,953,645 reis, was never seen again.

D. Pedro, sad with the loss of his great love, died on November 11, 1861, at the age of 24. He died of typhoid fever, which he contracted from drinking contaminated water during a hunt.

By : October 3rd, 2020 Places and Monuments, Stories and Legends 0 Comments

The Church of São Domingos, a baroque church located in the historic center of Lisbon, next to Praça do Rossio, dates from the 13th century and, in addition to being an important church because royal weddings were celebrated here, is also the protagonist of a history that still makes us shiver today.

The first stone of the Church of São Domingos was laid in 1241, and since then, it has undergone successive restoration and expansion campaigns.

The architectural style of the Church of São Domingos is a mixture of the different periods and influences that shaped it, including in 1748, with the reform implemented by Frederico Ludovice to the chancel, as well as the subsequent reconstruction work by Manuel Caetano Sousa and the reconstruction works that took place after the great fire of 1959. Of the various elements that constitute it, the Mannerists and Baroque stand out.

This Baroque church is classified as a National Monument. It contains mannerist features, with a single nave in a Latin cross, a prominent transept, a rectangular chancel, a circular crypt, a cloister and a sacristy. The exterior is characterized by the simplicity of lines and the interior is rich and eclectic, highlighting its large columns, marble and tiles.

But it is a story that happened here more than 500 years ago that has marked the history of this church forever.

It was in the Church of São Domingos that one of the darkest episodes in Lisbon’s history began: the massacre of the city’s Jews in 1506.

On April 19, 1506, the faithful filled the church, calling for an end to the drought and plague, when a light entered the church and someone said they saw the face of Christ illuminated. Soon everyone started shouting that it was a miracle. In the midst of this, there was a dissenting voice: a new Christian, that is, a Jew who was forced to convert, tried to argue that it was just a physical phenomenon, caused by the reflection of light. Enraged, the crowd turned on him and beat him to death.

It was the beginning of three days of slaughter in the city of Lisbon. The story goes that the Dominican friars cried out against the Jews and urged the people to kill the “heretics”. Many people had already left the city because of the plague, but those who stayed, to which were joined many passing sailors – “of ships from Holland, Zealand, Germany and other place”, wrote Damião de Góis -, did not spare the Jews who crossed their path. Men, women and children were tortured, massacred and burned at the stake, many of them right there near the Church of São Domingos. Between 2,000 and 4,000 Jews are said to have died.

Damião de Góis wrote: “And since they were unable to find new Christians on the streets, they went to rob the houses where they lived and dragged them to the streets, with their sons, women and daughters, and threw them into the mix, alive and dead, at the campfires, without mercy. ”

25 years later, in 1531, a terrible earthquake damaged the church, that was restaured. In 1755, the great Lisbon earthquake damaged the church once again and badly. And it was not the last tragedy. A fire occurred on August 13, 1959.

When the church was rebuilt (it reopened in 1994), it was decided to leave the marks of what had happened. Today the burned walls remind us of the story of the massacre of 1506 – as if the words of hatred of the Dominican friars and the sound of the angry mob and the screams of the Jews still echoed.