By : November 28th, 2020 Places and Monuments 0 Comments

Located 30 km northwest of Lisbon, the Palace was built in 1711 on the initiative of King D. João V and conceived as a representation of the monarchy and the State. This impressive quadrangular building includes the Palaces of the King and Queen, the Basilica in Italian Baroque style, the Franciscan Convent and the Library with 36,000 volumes. The monumental ensemble also includes Jardim do Cerco in geometric composition and Tapada. The Real Edifício de Mafra is one of the most admirable works carried out by King João V, which illustrates the power and reach of the Portuguese Empire. João V adopted architectural and artistic models in the Italian Baroque style and commissioned works of art that make Mafra an exceptional example of this style of architecture.

Its construction work began in 1717 on the initiative of King D. João V, due to a promise he had made in the name of the descendants that he would obtain from Queen D. Ana Ana of Austria.

The building designed by the main architect of the kingdom, João Frederico Ludovice, occupies an area of ​​approximately four hectares (37,790 m²). Built in abundant limestone in the region of Mafra, it consists of 1,200 rooms, more than 4,700 doors and windows, 156 staircases and 29 patios and foyers.

Due to real will, the initial project of a convent for 13 friars was successively extended to 40, 80 and finally 300 friars, a Basilica and a Royal Palace.

The monumental ensemble of Mafra, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, is an extraordinary example of Portuguese art and architecture and a truly magnificent work.

Since the choice of the architect (Johann Friedrich Ludwig, known as Ludovice, trained in Rome), the project has established itself as an international affirmation of the Portuguese reigning house. The monarch’s continued fascination with Rome led him to hire important artists for Mafra, who thus became one of the most relevant places in Italian Baroque outside Italy.

At the time of the consecration of the Basilica, on October 22, 1730, the king’s birthday, the ensemble was not yet completed, not all works of art had arrived, but the plan was long outlined: a Royal Palace endowed with two turrets that, functioning independently, were the chambers of the royal couple; a Basilica decorated with statues of the best Roman artists and with an unusual set of French and Italian vestments unparalleled in the country; two towers on the façade that house two chimes ordered to be built in Flanders and which constitute a unique bell heritage in the world; a Library consisting of works of great scientific interest and of the few that foresaw the incorporation of “prohibited books”, as well as a bibliographic collection from the 15th to the 19th centuries.

Considered one of the most beautiful in the world, this library was born in the reign of D. João V, the king who privileged culture and knowledge.

The largest room in the Mafra convent is lined with more than 40,000 books, arranged and lined up in Rococo style shelves. Bindings in leather, engraved in gold. Numerous works were commissioned by D. João V, because the king wanted to concentrate on this palace, which was very special to him, which was best printed in the kingdom and abroad.

The 88-meter-long library and a cross-plant has a little bit of everything: works of medicine, philosophy, literature, law, grammars and dictionaries, encyclopedias, travel books. In the southernmost wing are the religious themes, and to the north, on the opposite side, are the profane of the pure sciences. Unique or very rare copies are handled with care, as is the case with the first edition of the Qur’an in 1543, the polyglot Bible of 1514 or even a first edition of “Os Lusíadas”.

The preservation of these ancient works, on the other hand, is in charge of an army of tiny bats that, during the night, hunt for insects that eat paper, ink and glue.

The Palace continued to perform the functions of Paço Real until the end of the monarchy, and it was in Mafra that D. Manuel II, the last king of Portugal, spent the night before embarking for exile. The Convent was extinguished in 1834 and, since then, has hosted several military units that constitute, in itself, another chapter in the history of this group, as they are linked to the great military clashes in which Portugal participated and to the very memory of the Portuguese army.

The life of Corte in the Mafra Palace at the time of D. João V was relatively scarce, since the King became seriously ill in 1742 and died in 1750.

His son D. José I maintained the habit of coming to Mafra, almost always to hunt in Tapada. But, since the 1755 earthquake he did not like to live in stone buildings, the entire Royal Family settled in a tent built next to the Palace.

In the reign of D. Maria I, the court’s visits to Mafra were related to the celebration of religious festivals or to the Queen’s taste for riding horses in Tapada, a habit she maintained until she became ill in 1792.

Originally decorated with Flemish tapestries and oriental rugs, the Palace will undergo a profound modification by the will of D. João VI, still Prince Regent, who orders a mural decoration campaign in several rooms.

Here the entire Court settled in 1806/1807, in the troubled time that preceded the French Invasions. The need to make the large spaces of the Palace more habitable also led to the division of some of the large spaces into smaller rooms, divided by wooden panels of Brazil “richly painted”.

The departure of the Royal Family to Brazil, on November 27, 1807, days before the arrival of the French troops in Lisbon, resulted in the impoverishment of much of the Palace filling, transported to the colony for the service of the Royal House and there having been left when the Court returned to Portugal in June 1821.

In December 1807, the French troops took up residence in the Palace and, a few months later, were replaced by a small fraction of the English army that remained here until March 1828.

After the troubled period of Liberal Struggles, in the reign of D. Maria II, the Court resumed the habit of returning to Mafra. Her husband, D. Fernando, a true pioneer in the defence of national heritage, carried out several recovery works at the Real Edifício.

The building has an imposing monumental presence, the result of its exceptional architectural project, particularly the central part, the Basilica, and a careful choice of materials and decorative elements, which provided it with an almost unique splendour in the Europe of its day: polychromatic marbles from different origins; the remarkable group of sculptures in the Church’s portico – the largest of its kind in the world, with 58 marble statues commissioned from the main Roman sculptors of their time; the two chimes, each with 48 bells, from Antwerp; the exclusive grouping of six organs, with its own repertoire, designed and built for the same space, between 1792 and 1807; the Parque de Caça Real, a vast, walled enclosure with a perimeter of 21 km, surrounding agricultural and forest land, which today is an important genetic reserve boasting a biogenetic diversity and variety of species, the result of the considerable amount of work that has been invested in its management.

In the palace, you can visit the pharmacy, with beautiful medicine jars and some surgical instruments, the hospital, with sixteen private cubicles from which patients could see and hear mass in the adjacent chapel, without leaving their beds. Upstairs, the palace’s sumptuous rooms extend the entire length of the western façade, with the king’s rooms at one end and the queen’s rooms at the other, 232 m apart, separated by a hallway that is the largest in Europe.

In the center, the imposing façade is enhanced by the towers of the basilica covered with a dome. The interior of the basilica is lined with marble and equipped with six organs from the early 19th century, with an exclusive repertoire that cannot be played anywhere else in the world. The basilica’s atrium is decorated with beautiful Italian sculptures. There was also the Mafra Sculpture School, created by D. José in 1754, there were many Portuguese and foreign artists who studied there under the guidance of the Italian sculptor Alessandro Giusti.

And if the art exhibited here is not enough, the palace of Mafra is also linked to a literary work by the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner, José Saramago. Memorial do convento, a work known internationally, where the writer crosses history, fiction and fantastico, with invented characters and historical figures with the scenario of the construction of the Convent of Mafra.

By : November 25th, 2020 Gastronomy 0 Comments

We cannot speak of Portuguese gastronomy without mentioning sausages. From chorizo ​​to black pudding, through farinheira, no one refuses a good sausage.

But among the various sausages, there are two that we can find only in Portugal: the alheira and the farinheira. The difference with the other sausages is in the fact that, when they were invented, these two sausages were produced without pork. Nowadays the original recipe is not always respected, but in its origin the farinheira was prepared with flour, wine and spices and the alheira with game or poultry meat, bread and spices.

But what is the origin of the idea of ​​producing a chorizo ​​without pork?

The story begins in 1492, when Fernando de Aragão and his wife, Queen Isabel of Castile, conquered the last Moorish bastion of the Iberian Peninsula – Granada – and invaded the Alhambra Palace. Profound Catholics, kings believed that practicing Jews could encourage those who converted to Christianity to return to their original religion. They hired interrogators to pursue Jews in their kingdom: we are talking about the Spanish Inquisition.

Faced with the Spanish Inquisition, Spanish Jews fled to Portugal, where King D. João II gave him hospitality until the 16th century. At the time of the Great Navigations, the Jews played an important role in the discoveries in Portugal, collaborating with the opening of new maritime and commercial routes.

This was the main reason for D. João II to allow refugees to enter in the Portuguese territory. The number surpassed 120 thousand people, according to the official site of the country’s Jewish Network. Some went to stay and others used Portugal as a transit.

With nowhere to go, the Jews of the Iberian peninsula found a way to circumvent the punishments of kings by pretending to be Christians. Thus, they participated in the Masses, discussed excerpts from the Bible and wrote their texts in Hebrew, never in Aramaic. From 1496, Portuguese Jews were also forced to convert or, alternatively, to leave the country. For the next ten years, more conservative citizens killed Jews daily. In 1536, the Inquisition formally arrived in Portugal and both Jews and converted Jews (the so-called New Christians) were captured and burned alive on the pyre, in front of a sea of ​​people, in Rossio.

Jews began to hide and form communities in which they pretended to be Christians: they wrote in Hebrew and pretended Catholic rituals so as not to arouse suspicion.

But in Trás-os-Montes, the disguise was more original.

One of the main ways that members of the Inquisition had to discover fugitives was to understand whether they ate pork or not – because the Jewish religion forbids their consumption. In Mirandela, 426 km from Lisbon, it was common for families to leave bunches of pork sausages outdoors and, thus, it was easy to identify “foreigners”. The Jews then created a “sausage” made with bread and chicken, which looked like the traditional pork sausage, the alheira, which deceived royal officials for many years.

The original recipes demand many pieces of bread, because it was the way found by the Jews to give consistency to the sausage. Inside it were beef, chicken, rabbit, turkey or duck. Then, when the inquisition ended, the alternative sausage would have fallen in the use of the Iberian Christians themselves, who started to eat it and incorporated it into typical dishes – today, it is considered one of the seven gastronomic wonders of Portugal.

And from the Trás-os-Montes mountains it spread to the rest of the country.

Nowadays, the alheira is served with french fries, rice and a fried egg on top.

By : November 22nd, 2020 Places and Monuments 0 Comments

Known for its snow-covered slopes and the Tower that shows the highest point in mainland Portugal, the Serra da Estrela is one of the national ex-libris. Along the Natural Park, there are countless places of unforgettable beauty to discover in all seasons.

The first impact of Serra da Estrela is immensity. With close to 90 thousand hectares of territory classified as a Natural Park, the mountain hides secrets from the glacial era, lagoons and a varied mosaic of landscape and biodiversity.

Given its altitude – 1993 meters above sea level – Serra da Estrela concentrates mountain species that are unique in mainland Portugal. The wealth of fauna and flora in the region earned it, in addition to its classification as a Natural Park, recognition by the Council of Europe as a Biogenetic Reserve.

In winter, the geological edges of the mountain range soften in layers of snow. In spring, nature calls for a more varied range of coulors and mountain vegetation is at its peak. In summer, the numerous lagoons and dams invite you to take a dip. And in the fall, the golden and browns give this mountain another beauty. Mountain charms are available all year round and there is something different to enjoy every season.

South of the mountain, Covilhã is one of the most important entrances in Estrela. Further north, you can start the tour through Guarda or Celorico da Beira. To the west, the main options are Oliveira do Hospital, Gouveia or Seia. The latter offers you a sample of local hospitality and a visit to CISE – Serra da Estrela Interpretation Center, to learn more about the environmental heritage of the Natural Park.

Among the places you can visit in the Serra:

– Nossa Senhora do Desterro. On the two banks of the river Alva, a group of 10 small chapels (17th to 19th centuries) make up the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora do Desterro. The calm waters of the river are protected by the treetops and give rise to one of the most sought-after river beaches in the region, the “Dr. Pedro”. Nearby you can also visit the Senhora do Desterro Power Station (one of the first hydroelectric power place in Portugal, which today houses the Natural Electricity Museum) and the “Cabeça da Velha”, a stone with a curious human physiognomy.

– Vale do Rossim: It was one of the finalists of the seven national wonders with regard to lagoon and reservoir beaches. It is about 1300 meters high, being considered the highest beach in Portugal. Every summer, the inhabitants of the municipalities that come together here (Gouveia, Seia and Manteigas) head to the Rossim Valley reservoir to extend the beach towel and go to baths: clear waters as far as the eye can see, framed by granite blocks and vegetation around.

– Manteigas: In the middle of the glacial valley of the Zêzere, this picturesque village is gracefully embedded in the slopes of the region. Small in size, but with a long history linked to the textile tradition (which is now reborn with the revival of burel, a 100% wool fabric, typical of the region), it is worth visiting the old manor in the center of the village (Casa das Obras ), the small chapels that mark the built landscape and the spa with waters reaching 42.8ºC. In the sky, it is common to see birds of prey.

– Poço do Inferno: It is one of the most visited spots in Serra da Estrela. A 10 meter waterfall, with good access (but hidden enough to be also a reserved, peaceful and romantic place) and surrounded by areas of dense forest, which invite you to visit.

– Covão d’Ametade: It seems out of a cinematic scenario and the truth is that, on top of the bridge that rises over the Zêzere river, even in the middle of the trees that flank the watercourse, it is difficult not to feel the protagonist of any romantic movie. Due to its beauty, it is an essential point of many routes through the mountains, such as this route from the Schist Villages.

-Salgadeiras: Lagoa das Salgadeiras, which, in fact, is a sequence of several small lagoons.

-Torre Lagoas Route: the route through the six lagoons is of low difficulty, although extensive.

-Loriga: Along the road that gives you access, the view of this small mountain village surrounded by mountains appears to us in all its splendor. Loriga is often called “Portuguese Switzerland” for its geographical location and the landscape that surrounds it. Its antiquity is legendary, with the Roman bridge and road still visible.

-Cabeça: the village of Cabeça is also embedded in a valley of rugged slopes. Its particularity is the schist stone houses and slate roof, in what was once a typical feature of the region. During the Christmas season, when the mountains fill with snow, the village stands out for the originality of its decorations. The street decorations are created from natural materials collected in the surrounding territory, such as broom, pine cones or vines. The initiative is called “Cabeça – Christmas Village ”and it is proud to be a 100% sustainable event.

By : November 19th, 2020 Personalities, Traditions 0 Comments

In Portugal, there are two matchmaking saints. One with its throne in Lisbon which is Santo António, and the other located to the north, S. Gonçalo de Amarante. In order to avoid unfair competition between the two, Santo António takes care of the younger women, while S. Gonçalo deals with the “old”. This is the popular belief, but it is not just for this reason that the church of São Gonçalo is a mandatory stop.

S. Gonçalo has the honor of Padroeiro de Amarante and his memory is celebrated on two occasions during the year: the 10th of January, the date of his death, and the first weekend of June, with the great festivities of the city.

Coming from the noble family of Pereira, Gonçalo was born in Paço de Arriconha, around 1187 and inherits from his parents nobility in blood and greatness in Faith.

He is educated in good Christian principles and, when he reaches his youth, he opts for ecclesiastical life, studying the first letters, it is believed, in the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Pombeiro de Ribavizela, that he continued his studies at the Paço Arcebispal de Braga, where he would become ordained priest. Not satisfied with his parish life and burning with the desire to visit the most holy places of Christianity, he decided to start a long pilgrimage to Rome, to be with the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and then on to Palestine.

After fourteen years, Gonçalo returns to his parish of S. Paio de Vizela, which, during his absence, was directed by a nephew who, not recognizing him, expelled him from home. Disillusioned by the opulent and lavish life of his replacement and faced with disrespect for Christian teachings and humility, he decides to abandon the parish life and opts for a more contemplative, hermitic and evangelizing modus vivendi. Take the habit of the Order of S. Domingos.

It was through this new way of life that it reached the Tâmega valley. Facing a ruined hermitage dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Assunção, located in a deserted place, next to the river and close to a vacant bridge, the old temple is installed and restored.

Bordering the villages of the Tâmega valley and Serra do Marão, Frei Gonçalo evangelizes and blesses marital unions, supports and protects the most disadvantaged and performs some wonders, which give him an aura of sanctity. In the course of these pastoral actions, he is faced with the difficulties and the danger that his faithful ran when venturing to cross the river, especially at times when it presented more flow and, in the absence of alternatives, he decides to undertake, himself, the restoration or rebuilding of the old Roman bridge, back in 1250.

For its reconstruction it will have had the participation of everyone, from the wealthiest who contributed some money and raw material and the poorest who, with their effort, carried out the work. The architect is said to have been the saint himself. The medieval bridge would last until February 10, 1763, when it succumbs to the turbulence of the waters of the Tâmega, during a flood, collapsing completely.

After the construction of the bridge and the restoration of traffic, the Dominican friar continued his life as a preacher until the day of his death, which occurred on January 10, 1259.

From then on, many were the ones who came to his tomb, installed in the same chapel where he lived to ask or thank his intercession, next to his remains.

In 1540, D. João III ordered to build, in the place of the old medieval hermitage, a convent that delivers to the friars preachers of S. Domingos, Order to which the Saint was linked.

On September 16, 1561, Gonçalo de Amarante was beatified by Pope Pius IV and, some time later, in the reign of D. Filipe I of Portugal (II of Spain), his canonization process began, which ended for having no effect.

Pope Clement X, in 1671, extends the service of his liturgical feast to the entire Dominican Order, which is celebrated on the day of his death, on 10 January.

Since then, his cult has never stopped spreading and spreading in Portugal and in the Portuguese-speaking countries, especially Brazil, where several localities have him as their patron.

So São Gonçalo is not a saint. For the Catholic Church, Blessed Gonçalo de Amarante is considered blessed. But for the population it is holy and devotion to it is not less, whatever the denomination used. His tomb, where his body is believed to be buried, can be visited in the main chapel of the monastery.

São Gonçalo is considered the “matchmaker of the old women”, which does not seem to please the younger ones who do not want to wait, and that is why the famous popular court of Amarante was born:

S. Gonçalo de Amarante,

Matchmaker of the old women,

Why don’t you marry the new ones?

What harm did they do to you?

In the church, there is still the statue of São Gonçalo, from the 16th century, in which there is the famous rope of São Gonçalo. The rope surrounds the statue’s waist and, according to popular belief, “the old women” should pull the rope three times to ask the saint for a wedding.

In conclusion, if you have passed the age to ask for help from Santo Antonio, here you have the wedding prayer for São Gonçalo:

“São Gonçalo do Amarante, Matchmaker you are, First couples to me; The other couples later.

São Gonçalo help me, On my knees I beg you, Make me marry soon, With the one I adore. 

A curiosity: ”São Gonçalo de Amarante is rooted in the culture of the city Princess of Tâmega, with peculiar sweets with phallic forms, with spicy courts that and a rich history of conquests and important heroic acts in the construction of the history of Portugal. According to popular legend, São Gonçalo is a matchmaker and it is for this reason that during feasts S. Gonçalo’s “phallic sweets” are sold and appreciated, of all sizes and shapes.

By : November 16th, 2020 Handicraft, Traditions 0 Comments

When we visit a Portuguese city, one of the first features we observe is under our feet. I am talking about the Portuguese cobblestone pavement, a true work of art that with various drawings decorates the Portuguese cities.

But what is the history and origin?

There is a story that tells us that the Portuguese sidewalk originates because of a rhino. Do you remember Ganga, D Manuel’s white rhino? If you still don’t know him, you can read his story in my October 29th article on my blog  ( )

Now, it all starts with the arrival of the rhino.

On the birthday of the Rhino that only leaves once a year in the winter on January 21st, a huge procession was organized that would take to the streets of Lisbon showing the new riches of the king who arrived from the east. In this procession, Ganga could not be missing, obviously and so that the richly ornamented rhino would not wallow in the mud, soiling himself and those around him, D. Manuel ordered the streets where the procession would pass to be paved.

The royal letters of 20 August 1498 and 8 May 1500, signed by King D. Manuel I of Portugal, mark the beginning of paving the streets of Lisbon, most notably Rua Nova dos Mercadores (formerly Rua Nova dos Ferros)

It was used granite from Porto, however its transport made the work expensive for the coffers of the kingdom, but the Rhino deserved it

This was how the Portuguese sidewalk appeared, more irregular than we know it today, but it was its beginning.

Subsequently, the 1755 earthquake destroyed much of the city and its cobbled streets with it. But only in 1842 Lisbon would see a reconstructed sidewalk again, this time with limestone, usually white and black, material abundant in the region. In this way, practically cubic stones were applied, which is how we know them today and all over the world where Portugal left its mark.

The work was carried out by prisoners, at the behest of the Governor of arms of the Castle of São Jorge, Lieutenant-General Eusébio Pinheiro Furtado.

The design used on this floor was of a simple outline (zig-zag type) but, for the time, the work was somewhat unusual, having motivated Portuguese chroniclers to write about the subject.

After the success of the contract, funds were granted to Eusébio Furtado so that the prisoners also paved the Rossio Square, in an extension of 8,712m². This work ended in 1848, with drawings honoring Portuguese discoveries, and became known as Mar Largo. This fashion quickly spread throughout the country and the colonies, where authentic masterpieces were produced in pedestrian areas, ennobling the urban public space, in an ideal of modernization of cities.

Baixa de Lisboa changes with most of its streets to be paved with basalt, among them Largo de Camões in 1867, Príncipe Real in 1870, Praça do Município in 1876, Cais do Sodré in 1877 and Chiado, ending in 1894. Avenida da Liberdade opens in 1879 and in 1908 it finally arrives at Marquês de Pombal with wide sidewalks where beautiful and dazzling design carpets were introduced, making Lisbon the reference city for this type of artistic floor .

But the sidewalk is not only found in Portugal. In the century XV the overseas territories of Portuguese influence also saw the stone of the same origin line their streets

This was due to the fact that many of the ships leaving for these destinations go empty, in order to return loaded with local goods and merchandise, and for this reason they need to increase their cargo and thus guarantee their navigation stability – the so-called ballast. The solution found was to load the Portuguese stone vessels from Lisbon.

A distant example of this expansion of the Portuguese pavement is Macau – former Portuguese administrative territory and perhaps the territory outside Portugal with the largest pavement area. The motifs of the drawings are, in the majority, of caravels, wind roses, shells, fish, stars or waves of the sea. Not even after 1999, when the sovereignty was transferred to the People’s Republic of China, this area decreased, on the contrary, even today this type of pavement is implemented, even by Chinese pavers, formed by Portuguese masters.

Currently, we can still find old Portuguese pavement pavements in Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique, India or Timor. Or even find new examples, as in Spain or the U.S.

The technique

The tampering tools with the help of a hammer, make small adjustments in the shape of the stone, and use molds to mark the areas of different colours, so that they repeat the motifs in linear sequence (friezes) or in the two dimensions of the plan (patterns) . 20th century geometry demonstrated that there are a limited number of possible symmetries in the plan: 7 for the friezes and 17 for the patterns. A work of young Portuguese students recorded, on the sidewalks of Lisbon, 5 friezes and 11 patterns, attesting to its richness in symmetries.

The most common sidewalk application techniques stand out: the old Portuguese sidewalk, which is characterized by the irregular form of application of the stones; the gavel, similar but with more space between the stones; the classic Portuguese sidewalk, which has a diagonal application, according to a 45-degree alignment with the walls or curbs; the sidewalk to the row, with the stones lined up in parallel rows; the circular sidewalk; the hexagonal sidewalk; the artistic sidewalk, which is characterized by the application of stones with specific shapes and / or the contrast of colours; the Largo Mar; the segmented fan; the Florentine fan; and the peacock tail.

The drawings

For a long time the drawings were made by amateurs with great skill, generally based on traditional motifs linked to the great achievement of the Portuguese – the Discoveries.

From the 1950s, some artists were invited to design motifs for the Portuguese sidewalk.

Nowadays the role of architects is fundamental in the design of reasons to apply to spaces in recovery, as in the old areas of Portuguese cities.

It is the masters themselves who create and develop new types of stone application depending on the taste and professional style.

In 1986, a Lisbon Calceteiro School was created by the Lisbon City Council with the sole purpose of training professionals, and teaching them the knowledge of old masters and thus ensuring the “survival” of the Portuguese sidewalk.

By : November 13th, 2020 Stories and Legends, Stories and Legends 0 Comments

My article today is born from the book “A Rainha adultera” by Marsilio Cassoti, where for the first time there is talk about the theory of assisted insemination carried out by the infant D Joana de Portugal, in the 15th century, which gave rise to the birth of D Juana of Castile, considered, by the time in which it was born, fruit of an adulterous relationship.

D. Joana de Avis (1439-1475), Infanta of Portugal, was Queen of Castile while wife of King Enrique IV of Castile. Despite the latter having received the nickname “the Impotent”, the royal couple had legitimate descent in the person of D. Juana de Castela.

The problem that caused Henry IV’s impotence is well documented by descriptions of urological examinations carried out during the monarch’s life and by analyzes of his remains carried out also in the 20th century.

The king of Castile was unable to consummate the sexual act due to a physical constraint in the functional anatomy of his genital organ.

But the need to ensure legitimate offspring, led to “exceptional” measures being taken.

There was a previous indication inscribed in the “Law of Departures” by Alfonso X of Castile the Wise, which authorized to practice in the kings of Castile “specials practices” to solve their reproductive problems, but always with respect for the natural right such as proclaimed by the Catholic Church.

And what would these “practises” be? Enrique IV resorted to “conception without copulation” to get pregnant D. Joana de Portugal. To do this he called for a Jewish (medical) physicist, a specialist who will have carried out this “practice” in the monarch couple. These practices were prohibited by the Catholic Church, but not by Jewish law.

As we discovered in Cassoti’s book, the recognition of the concept without copulation as possible and legitimate “is well documented” by the ancient Jewish scholars, the first time in the 5th century AD in the Talmud of Babylon “and there are precise references to this theme” in the works of Jewish rabbis of the 13th and 14th centuries in the Mediterranean area “.

In this biography of D. Joana de Portugal, the historian presents, fact after fact, argument after argument, the thesis that D. Joana de Portugal was artificially inseminated, or at least assisted, with semen from Enrique IV de Castela, through a “practice” probably led by the Jewish physicist named Yusef and Yahia.

The insemination took place successfully, and on February 28, 1462, D. Juana de Castela would be born, legitimized by Pope Pius II as a descendant of Enrique IV of Castile.

In fact, D. Joana was removed from the court and repudiated by Enrique IV of Castile for her extramarital relations.

The next step would be the comparative genetic analysis of D. Juana and Enrique IV, based on his remains, to confirm that the first is the monarch’s biological daughter.

Unfortunately, both the remains of mother and daughter disappeared in unfortunate demolitions of the buildings in which they were buried, not allowing an analysis that could further clarify this interesting theory.

By : November 10th, 2020 Gastronomy 0 Comments

Today we are talking about a soup typical of Portuguese gastronomy, very nutritious and perfect especially during the winter. A soup that was born in Almeirim, in the district of Santarem. This soup has a very curious name, the stone soup, and even more curious is the legend that is the origin of this name.

It is said that one day a monk found himself in a land he did not know. He was hungry, but he didn’t have any money with him. He begged here and there, but on that sad day no one was interested in helping him. So, he picked up any stone he saw on the way and, approaching a popular who had not yet spoken to him, told him that he was planning to make a soup from the stone.

The expression on the man’s face was one of great confusion. “Stone soup? Does it exist?” Three times the monk said yes, and three times the man was incredulous. Then, the religious man offered to cook this soup, in order to prove its complete veracity. The man, in the greatest curiosity, naturally accepted it.

Then, the monk started by heating a pot with water and placed the stone inside. Waiting for a few minutes, he tasted some of the broth with a wooden spoon and said “Um … it is very good, this soup from the stone, but it would be even better with some beans.” The man gave him the beans. Minutes later the scene was repeated – “Do you know what would look fantastic here? A pig’s ear.” Again, the man gave him that suggestion. And so the orders were repeated, again and again, with the monk asking for other ingredients – a little chorizo, a few grams of bacon, onions and garlic, a few potatoes, slices of bread, a pinch of salt …

Soon the pot began to boil and let out a delicious aroma.

After the friar was eating, the owners of the house, now looking suspicious, asked at the end when the pot was empty and clean.

– And what about the stone?

The friar, a little sly, replies:

– The stone will wash it and take it with me again.!

Curious to try this soup at home? Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Stone’s Soup


– 750 g of potatoes

– 150 g of streaky bacon

– 1 kg of red beans

– 2 onions

– 2 garlic cloves

– 1 black chorizo

– 1 meat chorizo

– 1 bay leaf

– 1 coriander sauce

– salt and pepper


– Soak the beans.

– Take the beans to cook in plenty of water, along with, the chorizo, the bacon, the onions, the garlic and the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.

– If necessary, add more boiling water.

– When the meat is cooked, remove and place the potatoes, cut into squares and chopped coriander, in the pan. Let the potatoes cook.

-As soon as the pan is removed from the heat, introduce the previously cut meat and, to respect the tradition, a well washed stone.

By : November 7th, 2020 Places and Monuments 0 Comments

Portugal, although not a very large country, is rich in archaeological sites: among them, the Alentejo region is worth mentioning. It is here, in a parish in the municipality of Évora, that we can find the enigmatic Cromeleque dos Almendres.

The Almendres Cromlech is the largest circle of menhirs ever found in Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula. Consisting of 95 monoliths, or menhirs, and dating back to the 7th millennium BC, it is one of the most important and oldest megalithic monuments in all of Europe.

It is part of the Megalithic Circuit of Évora, along with other monuments: necropolises, smaller cromlechs and prehistoric settlements.

The Almendres cromlech was discovered in 1964 by researcher Henrique Leonor de Pina, when the Geological Map of Portugal was surveyed. Apparently, a worker from the area reportedly told him that he had been in a place where several “of those stones” were found. After cleaning the vegetation, not only was discovered the Cromlech of the Almendres, but also pieces of ceramics, an ax of polished stone, and also a menhir related to the cromlech, called the Menhir of the Almendres.

The chronology of the Almendres Cromlech reveals the changes that have been taking place in the three millennia in which it was built. And archaeological studies indicate that the Almendres megalithic ensemble was formed in three stages.

The first phase of formation of the Almendres cromlech took place at the end of the Neolithic period, the end of the VI millennium BC, when a set of smaller monoliths was raised in three concentric circles.

In the Middle Neolithic period, during the fifth and fourth millennium BC, a new enclosure was added west of the building, in the form of two concentric ellipses.

The third and final phase of construction of the Cromlech of Almedres will have occurred in the Final Neolithic period, in the millennium III B.C. The more or less regular dispositions of the monoliths were changed, so that the smaller enclosure became a larger atrium. It is possible that some engraved monoliths have been added at this time.

The Almendres Cromlech is about 2,000 years older than Stonehenge in England. Stonehenge, also a cromlech, dates from around 3000 B.C.

The differences start with age, since the Almendres Cromlech is thought to have been abandoned in the transition from the Final Neolithic to the Copper Age (circa 3000 B.C.), when Stonehenge began to be erected.

There is, however, evidence to show that the two are more alike than they appear. They are aligned so that their imaginary axes coincide with the axes of the cardinal points, and with the solstices and equinoxes. If, on the dawn of the June solstice, you align your eyes with the Menhir of Almendres, from the Cromeleque, you will be able to see the position where the sun rises.

There is also evidence that the Cromeleks were used as places for pagans rituals, in addition to observations of astronomy – which, as we know, at the time, was not a science so far removed from spirituality.

In short, the purpose of both Stonehenge and our Almendres Cromlech is not perfectly clear, and remains a mystery. What is known is that the Cromeleque dos Almendres, a place full of symbolism, and of, some say, mysticism, is a place that makes us enter a time machine.

By : November 4th, 2020 Stories and Legends 0 Comments

Some say he threw 70 people from the Águas Livres Aqueduct, that drinking and addiction led him to commit grotesque assaults or that he was simply crazy. Either way, “Pancada” became history as one of the greatest criminals in Lisbon in the 19th century.

Diogo Alves was born in Galicia, Spain, in 1810. Some time later, he went to try his life in Lisbon, where he started to commit crimes, nobody knows why. Historians say he was illiterate and rude.

“Pancada”, one of the nicknames attributed to Diogo Alves, started out as a servant, but came to the position of groom, treating horses in several manor houses and gaining the trust of his bosses, who even lent him large amounts of money. His companion Gertrudes Maria, the “Parreirinha”, with the help of the game, betting on horse racing and alcohol, guided the “Pancada” in less noble ways.

In 1836, Diogo started to kill. Its place of action was the Aqueduto das Águas Livres, an aqueduct  built in the 18th century and which is 58 km long – with the highest point being 65 m high. The victims were travelers, traders and students who used a narrow path at the top of the aqueduct as a shortcut to the center of Lisbon

Diogo surprised the victims, stole their belongings and killed them, throwing them from the top of the aqueduct. Since they were poor people, the police made no effort to investigate, and deaths were often treated as suicides.

It is believed that Diogo Alves threw the individuals he robbed from the galleries of Aqueduto das Águas Livres, so that they could not report him. The number of victims is uncertain, since these repeated events were associated with a wave of suicides; however, it is thought to have exceeded 70 deaths. The aqueduct, after so many crimes to be solved, was closed to traffic, in 1837 and for several decades. That is why, since then, the Galician has not killed anyone else in the aqueduct. Helped by his “gang” he continued to rob and kill people, like the massacre committed in the family of a well-known doctor of the time Pedro de Andrade. The suspect was handed over to the authorities three years later by someone from his own group and an investigation was never opened against him for the deaths in the Alcântara valley.

Alves was sentenced to death for the massacre of the doctor’s family and beheaded in February 1841, at Cais do Tojo in Lisbon, being one of the last to whom the death penalty was applied in Portugal.

After being hanged, the criminal’s head was handed over to prestigious doctors of the time, from the Medical-Surgical School. The researchers wanted to study what was hidden behind that coldness and cruelty. Diogo Alves’ head was kept in perfect condition thanks to formaldehyde.

The head was kept at the Faculty of Medicine of Lisbon.


By : November 1st, 2020 History 0 Comments

The first of November 1755 a catastrophe shocked the world: the Lisbon earthquake. The monumental disaster inspired poets, interested philosophers, angered prophets and motivated politicians. The epicenter of the Portuguese Empire was reduced to the insignificance of human work: in one breath, all the wonders of technique and progress were destroyed as constructions for children.

The eighteenth century Lisbon was a medieval city, full of small, winding and dirty streets. Reports say that around 9:30 am, the city was shaken by a major earthquake.

The effect of the earthquake in a city in this condition was devastating, and reports say that the tremors lasted up to seven minutes, although there are reports that suggest it may have lasted for 15 minutes. The epicenter of this earthquake was about 200 km to 300 km from Lisbon, more precisely to the southwest of mainland Portugal, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Current studies estimate that the 1755 tremor reached 8.9 on the Richter scale (the scale goes up to 10).

The magnitude of this earthquake contributed to the total destruction of the city.

And as if it is not enough, as it was the day of all Saints, in the churches, prepared with candles for the day’s ceremonies, fires started that ended up burning in the city for five days.

Obviously, nobody got a scientific explanation for what was happening, and what they thought was divine wrath. The only possibility was to escape.

Many people in the midst of despair and fleeing the landslides and fires that hit other parts of the city fled to Baixa de Lisboa. There, these people were hit by three tsunami that affected the entire region.

Thus, many of those who did not die in the landslides and fires died as a result of the tsunami that flooded this part of Lisbon. Regarding the earthquake, historian João Lúcio de Azevedo narrated the following:

The images oscillate on the altars; the walls dance; beams and columns are desoldered; the walls collapse with the bald sound of churning chalk and crushed human bodies; on the ground where the dead rest, the caves, to swallow the living […]. The horror of hell in woes and torments. Disorganized escape with fatal accidents, and the continuous stumbling over stones and corpses […]. Ruins everywhere | 1 |.

At the time, Lisbon had about 200 thousand inhabitants and the death toll varies considerably, as there are those who point out about 10 thousand deaths, while others suggest more than 50 thousand deaths in the disaster.

In addition to human lives, material destruction was enormous. The Royal Library was destroyed with more than 70 thousand volumes of items stored there. The Tagus Opera House, which opened that year, was destroyed and the destruction of 35 churches, 55 palaces was listed and across the city it is believed that around 10,000 buildings have been reduced to ruins.

Reconstruction of Lisbon

The emergency actions after the earthquake were taken immediately through the action of Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, future marquis of Pombal. The reconstruction works of the city extended until the middle of the 19th century.

The first major action taken was to prevent the proliferation of disease and, therefore, it was necessary to bury the dead. Most of the bodies were incinerated with the gigantic fires that spread through Lisbon, but many remained below the ruins. To get rid of the bodies, the dead were buried in mass graves and many were thrown into the sea with weights tied to make them sink.

One step taken to stem the proliferation of chaos brought on by the earthquake was to prevent looting. This was even part of a list of fourteen measures adopted by order of Carvalho e Melo. Those captured by looting a residence were hanged by Kingdom troops.

The buildings that were rebuilt had strict guidelines to be followed with a fine forecast for non-compliance.

Baixa de Lisboa, the most destroyed area, became known as Baixa Pombalina and received a great innovation for the time: the projected buildings received an anti-seismic structure. This structure became known as the “pombaline cage”. This technique consisted of incorporating a wooden structure close to the masonry walls.

The Portuguese king – d. José I – began to suffer the rest of his days with claustrophobia. He survived the disaster, because at the time of the earthquake he was on the outskirts of Lisbon, in Belém. The sight of the destruction and the reports of thousands of dead people buried there made the king afraid to live in closed places.

D. José I was king of Portugal until 1777 and until the end of his days he lived in a complex of tents built in a place in Lisbon called Alto da Ajuda. This place was chosen because it was elevated and suffered little destruction and the tents built there became known as Real Barraca da Ajuda. This complex existed until the end of the 18th century, when a fire destroyed it.

In the video below you can see a reconstruction of what happened that same day, 265 years ago.