The Rocha dos Namorados can be found at the entrance to the pottery village of São Pedro do Corval, for those who come from the always charming Monsaraz Castle and the equally famous Cromeleque do Xarez.
The Valentine Stone
It is a pebble that makes two of us tall, and one of us wide, of granitic material, a stone that we even associate more to the north than to the south.
Flattened on top, with a shape that widens as it grows, there are those who associate it with a mushroom.
It is a rocky fragment that goes beyond that. It is an evocative rock, linked to pagan rituals and which still works today as a spiritual force for the local population.
The church put his stamp on him, stinging a cross of Christ on his back – if the people, instinctively pagan, do not abandon their natural symbols, then let them become the most ecclesial natural symbols. That was not enough and the parish priests here in the parish also insisted that the processions in the area pass through, adding another layer of Christianity to this popular monument.
The fruitful rites
But none of this can disguise the essentials of Rocha dos Namorados. Its name, moreover, cannot be more suggestive, and from here we can assume that it is linked to phenomena of celebration of fertility.
Going to what matters most, this stone is crowded with small pebbles on its dome – and we can witness it going there. Obviously, the phenomenon has a raison d’être. It is that, at the time of the celebrations of the Resurrection of Christ, here come young women, in the transition to adulthood, to throw small stones on top of this rock, the objective being that they fall up there and stay there – every stone failed, increases a year of waiting for them until their wedding day. The throw must be done from the back, increasing the difficulty (and the wait).
The Resurrection of Christ, we know, is a time full of symbolism: we are, in fact, facing another resurrection, that of the earth, which after dying in the winter months comes back to life at the dawn of spring, and which by this time makes opening and giving birth to its fruits and flowers. The return to Jesus’ life works as a metaphor for another return to life, that of nature, which rejuvenates. Rocha dos Namorados and the single women who will draw their future there fit, therefore, in this context. We are facing a tribute to mother earth made in a different rhetoric, but of a popular nature, because it is born of the people and this is the starting point for the Sacred.
The Royal Palace of Nossa Senhora da Ajuda was built by D. José I (1714-1777) at the top of the Ajuda hill. This building, built in wood to better resist earthquakes, became known as Paço de Madeira or Real Barraca. It replaced the sumptuous Paço da Ribeira that had been destroyed in the earthquake that devastated Lisbon in November 1755.
The new Palace, habitable since 1761, became the residence of the Court for about three decades. In 1794, during the reign of D. Maria I (1734-1816), a fire completely destroyed this royal home and much of its valuable contents.
The project for the construction of a new stone and lime palace, started in 1796 under the regency of the prince royal D. João, but was suspended after five years of construction, when, in 1802, Francisco Xavier Fabri and José da Costa e Silva, architects trained in Italy, they were charged with adapting it to the new neoclassical trend.
The Court’s departure for Brazil in 1807, following the Napoleonic invasions, and the periodic lack of financial resources did not allow the project to continue on a regular basis.
The clashes between liberals and absolutists plunged the country into fragile stability and, in 1833, construction came to a complete standstill. After the liberal victory, D. Pedro assumed the Government as regent, in the minority of his daughter, D. Maria da Glória, and swore the Constitutional Charter in the Throne Room of Paço da Ajuda, in 1834.
It was with the accession to the throne of D. Luís I (1838-1889), that a new stage began, finally acquiring the true dimension of royal palace when chosen for the official residence of the court. The real changes in the decoration of the interiors began in 1862, the year of the king’s wedding with the princess of Savoy, D. Maria Pia (1847-1911). Then, a long reformulation work was initiated that extended to several levels: from walls to ceilings – lined, plastered or painted again -, to the covering of floors with parquets and carpets, to the choice of furniture for the rooms. Everything ordered from specialized houses, Portuguese or foreign, that supply Casa Real. The wedding gifts and goods brought from Italy by the queen helped decorate the refurbished apartments.
The spaces were now wanted to be more intimate and protected. New rooms were added on the ground floor: the Dining Room, for daily family meals, a living room – the Blue Room – and leisure areas, such as the Marble Room and the Billiards Room; finally, the bathrooms have running water, hot and cold. The noble floor was reserved for gala receptions and the ground floor, from the Music Room and along the west façade, intended for private rooms. The Palace became the stage for the meetings of the Council of State, of the days of great gala – banquets and official receptions – and of family life: here were born the princes D. Carlos (1863-1908) and D. Afonso (1865 -1920).
After the death of D. Luís I, in 1889, the agitated life of the Palácio da Ajuda changed profoundly. In the new reign, the Court was divided between three Paços: Ajuda, where D. Maria Pia remained with D. Afonso; Belém – where princes D. Luís Filipe (1887-1908) and D. Manuel (1889-1932) were born – and Necessidades, alternative residences of D. Carlos I and D. Amélia (1865-1951). The prime floor of Ajuda was reserved for official ceremonies.
In 1910, when the Republic was established and the Royal Family was subsequently exiled, the Palace was closed.
In 2007, the Palace, together with the other national palaces, became part of the group of properties under the tutelage of the Institute of Museums and Conservation.
Today it is the scene of the protocolary ceremonies of representation of the State.
In the century. XVI, lived in Cinco Vilas a man named Bartolomeu, better known as Fidalgo das Cinco Vilas. One day he met D. Guiomar, lady of an important Pinhel family and they decided to get married, having chosen the 8th of December, the birth date of the two newlyweds. A year later, a son was born to him that they baptized with the name of Luís.
When the baby was 7 years old, the father decided to leave for India, in search of fame and wealth, joining the armada of D. Afonso de Albuquerque. In the great campaign, which the Viceroy developed in lands of the East, the Fidalgo de Cinco Vilas distinguished himself in heroism, to the point of becoming one of the main nobles of the army of D. Afonso de Albuquerque.
Meanwhile, D. Guiomar took pains to educate his son, providing him with the best teachers who instructed him in the art of fencing, riding and letters. When little Luis easily mastered the teachings taught, the mother set him up as a knight, but she felt sad that her husband was not present at this important time in his son’s life.
The news that Luís had been made a knight, revived in D. Bartolomeu the longing for the family that began to torment him. After making the necessary preparations, he decided to return to Portugal. However, on the trip, he was attacked by fever, dying without having the happiness of seeing his loved ones for the last time. The widow, inconsolable, dressed in heavy mourning for her whole life, dedicating herself entirely to her son.
Meanwhile, in Spain the expulsion of the Jews was decreed. Many sought in Portugal the refuge they needed, Castelo Rodrigo being one of the five regions destined by our king to settle. Among the many refugees who came to this region, there was one named Zacuto, very rich, who bought the top of the mountain, west of Castelo Rodrigo, and the entire slope to the Côa river.
At the top of the mountain, the Jew had a house built where he started to live and, a little further down, a dairy, dedicated to the production of calves. In a slightly more remote area, he dedicated part of the land to the cultivation of fodder, cereals and other agricultural products, having olive trees repaired, planting vines and installing a large flock of sheep and goats. Zacuto was a widower and was accompanied by his only daughter, Ofa, who made heir to all the goods acquired in the land that had hosted them. For this reason, they began to call those lands, Serra da Moura (moor) Ofa.
The good administration that Zacuto dedicated to the lands and herds, quickly increased his fortune. Luís, who lived just a few kilometers from the place, learned about the event, and felt a desire to meet the beautiful Jewess, heiress of such a large fortune.
When they met, the two young men were immediately attracted to each other, and a burning desire to join their lives was born among them. When the new Fidalgo de Cinco Vilas told his mother about the passion that set his heart on fire, the lady felt very sad, because there was a great barrier to realizing the dream of her beloved son, since the two young people had religion different.
Shortly thereafter, the king of Portugal, D. Manuel I, ordered the expulsion from the kingdom of all Jews who did not convert to Christianity. Much to Louis’ delight, the old Jew and his daughter accepted the royal decision. The nobleman ran over to his mother to tell him the great news. The lady authorized him to go to Zacuto and ask for Ofa’s hand in marriage.
Whenever his mother or friends asked him where he was going, Fidalgo de Cinco Vilas filled his chest with joy and replied: “I am going to love Ofa”, or “I am going to see my love Ofa”. ( Vou amar a Ofa)
Some time later, on 8 December, the marriage bond took place at the Monastery of Santa Maria de Aguiar. From this marriage many children were born who became heirs to many lands in and beyond Côa.
Tradition says that the mountain came to be known as Serra da Marofa in the innocent imitation of Luís’s answer, when he said that “he was going to love Ofa“.
In a few days it will be Christmas and a tradition that many families respect is that of the Christmas tree. But how was this tradition born? And how did you arrive in Portugal?
In the past, the Catholic Church did not celebrate Christmas, although it celebrated the birth of Jesus
It was in the 6th century with Pope Julius I that the date of Jesus’ birth was set for December 25, and we began to celebrate this feast.
Long before, for the Romans, it was the day of Saturnalia, festivals dedicated to the god Saturn and the winter solstice celebrated by the Celts and the Germanic peoples. That was how an old pagan festival became the biggest Christian festival.
But we are talking about the Christmas tree, which in Portugal, next to the nativity, cannot be missing.
This tradition is almost mandatory in all houses and is usually prepared between the 1st and the 8th of December.
In reality the tradition already existed at the time of the Romans who prepared firs for Saturnais.
The first Christmas trees were decorated with paper, dried fruits and cakes
According to history, the tree must be a pine tree due to its triangular shape that represents the Trinity for Christians. The first reference to the Christmas tree is in 1510, in Lithuania, attributed to Luther who would have decorated a tree with candles and a star.
And in the 16th century, this tradition already present in Germany and Germany passed to all of Europe and arrived in Portugal in the 19th century.
In 1835, as D. Maria II widowed months after his first marriage to Prince Augusto de Beauharnais, he was chosen to be the new husband of the sovereign D Fernando de Saxe Coburgo Gotha.
D Fernando II and D Maria II had a happy marriage crowned by 11 children (the queen died in giving birth to the last child). He introduced romanticism to Portugal, he is known for his taste for literature and art and for the construction of the Pena Palace in Sintra. But it was also he who introduced the Christmas tree in Portugal.
In 1844 he decided to surprise his family and prepared a Christmas tree decorated with colored balls and cakes and gifts next to the tree. From there the tradition of the tree was introduced in Portugal.
A curiosity: Each Christmas, D Fernando gave gifts to his children dressed as Saint Nicholas. Her cousin, Albert (Queen Victoria’s husband in England) did exactly the same for her family in England.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The vine has been growth here since antiquity and the Romans made wine on the hilly banks of the Douro River throughout their long occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Later, following the establishment of the Kingdom of Portugal in the 12th century, the country became an important exporter of wine. However it was not until the mid-17th century, than the Douro Valley became the source of what we know today as Port.
It was the Treaty of Windsor, signed by England and Portugal in 1386, which sowed the seeds for the emergence of this great classic wine and the transformation of the Douro Valley into one of the most renowned of the world’s wine regions. The treaty established a close alliance and a strong trading relationship between the two countries.
Many English merchants settled in Portugal where the treaty had awarded them special privileges and by the late 1400s shipments of Portuguese wine to England had become substantial. In 1654 a new trade agreement created even more favourable conditions for English and Scottish merchants living in Portugal. From England they brought salted cod (known as bacalhau) as well as wool and cotton cloth. In return they shipped out Portuguese agricultural produce including the thin, astringent wine of the coastal Minho region known as ‘Red Portugal’.
Two decades later the trade in Portuguese wine received further encouragement. A blockade of the shipment of English goods to France, imposed in 1667 by its first minister Colbert, caused the English King Charles II to retaliate by prohibiting the import of French wine. The English wine trade was forced to look elsewhere for its supplies. The British merchants at Viana do Castelo seized the opportunity. It was in the remote hills of the upper Douro Valley that they found what they sought. Sheltered by the mountains from the damp westerly winds blowing off the Atlantic which brought rainfall to the coastal vineyards of the Minho, the Douro with its scorching summer heat and arid climate produced the robust and heady wines that the market wanted. However the English merchants were unable to carry the wine overland from the Douro Valley to Viana do Castelo. The only way it could be transported to the coast was by boat down the River Douro. One by one, the English merchants moved from Viana and established their businesses in the large mercantile city of Oporto a few miles from the river’s mouth. By 1710, most had established their ‘lodges’, or warehouses, in Vila Nova de Gaia on the south bank of the Douro, opposite the old city centre of Oporto, where they remain to this day.
It was from the Oporto, the city from which it was shipped, that the powerful wine of the Douro Valley took its name. Vinho do Porto in Portuguese, meaning ‘wine of Oporto’, was translated into English as Port Wine or simply Port. The earliest known record of wine being shipped under this name dates from 1678.
The 18th century saw shipments of Port grow rapidly as the rich, red wine of the Douro Valley gained in popularity. The Methuen Treaty of 1703 further encouraged the trade in Port by setting a much lower rate of English duty for Portuguese than for French wines. The strong demand for Port brought great prosperity to the Douro Valley as well as to the English merchants. In 1756, the first minister of Portugal, the powerful and influential Marquis of Pombal, introduced a series of draconian reforms. He imposed a state monopoly over the sale of Port and its shipment to England and Brazil as well as the production of brandy used for fortification. He defined the boundaries of the Port vineyard area, marking them out with over three hundred stone posts known as ‘marcos pombalinos’. In 1757 he carried out the first detailed classification of the vineyards of the Douro, grading them according to quality and establishing prices for their production. The best wines were designated as ‘vinhos de feitoria’ and allowed to be shipped to the demanding English market while the lesser ‘vinhos de ramo’ could only be sold in Portugal. Measures were taken to do away with the fraudulent practices that had become commonplace, such as the addition of elderberry juice to give colour and the appearance of quality to poor wines.
These visionary reforms effectively
In 1791 the eastern reaches of the Douro River were opened to navigation when the massive outcrops of rock obstructing the Valeira Gorge were finally removed. This made it economically viable to plant vineyards in the eastern area of the Douro Valley which became known as the Douro Novo, or ‘New Douro’, and later as the Douro Superior. In the years that followed many new estates were established in this area, including some famous properties whose magnificent wines did much to enhance the prestige of Port.
The early nineteenth century was marked by conflict and Port shipments were affected in turn by the Napoleon’s peninsular campaigns and the civil war between the supporters of the liberal and absolutist pretenders to the Portuguese throne. However the return of peace in the 1830s ushered in a golden age for Port producers.
The 1860s and 70s brought disaster to the Douro Valley in the form of Phylloxera, the deadly American vine louse that had already laid waste to many of the vineyards of France by attacking and destroying the roots of the vines. It is thought that Phylloxera arrived in the Douro in 1868. In any event, by the early 1870s it had destroyed many of the valley’s finest vineyards. Phylloxera was finally brought under control by grafting the Portuguese vine varieties onto the resistant roots of native American vines but in the meantime yields had dropped dramatically and many vineyard owners had been financially ruined. The vestiges of old terraces which were never replanted after Phylloxera can still be seen in many parts of the valley.
In the 1880s the Port trade began to recover and vineyard owners set to rebuilding and replanting the blighted vineyards, often introducing new techniques and grape varieties. By the final years of the century, Port was thriving once again
The first years of the 21st century have witnessed continuing investment in the vineyard, with sustainability, both economic and environmental, becoming an increasingly important priority as producers seek to preserve the unique heritage and environment of the Douro Valley for future generations.
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