All posts by Ricardo Brochado

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ...

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the new book on the Harry Potter series and it will have it’s World Launch in Livraria Lello in Porto. If you are Potterhead you cant miss this!

Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling are already part of Porto and they are responsible for a lot of myths that make it more magic, if you let yourself get involved in the paths of fantasy, old and new. Using this powerful connection, Livraria Lello will have a big event to promote the book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, on July 30th.

In the morning, at 10:30am, Lello bookshop will have a non-related event that will show the results of the restoration that is covering the stained glass inside and the façade, in a presentation coordinated by a local famous historian, Joel Cleto.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, parts I and II, is already available on pre-sale on Barnes and Noble website and in Armazéns do Castelo, close to Livraria Lello starting on July 29th. If you are in Porto and want to attend the event,  you can do it for free, but if you want to go inside the bookshop, at midnight and have the full experience, you have to pre-buy the book in Armazéns do Castelo.

The book is based on an original new story written by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, and the first Harry Potter story to be presented on stage, because it is, in fact, a theatre play. A warning to all the eager fans, this book is not a novel, rather the stage play script, like Rowling has already stated.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book cover

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book cover

Official Program  – Livraria Lello

22h00

Dumbledore, Hagrid, Sybill and Malfoy welcome the fans with smoke and spells. A Special spell activates the lights and characters at Lello’s freshly renewed façade.The four actors from Ácaro, will ask questions and read passages of the books and show-off a chest that holds the key to the  cover of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child  book.

23h00

Potions for everyone (pollyjuice is available) and music from Harry Potter’s movies soundtracks. Platform 9 ¾ will be available but if you want to take the train to Hogwarts it is better to go to S. Bento Train Station down the street,

00h00

Lello bookshop doors open only to people that pre-bought the book, in Armazéns do Castelo. Once inside, there will be an exhibit of movie memorabilia including a replica of a Firebolt broomstick.

Pre-Sale in Armazéns do Castelo ( Rua das Carmelitas, 166)

July 29th from 10am to 9 pm

July 30th from 10am to 2am (Sunday)

Pre-sale price 25.50€ – it gives you access to Livraria Lello (Rua das Carmelitas 144)  during the event.

3d map showing Lello and Armazéns do castelo

Don’t forget you have to pre-buy your Harry Potter and the Cursed Child copy at Armazéns do Castelo.

 

 

A 130 square meter representation of D. Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Pança

Street art in Porto

When I came to Porto, back in 1996, the city was gray, due to his granite constructions and,I should confess, a little bit depressing; people from Lisbon described it like that, a gloomy, foggy city with no light whatsoever. That has changed and, besides all the improvements I’ve seen in twenty years, street art is one of the big responsible for the color and youth that is described by people from all over the world.

The only graffiti that I can recall, from the 1990’s, was the white circled A, the Anarchy symbol, drawn here and there by punks, and that doesn’t really count as street art or graffiti for that matter. Graffiti usually is an egotistical work which primary objective is to get known quickly, and by the largest number of people possible, that’s why painting trains is so popular amongst writers – trains cover large distances and you get known and famous outside your neighborhood or surroundings. Also, graffiti has a kind of code that can only be appreciated by other writers, excluding the rest of the common mortals, which makes that this kind of art is not well accepted socially.

A doll, a mouse and a lot of pidgeons

This wall has a lot of different artists including Lara Luís, the doll on the left.

Street art, on the other hand, is created to leave an impression on the rest of society’s sensibility, with themes that are well accepted and make people love it. It’s a more altruistic art form and, there’s always a message behind it, trying to change the society around the mural, collage, stencil, tiles, photography, stickers, whatever.
With the city’s evolution and, mainly after Porto European Capital of Culture in 2001, it opened up to exterior influences and showed a cosmopolitan side that was sleepy and numb, and soon artists, timidly, showed their true colors on the streets. First with some throw ups, hall of fame and then, connected with the hip-hop scene also growing quickly, the first pieces, planned and getting from the inside to the outside.

But what boosted Porto’s Street Art scene was a completely different thing.

A long mural in JArdimdas Virtudes, one of the best viewpoints in town.

Hazul, the most prolific writer in town, painted this huge mural in Cooperativa Árvore.

Graffiti Wars

Rui Rio was Porto’s Mayor from 2001 to 2013 and was known for its economic efficiency and the complete disregard for arts. Looking back, the citizens always look back and remember that Culture in the City, during this period, was created and produced  by  the private sector, and that the Municipality thought that it was a luxury that the public vaults couldn’t afford. At the same time, thousands of euros were being spent on the race circuit of Boavista, the mayor’s own pipe dream.  While acting like this, and moved by the complaints of some citizens, Rio’s administration created the Anti-Graffiti Squad to wipe clean all the walls, independently if they were more or less socially accepted.

There are a lot of powerful catalysts and the most flammable is Repression.

In 2013, the anti-graffiti squad covered one of Hazul’s murals in the City center and soon, pictures, with viral speed, were being shared on the Internet. There was a rise up against this act, comparing it with burning books, blocking freedom of speech and one more drop to kill all art forms in Porto.  Rui Rio’s profile on Wikipedia was “vandalized” with sarcastic remarks, implying that he was only doing that because he used to be the CEO of one of the biggest Portuguese paint companies.

Quickly, out of nowhere, the once quiet city Writers, started sabotaging the anti-graffiti squad with… paint. During the day, the squad was covering murals with white or yellow paint,  and in the evening, the artists would go to the same places and paint a straight black line on the wall’s length and one sentence in Portuguese: Continua a pintar (keep painting). This was a very simple and effective protest that was cheap to one side and very expensive to the municipality, that spent 150 000 euros on this campaign, with immediate results and great loss over time.

colorful faces in a store front

Godmess used an abandoned shop window to do this paste up.

Soon Hazul, turned into a martyr, his pieces started to be spared on the cover up rampage, and he was immediately compared with Bansky, first due to the VIP treatment and also because his identity was surrounded by secrecy. People, not only the street artists, thought that it was unfair for the other artists and some buzz started to come up, creating the moment for changes.

City Hall recognized that some of the murals painted were art and some were not, so they decided to create a kind of license for street artists. Everyone could apply paying a fee but they had to submit a project and tell where they were going to intervene. At the same time, the first street art law was created in Portugal imposing huge fines for transgressors. Trying to regulate what was art and what was not,  City Hall hired a street artist to recreate old pictures from Porto on some walls, and subliminally saying that Porto was static and orderly…

You can’t harness something that has illegal as its middle name.

 

A black and white male figure over a red background

Draw used the side of a building at the entrance of Luís I Bridge to create his host – AN.FI.TRI.ÃO. You can spot from Gaia.

Street Art, a new approach

October 2013, Rui Moreira is elected Mayor of Porto. This independent candidate, entrepreneur, from Porto’s finest families, with a deep passion for his City, faces his new job as everything he did in his business life. Instead of acting like  a Mayor, he starts acting as a CEO surrounding himself with the best and quickly getting the support of is contenders in the past election. He has one thing in mind, to restore Porto’s glory and straightforwardness that is part of its spirit for centuries.

One of the first individuals that he gets to help him is his friend Paulo Cunha e Silva, a humanist, intellectual and also a Porto Lover. His dream was to turn Porto into a “Liquid city[…] where everything can happen everywhere.”  and street art was one of the gears of his machine. He envisioned different art forms entwined in a big street festival, including all the artists and all the citizens, giving today’s generations food for thought so they could be better in the future. Unfortunately, he passed away in November 2015, but his legacy is kept alive.

A Lady smiles at a red naked giraffe

A mix between Godmess and Chei Krew – the giraffe head.

In April 2014, the first legal Mural in Porto is inaugurated in the corner between Rua Miguel Bombarda and Rua Diogo Brandão, one of the gateways to Bairro das Artes, the city’s art galleries district. A 130 square meter representation of D. Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Pança, represent all the windmills that street art had to face until that moment and it took Circus Network, through the hands of local artists Fedor, Mesk and Mots, a long time to have it done. Today it is the proof that legal murals are the way to go forward in a City that is evolving every day. This was part of a project called Ru+A created by Imagin’o Porto associated with Réplica and Circus Network, which intervened in one of the Shopping streets, Rua de Cedofeita, creating murals in the store fronts called Urban Frames.

After that, City Hall commissioned an intervention in Avenida dos Aliados on the phone booths, then a dedicated street art exhibit in Edifício Axa and a huge Mural by Hazul and Mr. Dheo in one of the car parking owned by the City, very close to Trindade Metro Station. Next, all the electricity boxes in Rua das Flores were decorated by Porto street artists in a joint venture between the City Hall and the National Electricity company.  A second intervention in Rua de Cedofeita  is getting ready as I write this words.

A face with a hat that has a Porto tram in it.

Costah adds his collages all over the city. This one is a joint venture with Bug Bolito.

Also, close to Palácio de Cristal, one of the city’s parks from the end of the 19th century, in Rua da Restauração, there’s a huge wall that every 6 months has the murals replaced, creating an opportunity for new names of the street art scene.

But what about the artists?

There’s a lot of Porto based artists but we can only name a few that you can easily find on the streets. Hazul is still one of the most prolific artists in town and he uses blocked window and door frames as a canvas to his pieces that you can find everywhere. Costah is another popular artist mostly with collage creating colorful and funny compositions, depicting birds or characters with long arms and legs. Chei Krew are the ones behind the cute giraffes that you can find here and there. #PreencherEspaçosVazios and Sem use tiles for their interventions, with a different approach. And what about girls on street art? Lara Luís and Eleonor, are the names to remember. From illustration directly to street art, putting some more color in our streets. International artists passing by also leave their mark, like Selor which is somehow active at the City Center.

Today

Street art is changing and it is part of its nature. it is not a thing to last for centuries, sometimes just a few days and its destroyed or replaced by another one. Porto is now facing some challenges and one is that there’s still some walls being covered by the City Hall’s crews, trying to keep some order. However, there’s not a jury deciding what’s good or bad, just a wall painter that spares what’s attractive to him – I think this is very romantic and ironic. Rules, nowadays, say that you submit a project and, if accepted, you’ll be licensed for free, on a clear incentive to lighten up the streets, and City Hall’s commissioned works have an economic incentive starting in 300€. On the other hand, some wannabe street artists try to get easy fame trying to emulate Hazul’s martyrdom, putting their pieces in strategic places and, when destroyed, paying campaigns on Facebook, using people’s blindness to spread the “injustice” and get known fast. This is not honest and frowned upon  by the street art community.

A huge portrait covering a building

Agustina Bessa Luís one of Porto’s greatest writers depicted on a stencil by Eime

While in Porto, keep your eyes and mind open and feel how the street art empowers the cobblestone and makes the City better, no matter how old or young you are. Pay attention to the pride people have for having it next door, and the smiles on their faces when someone takes a picture – for most Porto citizens, Street Art is also Heritage.

Dedicated Store

In a world that is almost exclusively masculine, the only place where street artists can buy all their supplies is managed by girls. Dedicated Store besides selling supplies, promote artists and activities that enrich the street art scene and, if you want to know a lot about the theme, go there and ask away.

Circus Network

Porto is a small city with tons of people with good ideas that try to make the society around them better than it is while making some money in the process. Circus Network, is the first art gallery in town dedicated to street art were you can find some resident artists that are commissioned by them, and also all the information about Porto’s street art Scene. Owned and managed by André and Ana – which has a masters degree in street art and knows almost everything about it – it is an art gallery, a co-working space and a great place to drop by. They are the ones behind the first legal Mural in town.

Carved wall by Vhils

Look at Porto by Vhils, with reverse graffiti technique that removes layers instead of adding.

Glossary

Writer – The one that does graffiti (don’t use Graffiti artist or Graffiter)

Hall of Fame – Synonym to Masterpiece or Piece.

Throw ups – A work that is painted very quickly.

Tag – Writer’s signature.

Crew – Group of Writers that gather to do graffiti

Piece – A big composition created with time.

A winged man with a broken chain in it's hand

Avenida dos Aliados – Porto

Avenida dos Aliados is the central avenue, or should we say square, that serves as Porto’s Living room. An area for celebrations of every kind and it’s waiting for you.

3D Map of Avenida dos Aliados

Avenida dos Aliados is the green area of the map. Thank you, Google!

In 2005, Siza Vieira and Souto de Moura, two local architects and Pritzker Prize Winners, started the requalification of Avenida dos Aliados. Taking advantage of the huge crater created by Metro do Porto, they turned a beautiful garden into a gray clean and functional space. Most of Porto’s locals tend to say that it was a crime and that it was better with all the green, but one thing we should admit, it is easier and cheaper to manage the present structure rather than “burning” thousands of euros re-doing the destroyed gardens after a celebration.

And we love a good Party! For most of the big events, Avenida dos Aliados is the chosen spot: receiving the Pope or the Queen of England; New Year’s Eve or São João huge party; celebrating FC Porto’s victories or serving as an enduro bike paddock. The avenue is easily adapted to all events and has enough space for a concert, fireworks or to a huge Christmas tree, and it’s easy to clean too.

Enduro Bikes parked at Avenida dos Aliados

Enduro bikes during Porto Extreme Lagares 2015

For a huge percentage of locals, is the area that begins in Palácio das Cardosas, home to Hotel Intercontinental, and ends at Porto’s City Hall. In fact, the southern part is Praça da Liberdade, with D. Pedro IV in the center, and the Northern is Praça General Humberto Delgado, in front of the municipality’s headquarters, limited by the junctions of the two diagonal streets, Ramalho Ortigão and Rodrigues Sampaio. Out of curiosity, in a 100 meter (330 feet) radius, counting from the City Hall, there are nine streets, an avenue, and a square.

Avenida dos Aliados (Allies Avenue) gets it’s name from the memory of the victory of the Allied Nations on World War I, in which Portugal participated on the winners side. Barry Parker is the architect/urbanist responsible for the avenue’s design and his plan started to be implemented in 1916 with the demolition of an entire neighborhood called Laranjal, some streets and the building that was known as Paços do Concelho (the old Town Hall). After the demolition, Marques da Silva, S. Bento’s Train Station’s architect, gets involved and creates two buildings that define the South limit, on left the Nacional insurance company headquarters (1) and on the right Joaquim Emílio Pinto Leite Bank(11). He is also the author of Jornal de Notícias (a national newspaper) building (8), a few meters up the street.

Christmas in front of City Hall

Christmas tree and the Town Hall

Similarly, Júlio de Brito creates two buildings that limit Avenida dos Aliados North side, on the left a building for Garantia insurance company (4), today Axa, and on the right another for Companhia de Fiação e Tecidos de Fafe (7). It is easy to understand that this prime area is the right spot for banks, insurance companies, and newspaper offices, but how to explain the presence of a textile industry company? If we think that in 1926 this company had in Fafe, then a small village, a kindergarten for 200 children, a nursery, and a primary school, we immediately acknowledge their economic power and the integration in Avenida dos Aliados revealing, also, the strength of the textile industry in the North of Portugal.

Avenida dos Aliados was Porto’s economic center, nowadays located in Boavista área, and had a lot of offices, insurance companies, and banks. One of the surviving Caixa Geral de Depósitos (9), the nationally held, which was conceived and finished in 1932, with Pardal Monteiro’s design. Still operating in the same location, also houses the financial group’s art gallery, Culturgest in a magnificent room that alone is worth a visit. Closeby, down the street, Montepio Geral (10), another bank, also hosts free art exhibits.

The inside of Culturgest Art Gallery

Culturgest, a beautiful art gallery

Across the street, on the corners of Rua Elísio de Melo, we can find the building that was Comércio do Porto newspaper headquarter’s (3), from Rogério de Azevedo, and on the opposing side Café Guarany (2), by the same author, which holds an interesting bas-relief from Henrique Moreira.

In the central part of Avenida dos Aliados, starting on the South side, we can find three sculptures: A Juventude (youth), aka Naked Girl (14) sitting in a column that flows water through four masks that symbolize the Four Seasons; Abundância (abundance) aka the Boys(13) that one were golden, not green. In Praça General Humberto Delgado, guarding the City Hall with his words, Almeida Garrett (12), a 19th-century novelist. The first two were created by Henrique Moreira and the third by Salvador Barata Feyo.

Almeida Garret in between two Atlas

Porto’s novelist Almeida Garrett guarding the Town Hall’s main door

Porto’s Town Hall was completed in 1955 with a project that took 35 years and needed two architects to have it finished, Correia da Silva and Carlos Ramos. Ramos is also the architect responsible for the neighbor Palácio dos Correios (6) which is an extension of municipal services. About the City Hall, you can go in and visit the entrance hall and enjoy the romantic style paintings on its roof, highlighting the Lady of Vandoma, patroness of the city. Here too we find the ubiquitous Henrique Moreira, with two sculptures at the sides of the stairway, representing Industry and Art. This same sculptor is responsible for the caryatids on the right side of the building’s façade, the other six were designed by Sousa Caldas which in turn is the author of the Genius of Independence, the winged figure with a broken chain in his right hand and a flag on his shoulder, that stands on top of the aforementioned building of National insurance company (1).

Abundância by Henrique Moreira and Caixa Geral de Depósitos

Abundância by Henrique Moreira winking to Porto’s wine tradition.

Avenida dos Aliados was adapted to the needs of its citizens, in the past Romantic and colorful, today opened to the World and to a world of events. The last intervention, conducted by two Pritzker prize winners, funded by Metro do Porto, brought new ideas and possibilities. One can defend that the gardens had more color and made people happier but, who as a garden in its living room? In my opinion, evolution is needed and if we cry about this transformation, we would have to do the same about what Avenida dos Aliados project destroyed: Praça de D. Pedro and its amazing limestone pavement, Hotel Francoforte, and the magnificent Café Chaves…

Souto de Moura and Siza Vieira project

Avenida dos Aliados and the Town Hall

 

Avenida dos Aliados has a lot of secrets that we cannot describe here so, we suggest that you join us in our Porto Beginners Guide, we will try to tell you everything!

hard boiled Egg caged inside the dough

Folar, a Sephardic heritage?

Folar is a Portuguese sweet egg bread that you can find in Porto’s bakeries during Easter, but do you know it has Jewish roots?

Folar has two different meanings in Portuguese. First, it refers to a kind of bread that can be sweet or savory, depending on the area of the country. The second meaning is linked to the first and it refers to a catholic tradition were, on Palm Sunday the children would give an olive tree branch to the godfathers and, one week later, on Easter Sunday, they would receive the Folar – the kind of bread mentioned above. This gift, nowadays, was replaced by a more practical Euro bill which also got the name Folar.

When I was a youngster I remember vividly, anticipating Easter and meeting with my godmother, that was proud to give me my gift. Back then I took everything for granted and I always thought that Good Friday was the prelude to Páscoa (Easter) and Pascoela (Easter Monday), with all the food and treats, and that everything was exclusive of being part of a catholic family.

This past week, I decided to do some research about Portuguese Easter pastry’s and foods and I found out interesting facts that put things in perspective.

So, basically, we can divide Folar into two kinds, the sweet and the savory. The savory is, usually from a region called Trás-os-Montes and include a lot of smoked ham, Chouriço, bacon and some more Pork meat. The sweet Folar has a very simple recipe and features an egg on top and can be found in Beira Litoral and Beira Interior, and also in some parts of Trás-os Montes. The interesting thing is that this kind of bread egg is popular in areas with an intense Marranos presence – the crypto-jews that remained in Portugal after the edict of expulsion in 1496.

hard boiled Egg caged inside the dough

Portuguese Folar with the hard boiled egg

And this takes me back to putting things in perspective. While reading this interesting article about Sephardic Purim customs, I’ve found out that the widespread and traditional catholic sweet Folar is also, in Jewish tradition called Huevos de Haman or Foulare (scarf /enwrapping in Ladino language) and that, the egg wrapped in dough represents Haman in a jail cell.

Purim celebrates the victory of Queen Esther and her uncle Mordecai, over Haman, who tried to destroy the jews from the Persian Empire, as it is described on the Megillah of Esther.

This particular Festival is held at late Winter, beginning of Spring, and it has some traditions, like giving money to poor people, sending gifts of food, drinking a lot of alcohol and eating traditional Purim food like the Hamantaschen and, for Sephardic Jews, Folar.

For Portuguese Catholics, Folar has a legend behind it, a very simple one by the way, almost like a children’s tale. The bread is mandatory on Easter Sunday and it has a very simple recipe.

With some luck, while you are in Porto  you can get another kind of Folar, from a specific area called Fornos de Algodres, and that, believe it or not, is another link between Jewish and Catholic traditions. For Jewish is a braided bread that is eaten on Shabbat and in every Jewish Holiday, from Hannukah to Yum Kippur and it is called Challah. It is also eaten in Pessach (Passover) which in Portuguese means Páscoa – that puts things in perspective!

If you want to discover a little bit more of Porto’s Jewish Heritage, contact us and we will be happy to show you around.

Metro, Subway or Tram in Porto  ...

Metro or subway it’s just a matter of semantics for English speaking countries; for our “rivals” in Lisbon, tram is the word; for us, in Porto, it was the best thing that happened in the last years!

 

Metro do Porto created a revolution is Porto’s traffic and the best way to understand it is to follow this small chronology.

September 1996: I started studying archeology in the Arts College in Porto’s University. I remember very well that to get from my College, in Campo Alegre, to S. Bento train station, I would need to get one bus, choosing between #35, #37 or #78, which would take me through a very sweaty and smelly 2.4 km (1,5 miles) in a record time of 45 minutes!!! Soon I realized that snails were getting there faster and I started walking the length.This was the opportunity to understand a little bit more of the City and its life, and it spared me 20 minutes on the process.

December 2002: First Metro line connects Senhor de Matosinhos to Trindade  and starts changing Porto forever.

Today: I can do the same route that I used to do in 1996 in… 27 minutes!  Guess what, it’s a longer distance (4k or 2.5 miles)!!!

Anyway, it’s impossible to do something in Porto without getting some envy back from Lisbon and with the subway, it was the same. They immediately start saying that our Metro was a tram because it runs 90% of the time above ground, but they were late – we started the joke way before that. Porto’s citizens have the ability to mock themselves out as a self-defense mechanism.

Open air light railway system.

Yes, it looks like a tram

But how does it work?

First thing is that our M for Metro is Blue, matching Porto and FC Porto colors. It’s never a good idea to go looking for a red sign in a city where that means the “infidels” club, Benfica. By the way, I’m just allowed to use that word once.

Next, get your Andante card, the blue one, and remember that it is rechargeable, therefore, reusable and it is valid for one person only. Besides, every time you get in or out of a Metro station you will need to pass it on the machine – you will notice a yellow kind off pole with a monitor on it. You can get your Andante ticket (that costs 0,60€ and you pay once) on the machines with trip prices ranging from 1,20€ to 5€. The best way to come to Porto from the airport is by Metro and, for this, you will need a Z4 ticket that costs 2,45€ (1.85€ for the trip and 0.60€ of the Andante card).

Once you validate your ticket you can go in and out of Metro stations for a period of time, starting with 1 hour to Z2 and 3 hours for a Z12. Don’t forget to validate when getting in or out.

Wall tiles mural representing Sellers from Bolhão Market

Tiles representing Mercado do Bolhão by Júlio Resende

How do I know wich zone is valid for my trip? Forget the maps and the schemes and just look at the yellow list on the right side of the tickets machine. There you have an alphabetic order list of all the stations, served by that station with the matching ticket kind. So, from Aeroporto (airport) coming to Trindade, the station on Porto’s center, you need a Z4 and it will take you around 30 minutes.

Metro do Porto website has a tool that lets you plan your trip and it’s fairly accurate. Also very useful is Google Transit feature on Google Maps including, also, all the public transportation in the City combining Metro with buses and trains showing you the best route options everywhere.

To get around central Porto, you’ll need, basically a Z2 ticket. It will take you to all the places like Aliados, S. Bento, Mercado do Bolhão, Casa da Música, Estádio do Dragão and also to the other side of the river, over D. Luís bridge. If you want to go to the ocean front or Parque da Cidade, you can get the Metro to Matosinhos (Matosinhos Sul or Brito Capelo stations). For this, don’t forget to change your zone on your Andante.

Don’t go for the 10 trip ticket unless you want to have a tour over the Metro system that won, in 2013, Harvard’s Veronica Rudge Green Prize  in Urban Design. Featuring two Pritzker Prize winners, Eduardo Souto de Moura and Álvaro Siza Vieira, together with other Portuguese reputable architects, was so well conceived that deserved the gentle words of the Prize jurors “Metro do Porto exhibits a generosity towards the public realm that is unusual for a contemporary infrastructure project.”

Metro arriving in Casa da Música

Casa da Música Metro Station

Some years have passed since the first Metro started, silently, roaming the entrails, the surface of Porto and the neighboring municipalities. It is a fact that today we are far better than we were before and, also thanks to Metro, the City reinvented itself, with people using it for the big parties like S. João, Queima das Fitas, or just to come to the restaurants and bars. Music, theater and other forms of art are a constant, giving already satisfied clients one more reason to smile. It allows, people to move quick and easy and have more time to enjoy life.

 

Freshmen in Queima das Fitas do Porto

Queima das Fitas do Porto – ...

Queima das Fitas in Porto is the biggest University celebration a bit like Spring Break, that lasts one week every year, preparing college students for the upcoming exams.

 

Queima das Fitas in Porto started, officially, in 1944, taking over  a previous event called Festa das Pastas. Every year, Porto had this party except in the period between 1971 and 1978 and grew considerably in events within the event and on the number of people that attend it. It is held on the first week of May in several locations in town, from Avenida dos Aliados to Queimódromo, close to Parque da Cidade.

Queima das Fitas Posters

Queima das Fitas Posters taken from this great blog!

But what is Queima das Fitas and what can you do in it?

For most of the college students is the most anticipated moment of the Academic life, if you are a freshman or a senior, and for all the students in between, also. It’s the moment when you are officially part of the Academy or the official goodbye to all the good things that student’s life has.

For FAP, the college students federation responsible for all the preparations for this party, it’s an event that has a lot of activities, creating cohesion between all the colleges belonging to the University of Porto and some money to fund the FAP activities throughout the year. For this, all the courses in each college can have a bar, called barraquinha, ran by students, in Queimódromo. These bars, around 120, are built and decorated by the students that own it and usually have strange names with double meaning (most of them). One of the “mandatory” features is that each bar has a different shot drink with a special feature or name.

Commonly associated with Praxe Académica, Queima das Fitas is no longer exclusive to students, allowing family, friends and general public to attend some events. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of people dressed in black suits during this week, it’s called Traje Académico, part of Praxe and it has already inspired some myths.

The next thing you need to know is that each and every college in town has different colors associated: Medical College – yellow; Science College – light blue; Arts College – dark blue; Architecture College – white.

Banners on the windows of 19th century buildings in Clérigos area

Banners representing the colors of Medical and Science Colleges.

Now that you are ready, with this introduction, let’s see what can you expect.

It all starts Sunday evening at 00.01 with the Serenata, a Fado concert, performed by students for an estimate  55.000 colleagues and all the people that can fit in Avenida dos Aliados, in front of the Town Hall. The Fado performed is a very special one, called Fado de Coimbra with lyrics that represent farewell and goodbye to the students life.

After this contemplation moment, all hell breaks loose and there’s a roaming mob of black cloaks heading to Queimódromo, the official place to listen to some music while drinking. For most of the mortals, Queima is like a music festival where you can attend some concerts and have some drinks. For the majority of people, is a place where you can go and drink, meet people from other colleges, drink again, break up with your better half and have a lot of fun. And drink some more.

Students can get their tickets for Noites da Queima in advance (cheaper) or at the entrance with the general public and huge cues,  a bit more expensive. To know which concerts to attend, there’s the official lineup that you can check called Cartaz da Queima.

Next morning, after sobering up a notch, its time to meet your family and go to Missa da Benção das Pastas in Avenida dos Aliados. There’s a particular item that is blessed in this ceremony, a black leather folder, that traditionally students use to carry their books, called Pasta and were they attach the Fitas (stripes). These Stripes give the name to the party, Queima das Fitas, meaning burning of the stripes.

Engineering students in Avenida dos Aliados

Third-year students of Engineering School, and their Pastas.

And then comes Monday with nothing special to do except going to Queimódromo to relax and prepare for the highlight of every Queima which is held Tuesday, the Cortejo Académico. 90.000 students from the nearly 30 colleges which are part of the University of Porto, will attract half a million people that clog Porto’s center streets, starting Tuesday at 14:00 and ending up Wednesday at 2:00. The big parade has some basic rules:  each college has a float commanded by Doutores (third-year students); in front of the car, walking, the Finalistas (Seniors) with their canes and top hats and behind the car, singing and making choreographies, the Caloiros (freshmen).

All the bars and restaurants in this area will have plenty of tap beer to hold the thirst of all these people. I can tell you that this is probably the only moment when parents are proud of seeing their kids drunk.

The parade ends in front of the City Hall were, in the tribune, the Dux Veteranorum (the leader of Porto’s Academy) together with Porto’s Mayor and more notable people will receive the salutations from all the colleges.

Pharmacy College passes close to Clérigos Tower

Pharmacy College in Cortejo Académico

Wednesday evening is time for FITA – Iberian Festival of Tunas – no, it’s not about large fish that we usually put on a can. Tuna is a group of students that play traditional instruments and each college has, at least, one.

To close the week, on Sunday, traditionally we have Garraiada, a kind of bullfight with cows and a big bull. Colleges have teams to face the beasts and there’s always a winner each year. In 2016, there will be no more Garraiada because the Academy decided to end it  after an online petition gathered more than 5.000 signatures.

And after this everybody will have a huge hangover and will have to study hard to do well on the  second round of exams that will close the year. Academic activities will pause until the return of the students in September with Recepção ao Caloiro (the welcoming of the freshmen).

Queima das Fitas 2016 schedule

 

 

Carlos Alberto square – Two museum ...

Praça Carlos Alberto, a charming and small square, is dedicated to an “Italian” King,  and has some features that you can easily miss. We are here to keep you on track.

Carlos Alberto was the King of Piemonte and Sardinia, for a short time and was exiled in Porto in 1849. He stayed briefly in the big white Palace located on the North side of the square. At this time, the palace was a common bread and breakfast called Hospedaria de Bernardo Peixe.

Before, the palace was the house of Viscount of Balsemão and after, in 1854, was bought by Viscount of Trindade that made some changes, including his coat of arms with the unicorn. In 1907, it passed to the City’s possession and, today holds a very interesting Portuguese coin museum.

On the left of this building, you have another unique and intriguing museum, the Material Bank. Here you can find everything related to exterior decoration of buildings: porcelain statues, painted roof tiles, vintage shop advertisement, street signs, floor tiles and, of course, and extensive “library” of wall tiles, the famous Azulejo. On a side room, you can also find a place dedicated to ceiling plaster bas-relief that was used on a lot of buildings in town.

Multi colored azulejos in Banco de materiais

Tiles, Tiles and more… Azulejos!

Different sizes and colors street signs

Old street signs

Hands as door knobs.

Door knobs, one more thing you can find in Porto and in this museum.

Henrique Moreira created the monument at the center of the square, the memory of our brave soldiers that fought in World War I. Portugal fought on the winner’s side – that’s why the city’s central avenue is called Avenida dos Aliados (Allies Avenue) – but lost a lot of men, mainly on the mythical La Lys Battle. A lot of cities and villages throughout Portugal celebrate their fallen boys with statues similar to this.

The statue at the Center of Carlos Alberto Square, represents the "unkown soldier"

World War I Memorial, the second version.

An interesting fact is that this is the second version of the monument. The first version, by José de Oliveira Ferreira, that also conceived Serrana’s beautiful artwork, was a Gaul soldier wearing a kind of skirt, a connection to Flanders, the area where the Portuguese fought. Porto’s people found it very funny and went to the café’s around the square to mock, and they mocked so much that the City had to ask for a new statue.

Saturday’s in Porto, are a must and scattered, here and there, you can find a lot of street markets. Praça Carlos Alberto is no exception and, if the weather allows it, you’ll have Mercado Porto Belo, selling vintage, antiques, biological food, handicraft, vinyl records and also mojitos, caipirinha – there’s a bar, DJ’s and some seats to chill out. There’s also a Mini version!

colorful stands, offeer different products in Carlos Alberto Square

Porto Belo Market

The most famous café’s in this square is Luso, a mythical place above which, Humberto Delgado, “o General Sem Medo” (The Fearless General) had his Headquarters during the first “free elections” in the Dictatorship period (1958). This place was, also a place where the students gathered and most everything could happen, like people coming in with their motorcycles, and the National Guard charging riding their horses. Legend has it that, in Luso, the glasses weren’t washed – often.

General Humberto Delgado, wrapped on Portugal's flag, stands with his arms opened at the corner of Carlos Alberto Square.

The Fearless Humberto Delgado

When I was a student, we used to gather in Lareira, a restaurant on the northeast corner of the square. Here, as a freshman, and together with my fellow students, we would be assigned with a number of tasks that we would have to comply with. Usually, within a 3-hour time frame, we would have to show the results to our “elders”.

One of the tasks was to say how many stars we could count on the square. Actually, on the cobblestones, the masons created an uncertain number of small stars that you could find, if you looked closely. Nobody knew the right number and we were never right – this was clearly an impossible task and it was fun, nonetheless. In 2001, with the square’s renovation, they were lost.

Carlos Alberto square in google maps

1- Banco de Materiais – Praça de Carlos Alberto 71, 4050-157 Porto – Monday to Friday – 10:00h to 17:30h; Saturday – 10:00h to 12:30h and 13:30h to 18:00h; Sundays and Public Holidays – closed.

2- Palácio dos Viscondes de Balsemão e Gabinete de Numismática – Praça de Carlos Alberto 71, 4050-157 Porto – Monday to Friday – 10:00h to 17:30h; Saturday – 10:00h to 13:00h and 13:30h to 17:30h; Sundays and Public Holidays – closed.

3- Humberto Delgado Monument.

4- Luso Caffé – Praça de Carlos Alberto 92, 4050-159 Porto.

5- World War I Memorial.

6- Restaurant Lareira – Rua das Oliveiras 8, 4050-159 Porto.

Presépio and Christmas – Nat ...

Early December, it’s time for every home in Porto to have a Christmas tree and hopefully a Presépio, traditionally, a Nativity scene with clay figurines.

The best places to check out this kind of representations is in churches, and we have quite a few.

The first Presépio was created by Saint Francis in Greccio, Italy in 1223, with real people and animals. The idea spread really quick and, soon, rich families started buying representations created by artists. In Portugal, they were widespread, already in the 16th Century and, during the Baroque period, artists like Machado de Castro created amazing objects. In Porto you can find one in Igreja das Taipas, on the Museum, another one in Igreja de S. Nicolau and a third one, authorship yet to be confirmed, in Igreja dos Grilos.

Probably from Machado de Castro, this 17th Century Presépio can be found at the entrance of Igreja dos Grilos.

Probably from Machado de Castro, this 18th Century Presépio can be found at the entrance of Igreja dos Grilos.

Two soldiers show up behind the battlements holding a falac with the crescent flag from the ottoman empire

Detail: Two “Turkish” Soldiers, from the Ottoman Empire.

A white cloudy sky centering God with a dove at his chest.

Detail: God and the Holy Spirit watch from above.
The banner, in Latin, translates in “Glory to God in the highest Heaven”, taken from Luke 2:14 – The birth of Jesus Christ.

The three Kings bring gifts to baby Jesus.

This reredos fragment from the 15th Century, representing the “Adoration of the Kings” can be found in Casa Museu Guerra Junqueiro in Porto, very close to the Cathedral.

Ivory plaque representing the Nativity of Christ

Ivory Nativity from the 17th Century – Cíngalo-Portuguese art(Índia).
Usually, on this kind of art, the Bull and the Donkey are replaced by fantastic creatures (on Joseph’s left).
Also, there’re only two wise men and not three (on Mary’s right).
Further reading (in Portuguese).

Nativity, 2000

A wood and silver contemporary approach of Jesus birth by Irene Vilar, a sculptor very dear to Porto.
In Igreja dos Grilos there’s a room dedicated to her work where you can find this piece.

 

This "Presépio" can be found in Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, close to Rua Santa Catarina and Praça da Batalha

This “Presépio” can be found in Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, close to Rua Santa Catarina and Praça da Batalha. It’s still missing baby Jesus (he only should be placed on the 25th) and the Three Kings (arrive on January 6th).

The Three Wise Men are a bit early (this picture was shot on December 17th). Take a look at it in Igreja do Carmo.

Take a look at this uncommon Nativity – the figurines wear real clothes-  in Igreja do Carmo. The Three Wise Men are a bit early (this picture was shot on December 17th).

In Mercado do Bolhão, at the center fountain there's the tradition to create a "Presépio". Also on this place, on Saint John's festivities, in June, its usual to create a "Cascata" using the same kind of figurines. Take a look at the three wise man riding the camels women style :)

In Mercado do Bolhão, at the center fountain, there’s the tradition to create a “Presépio”.
Also on this place, on Saint John’s festivities, in June, it’s usual to create a “Cascata” using the same kind of figurines.
Take a look at the three wise men riding camels women style :)

I could be here describing what a Presépio is, but I think it’s easier to look at the pictures and check it out. The best thing I can do right now is to tell you what you need to build one.

For a basic Presépio you will need clay figurines, some wood, to build a shed and moss (yes, Moss!). Until December 24th, you will need Mary and Joseph, a Cow, a Donkey and baby Jesus bed. On the 25th, baby Jesus is born, so you will need him too; and on January 6 the three wise man or kings, which bring the presents to Jesus.

Sheep are also very popular, together with shepherds due to this passage in the Bible (Luke 2:8-12) «And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them,Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David (Bethelem) a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.» 

A star is also a must, showing the way to the three Wise Men or Kings (Matthew 2:9-12) «After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.» This is the reason why we exchange presents in Christmas.

Houses, rivers, mountains, soldiers, everything can be in a Presépio, just use your imagination.

If you are wondering, moss is to simulate grass.

Places:

Mercado do Bolhão – Mon to Fri: 07:00-17:00; Sat: 07:00-13:00; Sun: Closed.

Casa Museu Guerra Junqueiro – Mon to Sat 10:00-17:30; Sun 10:00-12:30 (last admission 12:00) and 14:00-17:30 (last admission 17:00) Holidays: Closed.

Igreja de Santo Ildefonso – Mon: 15:00-18:30; Tue-Sat: 9:00-12:00 and 15:00-18:30; Sun: 9:00-13:00 and 18:00-20:00.

Igreja do Carmo – Mon Wed: 8:00-12:00 and 13:00-18:00; Tue Thu: 09:00-18:00; Fri 09:00-17:30; Sat 09:00-16:00; Sun 09:00-13:30.

Igreja dos Grilos AKA Igreja de S. Lourenço AKA Museu de Arte Sacra e Arqueologia – Tue to Sat: 10:00-13:00 and 14:30-17:00 Sun and Mon: closed.

 

Lello & Irmão – The mos ...


Lello & Irmão bookshop, in Porto, is a dream for books and interior design lovers. Since August 2015 you have to pay a ticket to get in but it sure worths it.

Considered the third most beautiful bookshop in the world by The Guardian and Lonely Planet, and one of the coolest by Time Magazine and CNN, Lello & Irmão was originally designed from scratch to sell books and to be a temple to knowledge.

Designed by Engineer Francisco Xavier Esteves, Porto’s mayor between 1911 and 1913, this 1906 art nouveau illusion will keep you, in and out, for a long time trying to find all the amazing details.

Lello's façade depicting Arts and Science

Lello’s façade depicting Arts and Science

The façade, in a beautiful neo-gothic style, has paintings by José Bielman representing allegories of Arts and Science. In the window above the door, Livraria Chardron, the old name of the publishing house which edited two of the greatest 19th century Portuguese writers, Eça de Queirós and Camilo Castelo Branco.

Once inside you can follow the cart’s rails, in the floor, that was used to move the books, easily, inside the store.

Lello's Stairway

Lello’s Stairway

The iconic red stairway in the center of the shop, is said, to be the inspiration to J.K. Rowling’s Flourish and Blotts bookshop and Hogwarts Grand Stair on the Harry Potter series, and it frames the center of the bookshop inspiring a lot of beautiful pictures. In fact, from every angle you can get amazing shots.

A perspective from inside Lello's Bookshop

A perspective from inside Lello’s Bookshop

Above the stairway, the beautiful stained glass, gives away the bookshop motto in Latin, Decus in Labor – Dignity at work. You can notice some broken glass, but I’m sure that with the ticket’s money the owners will repair it soon.

Look up and you will find the Neo-Gothic influence all over, including the stairway.

Carved wood on the stairway.Carved wood on the stairway.

All over you can find books, including some from the early 1900’s and  busts,  topped with gothic lace, representing famous Portuguese writers like Eça de Queiroz, Camilo Castelo Branco, Antero de Quental, Tomás Ribeiro, Teófilo Braga and Guerra Junqueiro, from the artist Romão Júnior. There’s a section of foreign books and they have a good choice of the only Portuguese Nobel Prize for literature winner, José Saramago in English.

Thousands of people visit the bookshop nowadays. Due to this fact, the owners had to create a ticket system, a 3€ fee that can be used as a discount if you buy something. With this money they will be able to keep the bookshop alive and beautiful as it is. If you are a frequent user, you can apply for a “Lello Friend” membership, which is free, as long as you provide your personal details.

If you are not visiting us for a while, you can check Lello’s 360 view and, after, you will book your flight to Porto!

Lello & Irmão Bookshop – Rua das Carmelitas 144, Porto

Porto’s Harry Potter Urban M ...

J.K. Rowling lived in Porto for only two years, but it was enough to create a lot of urban myths that entwine Harry Potter and the City. 

In 1991 Harry Potter’s “mother” arrived Porto to teach english and it was here that she, in her words, «… wrote what has become my favourite chapter in the Philosopher’s Stone, “The Mirror of Erised”…». I’m convinced that Porto had a great influence in her life, but are the urban myths just that or they have some true in it?

1. Lello bookshop as a inspiration to Flourish and Blotts and the Grand Hogwarts Stairway

There’s a popular theory that Lello bookshop in Porto was the inspiration for Flourish and Blotts. If you see it in the movies or in the video games, you will think this is not true, except, only for the books on the shelves and even that…

Also, the amazing red stairs as an inspiration for the grand staircase in Hogwarts. If you look at the pictures you will see no relation, because in Hogwarts the flight of stairs is straight, while Lello’s are circle shaped…

I’m not saying that J. K. Rowling wouldn’t be inspired to create something after seeing the bookshop that was considered the third most beautiful bookshop in the world by The Guardian and Lonely Planet, and one of the coolest by Time Magazine and CNN.

Lello's Bookshop Staiway which might be the inspiration to Hogwarts Grand Stair

Lello’s Bookshop Stairs which might be the inspiration to Hogwarts grand staircase

2. Writing on Majestic Café or Lello Bookstore

People say that J. K. Rowling wrote the first draft of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on a napkin in Café Majestic. We are talking about a belle époque café that has, waiters with bow ties, and linen napkins, so this doesn’t make sense. Rowling lived on a very tight budget, while in town, and, back in 1991, life was difficult for her as it was for locals. Believe me when I say that the Majestic was already one of the most expensive places in town to have a coffee as it is today. If, nowadays, you pay four times more for it than in a regular café, back then it was more or less the same.

Also for Lello bookstore, there was a time when they would serve tea and coffee, but that was in the early 2000’s and only for a year or two. Also the tables were very low which would make writing very uncomfortable.

I write all the time in cafés and I wouldn’t choose the Majestic to do it. I would believe easily that she would write in Âncora D’Ouro (aka Piolho), and it was very usual to find people writing over there. Also, close to the school where she worked, there were some nice cafés with free napkins.

The beautiful Majestic Café

The beautiful Majestic Café

3. Porto’s student’s uniform

If you roam through the streets of Porto, you will probably scrub your eyes, thinking that you landed in Diagon Alley as a group of cloaked shadows pass by. Don’t be fooled, they are college students and they are wearing a uniform that is similar to the ones that you can find in the Harry Potter series.

When I was studying I used it and we were called “bats”; nowadays people call them Harry Potters.

Porto’s college uniform is related to Praxe Académica, a tradition century’s old in Coimbra and introduced in Porto on the 20th Century. It’s composed of a ceremony suit and a cloak that protects the students from cold and rain.

From September to the end of May is very common to see students dressed like this on the streets, although not everyone uses it. It’s a choice to be part of this tradition.

Also, Porto students use crests sewed on their cloaks and each course uses a different color to better differentiate from each other. A little bit like what you see in the movies with the Houses colors, although you won’t find this reference in the books. However, Rowling was also helping with the screenplay…

I find it very natural that Rowling was inspired by these suits to create Hogwarts uniforms, so for this I would say yes.

University students from Arts college.

University students from Arts college.

4. Is Fonte dos Leões and inspiration to House Gryffindor?

There’s a new urban myth in town stating that Fonte dos Leões, the Lion’s Fountain is the inspiration for House Gryffindor. I overheard it a couple of days from a guide on the street and I thought about it.

Everyone believes that the creatures depicted are lions and some local authors, on the web, say that they are gryphins. So, looking closely they are not gryphins because they lack the eagle’s head and talons. It’s a lion with a small mane and wings of some bird, so basically, it’s a winged lion like Venice’s symbol that you can find everywhere in that City.

I’m sure that J.K. Rowling studied her mythology and wouldn’t make a rookie’s mistake like that.

By the way, there’s a gryphin everywhere in Harry Potter’s movies, at the entrance of Dumbledore’s office…

Lions Fountain in Porto

Lions Fountain in Porto

5. Is Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar the inspiration for Salazar Slytherin?

Although a lot of people believe that J. K. Rowling stated that Salazar Slytherin’s name was inspired by Portugal’s dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, it was Professor Christopher Rollason that mentioned this on his article “An English teacher in Porto: In search of Joanne Rowling”.

Below I transcribe part so you can judge by yourself:

“…evident reference to António de Oliveira Salazar, the fascist dictator who ruled Portugal (officially as Prime Minister) from 1932 to 1968, and one of whose most notorious policies was deliberately to maintain his country’s illiteracy rate at a level quite anomalously high for Europe. Joanne’s years in Portugal, then, furnished her with a suggestive and suitable name to bestow on an avatar of evil – for which circumstantial connection, of course, the amiable and hospitable Portuguese people should not in any way be blamed, while we may also recall that the Harry Potter books, with their well-attested track-record of enticing children back from the flickering screen to the pleasures of the written word, have had an effect quite contrary to the anti-literacy strategies of the Salazars of this world.”

Salazar ruled as Counsel’s President from 1933 to 1968 and not from 1932 as stated by Rollason.

It is possible that the inspiration is correct but, unless J. K. states it, it’s no more than a supposition.

Portugal's dictator António de Oliveira Salazar

Portugal’s dictator António de Oliveira Salazar

6. Harry Potter Broomstick’s inspiration is from Escovaria de Belomonte?

As from 2016, the first time we heard about it was in February,  Harry Potter’s Broomsticks like the Nimbus  2000 and all the other ones were described after J. K. Rowling passed by Escovaria de Belomonte. Like all the other myths mentioned above, it lacks official confirmation and it looks like its everything is possible when it comes to Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling presence in Porto. 
However, the brooms and the shop have something that oddly fits the movies and books.

Do you know of more urban myths relating Harry Potter and Porto? Share your thoughts and doubts.