"LONG LIVE THE KING! LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE! DEATH TO THE COMPANY!!"
"Long live the King! Long live the People! Death to the Company!!" : these were the words repeatedly shouted throughout Porto's streets in the morning of February 23rd, 1757. The tone was set for a violent revolt against the managers of a recently born company, the 'Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Douro', which we nowadays know as Real Companhia Velha.
Leading the crowd were many tavern keepers followed by some coopers, wine merchants but mostly were... tavern regulars! This blog post contains a short overview on one of the most humiliating episodes of the city's History, where 26 of the involved people were hung, beheaded and quartered and their bodies displayed in several locations within the city...!
This topic is also the theme for our first free event of 2019, an open group running tour, with 2 separate editions, EN & PT languages, this February:
Read on for an overview of this turbulent episode and for a glimpse of the newest interactive museum you can visit during your stay in Porto.
EVERYbody LOVES A GOOD FRIDGE MAGNET
From a few visits to souvenir shops in the city I realized that dragon-shaped fridge magnets and souvenirs are much harder to find than the sardine or rooster-shaped ones... so, let me tell you: that's deeply upsetting...! :) It reminds me of the over-abundant Russian matryoshka dolls sold in every souvenir shop I've entered while visiting Czech Republic's capital, Praga... Dragons are indeed the symbol of the city of Porto and this blog post is meant to set things straight, once and for all :)
A RIVER AND ITS BOAT
The Douro river has always been part of the soul of the city of Porto and worked as a transport conduit for an entire region, upstream. Instrumental in moving goods and people up and down the river were the rabelo boats, a type of cargo boat unique to this river.
Port, ONE of Europe's great classic wines
Produced on the steep hillside vineyards of the upper Douro valley, this wine originates from one of worlds oldest and most beautiful wine regions where vines have been grown for over 2000 years...!
Some people led extraordinary lives
Our 'King-soldier', Pedro the 'Liberator' , was born in Portugal 220 years ago, in1798. When he turned 24 he was proclaimed the first emperor of Brazil, to which he had recently given independence from Portugal. That day was also 12th October, of 1822.
Over the course of Pedro's short life he abdicated the throne twice, was father to 19 children and fought many battles for freedom, in two different continents. Pedro's heart is nowadays the most amazing treasure the city of Porto has in its care.
In this post I share a couple more of utterly unbelievable -real- stories about him...!
A DASH OF IRONY
Guess what… a new Starbucks franchisee cafe just opened in Porto… yay.. (not...!)
You know, we've all done things in the past that we’re not proud of. Mine include entering Starbucks a few years back in Madrid on a desperate quest for free wi-fi or going for a BigMAc burguer in Vienna. Oh and… those chicken wings at a KFC in London… shame on me…!! Yes, I have been a lazy tourist, I must admit. Against all guidelines of sustainable tourism, I have 'sinned'. Not proud of it though..!!
IS IT THE PASTRY?
I’m pretty sure you won’t need more than the friendly attitude of local people or a glass of full-bodied red wine from the Douro valley to really feel like at home in Porto. But still, if you’re looking for a common element, something familiar, one that you can find in other parts of the world, then you may want to read this post through to the end. Spoiler: it's not the croissants!
I had never even set one foot inside that building...! (honest confession)
Fact is, unlike many cities around the world, Porto does not have daily or weekly tours of the city hall. There are, however, arranged visits on special occasions and one monthly opportunity, if you book in advance (see bottom of this post).
So, this was THE gap on my 'rap sheet', considering I am a tour guide in Porto and slightly 'hooked on' History...!
NOT ONE but THREE DIFFERENT BUILDINGS
Allured by the promise of visiting the tower, (finally!!) I registered for a group tour - not a running tour, unfortunately :). As a bonus, the Architect guiding the tour also lead the group to 3 other locations where local politicians discussed the fate of Porto during the previous centuries. Hence this handful of photos you'll see, some of old demolished buildings and some fresh, from inside and from the top of the present building's central tower. Got 2 minutes?
At the top of Aliados Avenue, the present city Hall is turning 60 this year!
Sérgio is the founder of PRT, a keen runner since 1999 and a friendly running tour guide since 2015.
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