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...
Because Dragons are indeed the symbol of the city of Porto, this blog post has the clear purpose of setting things straight, once and for all :)
This is not an anti-sardines or anti-roosters manifest.
Please don't get me wrong: sardines are great, if fresh, on a grill, with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil, together with a glass of cold sparkling vinho verde during the hot days of late spring and summer! Are the sardines a Portuguese symbol? Well... they're not. They're part of a marketing campaign dressed as a contest for the summer festivities of Lisbon and recently became a trend in souvenir items. The roosters, also known as Galos de Barcelos, have a considerably more interesting tale supporting their cause - one involving a falsely accused pilgrim and a resurrected singing roasted rooster - but these roosters, though traditional nationwide, are also not a symbol of Porto.
Back to the dragons, shall we?
HIC SVNT DRACONES, latin for "here be dragons” is in fact an expression that some medieval cartographers used for labelling some unknown regions in maps believing that fantastic beasts existed in remote corners of the world. The Portuguese maritime explorers actually feared those dragons would attack their nutshell size ships when exploring the Atlantic and Indian Ocean coasts, during the 15th and early 16th centuries.
The Lenox Globe, dating from ca. 1510 is the second-oldest known terrestrial globe after the Edfapel of 1492.
It is housed by the New York Public Library. It is notable as one of only two known instances of a historical map actually using the phrase HIC SVNT DRACONES.
Sérgio is the founder of Porto Running Tours, a keen runner since 1999 and a friendly running tour guide-storyteller since 2015.
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