Barcelos is overwhelmed with roosters of all sizes and materials: being the symbol of Portugal, they are of even greater importance for this city’s identity, since here is where the legend of the rooster coming alive to proof injustice is directly linked to. There is even an interpretation center dedicated to the famous “galo”. However, without some prior research, a visitor cannot grasp all the stories from Barcelos’ past. For example, next to the ruins of the palace that belonged to the dukes of Braganza, there is a stone cross with carvings that tell the rooster of Barcelos story. Without a single line of interpretation! Thanks to some homework done, I know that, according to the legend, it was created exactly by the man who was saved from death by the miraculous rooster, and that it depicts the details of what happened. The question to which I couldn’t find a satisfying answer is the dukes’ love for enormous chimneys. There used to be four of them in the palace, and now that it is in ruins, only one left, of magnificent proportions and irrational position in terms of heating possibilities.
The traditions are strong, however not overwhelming, because there is also room for contemporaneity in this city. The great place to experience how old and new intertwine and complement is the Pottery museum. I was enchanted with the exhibition of Sofia Beça, a ceramics artist from Porto, named “Memórias à flor da pele” (still ongoing, btw!). From what I understood, it has to do with recovering the past feelings and sentiments and capturing them forever in clay. But it was also aesthetically pleasing and really corresponding with the exhibition space.
Passing through to reach some more traditional pieces like roosters or amphorae, I noticed the sculptures of two fat children – “meninos gordos”, named Mateus and Ana, who lived in the 19th century, and had some kind of desease that made them extremely obese. They were an attraction wherever they appeared, so poor kids traveled across Europe and also visited Portugal. The story of them became then a motif for a line of portuguese ceramics. This sculpted pair can also be interpreted as a direct critique of the consumerism of the present epoch, I am sure.
And then, the kingdom of roosters of all sizes, shapes and colours!
The importance of roosters and other local traditions in contemporary life in Barcelos was obvious even outside the museum: there were various processions around the city going on as a part of Easter celebrations. Here I share the photos of the Rooster band and the Green wine fraternity!