PORTO: 5 incredible people that lived here:

Every city and every country has its legends and secrets but what concerns people, sometimes you may miss some incredible stories. 

We collected some of the most amazing stories about these people that definitely change the city!

1 -  Zé do Telhado (José of the Roof)

For the older generations, the name “Zé do Telhado” - Zé of the Roof - is not unknown. Born in 1816, in an area of Penafiel called “Telhado” - Roof - José de Teixeira da Silva was an army man (and a prominent one). 

In 1837 assembles a family and in 1846 participates in the popular rebellion of *“Maria da Fonte” - Mary of the Fountain - and ended up being awarded for saving the family of a General. But awards and honors were not enough because they did not provide money and his family started to pass through hunger. And so he dedicated himself to burglary. 

It is thought that he formed a band with whom he burgled the houses of the richer people in the neighborhood.

It is said that there were few, the high houses of Minho that did not receive a visit from Zé do Telhado.

The funny thing is that, for what it seems, Zé do Telhado not only treated with the utmost respect the owners of the houses that he robbed, but also distributed the riches from the so-called robberies with other poor families.

It was from these actions that he was given the nickname of “The Portuguese Robin Hood”.

Later ended up being arrested and exiled in Angola, where he died in 1875.

*Maria da Fonte, or the Rebellion of Minho, is the name given to a popular rebellion that happened in 1846 against the government of Costa Cabral.

The rebellion resulted from the remaining social tensions from the liberal wars, fuelled by the great popular displease created by the new laws of military recruitment that followed the wars, by fiscal changes, and the prohibition of burial sites inside of churches.

2 -  Adelaide Lopes

In 1876 started the construction of the bridge that would connect the two sides of the Douro River and allow that the railway from Lisbon arrived at Porto. The bridge was designed by Théophile Seyrig and Gustave Eiffel, and it was considered one of the boldest constructions in Portugal.

In 1887, the project was almost concluded and ready to be inaugurated by the king D. Luís I. and the queen D. Maria Pia.

But, a few weeks before, Adelaide Lopes, wife of the chief of the “Companhia Real de Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses” - The Portuguese Railway Company - insisted that she should be the one debuting the crossing. So, as soon as the operators connected the two parts of the arch that sustains the bridge with two bars, Adelaide Lopes, without fears and with the nerve that is known of the women of Porto, was adamant that she would cross the bridge, before the Queen. And thus she did it, like an acrobat, from Gaia to Porto in one of the two bars.

Later in the 4th of November of 1887, in a solemn ceremony, attended by the Queen D. Maria Pia; her husband, the King, and children; the ones responsible for the project, Théophile, and Gustave Eiffel, and, of course, the Chief of the railway’s company, the bridge was inaugurated.

Whatever may be said, the first person to cross the first metal bridge of Porto was not the queen (whom the bridge was named after), but a pleb in a Porto Style.

3 - Duque da Ribeira 

Born in 1902 and baptized as Diocleciano Monteiro, it was his own mother that shortened his name to Duque. He was a docks and sails man and he is a beloved and remembered person in the city of Porto. At 11 years old, he saved from the Douro waters an older boy and he never stopped. Spent most of his life in the Douro River and died at the age of 94.

Whoever fell into the river the “Duque” would get them. And even if they had died, the “Duque” would not let them rest at the bottom of the river.

He knew the river like no other and that connection earned him awards and honors. Had an autograph’s book where it had names such as the Queen Isabel II of England (!) and several Presidents of Portugal, and so many other celebrities.

He did enjoy the flirting game and it is known that he was married three times.

Today, those that stroll in the Ribeira of Porto, can see the memorial of the “Duque da Ribeira” near the bridge Luís. I.

More about "Duque da Ribeira" here.

4 - Daniel David de Silva

Daniel David de Silva was a young man that immigrated to Belgium and afterward to France to run from poverty in Portugal. Worked in restaurants for a long time but the longing for home was too big.

Returning to Porto, he worked in the Regaleira restaurant (already closed) where he created one of the most famous dishes in the city.

Those who were close to him, say that the idea was to recreate the French dish “Croque Monsieur” but nobody found it appealing. Then, in 1953, Daniel readapted the dish to a very generous sandwich with meat and smoked meat, a lot of cheese, and a sauce which the recipe is a secret even today.

What is well known is that the sandwich became famous and ended gaining the name “Francesinha”.

Those who knew him said that it was with some mischievous intent that Daniel gave that name to it since it is a spicy and very pleasant dish. Here’s the connection: it was a time where the Portuguese women were very conservative but not the french women, they were liberal, more confident, and “spicier”.

It was the men, mainly the single ones, that became the biggest connoisseurs. It was served as an afternoon snack or late evening after the cinema sessions in Porto’s Downtown. Since it was not considered a dish was served as a snack.

Since it was spicy, the people thought that would provoke behavior alterations in women so they never ate it. It was only in the 70s that this mentality changed.

It was served as an afternoon snack or late evening after the end of the cinema sessions at 11:30 p.m. in Porto’s Downtown when there still existed big rooms dedicated to the Seventh Art. It was not considered a dish, therefore, was served without the luxuries, in towelless tables, or at the bar.

Since it was spicy, the people thought that would provoke behavior alterations in women so they never asked for it.

And it was only in the 70s that women started to strongly adhere to the dish created 20 years before. It was only in the 70s that this mentality changed.

If you're a food lover, here's a nice post for you!

5 - Pita Bezerra

This character is known to us because of a Portuguese writer from the 19th Century, but existed, indeed, in Porto.

During the 1820s, Portugal was divided into 2 monarchic regimes: the liberal and the absolutist. In 1831, this division had as a consequence a terrible civil war, in the absolutist leadership was D. Miguel, and in the liberal leadership was D. Pedro - they were brothers.

This Pita Bezerra was a noble absolutist and an official of the Miguelist army that would spread the terror in the city of Porto, in these challenging times. He would act upon the population that would not declare themselves believers and followers of the absolutistic ideals. His prosecutions, tortures, and harassment in public streets were publicly known to be present during his home assaults or in the prison (da Relação) when he was in charge of it.

It is said that every evening he would go to the São Domingos Square (right before the Flowers Street) with his gang. They would beat whoever would cross Pita’s way that was not known to him - he would right away assume that they were not absolutists. Whoever would cross his way that would not shout “viva o Senhor Miguel” - hail lord Miguel - would be beaten right away.

When the Portuguese Civil War ended, with the victory of the Liberals, Pita Bezerro was imprisoned in the Relação Prison and, at the end of the session where he was condemned, when he was being brought to the cell the population took him from the hands of the guards and beat him to death, dragging his body until the Ribeira and throwing it into the river.

Worth saying that’s KARMA!

Porto is filled with these amazing stories and characters and that's why it's important to share them with you. 
If you're planning on visiting Porto, join one of the Free Walking Tours in Porto with these local team: City Lovers Tours, and learn all about this wonderful city.



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