PORTO: Legends of Porto II
Hi friends, so let's continue with the amazing legends of Porto.
When visiting Porto, you’ll discover beautiful neighborhoods, full of mysteries and legends. One of these neighborhoods is called Miragaia and it’s an amazing view of the other side of the Douro river. What you’ll see is another city called Vila Nova de Gaia (shortened often to simply Gaia).
We’ll tell you now the legend beyond the name of this neighborhood:
Ramiro and Alboazar
Breaking this word “Miragaia” into two words we have “Mira” and “Gaia”, and “Mira” means to look at.
Around the 9th century, there was a king called Ramiro, who was married to Gaia (a queen only by title) which Ramiro did not value or respected much, only carrying for his own needs.
Across the Douro river, there was a Moorish King called Alboazar. Ramiro and Alboazar had for a while some trading and in one of their meetings, Alboazar brought with him his sister Zahara. Alboazar saw Gaia and completely fell in love with her while Ramiro was filled with desire over Zahara.
Ramiro professed his desire to Zahara who denied him which led later to Ramiro kidnapping and taking her by force.
When Gaia found out about Ramiro’s despicable action, she fled to the other side of the river to seek asylum.
Ramiro found out about Gaia’s escape and, filled with jealousy, he decided to take her back.
He and his troops went to take her to Alboazar’s castle: they went to the other side and while his troops were waiting, he would go scouting the place, dressed as a pilgrim.
He would, later, give them a signal to when they should storm the castle.
Near the Moorish castle, there was a fountain where Ramiro saw a personal maid of Gaia fetching water. Realizing that she spotted and was intrigued by his presence he decided to talk to her, seducing her so afterward, he would manage to guide her into coming later to see him under the pretense of fetching more water.
Later she did show and he managed to sneak a piece of jewelry into the water. This piece of jewelry was the other half of one that he had broken to give to Gaia.
When the maid returned to Gaia and poured the water to her lady, Gaia saw the jewelry and realized that Ramiro was nearby.
So Gaia ordered the maid to bring Ramiro to the castle, which she did, so the guards could imprison him.
When Alboazar returned and found that Ramiro was imprisoned he visited him in his cell. Alboazar asked him what he would do in his place so that he could inflict Ramiro the same “verdict”.
Smartly Ramiro remembered his troops were still waiting for the signal that he had given to them. The signal was simple: he would be playing a horn on top of a tower. Thus Ramiro said: “well, I would feed you with the last meal over the best wines that I possess, and for your death, I would send you to the top of the highest tower in my castle and make you play a horn until you die of exhaustion”.
Alboazar found it a marvelous idea! He proceeded to order it done and to make a final jest of Ramiro he also decided to open all the doors of the castle and invite everyone to witness it to further humiliate the prisoner.
You might be guessing where this is going: when Ramiro played the horn, his troops stormed the castle and managed to rescue Ramiro and kill Alboazar.
Ramiro went back to his side of the river, taking Gaia with him. While crossing the river, he realized that Gaia was weeping and constantly looking at the other side, where the castle was still burned.
Ramiro asked her:
“Why do you weep Gaia? When you are rescued and returning to our lovely home?”
And Gaia told him:
“I weep for the place and time where I was happy and loved.”
So, filled with anger and jealousy, Ramiro turned to Gaia and said:
“So look Gaia, look (which would be “Mira Gaia, Mira”) what those eyes will never see again” - executing her by taking her eyes and decapitating her right there in the boat, throwing her body to the river near the area which is now called “Miragaia”.
Today, where Alboazar’s Castle would be, there is a street called the “king Ramiro”.
The area of Miragaia still holds the name. And the flag of the city of Gaia has a tower with a man playing the trumpet.
2. Saint Roque Chapel, the Ant, and the Turtle.
In the 16th century, Porto was afflicted by a big plague.
The zealous and faithful population of Porto, not knowing what to do to fight the plague, prayed to St. Roque - known as the “Protector from the Plagues” and for answering the prayers of those who are afflicted by the plague and disease.
The population prayed for St. Roque’s intervention and promised that if the plague would cease, a chapel to honor S. Roque would be built in an important and noble area of the city.
So it happened and so it was done, the chapel of St. Roque was built next to the Cathedral of Porto.
Legend says that, over the door of this chapel, there was an inscription. That inscription said:
“Before this chapel falls, an ant would drink a full thimble with water, and a turtle would walk a league.”
This chapel fell in ruins later in the 18th century, on the 1st of November of 1755.
And now you ask “did the ant drink the thimble, and the turtle walked the league?”
The answer is “perhaps”.
On the 1st of November of 1755, there was a big earthquake that almost destroyed Lisbon. Having few effects in Porto, being one the destruction of the chapel.
Lisbon suffered the earthquake which, because of its epicenter being at the sea, was followed by big tsunami waves, and that was followed by fires.
So there was enough water in the streets of Lisbon that surely an “ant would drink a thimble” and if Lisbon had turtles they would surely flee more than a league from this disaster!