In my post Interesting facts about Porto I mentioned that many street names in Portugal take the date of pertinent historical events.
As well as dates, such as 31 de Janeiro and 25 de Abril, many people’s names also pop up again and again on street signs, buildings and monuments. So in this post I decided to do some delving to see who these famous folks were.
Dr Miguel Bombarda was a Republican and atheist psychiatrist in Portugal and his opposition of the clergy entwined him in the politics of the Portuguese revolution. In October 1910 he was murdered by one of his patients, who was said to be a ‘reactionary monarchist’, and his death prompted pro-Republicans to intensify rallies against the monarchy and church. The democratic revolution spread across Portugal to eventually overturn the monarchy, and by 1911, the Portuguese government had formally divided the church and the state.
You can now see Bombarda’s name on the Hospital Miguel Bombarda in Lisbon, which he once directed, and Rua de Miguel Bombarda in Seixal, Lagos and Porto’s arts district for example.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria was a Catholic saint who was particularly popular in Europe during the medieval ages. Her existence has come into question throughout history, but she is regarded as a patron of philosophers and scholars.
The name Santa Catarina (Saint Catherine) can be seen in many places around Portugal, as well as its former colonies of Brazil and India. In India, for instance, Portuguese nobleman Alfonso de Albuquerque took control of Goa from the Muslim army on Saint Catherine’s feast day and hence dedicated a cathedral to her.
Almeida Garrett was a writer, poet and politician born in Porto. He studied law at the prestigious University of Coimbra and briefly served as Portugal’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Garrett’s patriotic poetry put him in a pickle during the liberal revolution in Porto during the early 1800s and he was exiled to the United Kingdom. His subsequent works, including the famous poems Camões and Dona Branca, positioned him as the forefather of romantic literature in Portugal.
Garrett’s name crops up as Praça de Almeida Garrett next to Porto’s São Bento train station and Rua de Almeida Garrett in Monte and Albufeira for instance.
Marquês de Pombal
Marquês de Pombal (real name Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo) was a Portuguese statesman. Pombal held a string of high profile governmental roles throughout his career, and by 1750 he had assumed a de facto dictatorial role in Portugal.
Perhaps his greatest claim to fame is his handling of the aftermath of Lisbon’s 1755 earthquake – an event that brought the once-prosperous nation to its knees. (Throughout Lisbon there are many examples of ‘Pombaline’ architecture, which describes the building style adopted throughout the city post-earthquake.) Pombal was also responsible for a series of administrative and economic reforms in Portugal and Brazil, as well as the demarcation of Portugal’s renowned Douro wine region.
If you have any interesting facts about other Portuguese ‘celebs of the streets’, please leave a comment below.
The Portugal Wire is the blog of Australian travel writer, copywriter and photographer Emily McAuliffe.
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Portuguese architecture Part II: Pombaline style
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