Barcelos is a lovely town in the north of Portugal, bathed by the River Cávado, in the heart of the Minho region, quite famous for its traditional handmade products, mainly in pottery and ceramics, producing one of the national popular symbols: the “Galo de Barcelos” (Barcelos’s Rooster).
The origins of the settlement are quite ancient, dating back to pre-history, being inhabited by many different cultures, like Carthaginian or Romans.
In 1140 Barcelos was already a formal locality, given its authority by the first Portuguese King, D. Afonso Henriques, attesting the strategic position for the communication between the coastline and inner land as aswell between Portugal and Spain.
Land of rich history and strong traditions, Barcelos also has a great heritage, as it is visible while approaching the town through the lovely 14th century bridge, or by the Mother Church (13th century), the Watch tower (15th century), the Pillory in a Romanesque/gothic style, the Nossa Senhora do Terço, the Misericórdia and the Bom Jesus da Cruz Churches, or what is left of the magnificent Duques de Bragança Palace that houses nowadays the Archaeological museum.
Famous for its pottery, there are several shops in Barcelos with the most diversified handicraft items, and the legendary Fair that takes place every year in the “Largo da Feira”, with origins on the 15th century that sells everything one can imagine.
Not to be missed is the Cruzes Fair, every year in the beginning of May, with origins in the 18th century.
Showing this artistic feature and the importance of handicraft in the region, is the the Pottery Museum (“Museu de Olaria”) and the Handicraft Centre (“Centro de Artesanato”).
The legend of the Barcelos Rooster
It is said that a pilgrim was preparing to leave Barcelos heading to Santiago Compostela, however he was accused of stealing and was condemned to be hanged. The pilgrim protested his innocence, yet the judge did not believe him.
The judge was about to eat a roasted cock and the pilgrim said: “If I am innocent, this cock will crow three times“. When the pilgrim was about to be hanged the cock did crowed. The judge then decided to release the pilgrim.
According to the legend, a few years later when the pilgrim returned and made a statue over the event (named “the Cruzeiro do Senhor Galo“), nowadays exhibited in the Barcelos Archaeological Museum.