BARCELOS TOURISM GUIDE
An attractive market town; the birthplace of a national symbol
FIND BARCELOS HOTELS »
Barcelos is a small town known for its pottery and the most
widely-recognized symbol of Portugal -- the Barcelos Cockerel.
A 13th-century legend says a pilgrim on his way to Santiago de Compostela stopped in Barcelos and was wrongly accused of theft and sentenced to death by hanging. He was spared when he stated that to prove his innocence, the roasted rooster that the judge was about to eat would get up and crow. It did, and since then, brightly painted ceramic cockerels are sold throughout Portugal as symbols of good luck.
The main reason to visit Barcelos is for the largest weekly market in Portugal (and one of the largest in Europe) on Thursday mornings, in Campo da Republica (also known as "Campo da Feira"). It is a huge square with a Renaissance fountain, where almost anything is for sale, from traditional ceramics, to rugs, vegetables, fruit, cheese, fresh bread and cakes, clothes, and shoes.
On the north side of the square is the 18th-century Nossa Senhora do Terço Church, once part of a monastery, with a plain exterior but beautifully decorated inside with panels of tiles and gilded wood.
On the southwestern side is the pretty Church of Bom Jesus da Cruz, built in 1705 with a tiled cupola and richly decorated with gilt, tile panels, and elaborate chandeliers.
Southwest of the square is the town's old quarter, with a group of historic buildings. Fronting the river nearby is the Parish Church, Romanesque with Gothic influences and dating from the 13th century. Inside are multicolored tiles and Baroque chapels.
Next to the church are the ruins of a palace belonging to the Dukes of Bragança, ruined in the 18th century and now a small open-air archeological museum. There are stones and sculptures dating from the Roman period to the Middle Ages, and it is interesting to note the religious tombstone emblems of the various peoples to have lived in the area: both Celtic and Catholic crosses, Jewish Stars of David, and five-point Islamic pentagrams. The most famous exhibit is a cross paying tribute to the legend of the Barcelos cock. Opposite the museum is a granite, privately-owned Gothic mansion called Solar dos Pinairos, built in 1448.
Centro do Artesanato de Barcelos, a handicrafts center, displays some of the best regional handicrafts that can be bought at reasonable prices. The outstanding collection includes copperware, hand-made rugs, wooden toys, cotton tableware, and of course, the Barcelos cockerel.
For visitors who still feel they haven't seen enough ceramics, there's the Pottery Museum with a collection of more than 6,000 pieces.
It is easy to get to Barcelos by frequent trains from Porto or Viana do Castelo, or by bus from Braga or Viana do Castelo, stopping by the main square.
FIND BARCELOS HOTELS »
Do Castelo - Elegant architecture; folklore
Braga - The city of Baroque; the Portuguese Episcopal capital; a monumental staircase
Guimarães - A medieval World Heritage center; a fascinating Celtic archeological site
Ponte de Lima - Manor houses; a mythical festival
Ponte da Barca - A lovely setting; a Roman bridge
Gerês National Park - Early human vestiges within a magnificent national park
AND TAGUS VALLEY
Castelo de Vide
Vila Real de Santo António
BEIRAS (CENTRAL PORTUGAL)
Figueira da Foz
Serra da Estrela
PORTO AND DOURO
Gerês National Park
Ponte de Lima
Ponte da Barca
Viana do Castelo