O nosso convidado de hoje, no flickr, dá pelo nick de LisbonVisitor e, visitando a sua galeria de fotos, encontra-se por lá uma verdadeira volta a Portugal em fotografia,
Nessa sua volta a Portugal, honra-nos na sua galeria com algumas imagens cá da terrinha, trinta e tal olhares sobre a cidade, demasiados para ficarem aqui todos, mas os suficientes mas mostrar a essência naquilo que melhor nos identifica em termos de imagem, ou seja, as maravilhas flavienses e aquilo que temos de melhor.
Claro que não poderia deixar de ser convidado deste blog.
Chaves, com muitos pecados que sobre ela vão cometendo, não deixou ainda de revelar o seu encanto e, este, está precisamente naquilo que os nossos antepassados nos legaram e ainda perduram. Um desses legados que orgulha qualquer flaviense é a Ponte Romana, não só pela sua beleza, mas também pelo respeito da sua idade. Quase 2000 anos de existência, põe-na no mais alto dos pedestais da história e das belezas que os romanos deixaram cá pela terra, a única resistente com toda a sua integridade (ou quase) e beleza.
São destas coisas que Chaves tem de melhor. Um tesouro romano, muito ainda por descobrir, a hospitalidade, um centro histórico ainda interessante (embora pouco protegido) a natureza envolvente, o termalismo e a gastronomia, entre outros. Tudo que pode haver para uma cidade triunfar a nível turístico, em quase todas as vertentes, mas que nunca, tal, foi considerado como prioridade.
Quem passa por cá, geralmente gosta do que vê, mesmo que a cidade pouco tenha para lhes oferecer, principalmente aos fins-de-semana em que Chaves quase vira a cidade fantasma, fechada para balanço, onde a pasmaceira se espraia por todas as ruas, esquinas e cantinhos, precisamente nos dias em que os turistas estão mais disponíveis e nos vão brindado com as sua visitas. Mas enfim, por cá anda-se entretido com outras prioridades, que, até ninguém sabe quais são.
Valham-nos os nossos anónimos turistas e visitantes que lá vão fazendo publicidade gratuita à cidade, como no caso do nosso convidado de hoje que além das dezenas de imagens que publica para todo o mundo ver, ainda deixa em legenda a cada uma das imagens uma interessante publicidade turística para estrangeiro ler em inglês, com as principais maravilhas de Chaves.
Obrigado Miguel, é este o nome do Lisbon Visitor, natural de Vialonga,
actualmente atualmente residente em Lisboa e Costa da Caparica (as fins de semana).
Fica também, como sempre, link para a sua galeria de fotos:
Todas as fotos hoje aqui publicadas são de autoria de Lisbon Visitor/Miguel.
Fica, a título de curiosidade, o texto que legenda cada uma das suas fotos de Chaves publicadas na sua galeria de fotos:
Chaves and Castle infos
Chaves is a town and seat of municipality in the far North of Portugal, 10 km south of the Spanish border and 22 km south of Verín, Spain. The municipality is the second most populous of the district of Vila Real. The district capital, Vila Real, is 60 km south on the A24 toll-free motorway. Aquæ Flaviæ was the Roman name for this town.
The town has always had great historical importance, being the site of an important Roman garrison and later being in the forefront of resistance during the Napoleonic invasions of the early nineteenth century. In Portuguese military history Chaves is especially famous for two battles: the siege of Chaves by French forces in 1807 and the Royalist attack on Chaves led by Henrique Paiva Couceiro in 1912.
Chaves is a town of fortifications. There is a medieval castle and two forts, Forte São Francisco and Forte São Neutel, both built in the 17th century. Nearby, two medieval fortifications still exist - the Santo Estêvão Tower, in the plain, and the Monforte Castle, in the mountains. The original Roman bridge in Chaves crossing the Tâmega River still stands with its stone arches and is the most important tourist site of Chaves. The hot thermal water (73 degrees Celsius) of Chaves have been famous since Roman times and today many people come to the town (health tourism) to take the water cure in a renewed house and modern thermal complex.
The climate in Chaves is transitional between Atlantic Maritime Temperate and Continental. The mountains between the Minho region and Trás-os-Montes serve as a climatic barrier and lessen rainfall as one moves in an easterly direction. Winters can be cold with January highs rarely reaching 10º and lows often going below zero. Thick fog hovering over the valley is also common on dry days. Summer is characterized by dry days with maximums around 38º and minimums around 15º. Summer brush fires can often make this season unpleasant.
The Chaves Castle
King Denis built the Chaves Castle in the fourteenth century. The history of this castle is fused with the history of Chaves. In 1383 King John I donated the town and the castle to the Condestável Nuno Álvares Pereira, who helped defeat the faction opposed to the new king and who were occupying the castle. This knight included the castle in the dowry of his daughter Beatriz when she married Afonso, Count of Barcelos, King John’s bastard son, who later became the first Duke of Bragança (1371-1456). His statue is in the square in front of the town hall. For this reason, some writers refer to the castle as the castle of the Duke of Bragança.
In the Middle Ages we know that the inhabitants of the region drifted to the population centers, one of which was Chaves, located on a rise overlooking the Tâmega valley. There they concentrated so that in groups that could build walls and protect themselves. This was the situation at the time of the Reconquests. Being a zone of passage in the years of war, which was almost always, the walls of the villa of Chaves were built, destroyed, and again rebuilt each time one of the factions, Christian or Muslim, occupied the castle. It is probable that for some periods the town was even completely abandoned. For lack of written documents our information is sketchy.
In 1253 Afonso III supported the reconstruction and, according to documents, in 1258 granted Chaves the status of a villa. The new tower was in some ways a copy of that built by the Castilians in the castle of Monterrey, near Verín. Later most of the wall was rebuilt, but the advent of artillery would soon make the castle obsolete, and like its sister in Monterrey it would fall into ruin.
The townsfolk themselves probably caused the worst damage. Looking for material to build their houses and walls, they slowly stripped the castle of its granite blocks. When the locals today refer to the castle they are talking about the keep tower that has been kept in a good state. It is a tall tower, about eight or nine floors. Surrounded by a pretty and impeccably kept garden, with colourful flower borders, the keep is now used to house a military museum. The first two floors are rather predictably filled with ancient guns and armour, but the upper floors provide an interesting insight into the Portuguese experience of World War I and her colonial wars in Angola and elsewhere. The view of the Alto Tâmega from the battlements is superb. On very hot summer days it is not unusual to see a column of smoke rising in the distance. Forest fires, normally caused through the carelessness of visitors when the heat has made the undergrowth as dry as tinder, are a common occurrence.
Although many of the old buildings outside the historical walls in Chaves have been demolished to make way for apartment blocks, some of them because they were literally falling down, the medieval quarter, with its Straight Street, something that many Portuguese small town has, and Santo António Street, have been declared a protected zone. Here we can find small, narrow houses, with several floors to take advantage of the reduced interior space. The medieval town was very small because the walls limited it. It had only four or five hundred inhabitants when John I in 1386 conquered it: a fact that surprised the king. Outside the walls, there was not one house; only fields. This was necessary because of the frontier location of the town and the imminent risk of invasion. The streets were very narrow. Straight Street (it wasn’t straight at all but direct), the most important, crossed the village from end to end. It was known by this name because it was the “straight “ way between the two main gates of the fortress.
To take maximum advantage of the limited space it was customary to build balconies on the first floor, which came out over the street. The balcony on the second floor then extended over that on the first, and so on. At the top the houses almost touched, leaving most of the street covered from rain or sun. The balconies were of pine or oak. On the upper floors there were residences and on the lower floors, shops and small factories. If we walk along the "Rua Direita" (straight street), we can still see some of these interesting and peculiar "varandas" balcony.
The Hot Springs
The hot springs, or Caldas, of Chaves, known all over Portugal, was formerly only a group of hot water springs. Today, after recent renovations, it is a modern thermal complex, receiving thousands of visitors every year, especially in the summer. Many small guesthouses in the old part of the town are dependent on the influx of these visitors, usually men, who come annually to take the water cure. The "termas" are located between the castle and the river, in front of a large area of grass-covered park with playgrounds and tennis courts.
The Chaves termas belong to a vast area of springs that stretches from Verín in Galicia as far south as Pedras Salgadas, 30 km from Chaves, on the road to Vila Real. Despite its vastness and abundance of water, this thermal system is little utilized. Of the nine groups of thermal springs there are only adequate installations in four of them: Chaves, Carvalhelhos, Vidago, Pedras Salgadas, and Verín.
The waters of Chaves spring forth from three springs and a temperature of 73°C. Of all the bicarbonate of soda waters of Europe, these are the hottest. This thermal presence is a rare geological phenomenon because in this area there is no evidence of volcanic activity. They are indicated for numerous treatments, including stomach, liver, intestinal, and kidney ailments. For internal medicine the main technique of application is drinking the water.
During the Roman period the distances on the highways were indicated with reference to Aquas, which demonstrates their importance in the region. Aquas or Aquae Flaviae was a Roman settlement built on the present-day site of Chaves. The Waters of Flavius, emperor in whose reign the hot water was supposedly first utilized, were used in a bathing pool, which has long since disappeared. Curiously, these hot springs that were so important for the Romans and then fell into disuse with the decadence of the town, were only exploited scientifically after 1945. Despite modernization they have yet to attract large numbers of users.
The Pedestrian Bridge and the Riverside Green Area
On November 15 an extensive green area on the east side of the Tâmega River between the Engenheiro Carmona Bridge and the Public Gardens was opened to the public. It has a playground, pedestrian and cycling paths, and a large grassy area. An ulta-modern pedestrian bridge will soon be open linking the park of the hot springs and this new recreational area. At the same time a cycling and walking path has been built on both banks of the river extending north for several kilometers.
Forte São Francisco
With the coming of the Middle Ages the medieval town of Chaves, strongly protected by the defence of the border with Galicia, became unprotected. It was understood that it had to fortify itself, garrison the nearby hilltops, in order to keep them from being occupied by enemy artillery. The first to be considered was the hill of Pedisqueira, where there was a Franciscan convent. It was decided, during the final phase of the Portuguese Restoration War (1640-1668), to build a fort according to the modern concepts of military engineering. This fort played an important role in the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal in 1807 when it was captured by Marshall Soult and then retaken when a light garrison was left to guard it. It was also the scene of several pro-royalist revolts in the early eighteenth century and later in 1910 with the advent of the Republic.
The fort is still standing in a reasonable state of preservation. The recent acquisition of the site by a hotel group and the construction of a four star hotel utilizing the old buildings has given new life to a monument that had sadly become a ruin inhabited by rats, garbage, and drug addicts.
The fort is simple; its plan based on the Vauban system, with a four-pointed star, each one serving as a lookout tower. The walls are all of granite, with about one meter of thickness. The height varies according to the slope of the terrain, but the maximum point has 20 meters. The main entrance faces the south, with a drawbridge over the moat that no longer exists. There are other gates, to the east and west. To go inside we follow a tunnel that leads to the center of the fort. Inside, besides the old church of São Francisco, where for three centuries lay the sarcophagus of the first Duke of Bragança, there are other buildings which have been artistically converted into hotel rooms. These had served the army as barracks for many years, and later were used to lodge families that had returned from the Portuguese colonies when these got their independence in the 1970s. A visit to the fort is well worth it, if not to stay in the hotel, but only to walk around the outside walls and contemplate the impressive view of Chaves.
Forte de São Neutel
This fort was built to protect the northern hill against a possible invasion from Spain during the Portuguese Restoration War in the seventeenth century. It wasn’t connected to the defense system of Chaves so its builders had to provide it with a second external war and an internal moat based on the Vauban system. It follows the irregularities of the terrain and it also has a quadrangular design, having on the corners towers that extend out over the moat. This has no water now nor did it before, since that was not its function. Because of the moat the access to the interior was made across a solid stone bridge. The walls are a meter and a half thick and 7 to 10 meters high, and are made of granite. Inside there is a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Springs where there is an annual pilgrimage. There are also small buildings that were constructed to house a military garrison. All military activity has now been transferred to the base located next door, but the castle still belongs to the army and is usually closed. On the west side is located the Chaves football stadium, which plays host to a professional team which has often been in the First Division of Portuguese football.