Portugal is a country full of stories, myths and legends. Discover some of these stories that influence the culture and customs of this fantastic country. They are tales that reveal places, acts of courage, adventures and love stories.
Check out some of these sensational Portuguese legends:
Legend of the Rooster of Barcelos
This is one of the best known legends in Portugal and tells the story of a crime that scared the population of Barcelos. Without an identified official, the suspicions fall on a newly arrived pilgrim, who was passing through the region due to the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Although the pilgrim has sworn to his innocence, the authorities decide to arrest him and to sentence him to the gallows. As a last request, the pilgrim requests to meet with the judge who had condemned him. Upon arriving at the judge’s residence, the magistrate was enjoying a great banquet with some friends.
The pilgrim did not miss the opportunity to reaffirm his innocence and beg for his life. The people present at the place did not believe the man’s pleas and, realizing this, the pilgrim pointed to the roast rooster that was on the table and said: “It is so certain that I am innocent, how certain it is that rooster crows when they hang me”. The pilgrim is taken for the hanging between laughter, but in doubt no one ate the rooster.
When the pilgrim was on the gallows, the rooster gets up and begins to sing, announcing the man’s innocence. The judge ran to the gallows and saw that the pilgrim was alive with the loose rope around his neck. The magistrate had the man released immediately.
Years later the pilgrim returned to sculpt the Monument of the Lord of the Rooster in praise of the Virgin Mary and Santiago Maior, a monument that is currently found in the Archaeological Museum of Barcelos.
Legend of the Hells Mouth
Hells Mouth (Boca do Inferno) is located in Cascais and legend has it that a long time ago there was an evil wizard who lived in a castle in the region. The wizard, who wanted to get married, chose the most beautiful girl in the area as his wife and when he saw her he decided to lock her up in a lonely tower, out of jealousy of her beauty.
Confined, the girl was watched by a knight who guarded the tower. As time passed the two began to talk, until one day the knight decides to go up to the tower to meet his friend. Enchanted by her beauty, the knight falls in love with the maiden as soon as he sees her. The two lovers decided to run away on horseback, unaware that the wizard had cast a spell to know everything that happened to the maiden.
The couple fled to a nearby rock. Enraged, the sorcerer evoked a violent storm to prevent the lovers from escaping, hitting the rock on which the couple passed. The rock formation opened a huge hole through which very strong waves passed and, like a mouth, the rock swallowed the lovers. The hole was never closed again and the inhabitants of the region began to call this rock formation Hells Mouth (Boca do Inferno) for the terrible fate the couple had.
Miracle of the Roses
The miracle of roses is one of the most told legends in Portugal and tells the story of Queen D. Isabel de Aragão who helped the most disadvantaged.
Isabel used to support the underprivileged by donating food, clothes, coins, among others. Often the Queen did charitable activities without the permission of her husband, King D. Dinis. The King tried to prevent D. Isabel’s good deeds and on a cold January morning, D. Dinis was informed that his Queen was organizing yet another act of solidarity.
Isabel followed a strange path, hiding bread in her clothes to offer to the poorest, when the King surprised her. Upon seeing her, D. Dinis asks what she carried in her clothes. Immediately, the Queen replies that she was taking some roses to decorate the new Monastery. However, incredulous of what his wife said, the King does not believe that she took flowers, as it was not the time for roses to bloom.
Realizing that the King was not convinced about what she was carrying, D. Isabel opened her arms and released her dress, dropping countless roses at her feet. The crowd that had gathered to watch that scene was surprised, as they knew that the Queen carried bread to give to the underprivileged. At that moment they believed that God had interceded for D. Isabel, turning the bread into roses.
Want to know these and other stories? Come and visit Portugal in the company of Go2Lisbon and hear from our fantastic narrative guides about this country rich in culture.