History, Republic Day, 5th October

Republic Day, 5th October

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Republic Day (Dia da República) is celebrated on 5th October and commemorates the end of the monarchy and the establishment of Portugal as a Republic in 1910. Dissatisfaction with the monarchy had been growing since King Carlos ascended the throne in 1889 due to his weakness, extravagance, reactionary attitude, close relationship with the Catholic Church and attempts at dictatorial rule.

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King Carlos, photo by Vidal and Fonseca, National Coach Museum, Belém

By 1908 he, along with his very unpopular Prime Minister João Franco, had alienated most sectors of the country. At the same time the Portuguese Republican Party was gaining strength, with an agenda aimed at making the country socially and politically stable. On 1st February 1908 King Carlos and his son and heir to the throne, Luís Filipe, were assassinated in the former Terreiro do Paço (Palace Square, what is now the Praça do Comércio) in Lisbon.

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Italian magazine cover showing the assassination of King Carlos and Prince Luís Filipe, Lisbon Story Museum, Lisbon
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Praça do Comércio, Lisbon

The attack is not believed to have been carried out by the Republican Party, but by one of the secret societies (such as the Carbonários), which had activists in their ranks, and it is possible that the intended target was the detested João Franco rather than the royal family. King Carlos’ 18-year-old younger son became King Manuel II and his ineffectual rule witnessed seven changes of government in two years, during which time republicanism was spreading among the urban population, including the army and navy. By early October 1910 large numbers of the armed forces were starting to rebel and were outnumbering the royalist forces. On the night of 4th October 1910 the Republican forces attacked the Palácio das Necessidades where the King was staying. He escaped initially to Mafra and then fled the country, living the rest of his life in exile in the United Kingdom until his death in 1932. By the morning of 5th October 1910 the royalist troops were defeated and Portugal was declared a Republic. A provisional government came into power, led by Joaquim Teófilo Braga, which introduced liberal reforms, including separating the Church and the State. The anti-clerical stance of the government made it very unpopular in rural areas. The first election was held in May 1911, but it marked the start of a period of instability marked by repression, anarchy and military uprisings. There were 45 changes of government in 16 years and in 1926 there was another revolution which paved the way for Salazar’s Estado Novo (New State) and 48 years of military dictatorship until Portugal finally gained democracy after the ‘Carnation Revolution’ in 1974.

Two of the symbolic changes made after the 1910 revolution are still used as official symbols of Portugal today: the flag and the national anthem. The royalist blue and white flag was replaced with the current green (representing hope) and red (representing fight) flag with the Portuguese coat of arms in the middle. The national anthem was replaced with ‘A Portuguesa’ with its rousing lyrics:

Heróis do mar, nobre povo, / Nação valente, imortal, / Levantai hoje de novo / O esplendor de Portugal! / Entre as brumas da memória, / Ó Pátria, sente-se a voz / Dos teus egrégios avós, / Que há-de guiar-te à vitória! / Às arma!, Ás armas! / Sobre a terra, sobre o mar, / Às armas! Ás armas! / Pela Pátria lutar / Contra os canhões marchar, marchar!

(Heroes of the sea, noble people, / Brave nation, immortal, / Rise up again today / Portugal’s splendour! / Through the mists of memory, / Oh Fatherland, hear the voice / Of your illustrious forefathers, / That will lead you to victory! / To arms! To arms! On land, on sea, / To arms! To arms! / To fight for our Fatherland / Against the cannons march on, march on!)

The 5th October is a public holiday in Portugal, but it is fair to say that it has been superseded in importance by Freedom Day (25th April), when the Portuguese overthrew another dictatorial leader.

Portuguese music, Tunas – student troubadours in Portugal

Tunas – student troubadours in Portugal

Porto (0843)If you have visited one of the major cities in Portugal you may have seen groups of students in the street dressed in dark cloaks, singing songs and playing traditional instruments. These groups are called tunas universitárias. The tuna is an Iberian and North African musical tradition which dates back to the thirteenth century and is still prevalent in Portugal today. As in the thirteenth century, tunas are groups of university (and nowadays secondary school) students who sing romantic and sad songs or satiric songs about their university accompanied by traditional instruments such as the guitar, mandolin, cavaquinho (a small ukulele-like guitar) and tambourine. They also often perform a dance, often involving the tambourine.

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Each tuna is part of a faculty of the university and the members of the group wear traditional dark cloaks and will have ribbons tied to their instruments which represent their faculty. They can often be seen performing in the streets of the city raising money for charity. However, in the Middle Ages in Spain the singers were known as sopistas, as they were poor students who had to literally sing for their supper of a bowl of soup (sopa) and many tuna groups still carry a wooden spoon as a symbol of this. By the sixteenth century groups of musicians were playing music for entertainment rather than survival and they became known as tunas. The word tuna is thought to have come from the name of the city of Tunis where a well-known troubadour lived, and is nothing to do with the fish (which in Portuguese is atum). Tunas first appeared in Portugal in the mid-to late-nineteenth century when students at Coimbra University were inspired by the tunas they had seen in Spain. The idea soon spread to Porto University and now tuna groups are all over the country.

The VenusMonti tuna group, made up of a group of students from Lisbon University Faculty of Law, were invited to sing at the Saint Anthony weddings in Lisbon in June 2018 and we were lucky enough to watch them rehearsing ‘Se Tu Soubesses’ (‘If You Only Knew’) before the wedding.

Portuguese music, The Portuguese phenomenon of pimba

The Portuguese phenomenon of pimba

Long before Salvador Sobral put Portuguese popular music on the world radar by winning the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest there was another kind of Portuguese pop music, little known outside of Portugal, which is extremely popular throughout the country. It is called pimba and if you have been in rural Portugal in the summer you are likely to have heard it. At its most basic level pimba is an unsophisticated pop music with a repetitive melody, simple lyrics and often with an accordion and synthesiser accompaniment and its toe-tapping beats get people up and dancing, which is why it is so popular at the summer festivals that are held in the rural villages of Portugal in August, a time when many of the Portuguese who have emigrated to other countries for work return to their villages. However, the songs also reveal something of the Portuguese character and their sense of humour, as the lyrics of many of the songs contain different levels of sexual innuendo. The word pimba was originally used as an interjection, expressed at an unforeseen event, but it has now also taken on the meaning of kitsch and in bad taste or vulgar. The man responsible for this is a singer named Emanuel, who is 1995 released a single called Pimba, pimba in which the chorus goes: ‘E se elas querem um abraço ou um beijinho/Nós pimba, nós pimba/E se elas querem muito amor, muito carinho/Nós pimba, nós pimba’ (And if they want a hug or a little kiss/We …, we …/And if they want a lot of love and a lot of affection/We …, we …’). (The closest I can come to translating the word pimba in this song, which I have represented with ellipses, is the British English verb ‘to bonk’.) From this song the word pimba started to be used a term for this type of music, where the lyrics have a humorous sexual connotation. Two other very popular songs in this genre are ‘Ketchup’ by Quim Gouveia (1995) and ‘A Cabritinha’ by Quim Berreiros (2004). In Ketchup Gouveia uses puns to give the song a double-meaning, reminiscent of Benny Hill-type humour. The verse is very innocent, telling the story Manel and Maria who are buying ingredients to cook a fish stew when the bottle of tomato sauce breaks, and on one level the chorus is also innocent saying that Manel says to Maria ‘Queres ketchup?’ (‘Do you want ketchup?’), but in Portuguese the word ‘ketchup’ when pronounced ‘kay-ti-shoop’ is slang for oral sex (‘que te chupe’). A Cabritinha (‘The Little Goat’) takes the vulgarity to a different level. From the start the jolly acordeon music belies the distasteful lyrics which tell the story of a baby who was nursed by cows and other animals and now that baby is a man who can only get pleasure sucking on the teats of a goat. The line ‘Eu gosto de mamar/Nos peitos da cabritinha’ is repeated over and over in the infectious melody that gets stuck in the head. This song is so popular it has even been included on a compliaton CD of Portuguese summer party songs, Festa de Verão, where there are 37 similar-style songs, admitedly not all quite so vulgar as this song. In Britain we don’t really have popular music like this, we used to have novelty songs with innuendo and double entendres in the pop charts in the 1970s and ’80s, such as ‘Ernie’ by Benny Hill and ‘My Ding A Ling’ by Chuck Berry, which seem so innocent in comparison with the Portuguese pimba songs!

If you do get the chance to go to a summer party in a Portuguese village, usually to celebrate the local patron saint, you will definitely not only hear pimba music, but also get to watch the locals dancing the pimba dance, which is based on a Cape Verdean dance called the funaná, where the couples hold each other in a ballroom-type hold, moving the arm that is holding the other partner’s hand up and down rapidly, shifting weight from one foot to the other, which makes the bottom move vigorously from side to side, as they spin round. As well as being popular in the rural parts of Portugal, where the returning émigrés associate the songs nostalgically with home and summer, pimba music has also become surprisingly popular with students in the cities. Maybe they are finding a level of satire that with my level of Portuguese I am unable to see, but as one of my Portuguese friend says, ‘They are not the songs that we are most proud of, but every Portuguese person knows them!’

Algarve, Wine and sculptures at Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate, Estômbar

Wine and sculptures at Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate, Estômbar

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pic (221)As we approached the Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate on foot from Estômbar, we were greeted with the sight of life-size colourful bears doing handstands among the vines and a curvaceous red giantess standing on the top of a hill. We knew we had arrived. The estate is no ordinary winery, but also a renowned sculpture park, where the owner, Karl Heinz Stock, displays his and other artists’ grand sculptures of elephants, bears, hippos, birds and unfashionably Rubenesque dancers.

Many of the works are for sale and, for people who want to try their hand at making something in the arts-and-crafts-line themselves, workshops are held at certain times. Images of some of the sculptures have made their way onto the labels of the estate’s wine bottles, including the company’s logo of the Sirens from a work ‘Legends of the Seas’ by Fachraddin Rzaev.pic (117) We were happy wandering around the grounds on our own (although we did notice a group of visitors on a guided tour of the grounds), moving from one area of sculptures to another, past a barbecue area, a swimming pool and an outdoor eating area

I fell in love with the kissing hippos in a pond surrounded by blue, purple, green and red naked women floating on the water.pic (161) We finally arrived at an area of sculptures by Ivan Ulmann, whose work is prolific throughout the estate, which included small elephants painted to illustrate the parables which are printed on the accompanying information boards, such as ‘The Day an Elephant Crossed the Land of Plenty’, and another of my favourite sculptures in the grounds, the ‘Love Car’, an old car completely covered with mosaic tiles.

As we walked through the grounds we passed fruit trees with oranges, lemons and plums waiting temptingly to be picked.pic (136) Dotted around the 44-hectare estate we took a sneaky peek at some of the accommodation that can be rented, including a lovely villa, a cottage and apartments, and decided that it would make a wonderful location for a peaceful holiday, a wedding or a very special party.pic (176)

We discovered a large area of animal pens hidden away at one end of the estate, with geese, sheep and goats. The geese were noisy and keen to make their presence felt, while the group of sheep and goats were running around the grounds acting very camera-shy. We finally caught up with them in the orange grove.

But it was the wine that we really went to the Quinta dos Vales for, having already tasted a bottle of the Marquês dos Vales white wine at the Lagoa Jazz Festival. Vines have been grown on the estate since the 1980s, when commercial wine production in the Algarve began and vines can be seen growing for as far as the eye can see, including grape varieties such as Syrah, Verdelho, Aragonês, Arinto, Touriga Nacional, Castelão and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Quinta produces two labels: the aforementioned award-winning Marquês dos Vales and a new range of fruity, uncomplicated wines on the Dialog label (look out for the kissing hippos, elephants and bears on the labels). Finally we got to try some wines, opting for a solo tasting, which for the bargain price of €5 allowed us to taste four glasses of wine from the Marquês dos Vales label. A leaflet of tasting notes was provided. The glasses were arranged on an ingenious holder that allowed us to safely carry three glasses to the secluded seating area, where we sat back to enjoy the Duo White 2015, the Duo Rosé 2016 and the Elegant Grace 2012. The Duo White was a blend of Verdelho and Arinto grapes and was light with a citrus flavour. It was very refreshing on that hot day. The Duo Rosé was a blend of Touriga Nacional and Castelão grapes. It was pale pink in colour and had a strong floral perfume. It was a young wine with a slightly sharp flavour. The Elegant Grace was a red wine made of a blend of Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Aragonês grapes. It was a light and acidic with a garnet-red colour. Finally, we were served a glass of the Licoroso Red 2010 made with Touriga Nacional grapes. This was a fortified wine with a cherry aroma and a smooth, berry flavour. It reminded of the cherry liqueur ginjinha that I have drunk and enjoyed in Lisbon. Luckily neither of us was driving, so we were able to enjoy all of the wines knowing a taxi would take these two tipsy people back to Carvoeiro.


Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate, Sítio dos Vales, Estômbar

Opening hours: October to April Monday-Friday 9am-6pm; May to September Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm. Entrance to the grounds is free.

Tastings (as of June 2017): a solo wine tasting is €5 for 4 glasses. For an extra €9.90 per person they will provide regional snacks such as bread, cheese, ham, pâté, and olives. A private tour of the winery and cellar costs €29.90, plus €6 per person for a guided wine tasting with bread and olive oil.

By public transport: the Faro-Lagos train stops at Estômbar railway station or the Lagoa-Portimão bus stops in front of the station. It is a 10-15-minute walk from the station. Follow the sign on the signpost opposite the station to Quinta dos Vales.