The description made by José Saramago in "Journey to Portugal" in 1981 Mendo Castle is very faithful: "The first stop of the day is in Castelo Mendo. Side view is a fortress, village completely enclosed by walls, with two towers at the main entrance. Near view is all this still, another big drop, a city of melancholy dead.
Town, city, village. It is not clear how to classify a village that has all this and saves.
The traveler gave a quick turn, It was the old court, who at the time was in restoration and just to show the bellies porch columns, He entered the church and left, He saw the tall pillory, and this time was not able to drive word to someone. There were old sitting at the gates, but in such great sadness that the traveler has to feel embarrassment of consciousness. He withdrew, He looked at the ruined berrões guarding the entrance to the great wall, and he went his way. "
If the reader wants to know an old well-preserved fortified medieval town should turn to Castelo Mendo. Ignota is situated in a region of Portugal, on the left bank of the river Coa, however it lies along the main highway that connects us to Spain, but mysteriously is little visited.
Built on a granite hill, it is known that a settlement was romanized protohistorical before medieval village.
The entire set is classified as a Public Interest and is one of the twelve historical villages of Portugal (central region).
Castelo Mendo has two distinct nuclei, both muralhados. The oldest is formed by castelejo with the church of Santa Maria, The tank and the House of Representatives (which was also court, chain and is the local museum). Castelo Mendo was build in time Sancho II. Interestingly the stones of this wall are not sigladas.
The outermost wall, siglada, It was sent to the King Dinis gift and is of gothic style, at its core is implemented the latest housing project, with an irregular route, medieval streets, dwellings with shared around the churches of St. Peter and St. Vincent.
Of the six gates of the fence, There are four- Sol, False (entaipada), Guard and Vila.
Do not be surprised the friend with the small size of Castelo Mendo, Today's village, but in the Middle Ages was old enough to be an important dimension village.
Before entering the village through the front door, notice in the landscape and abated amoreiral, which has much to say as you will read more ahead.
The magical-religious Berrões the Iron Age
The berrões (verracos) They are an admirable double zoomorphic granitic (hogs or boars),located at the entrance of the Village Gate. Are pagan religious figures, with curious "magic dimples", dating from the Iron Age, reparation that their "snouts are cut" because they frighten the beasts which made them repair ", although there is here a religious erasing nature of a pre-Christian region, similar to what happens today with religious destruction of the Islamic State.
Next arribas nas Santo André, in the municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo (*) there are two other verracos, that with Castle Mendo, They are the only south of the Douro River in Portugal. The verracos are widely distributed in the Portuguese region transmontana (Ex Pelourinho of Donda tower Flame, Pillory Bragança or nut Murça) in the region of Castile and Leon in Spain.
The berrões are typical religious figures of popular culture Vetão, neighbors of Lusitanos and who were placed at the entrance of villages (still not sure of such a claim).
No one knows for sure when starting the occupation by the Romans Castle Mendo, but it sure was busy in the Iron Age because of its berrões; We are not at all despiciente consider Castelo Mendo as a village Romanized. What were these gods and rituals? That these symbols materialized zomórficos, would protect meaning? Castelo Mendo was later one romanized population as evidenced by their findings.
The Roman people, it is known that here were, as evidenced by the exhibits at the museum. Two Swabians, Visigoths or inhabitants of Muslim culture nothing is known.
To the kings of the first dynasty it became imperative to have all populated and fortified streak. To achieve the monarchs decreed all kinds of privileges to attract people. The granting of the charter was, in this context, one of the most effective legal instruments.
The charter of D. Sancho II was launched in 15 March 1229. The lands belong to Mendo Mendes (here it appears the origin of its name); the same not only signing this letter of forum, as becomes its first mayor.
The village was considered couto of homiziados, which means that here we could freely establish pursued justice, provided they satisfied certain rules.
In this same charter Sancho II, sends occupy the top of the mound with the most important men, it follows that there exists a population that has somewhat lower. Here again there is a legend that people would have run down to higher ground due to an attack of ants- how often do we hear this legend, in various locations of the country? What it Means? Because these insects would not be capable of such a feat! Would not be attacking people that viewed from afar and from above seem ants? This legend is archetypal and takes place in various locations that were ancient settlements of Romanized height.
Dinis was also important to Castelo Mendo, I renew to you the charter and made a new line of walls that were extended with the perimeter we know it today and instituted an annual fair in France Devessa. A fortified structure we see today is essentially the thirteenth century, however it was successively updated until the fifteenth century.
For the same charter, a frank fair is created in Castelo Mendo, which would take place three times a year. In Easter, na festa de S. John and S. Miguel. Each would last eight days and its participants benefit from real protection for their achievement, were “creditors or murderers”. It was the first time in official documents emerged fairs references, as previously common allusions to local markets.
The river Coa was the border of Portugal, until the signing of the treaty in Alcanices 1297, on the other side they inhabited the Sierra Leoneans enemies and so Castelo Mendo occupied a strategic position on the border of Portugal against the Leonese village of Castelo Bom.
Castelo Mendo so occupied the kingdom first line of defense with Pinhel, Vila do Touro and Sortelha, dominating one of the crossing points between the two kingdoms, the port of San Miguel.
Castelo Mendo ceased to be the county seat in 1855, with liberal reform, and from this date, declined. But the decline was already above; this way you can explain that Massena, Major General Bonaparte Napoleão, He had to face a fierce trim 19 men besieged the village- farturinha one of us!
Under the program of Historic Villages of Portugal, Castelo Mendo was relatively well restored, although there are still some points degraded (Puerta del Sol, False Door entaipada, the sidewalk medieval or Roman, some sections of the wall and the House of the Nobleman).
Intramural will find several architectural values medievos, buildings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the magnificent Aaron in the house which is said was the "old hospital of the Holy House of Mercy", makes the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, homes of Christians, pillory- the highest Borders- a small local museum, that was the old courthouse, chain and camera (with some Roman parts -coin, Mills, fíbulas, projectile points, Game Mill, the Mendes and the Mendo ...), three churches (two of them with remains of Mudejar ceilings), apart from some interesting notes of a fortress (walls, towers, and the gates castelejo) castiços and crannies scattered medieval streets with beautiful panoramas in the background.
Enter now in the inner walls of Castelo Mendo, and stop near the museum and before passing through the old port Sancho II note the Menda and eternal Mendo boyfriends.
The Passion of Menda and Mendo
Are two legendary figures, what people say enamored. The Mendo is embedded in the wall and the second museum in a building opposite. No one knows its origin, but that his love is almost eternal, there it is.
Now is inside the inner wall, with the ruins of the Church of Santa Maria, with a chapel with ceiling Mudejar, with the ruins of the citadel, Notice the tank, the door of the Little Castle and landscape.
Because Augustus died Miguel Mendonça de Sousa Royal Court?
Inside the inner wall, can only hear the sound of silence, wind or birds become. The rocky ground rises, between marigolds and poppies, the tomb of Miguel Augusto de Sousa Mendonça Royal Court, officer murdered by his men on 12 September 1840. Why is so tragic destiny? Mas at least, is a place where we all wish to stand.
Aron Castle Mendo
Situated near the medieval gate "Guard" in the Dionysian wall, we find a beautiful building of the second half of the sixteenth century that the population claims to be the old hospital of Mercy.
The building has several interesting notes such as scallop Santiago in the corner, or two Renaissance cartouches and that one of them can be read Speas Mea Deus ie the "My hope is God".
But it's inside the house on the second floor we find a cupboard built in stone on the wall, with two shelves. The cabinet has recorded several reasons for the renaissance in their pilasters, notably a dragon with aggressive expression and tail with scales. The slightly separated left of the closet we have a corbel.
The cabinet is valuable and rare. In fact the stony cabinet is a aron, ie the sacred closet Jews. Where it was stored at Torah (Roll-shaped manuscript containing the transcription of the Old Testament) a shelf and another lamp (down acetamide). The closet had no doors because it was closed with a curtain. Beside the corbel is put the chandelier 7 arms (the Memorah).
This Aaron has very strong similarities with the Castelo de Vide synagogue. It is known the existence of Jewish quarters throughout the edge, after the exodus of the Spanish kingdom, across the Guard Gate, It is a more humble home with a Christian-new symbol. However the timing of Aaron's Mendo Castle is surprising because its buildings belong to the realm of time of John III, in which Jews and Judaism were cursed in our territory. Este Aaron, It was therefore of belonging to a wealthy family criptojudaica, to make private and clandestine worship, an unprecedented destruction resistance testimony of Jewish culture in our territory. Thus gains the inscription on the exterior chart new direction, because it could adapt the two religions. The building is also located in an area, along the wall, propitious installing a Jewish quarter.
We do not believe that the building was a synagogue, due to small size of the village, but almost certainly it was a building where the Jewish population gathered to practice their rites.
The Amoreiral and Devessa Castle Mendo
But the charms do not end when we left again for the port of Berrões, because we must repair this beautiful meadow that spreads before us. Devessa is the site of grazing animals, that they should not enter in the localities for health reasons.
In Devessa, even today one can see the deck of the Fair and several fountains that provided support for the Fair and the inhabitants of the village. The New Fountain was built by King Dinis and Parish Memories 1758 reported its medicinal waters as; is semi-closed and sealed. In addition to the standpipe, the Devessa also has a loft, Calvary, the chapel of the cemetery and several centuries old mulberry.
The sericulture was an important medieval proto-industry in the region of Castelo Mendo
It is a touching amoreiral, to remember that in the year 1472 in the reign of Dom Afonso V this asked all counties to plant 20 Mulberry feet or eventually to graft the standing fig.
This region together with the towns of Castle Mendo, Mulberry, Pinhel, Almeida, Vila Nova de Foz Coa and Castelo Rodrigo, It was one of three major silk producing centers in Portugal.
For a while the women took care of the eggs of silkworm silk as if they were children. They put us in suede bags and used them to his chest until pupa born and the cord was extracted from silk cocoons.
The "luxury yarn" thus was born a wild region. For local producers was the silk of inferior quality, called "pork belly", result of cocoons torn by Pupa.
Would you like to see created a national museum of sericulture in vacant house Fidalgo- including production of handmade silk and fabric; but here we lack, restaurant, accommodation, craft store. I would also like, more mulberry trees were planted in the streets, little squares and gardens of the towns in the region because they are simply delicious.
Before you shake, park the vehicle on the road high and be sure to watch the lonely beauty of Castle Mendo, in whole, and leave with the impression that the city deserves its return. It is one of the forgotten pearls of Portugal and strangely along the most important Portuguese land border and it could be the card Business in Portugal, but in Castelo Mendo, almost there just silence, Souvenirs and beauty.
Many ladies rest the body at the door, some of them are known, when I worked here, enjoying the last rays of sunlight.
At first look sad and hopeless, but just feel my interest to them shine and find greater meaning to that time. The have found someone with whom they can, with undisguised pride speak of past glories, the curiosities, family who have in Lisbon, in Amadora or Setúbal. Casually minimize the ills that afflict them or other family members and are willing to be the cicerones of his kingdom. They like to know things, where we come from, what we do and what we think of the earth. It is fun with our city ignorance and amaze with our interest in Aaron.
When they say goodbye, We felt we were pleased with our presence.
It should be the duty of every tourist to the remarkable place that knows how his and whenever there would come, I would have to give something to town; joy, knowledge, smile, goodness, simplicity and humility and even fine materials. It feels good for healthy travelers.