Porto – This City’s Many Faces
01 Sep, 2017, By Manuel A.
Porto is a city made of people: mostly lively and friendly people, whose faces hide their immense history and lots of curious facts, they don’t mind sharing with everybody. Some of these portuense people have made an enormous difference in our city or have been considered important at a specific time of our history. Therefore, the city is “studded” with statues, memorial buildings and busts.
I must confess that I love the busts that enrich my city, from the famous ones in the biggest plazas, avenues and buildings, to those forgotten by people and time in many street corners and small gardens. They stash so many curious stories only the most interested dare to reveal. They hide Porto’s true essence, and narrate my people’s history…
Three of them are engraved on my memory since my childhood times. One of them is the one of Willy Brandt, the West Germany chancellor and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, whose bust is was sited in front of a green, grassy pyramid in the Foz district. I remember walking in front of it every Saturday morning coming from my football matches, and my father telling me about his legacy.
The other is Guilherme Gomes Fernandes’ bust. He was a rich, active and heroic portuense benefactor, who founded (and funded) the first Portuguese firefighters corporation. He was also their commander and always stood in the front line when it came to fight the hot and silent foe. His bust is located on top of a small column in the plaza with his name, where I used to have breakfast during my college days…
The third one is the bust of Bacchus, the roman divinity of wine and agriculture, left under a rusty cloud of forgetfulness in one of the corners of Praça da República, downtown. It was created by Teixeira Lopes, and the teen God is portrayed in the most delightful way, smiling as if suffering from a wine fever. I personally adore this statue because it reminds me of my college days, when I used to spend whole afternoons reading and chatting with friends in that silent and deserted garden.
Like the faces of the bus driver, the café waitress and the street vendor I see every day, these are also the faces of Porto.