Feira Afonsina Portugal
Article by Eranda
For those of you following me, you know by now it’s been 5 months since I moved to Portugal, a country which I’d always fancied, but never actually gotten the opportunity to visit before. Apart from the very-very-bad weather (it’s been rainy and cold until few weeks ago), the whole experience of living here has been amazing! I love the people, the country is absolutely magical, and I’ve grown quite font of the language as well! And oh, I’m a HUGE fan of Porto Wine and Pasteis de Nata! You guys! If you haven’t tried them yet, you don’t know what you’re missing! But well, we’ll talk about those soon on another article. This time, I want to share with you the very fascinating experience of traveling back in time!
On the last four days, we’ve time-travelled to the Middle Ages here in Guimaraes, my hometown in the North of Portugal, also the place where Portugal as a country was born. Guimaraes is a very nice small historical town, which gives me the impression of living in a movie set with all the colourful row-houses, narrow streets and small orange gardens. And with “Feira Afonsina” happening this weekend it felt even more like that! “Feira Afonsina” is a four days festival, which transforms the city into a playground of the daily Medieval routine. A whole army of actors bring to life the Medieval village set up by the castle, there are sword and horse battles happening by the Ducal Palace, several street markets revive the main streets and squares, baggers and sick people go around at night, an improvised brothel attracts many youngsters as the girls go out to seduce men, food cooked and served like back in the time, and many other activities energize the whole town!
You can also have a medieval food journey during these days. Apart from the market, restaurants and bars also get a total make over, with medieval wooden tables and straw seats, flags, cups and plates like back in the time, and all the staff gets to dress in Medieval outfits too. The main dishes served during these days are traditional Portuguese meals that date on the same period of time as well. The famous “prego” with pork and cheese, bread with chorizo, grilled sardine, bacalhau, rice and beans, crepes and ofcourse a variety of wines and rums.
But it’s not only the actors that go back in time. Everyone can participate in this jolly Medieval feast! You can easily rent clothes and wear them for the four days. You also get to take archery, swordsmanship or horse riding lessons, or participate in the dancing evenings by the castle.
It’s amazing how the whole town gets to volunteer and cooperate into hosting this event that brings thousands of people to visit. Not only a great way for boosting local cultural traits, but also a very smart way for telling the story of the country of Portugal, going beyond just books and museums, going out in the streets where once everything really happened. Economically the town gets a boost as well, as flows of tourists visit to attend the festival. A truly praiseworthy event that brings together many people.
A little historical context for “Feira Afonsina”:
Under the topic of the “Treaty of Zamora”, it depicts a period with some appeasement between King Afonso Henriques and his cousin Emperor Alfonso VII, king of Leon. This also marks a turning point in the way King Afonso Henriques starts to figure among his peers, as from that point onward, he will hold the title of king, as bestowed upon him by the king of Leon, via the treaty that resulted from their meeting in Zamora on October 1143. This change of title brought with it the configuration of a new territorial status. Under the mediation of cardinal Guido de Vico, the Pope’s legate, King Alfonso Henriques accepts his new state, however, one of the conditions imposed required him to keep pledging allegiances to his cousin. Said imposition was not pleasing to the Portuguese king, who quickly feudalized the new kingdom under the Holy See.
Photography by Eranda Janku