The Pillory Of Tomar

Pillories are stone columns, although some were made of wood, placed in a public place, in a city or village, where the criminals were tortured and publicly humiliated. In Portugal, the pillories of the municipality were located in front the City or Town Hall from the 12th century onwards. Many had on the side a small cage-shaped hut, with iron bars, where offenders were exposed as a form of public shame. These kinds of pillories usually consisted of a base, on which a column or shaft rested, and ended in a capital. Some of them were extremely adorned and served as a symbol of the power of judicial authorities. Its presence was intended to serve as a deterrent to other would-be offenders.

The pillory of Tomar was built in the 18th century,pillory in the now Praça da República. In 1940 it was taken for restoration and, once restored, it was placed in the Largo do Pelourinho. Before this one, two others existed:

The first one on the old Chão do Pombal, at the time of the Knights Templar, and the second one was built later in front of Largo Paços de D. Manuel (presently, Praça da República), in the 16th century, and it has been replaced by the present pillory.

The parts of the Pillory of Tomar

The pillory is made of limestone. As far as the base of the column is concerned, the prismatic part is square-shaped, with bevelled angles and frame in each of the concave sides. The superior side is also bevelled, to reduce the support base of the column. It’s shaft is a pyramidal block emerging from its small base, becoming round-shaped in the middle and then it starts to get thinner all the way to the capital, which is marked by an angular frame on each side. Its sides and angles are well decorated with natural elements. From the top of the pyramidal block, and crowning the monument, rises an iron armillary sphere. The armillary sphere became a common motif during the Age Of Discoveries and it is present in many Manueline styled monuments.

The Manueline style, also known as the Portuguese late Gothic, is an architectural and sculptural art style developed during the reign of King Manuel I and which continued after his death. This style incorporates sea elements and representations of the Discoveries brought from the voyages made by Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral. The Manueline style emerged during a prosperous and glorious period in the history of Portugal, and its presence can be seen in several monuments all over the country.

Summer showers ahead?

The mercury is set to dip slightly over coming days and showers, heavier towards the south, will be in place for much of the country for most of the coming week.

Lisbon: A pleasant and warm Saturday will give way to a cooler Sunday, at around 25 degrees Celsius, and Lisbon could see a few showers around, being heavier on Sunday and gradually easing up as the new week progresses.

The South: Southern Portugal will enjoy a warm if slightly cloudy weekend, with temperatures at around 28 degrees Celsius, before heavy showers move in on Monday and spots of rain lasting until the middle of next week.

The North: The north will be partly cloudy for most of the weekend and cooler than the rest of the country, at around 22 degrees. Rain will fall on Monday and Tuesday, becoming lighter towards Friday.

What You Need to Know about Sargassum Invading the Caribbean

There has been a lot of discussion and concern about the invasion of seagrass we have had in Mahahual and throughout the Caribbean this year. It has really effected tourism and caused problems on the beaches this year. I came across this article today from Barbados, and I thought I would share. To me it is the best explanation and insight into this problem that I have come across. It is written by an official of the Barbados government.

Peter Gregory Sargeant GSM HST (MAN OF GOD)
Public Relations Officer at The Asthma Association Of Barbados

A strange phenomenon occurred in the Caribbean in 2011. A massive tide of sargassum, brown invasive algae, washed on to the shores of the region’s popular beaches. A similar event is occurring today. Tourism officials are disgruntled by the masses of smelly brown seaweed that are inundating coastlines. Although seaweed is normally seen as a nuisance for local residents and travelers, it does offer some ecological benefits. Plus, sargassum is only temporary and it’s fairly unpredictable, so don’t let its presence in the Caribbean affect your travel plans. Here’s what you need to know about sargassum in the Caribbean.

1. Where Does Sargassum Come From?

The algae originates in the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean around Bermuda. The Atlantic is home to two species (S. natans and S. fluitans) which reproduce vegetatively and travel on the ocean’s surface. These two species are also found throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, transported by the Gulf Stream.

2. What Causes Sargassum Invasions?

An explanation for the sudden invasion of tons of algae on Caribbean shores is changing weather patterns and creating warmer temperatures in the region. According to one marine biologist, cooler autumn weather traditionally slows the algae’s growth, plus changes ocean circulation patterns, water temperature and nutrient systems and “typically keep the weed at sea.” As the sea temperature increases, sargasssum is more likely to make its way to the shores of Caribbean beaches.

3. Inhabits All of the World’s Oceans Except…

The Arctic. Sargassum can be found floating on the surface of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, but you will not see the brown algae in the world’s most southern body of water.

4. Sargassum’s Healing Powers

The brown algae has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since the eighth century. Sargassum seaweed is a source of iodine used to treat goiters, thyroid disorders, and as a diuretic. It also treats pain from hernias and swollen testes.

5. Sargassum’s Great for Soil

In Tobago, the government has been encouraging farmers to use it as fertilizer. Sargassum is full of nutrients and carbon, making it an excellent natural manure for farmers in the region. Sargassum is also an excellent fertilizer for worn beaches.

6. The Turtles Love It

When sargassum is traveling in the ocean, it acts as both a shelter and food source for turtle hatchlings who are not strong swimmers yet. Green sea turtles will eat large amounts of sargassum throughout their lifetimes. Besides sea turtles, this floating habitat provides food, refuge and breeding grounds for an array of other sea life including crabs, shrimp, mahi mahi, jacks, and amberjacks.

7. Sargassum Protects the Beachfront

The algae serves as buffer on the beach by reducing wave and wind erosion. It also protects the sand in dunes, making them more resilient. Less erosion means more sand on the beaches to structurally support beachfront properties and for people to play in.

8. Food for the Birds

When the sargassum and all of the organisms living within the masses of seaweed wash ashore, it provides food for pelagic seabirds and pelicans.

9. When Sargassum Sinks

Berry-like gas-filled structures, called pneumatocysts, make up the plant. These “berries,” which are filled mostly with oxygen, cause the algae to float. When sargassum loses its buoyancy, it sinks to the seafloor, providing energy in the form of carbon and also food sources to fishes and invertebrates in the deep sea.

10. What’s Next?

Many are wondering if the invasion of sargassum in the Caribbean will be a cyclical occurrence. Marine biologists note that as weather patterns, temperatures and wind speeds change within the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, sargassum can be expected. Biologists are working hard to understand the source and patterns of sargassum. You can visit the Sargasso Sea Commission website for updated information.

The History of the Mariachi Music

Let yourself be swayed through the history and culture of this celebratory and traditional ensemble…

What do accordions, trumpets, guitars and violins have in common? The mariachi of course! Modern day mariachi music uses most or all of these instruments. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, this indigenous music was played with rattles, drums, flutes and conch-shell horns as part of religious celebrations. The Spanish replaced the native instruments with the previously mentioned instruments, changing the delivery but not the sound.

You can walk down Quinta Avenida at almost any time of the day or night and find a group of mariachi playing all the often-heard favorites from “Guadalajara” and “La Cucaracha” to “Cielito Lindo” and “La Bamba”.

The more authentic kind of mariachi music includes classics like Lola Beltrán’s “Cucurrucucu Paloma” and “Tres Días” to Linda Ronstadt’s “Canciones de Mi Padre” and “Más Canciones” with Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, recognized as the oldest and most famous mariachi ensemble, founded by Gaspar Vargas in the late 1890’s in Jalisco.

The exact derivation of the word mariachi is unknown although there are many theories. One theory is that it stemmed from the French word mariage (“marriage”) dating back to France’s intervention in Mexico in the 1860s and related to the music’s appearance at weddings. However, documents show this word existed before French involvement in Mexico. Other theories suggest the word comes from the indigenous name of a tree called tila or cirimo (its blossoms provide us with soothing linden tea). Another says that it came from an image locally called Maria H, pronounced “María A-che”.

No matter what the origin, this music, when played well, with soul and heart, perfectly reflects Herbie Hancock’s saying “Music happens to be an art form that transcends language.” It can also transport you to another time and place. So as you walk down the street and hear a mariachi band, even if you aren’t familiar with the words, you will know its rhythm and history.

June construction up in Portugal

Construction sector output in June fell 0.5 percent in the Eurozone and 0.2 percent in the European Union as a whole, while output in Portugal rose 0.6 percent, figures released by the EU’s statistics office, Eurostat, show.

Construction output was up 3.4 percent from June of last year in the Eurozone and 3.6 percent in the EU as a whole; in Portugal it was up 3.1 percent.
According to Eurostat, the largest month-on-month drops in output were in Germany, down 1.0 percent, with Belgium and France, both down 0.7 percent. The largest increases were in Slovenia, up 12.1 percent, with Spain and Slovakia, both up 2.2 percent.

According to Eurostat, the largest month-on-month drops in output were in Germany, down 1.0 percent, with Belgium and France, both down 0.7 percent. The largest increases were in Slovenia, up 12.1 percent, with Spain and Slovakia, both up 2.2 percent.
Hungary enjoyed the largest year-on-year increase in output, at 27.2 percent, followed by Slovenia, with 21.2 percent. Romania and Slovakia suffered decreases, at 6.3 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.

Hungary enjoyed the largest year-on-year increase in output, at 27.2 percent, followed by Slovenia, with 21.2 percent. Romania and Slovakia suffered decreases, at 6.3 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.

The Roman Occupation of Portugal and Conimbriga

The modern name of Portugal was not used until the 11th cen­tury.

The names in italics are the ones that were used at the time of the Roman Empire.

In 210BC the Romans entered the southern Iberian peninsula and quickly subdued the Mediterranean coast and the south of Spain and Portugal. In the central Iberian region they met great re­sistance and in 193BC the Lusitani rose up in arms. Based in central Portugal between the Tejo and the Lima rivers the Lusitani were known to the Romans as ‘Strabo’ “the most powerful of the Ibe­rian peoples, who resisted the armies of Rome for the longest period”. Under the rebel leader Viriato, possibly born in the area of Loriga in the Serra d’Estrela, they held up the Roman advance for 50 years, only finally losing in 139BC.

In 60BC Julius Caeser established his capital at Olisipo (Lisbon) and then built significant settlement at Ebora (Évora), Scallibis (Santarém) and Pax Julia (Beja).

Under the Emperor Augustus the Iberian provinces were reorganised in 27BC, with everything but the north of Portugal governed as Lusitánia. The Minho area formed part of another province which was added to northern Spain to become Gallaecia, with an important regional centre at Bracara Augusta (Braga).

The Roman influence was greatest in the south, where they established huge agricultural estates ‘litifundia’ (many of which survive today in the Alentejo).They introduced wheat, olives, barley and of course vines, to Portugal. The Romans ruled for 6 centuries under the emperors Tiberius, Trajar, Hadrian (he of the famous wall in the UK) and Diodetian. They have left many roads and bridges which are still in use today, 2000 years later. The Portuguese lan­guage is heavily based on Latin, which was the language of Rome, and one of the biggest influences that survives to­day from the Roman Empire, through­out southern Europe.

Conimbriga is one of the largest Roman settlements in Portugal and is classified as a National Monument. It lies 16km south of Coimbra and is well signposted from the main road. The site has a mu­seum that displays objects found by ar­chaeologists, including coins and surgi­cal tools, and you can walk around the site virtually unrestricted.

Excavations were first recorded in 1899 but real systematic excavation work started in 1936 and is on-going. In the museum shop they sell an excellent book ‘Guide to the Ruins’ (available in English) which you should get before you tour the site.

The name Conimbriga derives from an early, possibly pre-Indo-European ele­ment ‘conim’ meaning “rocky height or outcrop” and the Celtic ‘briga’, signifying a defended place. It was first conquered in 137BC by Decimus Julius Brutus and remodelled in the Roman style by Au­gustus.
Although Conimbriga was not the larg­est Roman city in Portugal, it is the best preserved. The city walls are largely in­tact, and the mosaic floors and founda­tions of many houses and public build­ings remain. In the baths, you can view the network of stone heating ducts be­neath the now-missing floors.

Like many museums in Portugal there is a small entry fee but on Sundays and Public Holidays it is free. There is a café/restaurant in the museum where you can sit on the balcony overlooking the ruins, and a small gift shop.

Other roman sites in Central Portu­gal include The Rabaçal Roman Villae, which was situated close to the Roman Way that connected Olisipo to Bracara Augusta, on the road between Sellium (Tomar) and Conímbriga. Here there are some excellent mosaics displaying dol­phins, ivy leaves, the seasons, and more. The ruins are open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm but closed between 1pm and 2pm for lunch. In order to visit the ruins you must first visit the museum. The collections here came from the ex­cavations that have been carried out since 1984 in the Roman Villae and in the farm, both dating from the 4th cen­tury A.D. There are displays of ceram­ics, metals, glass and wall decorations made of marble.

At Santiago da Guarda, North West of Ansiao, it is also possible to see pre­served roman remains and mosaics, in a museum in the centre of the town. Here part of the visitor centre has glass floors and viewing areas to allow you to get the best views of the excavations.
At Bobadela north of Coimbra there is also a Roman Arch in the town along with numerous other pillars and fea­tures and Amphitheatre in the church grounds.

The decline of the Roman occupation of Portugal echoed its decline throughout Europe. The Roman Empire was already disintegrating when the first Christians landed on the southern shores of ‘Lusi­tania’ around 200AD.

In the early 5th century Lusitania was attacked and occupied by the Suevi and the Visigoths (Germanic peoples), and in 410 Rome was sacked by the Visig­oths led by Alaric I.