Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Golegã ...

Horse sense is the thing a horse has, which keeps it from betting on people.

W C Fields

 

 

The Golegã Crest
The Golegã Crest

Golegã (say it Go-gan) is the Portuguese 'Capital of the Horse' (Capital do Cavalo), and has been the site for the gathering of breeders since at least the 18th century. Two fairs take place every November in Golegã: the Feira Nacional do Cavalo (National Horse Fair) and the Feira Internacional do Cavalo Lusitano, dedicated to the 'Lusitano' The Lusitano is an ancient Portuguese breed of horse that until the 1960's shared its registration with the Spanish horse, the Andalusian.

Both are sometimes called Iberian horses, as their land of origin is the Iberian peninsula.

These Iberian horses were developed for use in war, dressage and bull fighting.



A pencil drawing of a Lusitano stallion.
Subject and drawing are magnificient!

horse.

I think I made my position clear in the last post; I am no lover of the horse. I accept that I am probably in the minority with my take on equine hi-jinks, so I am willing to try to understand what it is that horsey-people see in them. However, being thrown together arbitrarily with these huge beasts by choosing to live in horsey-wonderland was not part of my plan.

Shit happens! But there again, horse manure appears to be a much sought-after fertilizer.

Determined to make the best of it I began asking questions about Golegã. It appears the little town is steeped in history. At this point I expect many readers of this post to switch off. History can really bore the pants off the masses. If it didn't, there would be as many historians as there are bloggers. So my task here is to try and hold your attention with a little bit of 'this' and a little bit of 'that'!

The River Tagus ('Rio Tejo') dominates the region. Along its banks, north and south, farming is the main occupation. Grape, olive and fig orchards are also in abundance. Local activities consist of wine-making and glass-blowing. Bullfighting is also a regional pastime, as you would expect in a horse-dominated region, but I shall skip over the subject here as that's a topic for a later date. There are several nature reserves in the surrounding area, dedicated to the heron and other migrating birds, and most of them are only a bicycle ride away from where we intend to put down our roots.

Apart from its horsey-status mentioned in the opening paragraph, the foremost historical sight of Golegã is its main church (Igreja Matriz da Golegã), built in the early 16th century in Manueline (Portuguese late Gothic) style. The remarkable main portal and the ribbed vaulting inside the main chapel are its most important artistic features.

The winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature, José Saramago, was born in the parish of Azinhaga in 1922.

One more significant fact. Located less than 5 kilometres from Golegã is the Quinta da Cardiga (the Cardiga Estate), on which a manor house with its origins in a 12th century donation to the Knights Templar stands. Originally the site of a castle, the property was remodelled in the 16th century into a Renaissance rural palace. Why is that important to me? Because the palace is only a couple of hundred metres away from where we intend to live after we have renovated the property that we've recently bought.

Enough, already! Time to insert a few pics ...

 

The horse is a prominent feature, and that includes traffic signs as well. The houses are small, but very neat and tidy, and brightly painted. The main square showing the Café Central, famous for its steaks - beef, not horse. The church is out of shot on the right.
The ornate 16th century Manueline portal of the Igreja Matriz da Golegã The interior of the church. A shot of the church lit up at night.
The Carlos Relvas Museum. It was formerly his house and studio. Lusitano's grazing peacefully in the surrounding countryside. A mare and her foal running freely. A lovely sight, even for a non-horsey person!

 

That's it for now. It was a simple tour of the area, and I'm sure I will come up with more in time ...

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10 comments:

Shrinky said...

Why have I a clip of the "Da Vinci Code" playing arund in my head?

(And I'm trying hard to banish the picture of you flogging yourself in a religous estcasy, so I am!)

But all jesting aside, you truly do seem to have found a little piece of heaven in which to settle in.

Fletch said...

Yes, it is nice, isn't it? I don't have a secluded stream like you have, but I have the bloody great river only a couple of hundred metres away. And there are fish in it!

Haven't touched my rods for the best part of 10 years, but that is about to change. The only heavy thing I intend to carry to its banks is the six-pack. Catching the fish may well be considered coincidental!

Shrinky said...

Hey, I have salmon and trout too, I'll have you know (well, alledgedly, seeing as how I tend to prefer to eat mine fresh from the fishmongers..).

Happy lazy days by the riverbank my friend, I can think of noone more deserving of it.

Lehners in France said...

Fletch, I'm doing a quick whizz around and will call back later. I just wanted to let you know you have an award chez moi. Debs x

Lehners in France said...

Fletch for one who doesn't "do2 horses you are sure around them a lot. As for the poo, it's wonderful stuff which we swap for red wine, Bob thinks he's beat Jesus hands down by turning poo into wine. Your region looks wonderful and steeped in history. I hope you settle into your new home sometime soon. Debs x

Fletch said...

Thanks for the award, Debs.

I'll try and do it justice!

Barbara Martin said...

I, being a horsey-person, enjoy the aroma of horse manure, hay, straw, and horse sweat. Luisitano and Andulsian horses are the finest in the world!

The photos of the architecture were wonderful, too.

Fletch said...

Thanks for the comment Barbara.

I can take the 'hay' and 'straw' in my stride, rather enjoy it, even, but you may continue to monopolise the 'manure' and 'sweat' without any complaint from me!

More on the architecture in later posts. It just amazes me that I somehow manage to wander through life with my eyes closed - looking but not seeing!

Liked your site. The vistas are truly breathtaking.

CrazyCath said...

Ha - Shrinky has the da Vinci Code on her mind too! Dan Brown has a lot to answer for!

Lovely bit of history and you paint a relaxing picture (except for bullfighting). I still can't say "Gogan" in my head when I see that word - the g is not in the middle! I doubt I would ever get my head (or tongue) around the language. Although Greek is ok....

Paradise indeed. :0)

CrazyCath said...

PS - new blog!
Come over when you get a chance. It's quieter, more writing (fiction) photos and chill out. Keeping the other up too.

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