Cock-a-doodle-doo! 🐓 Welcome to Barcelos, the birthplace of the famous and colorful Rooster of Barcelos, probably the most recognizable and iconic symbol of Portugal. The city is located in Braga District in Northern Portugal at the banks of the Cavado River. Barcelos originally was a Roman settlement, developed mostly during the 15th century, and currently is a nice and compact city with a population of about 116 000 people. In 2017, Barcelos joined UNESCO Creative Cities Network due to its popular, and sometimes very unique, crafts and folk art. Vamos, let’s go on a trip to Barcelos, Portugal, a city overrun by colorful roosters.
Interesting facts about Barcelos. It’s located on the Portuguese Way Camino de Santiago, has as many as 60 parishes, and consequently, it makes it the municipality with the highest number of them in the country.
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Rooster of Barcelos
Barcelos Rooster, Rooster of Barcelos, Barcelos Cockerel, or Galo de Barcelos in Portuguese is undoubtedly the most recognizable symbol of Barcelos city and the whole of Portugal. It symbolizes honesty, trust, and honor, and is also believed to bring good luck. You can find it in many local and souvenir shops throughout the country in the form of figures, or emblems that adorn items like plates, towels, aprons, t-shirts, and many more.
Rooster of Barcelos Legend
As you might expect, there is a legend behind the Rooster of Barcelos. Here you can read it:
“According to the tale, a landowner in Barcelos had stolen silver and the inhabitants of that city were looking for the thief. A man from Galicia became a suspect, despite his pleas of innocence. The Galician swore that he was merely passing through Barcelos on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela to fulfill a promise. Nevertheless, the authorities arrested the man and condemned him to hang. The man asked them to take him in front of the judge who had condemned him.
The authorities honored his request and took him to the house of the magistrate, who was holding a banquet. Affirming his innocence, the man pointed to a roasted rooster on top of the banquet table and exclaimed, “It is as certain that I am innocent as that rooster will crow when they hang me.” The judge pushed aside his plate, deciding not to eat the rooster, but otherwise ignored the appeal.
However, while the pilgrim was hanged, the roasted rooster stood up on the table and crowed as predicted. Understanding his error, the judge ran to the gallows, to discover that the man had been saved from death thanks to a poorly made knot. The man was immediately freed. Some years later, he returned to Barcelos to sculpt the Calvary (or Crucifix) to the Lord of the Rooster (Portuguese, “Cruzeiro do Senhor do Galo”) in praise to the Virgin Mary and to Saint James. The monument is located in the Barcelos Archaeological Museum.”
Rooster of Barcelos Legend Variations
Of course, the Rooster of Barcelos Legend has some variations. Only one thing is always the same: the tale is about a dead rooster that crows to prove an accused man’s innocence. What are the variations? Here are some of them (source: Wikipedia) :
- The pilgrim is a guest whom the landowner invited to his banquet, where silver is stolen.
- The pilgrim stays at a local inn, and the greedy owner of the inn accuses the pilgrim.
- There are two pilgrims, father and son. The son is accused, and the father pleads his innocence by calling on the rooster to crow.
- The rooster crows as soon as the accused man declares it will, so the man is never taken to the gallows.
- The accused is not from Galicia.
City Of Famous Rooster of Barcelos In Portugal
Barcelos, Portugal Old Town
Barcelos Old Town is full of charming, well-kept streets. It has retained some of its medieval vibes thanks to places like the ruins of the Palace of the Counts, the pillory, the parish church, Barcelos Bridge as well as the tower of Porta Nova, most of which date back to the 14th and 15th centuries. We’ll discuss each of them in more detail below.
Archaeological Museum of Barcelos
Ruins of 15th century Palace of the Counts of Barcelos (pt. Paço dos Condes de Barcelos) was turned into an open-air Archaeological Museum of Barcelos (pt. Museu Arqueológico). In its times it was a noble building that remained the residence of the Counts until the 17th century. Later, in 1755 the palace was destroyed by the earthquake, and what we see today are its remains. Inside the museum you’ll also find an 18th-century Cross to the Lord of the Rooster (pt. Cruzeiro do Senhor do Galo), showcasing the Rooster of Barcelos legend.
The Archaeological Museum of Barcelos is open 24h, and the entrance is free.
Medieval Barcelos Bridge (pt. Ponte de Barcelos) that crosses the Cavado River was built in the 14th century, in 1325. It soon became an important crossing for pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela. In 1801, due to the fall Palace of the Count’s tower, it was damaged and needed restoration. The bridge was classified as a National Monument in 1910.
You can take a good look at it while walking around Archaeological Museum, all from its other side, from Barcelinhos.
Parish Church of Barcelos
Just a few steps from the bridge and Archaeological Museum, you’ll find the Parish Church of Barcelos – Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria. It dates back to the 14th century. Inside you’ll find a mixture of Romanesque and Baroque styles, which is the result of many reconstructions.
Barcelos Pillory (pt. Pelourinho de Barcelos) is located right in front of the Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria church, in a small but beautiful garden. It dates back to the 15th century
While in the area, you can also take a look at the Barcelos City Hall building (Câmara Municipal de Barcelos) and Solar dos Pinheiros, an old house from the 15th century which is a rare example of medieval civil architecture that still exists in Portugal.
New Gate Tower
New Gate Tower (pt. Porta Nova Tower) dates back to the 15th century and is one last survivor of three towers that were part of the walls that surrounded Barcelos. When it was no longer needed for defense, it served as a prison until the 1930s. Nowadays inside there is a Handicraft Center (pt. Centro de Artesanato) showcasing and selling local artisan products. You can also climb up to the top to admire views over the city.
Entrance is free, but before visiting check out opening hours so you won’t bounce off the doors as we did.
Senhor Bom Jesus da Cruz Church
Opposite the New Gate Tower, there is a building hard to miss – Senhor Bom Jesus da Cruz Church (pt. Igreja do Senhor Bom Jesus da Cruz). This unique, octagonal building dates back to the early 18th century, and its interior is a nice example of Baroque architecture. Each year this church plays a main role during the Festival of the Crosses, which takes place on May 3rd.
Right next to the Senhor Bom Jesus da Cruz Church, you’ll find a beautiful fountain (pt. Chafariz do Largo da Porta Nova) and Baroque Gardens (pt. Jardim das Barrocas).
Barcelos Museum of Pottery
Barcelos Museum of Pottery (pt. Museu de Olaria) houses an excellent collection of over 9000 pieces of pottery art, mostly from the municipality of Barcelos, but also from other regions of Portugal, as well as other Portuguese-speaking countries. Entrance is free, to check opening hours visit museuolaria.pt official website.
Barcelos Thursday Market
North Portugal loves outdoor markets. Barcelos Market (pt. Marche de Barcelos) dates back up to 1412, which makes it one of the oldest in Portugal. It takes place every Thursday at Campo da República square, right next to Senhor Bom Jesus da Cruz Church. At Barcelos Market, you can buy products like fruits, vegetables, clothes, accessories, ceramics, figurines, household items, and many more.
Miradouro da Senhora da Franqueira
For a nice panoramic view of the Barcelos and its surroundings head to a small mountain near the city, Monte da Franqueira. At the top you’ll also find a 16th-century sanctuary, Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Franqueira.
If you visit Barcelos in the first week of May you’ll come across Feast of the Crosses (pt. Festa das Cruzes). During this time the streets are filled with flags, flowers, colored lights and outdoor concerts are held. The main highlights of the festival are the Battle of the Flowers (pt. Batalha das Flores), Flower Carpets (pt. Tapetes de Flores) in Senhor Bom Jesus da Cruz church, decorated and colorful pilgrimage arches (pt. Arcos de Romaria), and the religious procession.
How to get to Barcelos, Portugal?
Where to park in Barcelos?
Airports near Barcelos, Portugal
The closest airport to Barcelos in Portugal is located in Porto (50km away). Other ones are located in Spain, in Vigo (100km away), and Santiago de Compostela (200km away). From each airport, you can get to Barcelos by bus. To check the connections that interest you please visit rome2rio.com website.
To Barcelos by bus
You can quite easily get to Barcelos by bus. For example, the journey from Porto will take about 1h (€8-11), from Viana do Castelo 30min (€8-10), and 40min from Braga (€2-10). To learn more about bus connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Barcelos by train
Barcelos, Portugal – Summing Up
Hopefully, you got inspired to see the Rooster of Barcelos and the city itself with your own eyes. But for sure, now you will look differently at each rooster you’ll come across 😀 Not only the ones in Portugal but all over the world. We still haven’t decided if we would prefer to see the one raising from the dead or just enjoy a loud one running around without any magic involved. The safest bet would be to buy colorful ceramic one and call it a day. Whatever works for you, enjoy the Barcelos in Portugal.
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Barcelos?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Barcelos:
Where to sleep in Barcelos?
Hotel Bagoeira is a modern and well-decorated hotel in Barcelos, Portugal, boasting a panoramic bar and a spacious restaurant serving traditional Portuguese cuisine. The air-conditioned rooms are equipped with satellite TV, a minibar, and a private bathroom. With a 24-hour reception, laundry service, and free parking, Hotel Bagoeira is the perfect base to explore the city.
Casa da Ana Boutique Guest House
Casa da Ana Boutique Guest House is a charming and cozy accommodation located in the heart of Barcelos, just a short walk away from the historical city center. The guest house offers a personalized and attentive service to its guests, ensuring a comfortable and unforgettable stay. The rooms are beautifully decorated with a blend of modern and traditional elements, providing a relaxing and welcoming ambiance.
Residencial Kuarenta&Um is a cozy and modern guesthouse located in the heart of Barcelos. It offers comfortable and spacious rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning, and free Wi-Fi. Guests can enjoy a continental breakfast each morning, and the staff is friendly and helpful in providing local recommendations and information.
Barcelos Views T3
Barcelos Views T3 is a cozy and spacious apartment located in the heart of Barcelos. The apartment features three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and a living room with a balcony that offers stunning views of the city. The location is ideal for exploring the historic center of Barcelos and its many attractions.
In Barcelos Hostel & Guest House
In Barcelos Hostel & Guest House is a cozy and affordable accommodation option in Barcelos. With a mix of private rooms and dormitory-style accommodations, this hostel caters to budget-conscious travelers. Guests can enjoy amenities such as a shared kitchen, lounge, and outdoor terrace, as well as easy access to local attractions and transportation.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com