10+ Things To Do In Barcelos, Birthplace Of Portuguese Rooster

Cock-a-doodle-doo! 🐓 Welcome to Barcelos, the birthplace of the famous and colorful Rooster of Barcelos, the most recognizable and iconic symbol of Portugal. The town was originally a Roman settlement, later developed mostly during the 15th century, and currently is nice and compact, with a population of about 116k people. In 2017, Barcelos joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network thanks to its popular, and sometimes very unique, crafts and folk art. Vamos, let’s discover things to do in Barcelos.

Interesting fact. Barcelos has as many as 60 parishes which makes it the municipality with the highest number of them in the country!

Discover Things To Do In Barcelos, The Birthplace Of Portuguese Rooster
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Barcelos, Portugal FAQ

Where is Barcelos located?

Barcelos is located in the North of Portugal in the Alto Minho region in Braga District. It sits on the banks of the Cavado River. The town is also located on the Portuguese Way Camino de Santiago, one of the spiritual routes leading to the famous Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Is Barcelos worth visiting?

Yes, Barcelos is a charming Portuguese town worth visiting, even for a little while. There you’ll find an old town with a medieval vibe full of historic buildings and lots of colorful roosters – some small and some… much taller than you! If you want a unique souvenir from Portugal – that’s also an ideal place to buy one.

What is Barcelos known for?

Barcelos is best known for being the birthplace of the most recognizable and iconic symbol of Portugal – the Rooster of Barcelos. It’s also famous for holding one of the oldest weekly markets in the country.

On what day is Barcelos market?

Barcelos market takes place every Thursday at the town’s main square – Campo da Republica.

Rooster of Barcelos - Symbol of Portugal Portugal
Explore Barcelos Old Town Streets
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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.”
Source: Wikipedia 

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. 
Rooster of Barcelos, the most recognizable symbol of Portugal
Huge Barcelos Cockerel, Rooster of Barcelos

Things To Do In Barcelos, Portugal

Barcelos 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 them date back as far as to the 14th and 15th centuries! We’ll discuss each of them in more detail below.

Learn more iconDiscover: Accommodation options in Barcelos

Discover Barcelos - City Of Famous Rooster of Barcelos In Portugal
Things To Do In Barcelos, Portugal - Explore Old Town
Buildings in Barcelos Old Town
Pixelated Rooster of Barcelos in Old Town
Barcelos, Portugal Old Town

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. 

Barcelos Bridge 

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 the Archaeological Museum.

Things to do in Barcelos - Visit Archaeological Museum and Palace of the Counts
Archaeological Museum in Barcelos
Barcelos Bridge from Archeological Museum of Barcelos
Archaeological Museum Palace of the Counts in Barcelos

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. Entrance is free. 

Barcelos Pillory

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. 

Barcelos Pillory and Archeological Museum in background
Parish Church of Barcelos - Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria

New Gate Tower 

New Gate Tower (pt. Porta Nova Tower) dates back to the 15th century and is the 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 – it’s a great thing to do in Barcelos!

Entrance is free (March 2024), but before visiting check out opening hours so you won’t bounce off the doors as we did. 

Learn more iconBook now: Braga and Guimarães Day Trip with Lunch

New Gate Tower in Barcelos, Portugal
Things To Do In Barcelos, The Birthplace Of Portuguese Rooster

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. Entrance is free.

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).

Things to do in Barcelos - Visit Igreja do Senhor Bom Jesus da Cruz Church
Chafariz do Largo da Porta Nova in Barcelos Portugal

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.

Barcelos Thursday Market in Portugal

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. 

Barcelos Festivals

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. 

Feast of the Crosses in May in Barcelos Portugal
Feast of the Crosses in Barcelos Portugal

How to get to Barcelos, Portugal?

Barcelos is located about 20km from Braga, 60km from Porto, 45km from Ponte de Lima, and 35km from Viana do Castelo. The most convenient way to get to Barcelos is by car, train, or bus.

For great car rental deals visit the Rental Cars website.

Where to park in Barcelos?

There are many free parking spaces available in Dom António Barroso square,  and next to the Parish Church. Both are located right next to the City Hall and Archeological Museum, close to the Barcelos old town.

Airports near Barcelos

The closest airport to Barcelos 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 might interest you 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 (€7-10), 50 min from Braga (€2-8), and 50min from Porto (7-10). To learn more about bus connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.

To Barcelos by train

You can also reach Barcelos by train from places like Porto, Braga, Lisbon or Viana do Castelo. Here you can take a look at the Portugal train map and all available connections. For great train ticket deals visit the Trainline website.

Camping Barcelos

If you’re traveling by camper, places like Camping Park Fão or Camping Braga might interest you. They are located near Barcelos.

10+ Things To Do In Barcelos, The Birthplace Of Portuguese Rooster
Rooster of Barcelos in Portugal made of flowers

Things to do in Barcelos, Portugal – Summing Up

All right, that’s all about Barcelos and its roosters. Hopefully, we got you inspired to see the Rooster of Barcelos and the city itself with your own eyes. Not that big, yet not that small, and worth the visit for sure! After all, there’s no second place like that in the world where you’ll find so many huge, and colorful roosters. Enjoy your time in Barcelos and don’t forget to take one rooster with you! Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Our opinion about Barcelos

For us, a visit to Barcelos was a day trip, combined with a visit to nearby Guimaraes, from Ponte da Barca where we lived for a few weeks. We visited it in early May, in the afternoon, and during that time we didn’t come across many tourists so exploring was very pleasant for us. During about 3 or 4 hours we managed to visit all the places we had on our list.

To be honest, Barcelos didn’t enchant us (maybe because we were still under the spell of Guimaraes that won our hearts in a second) but overall we found it very pleasant and peaceful. We liked strolling among its old town streets and admiring views from the Archaeological Museum area. We also can’t deny that the Rooster of Barcelos is a cute little (or huge!) creature.

Learn more iconBook now: Braga and Guimaraes private tour from Porto

Bonecos Barcelos Pottery - Tradicionais right next to New Gate Tower

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 in Barcelos Portugal

Hotel Bagoeira

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 in Barcelos Portugal

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.

In Barcelos Hostel & Guest House

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

Barcelos, Portugal - Map of places

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10+ Things To Do In Barcelos, Birthplace Of Portuguese Rooster

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