Anna Belleforte

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Chaves near the northern border

Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 5, 2017 at 3:20 PM

Chaves is one of the most pleasant towns I’ve come across. It oozes ease. It’s a little disused around the edges, with empty grand hotels and ruinous river cottages. It seems to have had a heyday in the 1920s-30s. But it’s premier heyday was under the Romans. And it has a Roman bridge still in use, built by Trajan no less. (A moment to pause and awe.) There was enough wind over the bridge to throw your skirt up and your hat off (so composure was lost for some seconds). There really is always wind in Portugal, wherever you go. I suppose the Atoantic has something to do with that. I’m surprised they don’t have more art related to wind. I do see a lot of water-related public art and lovely tiled water sources, and the generic symbol for a town here is a fountain. One of Chaves’s roundabouts has taken this flat symbol (a basin on a foot with 3 spouting lines) and made it three-dimensional. Funny when that happens over time: taking a typical fountain, distilling it into a stylized symbol, and then turning this into a real fountain again. One of the main squares in Chaves also has fun rhythmic water shooting up from the ground, making great splashing sounds as each individual projectile upwards lands again. Kids were having a ball guessing which was to come up next.

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