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4,500-year-old 'timber circles' discovered in Portugal
The remains of several timber circles constructed over 4,500 years ago have been discovered at the Perdigões complex archaeological site in Portugal.
Though some news outlets have described the circles as a "woodhenge," akin to the famous Neolithic monument of Stonehenge, archaeologists prefer not to call it that - instead referring to them a "Timber Circles." While the archaeologists prefer a different name the design is similar with wooden posts encircling an area.
"We interpret it as a ceremonial place and prefer to refer to it as timber circles," said António Valera, an archaeologist with the Era Arqueologia company, who is leading excavations at the site.
Only about a third of the timber circles have been excavated so far, and only post holes and ditches from the circles remain. There is an opening in the Timber Circles that appears to be aligned to the summer solstice &mdash the longest day of the year &mdash Valera told Live Science.
The ceremonial complex was likely constructed between 2800 B.C. and 2600 B.C., about the same time period Stonehenge was being built and used in England, Valera said. At the time, the timber circles would have enclosed an area that was about 66 feet (20 meters) in diameter, he estimates. Excavations are ongoing and most of the artifacts found so far at the timber circles consist of pottery fragments and animal remains, Valera said.
The Perdigões complex archaeological site, in the Evora district in southern Portugal, where the timber circles were found, covers about 40 acres (16 hectares) of land and includes burial grounds and standing stones like those used at Stonehenge. People would have used the complex between roughly 3500 B.C. and 2000 B.C. for burial and ceremonial activities &mdash it may have had other uses also.
Archaeologists have been excavating the complex for more than 20 years and research is ongoing.
Public Monument in Portugal - History
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With historical roots dating back to the earliest days of the nation, the BLM administers the lands that remain from America's original "public domain." Created in 1946 through a government reorganization during the Truman Administration, the BLM is the successor to the General Land Office (established in 1812) and the U.S. Grazing Service (originally called the Division of Grazing and renamed in 1939).
This year (2016), the BLM is commemorating two milestone events: its 70th anniversary as an Interior Department agency, and the 40th anniversary of the principal law defining its mission: the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, commonly referred to by its acronym of FLPMA.
As the manager of more land (245 million surface acres or one-tenth of America’s land base) and more subsurface mineral estate (700 million acres) than any other government agency, the BLM carries out a dual mandate under FLPMA: that of managing public land for multiple uses (such as energy development, livestock grazing, mining, timber harvesting, and outdoor recreation) while conserving natural, historical, and cultural resources (such as wilderness areas, wild horse and wildlife habitat, artifacts, and dinosaur fossils). In the language of FLPMA, the BLM's responsibility is to administer public lands “on the basis of multiple use and sustained yield” of resources.
What this means, on a practical level, is that the BLM – except in areas specifically set aside for conservation purposes – must multitask to fulfill its duties. Nevertheless, consistent with the BLM’s goal of good stewardship of public land resources, “multiple use” does not mean every use on every acre.
Below is a timeline of the BLM's history, which is primarily marked by the enactment of legislation that has guided the agency's mission, culminating in the passage of FLPMA, the BLM's legislative "charter," in 1976.
1776 -- Declaration of Independence signed
1778 -- Second Continental Congress, operating under the Articles of Confederation, begins persuading states to cede claimed land to create the public domain
1783 -- Revolutionary War ends. Lands south of the Great Lakes and east of the Mississippi River are ceded by Britain to national government of Confederation
1785 -- Land Ordinance adopted by Congress of the Confederation allows settlement of public domain lands and establishes Federal government’s rectangular survey system
1787 -- Drafting of U.S. Constitution begins
1788 -- U.S. Constitution ratified, gives Congress the “power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States. ”
1803 -- Louisiana Purchase by the United States from France nearly doubles size of the nation. Ohio becomes first state created from the public domain.
1804-1806 -- Lewis and Clark expedition
1812 -- General Land Office, responsible for all public land sales, patents, and entries, is established within Treasury Department to oversee disposition of ceded and acquired lands. (As successor agency to the GLO, the BLM maintains more than nine million historical land documents: survey plats and field notes, homestead patents, military warrants, and railroad grants. Many of these records can be found at: www.glorecords.blm.gov.)
1819 -- Spanish cession of Florida and boundary adjustments west of the Mississippi River add more than 46 million acres to the public domain
1845 -- Republic of Texas, which had declared its independence from Mexico, is annexed by the United States
1846 -- Oregon Treaty with Britain gives the United States claim to part of the Pacific Northwest
1848 -- Mexico cedes California and vast areas of the inland West to the United States
1853 -- Gadsden Purchase adds nearly19 million acres of public land in southern Arizona and New Mexico
1861-1865 -- American Civil War
1862 -- Homestead Act entitles Western settlers to 160 acres of public land after they reside on and cultivate the land for five years. (On Jan. 1, 1863, Daniel Freeman and 417 others file the first homestead claims. By 1934, over 1.6 million homestead applications are processed, passing more than 270 million acres of public domain into private ownership.)
1862 -- Transcontinental Railroad Act gives railroad companies rights-of-way and alternate sections of public domain lands along both sides of their railroads
1867 -- United States purchases Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, adding 375 million acres to the public domain
1869 -- First coast-to-coast railroad is completed at Promontory Summit, Utah
1872 -- General Mining Law identifies mineral lands as a distinct class of public lands subject to exploration, occupation, and purchase under specified conditions
1877 -- Desert Land Act authorizes the disposition of 640-acre tracts of public lands to homesteaders upon proof of reclamation of the lands by irrigation
1878 -- Timber and Stone Act authorizes negotiated sale of public lands that are valuable for either logging or mining and otherwise unfit for cultivation
1889 -- Oklahoma Land Rush begins the disposal of public domain lands in Oklahoma
1894 -- Carey Act authorizes transfer of up to one million acres of public desert land to states for settling, irrigating, and cultivating purposes
1897 -- Forest Management “Organic” Act transfers fire protection responsibilities for forest reserves from the Department of Army to the General Land Office
1898 -- Congress extends homestead laws to Alaska
1906 -- Antiquities Act preserves and protects prehistoric, historic, and scientifically significant sites on public lands through creation of national monuments
1916 -- Stock Raising Homestead Act authorizes homesteads of 640 acres and separates surface rights from subsurface (mineral) rights
1920 -- Mineral Leasing Act authorizes Federal leasing of public lands for private extraction of oil, gas, coal, phosphate, sodium, and other minerals
1926 -- Recreation and Public Purposes Act allows conveyance or lease of public lands to state and local governments for outdoor recreation purposes
1934 -- Taylor Grazing Act authorizes grazing districts, regulation of grazing, and public rangeland improvements in Western states (excluding Alaska) and establishes Division of Grazing (later renamed U.S. Grazing Service) within the Department of the Interior
1937 -- Oregon and California (O&C) Revested Lands Sustained Yield Management Act requires O&C Railroad lands to be managed for permanent forest production and provides for watershed protection, regulation of streamflow, and recreational facilities
1942 -- Extensive withdrawal of public lands for military purposes begins, with more than 13 million acres withdrawn in two years
1946 -- BLM is established within the Department of the Interior through the consolidation of General Land Office and U.S. Grazing Service
1953 -- Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act authorizes Secretary of the Interior to lease mineral lands more than three miles offshore. The BLM assumes responsibility for leasing through competitive sales.
1954 -- Recreation and Public Purposes Act amends the 1926 Act and allows sale and lease of public lands for purposes besides recreation
1955 -- Multiple Surface Use Act withdraws common varieties of minerals from entry as mining claims and allows claim owners to use the surface for mining operation purposes only.
1959 -- Wild Horse Protection Act (also known as the "Wild Horse Annie Act") prohibits hunting of wild horses and burros on public land by aircraft or motor vehicles
1964 -- Wilderness Act protects undeveloped Federal land to preserve its natural condition
1965 -- Land and Water Conservation Fund is established for Federal acquisition of outdoor recreation areas
1966 -- National Historic Preservation Act expands protection of prehistoric and historic properties
1968 -- Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and National Trails System Act preserve sites with outstanding natural, cultural, scenic, historic, and recreational significance
1969 -- National Environmental Policy Act requires Federal agencies to assess the impacts of their actions on the environment
1971 -- Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act provides for settlement of aboriginal land claims of Alaskan Natives and Native groups. The BLM is tasked with the largest U.S. land transfer effort ever undertaken.
1971 -- Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act mandates protection and management of these animals on public lands managed by the BLM and U.S. Forest Service
1973 -- Endangered Species Act requires the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the ecosystems on which they depend
1975 -- Energy Policy and Conservation Act addresses energy demands and establishes a strategic petroleum reserve
1976 -- Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA, the BLM's legislative "charter") repeals homestead laws and establishes policy of retaining public lands in Federal ownership. FLPMA requires that these lands be managed for multiple uses and sustained yield through land-use planning.
1976 -- Management of the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska is transferred from the U.S. Navy to the BLM
1977 -- Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act ensures environmental safeguards for mining and reclamation of mined areas
1978 -- Public Rangelands Improvement Act requires inventory, determination of trends, and improvement of public rangelands
1979 -- Archaeological Resources Protection Act requires permits for excavation or removal of these resources from Federal lands and sets criminal and civil penalties for violations
1980 -- Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act designates millions of acres of public land in Alaska as wilderness, national parks, national wildlife refuges, and wild and scenic rivers. Act also provides for subsistence use by rural Alaska residents.
1980 -- The BLM completes its first resource management (land-use) plan, covering the California Desert Conservation Area, and designates its first areas of critical environmental concern in Utah and California
1983 -- The BLM transfers responsibility for offshore leasing to the Minerals Management Service
1987 -- Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act establishes a new leasing system and changes certain operational procedures for onshore resources on Federal lands.
1990 -- Northern spotted owl is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, leading to enjoinment of all Federal timber sales within its range
1996 -- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah is designated by President, representing first such monument under BLM management
2000 -- National Landscape Conservation System, consisting of wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, national monuments, and other conservation-related units on BLM-managed land, is established by Secretary of the Interior
2005 -- Energy Policy Act promotes energy efficiency and the production of secure, affordable, and reliable domestic energy
2008 -- BLM-managed lands are officially designated as the National System of Public Lands
2009 -- Omnibus Public Land Management Act officially authorizes National Landscape Conservation System and sets penalties for unauthorized removal of paleontological resources from Federal lands
Where to Hunt for the World’s Smallest Monuments
From the Sphinx in Egypt to the Statue of Liberty in the United States, the world’s largest monuments are typically the ones that get the most recognition, filling up people’s Instagram feeds and topping many travelers’ bucket lists. But for every massive monolith that gets its time in the spotlight, there’s a smaller yet equally interesting monument that is harder to spot—but worth hunting for. Here are six of the world’s smallest monuments worthy of a visit.
Chizhik-Pyzhik, Saint Petersburg, Russia(Dmitry Alexeenko)
Tiny monuments are easy to overlook. Most tourists passing over the First Engineer Bridge where the Fontanka and Moyka rivers meet miss the four-inch statue perched on a small ledge on the stonework below. This statue, called Chizhik-Pyzhik, is a miniature bronze sculpture of a siskin (chizhik in Russian), a bird related to the finch.
Georgian sculptor Rezo Gabriadze created the piece in 1994 as a tribute to the often rowdy students that attended the Imperial Legal Academy that once occupied the same site. The figure is a nod to the students' green and yellow uniforms, which mimicked the color pattern of the bird. The school, founded in 1835 under the approval of Tsar Nicholas I, taught jurisprudence to the children of Russia's nobility for over 80 years. Although alcohol was forbidden at the school, the students' covert social activities were memorialized in a popular folk song known throughout Russia: “Chizhik Pyzhik, where've you been? Drank vodka on the Fontanka. Took a shot, took another, got dizzy.” The school was closed in 1918, following the Bolshevik Revolution.
One of the problems with having a mini monument is that thieves often see it as a free souvenir. Over the years, the sculpture has been the victim of theft on numerous occasions, so in 2002 the staff of the Museum of Urban Sculpture had several copies made, just to be safe.
If you spot the small sculpture, it’s believed that dropping a coin that lands on the ledge brings good luck.
Dwarfs, Wrocław, Poland
Bronze statues at Wroclaw Market square near Old Town hall. (Krugli/iStock ) A dwarf statuette climbs a lamp post on Świdnicka Street. (Photon-Photos/iStock) A dwarf statuette perched on a bridge rail. (Alexabelov/iStock) Statuettes of two dwarfs on Świdnicka Street. (Klearchos Kapoutsis - Flickr/Creative Commons)
Since 2001, more than 300 miniature bronze statues of dwarfs have sprouted up throughout the city of Wrocław, lurking in the alleyways or standing in plain sight outside of businesses. But while they may be cute to look at, they have an unusual history tied to resistance to Communism.
The dwarfs are a nod to the Orange Alternative, an underground anti-Communism group that often used graffiti, particularly drawings of dwarfs, to get their message across. The dwarfs originally started popping up in the early 1980s when protest artists started adding arms and legs to the "blobs" that resulted when more overt anti-government slogans were painted over. These dwarf figures caught on, becoming the symbol of the movement. On June 1, 1987, the coalition held a massive rally where thousands of demonstrators donned red hats and marched through the city.
As a way to commemorate the Orange Alternative’s contribution to the fall of Communism in central Europe, the city commissioned local artists to create bronze sculptures of dwarfs. And today, its annual Wrocław Festival of Dwarfs proves popular every September.
Guides marking the locations of the tiny statues can be purchased at the Wroclaw tourist information center. 52 of them can also be found using this map.
The Two Mice Eating Cheese, London
You have to crane your neck to spot London’s smallest statue, a carving of two mice battling over a hunk of cheese, located on the upper façade of a building at the intersection of Philpot Lane and Eastcheap in London. “The Two Mice Eating Cheese” is in remembrance of two men who died during the construction of the Monument to the Great Fire of London, a stone column built in 1677 in memory of those who perished in a devastating citywide fire that had occurred in 1666. Although details of the incident are murky at best, the legend is that the men fell to their deaths after a fight broke out after one of them accused the other of eating his cheese sandwich. It was later learned that the real culprit was a mouse.
Frog Traveler, Tomsk, Russia
Located in Tomsk, Russia, the "Frog Traveler" is known as the smallest monument in the world, standing 1.7 inches in height. (Tomsk Hotel)
If you blink, you might miss the “Frog Traveler,” considered the smallest public monument in the world. Located outside Hotel Tomsk in Russia, the barely two-inch bronze statue, created in 2013, is the work of sculptor Oleg Tomsk Kislitsky. In a statement, the artist says that his goal was to create the world’s smallest monument while also giving a nod to the travelers of the world. He based the idea for the piece on a popular Russian children’s book called The Frog Went Travelling, by author Vsevolod Garshin, which tells the tale of a traveling amphibian and the creatures he meets along the way.
Miniature Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.
By far, one of the most recognizable structures in Washington, D.C., is the Washington Monument—but it’s what’s underfoot that deserves a second look. Located underneath a manhole cover nearby sits a 12-foot replica of the towering obelisk that commemorates George Washington. Known as Bench Mark A, the replica is actually a Geodetic Control Point used by surveyors when working on government maps. It’s just one of approximately one million such control points spread throughout the country, though most are less interestingly shaped. Although this one technically belongs to the National Parks Service, the National Geodetic Survey uses it when it’s surveying the Washington Monument and the National Mall. (For example, the NGS used it in 2011 after an earthquake took place in Virginia.) It dates back to the 1880s, and it's obvious that its creators had a sense of humor. Just make sure to talk to a park ranger before attempting to open the manhole.
Mini-Europe, Brussels, Belgium
From Big Ben in the United Kingdom to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, Europe is home to some of the world’s most recognizable monuments. The only problem is that it may require multiple trips to see them all. An alternative option would be to spend the day at Mini-Europe, an amusement park in Brussels, Belgium, where you can behold all the great sites before suppertime.
Opened in 1989, Mini-Europe re-creates each structure on a scale of 1 to 25. So expect to see a 43-foot tall Eiffel Tower (the real one is 984 feet in height) and a 13-foot Big Ben (the actual size is 315 feet) all down to the tiniest of details—meaning the Mount Vesuvius here actually erupts. In total, the park encompasses 350 monuments from roughly 80 cities. With Brexit on the horizon, the fate of the park’s UK display remains to be decided.
(Correction: The story previously incorrectly stated that the Monument to the Great Fire of London was constructed in 1841. Construction began in 1671 and was completed in 1677.)
About Jennifer Nalewicki
Jennifer Nalewicki is a Brooklyn-based journalist. Her articles have been published in The New York Times, Scientific American, Popular Mechanics, United Hemispheres and more. You can find more of her work at her website.
Portugal confronts its slave trade past
Planned monument in Lisbon sparks debate over race and history.
LISBON — Over five centuries after it launched the Atlantic slave trade, Portugal is preparing to build a memorial to the millions of Africans its ships carried into bondage.
Citizens of Lisbon voted in December for the monument to be built on a quayside where slave ships once unloaded. Yet although the memorial has broad support, a divisive debate has ignited over how Portugal faces up to its colonial past and multiracial present.
“Doing this will be really good for our city,” said Beatriz Gomes Dias, president of Djass, an association of Afro-Portuguese citizens that launched the memorial plan.
“People really got behind the project, there was a recognition that something like this is needed,” said Gomes Dias. “Many people told us this is important to bring justice to Portugal’s history here in Lisbon, which is a cosmopolitan and diverse capital with such a strong African presence.”
Portuguese vessels carried an estimated 5.8 million Africans into slavery.
However, some fear that history risks being hijacked by politics.
“I think it’s a good idea, but those behind this monument want to perpetuate a particular vision which, up to a certain point, is a myth,” said historian João Pedro Marques.
Slavery was a “barbarity,” said Marques, who has written several books on the subject. However, by the time it reached its height, he said, Lisbon played only a marginal role in a trade conducted directly between merchants in Angola and Brazil.
“The idea that Lisbon was the capital of the slave trade is a complete lie,” he said. “This is part of a political strategy … the far-left in Portugal is stirring this up. They are putting this on the political agenda.”
The Atlantic slave trade started in 1444, when 235 people snatched from the newly-discovered coast of West Africa were put up for sale in Lagos, now a laidback Portuguese beach resort on Europe’s southwestern tip.
A graffiti in an area known as “Little Africa,” located near the Valongo slave wharf in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | Mario Tama/Getty Images
Chronicler Gomes Eanes de Zurara was on hand. “Children, seeing themselves removed from their parents, ran hastily towards them,” he wrote. “Mothers clasped their children in their arms, and holding them, cast themselves upon the ground, covering them with their bodies, without heeding the blows which they were given.”
Over the next four centuries, Portuguese vessels would carry an estimated 5.8 million Africans into slavery. Most went to Brazil — a Portuguese colony until 1822.
A ‘whitewashed vision’?
Controversy over how Portugal should mark its role in the slave trade flared up last spring when President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa paid a state visit to Senegal.
Touring Gorée Island, an infamous departure point for slave ships, he said Portugal had recognized the “injustice of slavery” when it introduced limited abolitionist laws in 1760s. He did not follow leaders such as Pope John Paul II and Brazilian President Lula da Silva who issued apologies there.
A group of over 50 outraged intellectuals wrote to complain. “The president’s words have revived the whitewashed vision of colonial oppression that’s still very popular among the most retrograde sectors of Portuguese society,” they said in an open letter.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, center, visits the House of Slaves, a museum and memorial to the Atlantic slave trade on Goree Island, off the coast of the city of Dakar, Senegal | Moussa Sow/AFP via Getty Images
Others raced to Rebelo de Sousa’s defense, triggering a battle on opinion pages and social media that’s been ignited again with the debate over the slavery memorial.
“Building a memorial on the banks of the River Tagus is an excellent idea,” António Barreto, a political commentator and former Socialist Party lawmaker, wrote in the Diário de Notícias newspaper.
“So long as it’s not a monument to self-flagellation which, for reasons of historical opportunism and political demagogy, aims to show that Portuguese colonialism was crueler than the others,” he wrote.
Slavery casts a shadow over what Portuguese history portrays as a golden age when brave men in small boats set out to forge the first maritime routes linking Europe to sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and South America in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Age of Discoveries made this small country on Europe’s margins a global power and the exploits of those early explorers remain at the heart of national identity.
A belief lingers among Portuguese that their country’s colonialism was gentler than other European empires.
Portugal’s “heroes of the sea” are celebrated in the opening words of the national anthem. A navigational sphere decorates the flag. Statues of brawny seafarers dot the landscape. A statue of Prince Henry the Navigator, who instigated the discovery program, sits by the site of that first slave market in Lagos. A small museum also opened there in 2016.
Portugal’s African empire was Europe’s longest. It limped on until the mid-1970s, when junior army officers, sickened by colonial war, toppled the ruling dictatorship, opening the way for democracy at home and independence for the “overseas territories.”
Country of tolerance
Few Portuguese miss their imperial regime. Four decades on, no political force clings to colonial nostalgia. Yet a belief lingers that Portuguese colonialism was gentler than other European empires, marked by a tolerant interaction with other peoples and widespread racial mixing.
That tolerance, the narrative goes, is reflected in today’s Portugal.
Unlike just about everywhere else in Europe, there’s no significant far-right party spouting xenophobic populism during Europe’s refugee crisis, a parliamentary consensus backed doubling the country’s refugee quota in 2015, Portugal quietly voted in António Costa, whose father was Indian, as prime minister.
“Anyone who knows anything about Europe has to agree that Portugal is probably … the least racist country in Europe,” Renato Epifânio, president of the International Lusophone Movement, which promotes cultural ties between Portuguese-speaking countries, wrote in the daily Público. “This can, and should, be one of our greatest causes of pride.”
Supporters of that line have accused the far left of exaggerating problems of racism to push a U.S.-style political correctness inappropriate in a Portuguese context.
Women perform during celebrations for the Black Awareness Day in Rio de Janeiro | Leo Correa/AFP via Getty Images
As an example, they point to accusations of racism hurled at former center-right leader Pedro Passos Coelho after he criticized recent legislation introduced by the Socialist government to liberalize immigration. Although Passos Coelho’s wife is black, official statistics suggest most migrants heading to Portugal are not.
Among the almost 47,000 new arrivals registered by the immigration service in 2016, over 21,000 came from elsewhere in the EU, led by French, Italians and Brits. Brazilians were the largest single nationality with 7,000. Just over 6,100 immigrants came from sub-Saharan Africa.
Among foreigners already living in the country there are 88,000 Africans, mostly from Cape Verde and Angola.
They are almost certainly outnumbered by Portuguese citizens of African descent, although the numbers are unknown since the country keeps no statistics based on race or ethnicity. Informal estimates suggest black people make up around 12 percent of those living and working in central Lisbon, with another 6 percent or so of Asian descent.
The rosy picture of racial integration has been clouded by studies suggesting discrimination in areas ranging from education to housing, employment to the justice system. Campaigners lament a shortage of black faces in politics, business and the media.
“You still hear the idea that Portuguese colonialism was different, benevolent, gentle. The idea is still common, but it’s far from the reality” — Fernando Rosas, historian
“There is a marginalization of blacks in Portugal … racism is deep-rooted, is systemic and it’s structural,” said Gomes Dias. “We have to admit that Portugal is as racist as other European countries.”
She hopes the slavery monument will help combat racism today. There are signs of change: Justice Minister Francisca Van Dunem is the first black woman to hold Cabinet office Black and Asian actors are showing up increasingly in telenovelas the image of a tolerant colonial past has been challenged by high-profile media productions.
Among them was series of documentaries presented by historian Fernando Rosas on the RTP2 TV network that highlighted historical horrors from a 16th century “breeding center” for slaves in rural Portugal to forced-labor regimes that continued in Angolan diamond mines and cocoa plantations on São Tomé long after slavery was officially abolished.
“All forms of colonialism were like that the difference is that in Portugal it’s not talked about. It’s like it never happened,” Rosas said in an interview. “From people in authority and from the man in the street, you still hear the idea that Portuguese colonialism was different, benevolent, gentle. The idea is still common, but it’s far from the reality.”
Rosas was a founder of the Left Bloc, a radical party that is the most vocal political force in highlighting racial issues. The party stands accused, however, of not practicing what it preaches. Like other left-of-center parties, it has no black lawmakers.
The sole black member in the 230-seat parliament is Hélder Amaral, of the conservative CDS–People’s Party.
“In a country that has 500 years of links to Africa, there is just one black lawmaker,” Amaral said. “That’s odd, given that this is a country that likes to boast about being inter-racial and very open to relations with other peoples.”
Amaral agrees that there’s less overt racism in Portugal than many places, but says not enough is done to promote integration and opportunity.
“There are countries where the expression of racism and xenophobia is worse, but they have more capacity to integrate their communities,” he said. “We have a serious problem of inequality of opportunity, we have a serious problem with a society that is not fair in the treatment of its minorities.”
The excavation site of the biggest slave cemetery ever found in the Americas, at the New Blacks Memory and Research Institute (IPN) museum in Rio de Janeiro | Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images
He welcomes the debate over the slavery memorial.
“Portugal is a fantastic country full of good things, but it has its faults and one of them is difficulty handling the bad periods in its history,” Amaral said. “The monument could be a step in the right direction.”
However, he warns against turning the memorial into “an ideological statement” that exacerbates divisions.
“I don’t want us to head towards a settling of scores with ourselves. I want people to understand what happened and why it happened and I want people to see this is the time to ensure that everybody has equal opportunities,” Amaral said. “This is not the moment to judge history, it’s the moment to understand history.”
The best of Faro
Highlights of Faro city
• The Gothic Se cathedral
• The neoclassical Arco da Vila gate, set within the ancient Moorish city walls
• The macabre bone chapel, lined with the bones of over 1,000 monks
• The peaceful Jardim Manuel Bivar plaza overlooking the fishing harbour
Highlights of the Faro region
• A boat tour of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa
• The deserted beaches of the Ilha Deserta
• The small fishing community on the Ilha da Culatra
• The village of Estoi with the Palácio de Estói and Ruínas de Milreu Roman ruins.
• The bustling summer beach resort of Praia de Faro
Related articles: Top 10 Faro - Faro Beaches
Faro as a day trip
Faro is one of the most popular day trips of the central Algarve region and if you are on holiday in Albufeira, Vilamoura or Quarteira we highly recommended a visit.
Contained within Faro are numerous historical monuments, while the city has a distinctive Portuguese atmosphere, and is very different to the hectic resort towns.
A typical day trip to Faro would spend half of the day exploring the Cidade Velha and half in the new city, which would also include the Bone Chapel.
The historic centre of Faro, as seen from the water
Below is an interactive map for a day trip to Faro, highlighting the major sights of the city and a suggested route.
Major sights are: 1) fishing harbour 2) Jardim Manuel Bivar 3) Igreja da Misericórdia 4) Arco da Vila gateway 5) Porta Nova 6) Se Cathedral 7) City hall 8) Faro Museum 9) Arco do Repouso 10) Rua de Santo António (shopping street) 11) Igreja de São Pedro 12) Igreja do Carmo 13) Bone Chapel
An alternative day trip is to join a boat tour of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, to visit the fishing community of Culatra island or the deserted island of Ilha Deserta.
For a day trip to Faro, travel is easy as a regular bus service connects Faro to the towns of the central Algarve (Albufeira, Quarteira and Vilamoura) and a train serves the eastern Algarve (Olhão and Tavira).
Our Opinion: The market town of Loule and the fishing port of Olhão are also popular for day trips. In our opinion, Faro is the better destination for a day trip as it boasts more varied sights and more to see.
Tip: If you have a car or are limited by time, Faro and Olhão can be combined in a single day trip.
Related articles: Day trip to Faro - Ria Formosa boat trip guide
The Cabo de Santa Maria, on the Ilha Deserta, is the most southerly point of Portugal
The Arco do Repouso gateway leading into the Cidade Velha
Faro for a holiday
Faro makes an enjoyable, if slightly alternative, holiday destination. The city is ideal if you want an authentic Portuguese experience, in preference to a beach holiday.
Tourist advice: Faro has no beaches which are within walking distance of the city centre, this is not a city for a beach holiday.
Faro offers history and culture, along with a varied selection of cafes, restaurants and bars. Being a major city there is decent nightlife and this tends to be aimed for Portuguese patrons, rather than foreign tourists.
By day Faro has an unhurried and calm ambience, but by night there is a surprising buzzing and social nightlife.
The mudflats of the Ria Formosa Natural Park
Faro is a recommended holiday destination if you are a restless or intrepid visitor, as it makes for a good base from which to explore the Algarve. Tavira is only 40 minutes by train to the east, Vilamoura is 30 minutes by bus to the west, and even Lagos at the very western edge of the Algarve, can be reached by a direct train.
The beaches of the Faro region are some of the least crowded in the Algarve, but require either a bus or ferry journey to reach them. If you are after a purely beach holiday, then there are much better destinations, such as Albufeira, Vilamoura or Praia da Rocha.
If you are considering a holiday to Faro, you should be aware that this is a major residential city, and not some beautified or manicured resort town.
Some sections of the city are dilapidated (but are perfectly safe), and unfortunately are on the main bus route into the city, which gives a bad first impression of Faro. This opinion always changes when the historic centre and harbour are discovered!
The city walls of Faro date from the Moorish era and encircle the entire Cidade Velha
The creepy Capela Dos Ossos lined with the bones of 1000 deceased monks
How long to Spend in Faro?
There are three different suggested lengths for a visit to Faro one, three or seven days.
The one-day stay is recommended if you arrive on a late flight and need a short stopover before heading to your main holiday destination. Faro can be easily explored in a single day and makes for an interesting introduction to the Algarve, before catching the train or bus to your next location.
A stay of three nights allows Faro and the surrounding region to be fully discovered. This length provides you time to explore historic Faro, tour the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, relax on the Praia de Faro or Ilha Deserta beaches, and have a day trip to Estoi or the Ilha da Culatra.
Three nights is the ideal length of stay if you are touring the Algarve and are not rushed for time.
A seven-night stay in Faro is perfect if you wish to spend your entire holiday based in Faro. This holiday makes use of the excellent public transport from Faro to explore the entire central Algarve via day trips, while being based in a cosmopolitan city.
From Faro, it is possible to take day trips to Olhao, Tavira, Loule, Albufeira and Vilamoura, and longer train journeys connect to Silves and Lagos.
Related articles: 3 days in Faro
The Arco da Vila is the gateway to the historic quarter
The beaches of Faro
Faro city should not be considered as a beach holiday destination. The beaches of Faro are found on the southern side of the three sandbar islands (Ilha de Faro, Ilha Deserta and the Ilha da Culatra), which shelter the mudflats of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa.
The Ilha de Faro has a 5km coastline of golden sands, and this beach is referred to as the Praia de Faro. The Praia de Faro has low-key tourist development, with relaxed cafes and small beach bars, which is surprising considering it is less than a five-minute drive from Faro airport. In the summer it is filled with Portuguese tourists.
The Ilha Deserta, as the name implies, is a deserted island, which can only be reached by boat. Along the tranquil sandy shoreline of the Ilha Deserta, is the Cabo de Santa Maria, the most southerly point of Portugal. The Ilha da Culatra has similar beaches to the other two islands and is also the location of a traditional fishing community, based in the village of Culatra.
Related articles: Faro beaches
Praia de Faro, just a short bus ride from Faro
The deserted beaches of the Ilha Deserta
Where to stay in Faro?
Generally, most tourists book their accommodation within 300m of the Jardim Manuel Bivar plaza and the Doca de Faro. Faro is a compact city and this area covers the main tourist sights, the bus and train stations and popular restaurants.
As for hotels the Hotel Eva and Hotel Faro are both highly regarded, have roof terraces and are centrally located. A recommended cheaper alternative is the Stay Hotel Faro Centro. If you need a hotel close to Faro airport, consider the Hotel 3k.
The map below shows the location of hotels and rental rooms in Faro, and by altering the date to your holiday, the map will display current prices:
Faro is the Algarve’s transport hub
Faro airport is the main international airport of southern Portugal, and is situated 7km south-west of the city. Faro bus and train stations are located in the centre of Faro city, and departing from here are regional services covering the whole of the Algarve, along with routes to Lisbon and northern Portugal.
Useful public transport websites include:
• Comboios de Portugal (trains) - https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en
• Eva regional (regional buses) - https://eva-bus.com/
• Rede Expressos (intercity buses) -https://www.rede-expressos.pt/
(links open new tabs)
Unfortunately, none of these public transport services passes by the airport, therefore all visitors heading to their final destination using public transport will first have to travel into Faro city.
The Algarve regional train is slow…..
How to Travel from the airport to Faro city?
There is very limited public transport from Faro airport to Faro city. There is a single bus service (€2.35 adult) that departs every 30-40 minutes between 6am and midnight. This bus (route 16) terminates at the Proximo bus station, and is next to the intercity bus station or 200m from the train station.
A taxi from the airport to Faro is a more convenient and faster option, costing €10-15. Uber operates in the Algarve, but there can be high demand during the summer months.
Related articles: Faro airport to Faro city
The number 16 bus heading to Faro bus station
Day trips from Faro
Popular day trips from Faro include the fishing town of Olhão, the market town of Loulé or the fishing communities on the Ilha da Culatra island.
An alternative day trip is to the pretty village of Estoi. Found in Estoi is the pink Estoi Palace, the finest example of Rococo architecture in the Algarve, while just outside of the village are the Milre Roman ruins, of a once-grand villa
Related Articles: Day trip to Estoi – Loulé guide
The beautiful azulejos tiles of the Palácio de Estoi gardens
Loule is a bustling market town
The Capela Dos Ossos (The Bone Chapel)
The strangest historic monument in Faro, is the Capela Dos Ossos (Bone Chapel). In this macabre chapel, the bones of 1,000 monks line the walls, and even more disturbing, actually provide the artistic design.
What Comes After the Fall of Pro-Slavery Monuments?
Ana Lucia Araujo is a historian and professor at the historically black Howard University in Washington DC. She is a member of the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Route Project. Her next book, Slavery in the Age of Memory: Engaging the Past, will be out in October 2020.
Many people still seem to be surprised that protests denouncing the murder of George Floyd have led to global demonstrations (and sometimes direct action) aimed at the removal of monuments that, until a few decades ago, were not publicly contested.
A number of educated Americans agree that Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis defended slavery and fought a war to preserve the inhuman institution. In European and African countries, many citizens recognize that Leopold II of Belgium was the notorious ruler of the Congo Free State. During his reign nearly 10 million inhabitants of the African state were terrorized, tortured, and murdered.
But in the last few weeks, US demonstrators took down statues paying homage to Christopher Columbus, a Genoese navigator who launched the European conquest of the Americas in the late fifteenth century. What is often omitted from the story is that he also drove the genocide of millions of Native Americans. This conquest eventually led to the massive import of enslaved Africans to the so-called New World.
In the UK, statues commemorating slave traders like Edward Colston and Robert Milligan were also toppled down or removed.
The founding fathers of the United States, who have been under scrutiny in the last few decades, were not spared either. A statue of Thomas Jefferson and another of George Washington were taken down in Portland, Oregon.
Surprisingly, many citizens did not even know who the men were who are represented in these monuments. Most are just now learning that these statues, erected several decades ago, pay homage to men who promoted slavery, genocide, and colonialism.
Despite current disbelief, toppling down and removing monuments is nothing new.
In the Americas, since the American Revolutionary War, and in Europe, during the French Revolution, there is a long history of taking down and removing monuments. The end of the Cold War and the fall of the Communist regimes in eastern Europe also propelled the removal of dozens of monuments memorializing leaders such as Lenin and Stalin. There is also a long tradition of creating new monuments in times of change.
What does the current global movement to take down statues honoring white men who supported human atrocities teach us? In nearly two decades studying monuments, memorials, and museums memorializing slavery in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, I learned several lessons. When groups decide to erect a monument to remember an event or a person from the past, they are always driven by present-day motivations.
Many historians have shown how countless Confederate monuments were created starting in the early twenty century. It&rsquos never too much to repeat that groups such as the Sons of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned and sponsored the construction of these monuments long after the end of the Civil War, when the memory of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy was at risk of fading. Their goal was clear. They were protecting white heritage during the Jim Crow era. By promoting their values of white supremacy and racial segregation in a period when African Americans were denied access to civil rights, they consolidated their power by imposing the presence of those who lost the Civil War in public space.
In other words, all monuments emerge and disappear because of political battles that take place in the public arena. Likewise, public memory is always political. And in the context of the Americas, it is always racialized because the groups who hold conflicting memories are built along racial lines. Monuments to Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and John C. Calhoun symbolize white heritage, a heritage that drew from slavery, white supremacy, and racial oppression. Like the pro-slavery white groups who created these monuments decades ago, white groups who associate themselves with this long-lasting tradition of racial oppression are the ones willing to defend these monuments today.
Lest we forget, in 2015, Dylan Roof murdered nine African Americans in Charleston. A few days before committing this mass murder, he posed with a Confederate flag in a series of pictures. In 2017, far-right and pro-Nazi armed groups went to Charlottesville, VA, to defend a statue of Robert E. Lee. One member of the mob assassinated Heather Heyer and injured dozens of others. In both cases, these individuals and groups promoted the idea that they were defending the cause of their ancestors. Instead they were defending present-day racism.
There is no doubt that these individuals and groups instrumentalized Confederate symbols to promote their present-day white supremacist agenda. That agenda became more radicalized after the first black president of the United States was elected in 2008, and more emboldened by President Trump&rsquos support.
In 2020, more white Americans than ever before came to see Confederate monuments as shrines of white hate. Black people, however, never accepted symbols of white supremacy. It&rsquos needless to state that these statues were constructed without consulting members of the black community, who could not even vote or use the same restrooms as white citizens by that time.
Historians Ethan Kytle and Blain Roberts showed how African Americans in Charleston protested the statue of pro-slavery propagandist John C. Calhoun since its inception, defacing the statue so often that it was placed atop an obelisk to thwart vandals.
The same occurred elsewhere. Starting in the 1990s, black Bristolians protested the omnipresence of statues, buildings, and streets paying homage to the British slave merchant Edward Colston, all over the city. Especially since 2015, South Africans started taking down statues representing the leaders of the colonial era and the Apartheid regime.
When these black citizens demand the removal of monuments paying homage to white men who defended slavery and segregation, they are not only arguing about events that happened in the past, they are denouncing present-day legacies of this past, including their social and economic exclusion and racial violence that became so evident once again after the murder of George Floyd. These black and brown citizens, and their allies, are bringing to light that countries like the United States, England, and France, were built on the wealth generated by the Atlantic slave trade and slavery.
All these societies also emerged on the principles of white supremacy.
Because when black citizens open a textbook, visit a museum, or look at the statues displayed in the major squares of the main European and American capitals they only see images of white men, who were wealthy, who had power, and who very often were slave owners or slave traders. Then when black men, women, and children are challenging pro-slavery statues, they are denouncing this past that remains alive in the present. They are calling attention to their present-day economic and social exclusion.
I am convinced that the fall of pro-slavery monuments offers several opportunities to make amends for past atrocities.
First of all, it is time for the countries that practiced chattel slavery and participated in the Atlantic slave trade to formulate an official and formal apology to the descendants of enslaved people.
The White House recently improvised an Executive Order on Building and rebuilding monuments to American Heroes. Instead, the federal government, states, and municipalities should create commissions to evaluate the existing monuments and memorials. More importantly, they should lead a wide consultation of black and brown citizens to determine which monuments and memorials they want to create in their communities. The example of Lisbon, Portugal, which recently led a broad consultation regarding the creation of a slavery memorial can be a productive model to be followed.
Another crucial step is to create commissions to examine how the history of slavery is taught in US schools. Producing textbooks that fully tell the history of slavery and the populations of African descent in the United States is another measure to make sure that the history of slavery is not erased and is effectively taught to schoolchildren. Making the teaching of African American history mandatory at the school level, as was done in Brazil, and creating a national holiday to commemorate slavery (as was done in France) are also initiatives to be considered in the United States.
As we can see, the removal of pro-slavery statues open up to a great number of alternatives to tell the true story about slavery and the populations of African descent not only in the United States, but also around the globe.
Struggle for Royal Dominance 1211-1223
Pedro Perret/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
King Afonso II, son of the first King of Portugal, faced difficulties in extending and consolidating his authority over Portuguese nobles used to autonomy. During his reign he fought a civil war against such nobles, needing the papacy to intervene to aid him. However, he did institute the first laws to affect the whole region, one of which barred people from leaving any more land to the church and got him excommunicated.
The Legacy Walk
Stretching half a mile across the North Halsted corridor, the Legacy Walk is an outdoor history museum showcasing significant moments in LGBTQ history. Thirty-seven bronze markers recognize a different person or event, and each features a QR code that visitors can scan for a more detailed biography or video. Since the first plaque was dedicated on National Coming Out Day on October 11, 2012, additional plaques have been added annually. A new Visitors’ Center is scheduled to open in 2019, which will include a gift shop and museum. Travel tip: Visit during Northalsted Market Days in August for the largest street festival in the Midwest. The festivities include live music, DJs, and dancing in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood.
Evora Historic Centre
Evora City is also referred to as the museum city. In the 15th century, it became the residence of the Portuguese kings. This city boasts off a rich history dating back to two millennia. The historical presence of the Roman Empire is evident from the road system and the Dian temple. The town is also home to the first ever Portuguese Gothic monument. Some notable features in the city are palaces, Mannerist and Baroque convents and Renaissance. The site was inscribed in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1986.