The Legend of The Barcelos Rooster, Portugal

Today I will tell you about the origin of the legend of The Rooster of Portugal, and by the way about an excursion to a village in the north of Portugal called Barcelos, where this legend originated.

Barcelos is a beautiful village in northern Portugal, 60 kilometers north of Porto. So it is a fascinating possible excursion if you decide to visit Porto.

Gallo de Portugal, Barcelos

Searching The Origin Of The Legend!

When we visited Portugal, the fact that everywhere there were figures, drawings, motifs, embroidery, etc., of a rooster struck us.

You can find it almost anywhere as a decorative object if you are in Portugal.

And to tell the truth, we couldn’t help but wonder why the Portuguese were so obsessed with the rooster, so we decided to find out.

Taking advantage of the fact that we would tour Portugal from north to south, we started looking for information about of the Rooster of Portugal. We discovered that the legend originated in this little village called Barcelos.

We found several versions of the legend, but it was better to get to know the village and, if possible, investigate the origin of the legend of Barcelos’ Rooster, so we planned a trip to this small village.

You can visit on your own or with a guide from Oporto.

Gallo de Portugal, Barcelos

How to Get to Barcelos, Portugal

You can book a flight to Porto Airport if you arrive from overseas. From there, take a taxi or train directly to Barcelos. A shuttle service, which costs around 5 €, is a convenient way to take you to your accommodation in Barcelos. It might be a private or shared car ride, depending on your liking. 

Although we love riding public transportation and traveling locally, nothing beats traveling at your own pace. Renting a car would let you travel to Barcelos or another place in Portugal at your own pace. 

Portugal rooster souvernir

Barcelos, Where The Legend Of Rooster of Portugal Is Born

Barcelos is not a very big town, but it has a very nice open-air archaeological museum. You will enjoy walking around in this humble town. Make sure you have a travel bag that can fit snacks and a pair of comfy walking shoes.

The ruins of the palace of the Counts of Barcelos and Dukes of Bragança, located on the medieval bridge of the 14th century over the Cávado River, house the museum.

A great earthquake in 1755 destroyed this palace, like many other ancient constructions and buildings in Portugal.

Also, in Barcelos, you can visit the historic center and the gardens of Barcelos, which are very beautiful and dedicated to the gardener who has been caring for them for more than 30 years.

You can also visit the Matriz Church of Santa Maria de Barcelos. Construction began in the 14th century by order of Don Pedro, Count of Barcelos. Later the church underwent modifications until the 18th century.

Barcelos Garden, Portugal

“Crucero de O Senhor do Galo Legend”

In the museum, you can see a lot of works, both ancient and with great value and archaeological interest, as well as modern, including bronze sculptures.

But the most exciting thing for us was the stone cross of the XIV century in which the “Crucero de O Senhor do Galo Legend” is told.

We could see the cross-referred to in the legend and we could read the text of it as it is told in Nova Memória Histórica da Villa de Barcellos of 1877 by Domingos J. Pereira; I translate it for you:

“There was in Barcelos a gallows and near it, on the edge of the old road, a busy inn famous for the beauty of its owner.

One day, a pilgrim fulfilling a promise to Santiago de Compostela spent the night at the inn. The innkeeper instantly fell in love with the pilgrim, but the pilgrim did not feel the same way because he was on a pious journey.

Scorned by the man’s indifference, the woman plotted her revenge by hiding some valuable silverware in his luggage. The pilgrim was arrested as a thief the following day when they found silver pieces in his luggage.

The man was brought in the presence of the judge, who was preparing to eat a roast rooster for lunch at the time. Although the man swore his innocence, he was sentenced to be hanged according to the evidence and custom.

The pilgrim, suddenly inspired by divine intervention, then said to the judge:

I am innocent, and this roasted rooster will crow to prove my innocence.

Just as the neck was hanging the man on the gallows, the rooster stood up and crowed.

At the sight of the miracle, the judge ran to the gallows and found the pilgrim hanging by the neck, but the rope was slack because Santiago (ST Jacques) was holding the pilgrim by the feet.”

Gallo de Portugal, Barcelos

The pilgrim, given the miracle, vowed to return once he had fulfilled the objective of his pilgrimage. And so it was, the pilgrim returned and engraved on a stone cross his story to be remembered.

And that is the cross that you can see from the 14th century in Barcelos, which is why the rooster is the national symbol of Portugal.

Did you like this legend in Portugal? You should try this Porto Legend tour on your next trip.

Have a good trip! This post may include affiliate links.

Plan Your Trip to Portugal

Legend of the rooster of portugal

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