Special moments in Turquel
Nested around the church, Turquel was in the middle ages a small town, loosing importance and dimension in the last centuries, until becoming a village. After the revolution of 1974, the village started growing again, recovering the status of “vila”, which means small town, and reaching a balance that mixes the resources of towns with the quiet and healthy rural life.
An huge blackberry cluster joins the tower near the center of town.
Combining rural tranquility with all the essential exigencies of modern life, Turquel is a good place for an inexpensive exploration of the surrounding treasures. Missing local attractions and hotels, there are some cheap guesthouses around it, specially lining the IC2 road, some of them with good and cheap restaurants, easy to book locally, even in high season.
Slowly, the village is changing. Blocks of apartments replace the old family houses, cars invade all possible spaces, and services replace the old work in agriculture.
Turquel is no longer a village, but it is not yet a town. The traditions are fading, the authenticity is vanishing, all replaced by an uncharacteristic look. But, anytime the old images appear, the nostalgia forces the question: Is this real progress ?
PS: Crisis, stopping the boom, seem to confirm my doubts…
Successive reconstruction gave to the interior of the church a modern look, only betrayed by the doors, the original baptismal basin, and the image of Nª Sª da Conceição.
The old church of Turquel (16th century, it seems) has suffered several restorations, that changed completely its interior.Fortunately, all of them respected the Manueline doors, both classified today by our national monuments department.
For centuries the symbol of justice and authority was the pillory, that most cities preserve as references from their past.
Turquel is no exception, and in the central place the pillory stands in evidence as our main monument
This column was erected in the church’s yard by the initiative of my school teacher, in 1940 ( don’t blame me, I only was born six years later, in the pink house in the background), to join the nationalist enthusiasm used by the dictatorship in the celebration of the 300 years of recuperated independence. Lisbon made the exhibition of the “Mundo Português” that gave the actual good frame to Jerónimos and the Tower, in Belem (see my Lisboa tips about it) and Turquel, at its scale, as many other villages, couldn’t stay behind. The monument was moved, but still stands, now in the opposite side of the church.
Rua da Neta
Rua da Neta, is one of the oldest streets in the city. This cobblestone steep street still has a classical house (the last one, I think) following medieval conception – animals in ground floor, people in first stage, with a staircase in front.
“Relego” was the name of a tax paid in the historic days to the monks of Alcobaça, who owned all the surrounded area, including Turquel. Relego is now the name is the highest hill of Turquel, maybe because it was the place where the tax was collected, and it is one of the most preserved area of this quickly changing small town.
“Senhor Jesus do Hospital” chapel
Right in the centre of town stands this modest chapel built in 1762. It still keeps some tiles representing Saint Veronica, but the hospital was closed long ago.
Recent construction around it didn’t respect the building, that has been almost swallowed by the greed of mass construction.
I lived in that street for many years, and, believe me, moving away was the best idea, not only because I got free from the flea market that happens each Sunday in the street, but I only need to write “R. Luisa” in my address, instead of “Rua do Senhor Jesus do Hospital nº X”.Uff!
Porto da Pedra
In the old days, the few tourists passing by, stopped in the main road, taking a picture of a small mount surrounded by agricultural fields, with three windmills working in its top. Landscape changed, concrete replaced agriculture, but a couple of windmills still resist, mixed with the houses, with the owners showing their love for the old memories.
Till when? The view from distance is now seriously disturbed, but approaching the windmills is today, much better.
It was a great surprise to me! Living in a small village, where (supposedly) everybody knows each other, I was one of the dozens that fought the war in Africa, with the idea that our community was spared, and no one got killed. It was a surprise to see, facing the cemetery, a simple monument remembering nor less than 4 neighbors killed in the war.
Justo Couto, Silvestre Silva, Vitorino Simão, and Manuel Lopes, this one, most lightly, one of my distant cousins, were the victims.
For all of them, my respect.
Sometimes Turquel changes its face and surprises us.Beauty may be across the street, and since 1989 no more snow in Turquel, until 29/1/2006, when snow was an extraordinary event in almost all the country, and a good opportunity to unusual photos.
I hardly had time to make pictures, and it was the first (and last) time that snow became a problem – I needed to bring Fernanda from Coimbra and traffic was closed for some time.
Saint Anthony chapel
Founded on an unknown date but prior to the 18th century, this simple chapel underwent some works that gradually degraded it, maintaining, however, much of the original structure.
While Turquel was a rural village, it was the site of famous feasts in honor of the saint. With the increase in traffic, the party was relocated, and since then, the chapel and the party have been falling into oblivion.
The peaches of Alcobaça are famous, but the region is fertile in the production of many other high quality fruits.
It is a festival when high quality meets high quantity.
Turquel is not a big city, but it covers a wide area, with several types of landscape, and many small settlements. Some of the interesting details of Turquel are located in those scattered settlements.
The Last Working Windmill
Once a landmark spread all over the hills of Turquel, the windmills stopped one by one, until the last resistant. Joaquim Rodrigues, the last miller, died a few years ago. His eldest son decided to keep the windmill operational just for the pleasure of a lasting tradition. Construction is encircling and approaching the windmill, and Raul Rodrigues says that if they approach much more he will demolish it.
I will never forget the words of the president of the Portuguese Institute for Industrial Archaeology, in Marinha Grande:” A society that doesn’t care about its landscape is condemned as a society”.
Something wise that our local authorities should have in mind!
In a small house belonging to the Philharmonic Association, ADEPART, a cultural organization, created in 2001 a small museum.
Collecting the local memories, in display there are traditional instruments, books, paintings, and handicrafts. One of my uncles donated his funny wooden carvings works, with caricatures of most known personalities, which can also be seen there. The museum was recently moved to an old school, in Casal da Lagoa.
There, with the great dedication of my friends Hélio, José Manuel and more, it was seriously developped, now really deserving a visit.
Address: Casal da Lagoa, Turquel
Forgive me if I insist. but I have to make justice to my uncle’s sense of humor and manual skills. Though hardly concentrated in only two displays, some of the pieces are really funny.
The museum has moved to a more suitable building, and the new exhibition is much better.
Casal de Val-de-Ventos, stays atop the mountain of Candeeiros. It was, in the old days, a remote and poor village, hard to reach and to communicate with the “outside world”. Better roads and the industry of stone extraction, allowed the opening and development of the recent days.
New villas appear here and there, and the signs of the traditional stone small houses are fading, but still present.
Casal da Lagoa
A small lagoon gives the name to this area of Turquel. The lagoon is no more than a big pond, but, with some care by the neighbors, it presents clear water where we may see some big fishes.
Nearby there’s a very old building, once a oil press.
Included in the Natural Park of Aire and Candeeiros, this mountain is a wild area, excellent for trekking and watching natural life and geologic formations. The sights are awesome, and, from caves to dinosaur trails there’s a lot to see and to do far from the crowds rushes.
Rough environment and wide sights encircle beautiful and appealing spots, for a vacation away from it all.
Atop the mountain, the old house of the guards is a chosen place for picnics, and a overnight possibility for a dozen of persons.
Capela da Serra (chapel of the mountain)
In the way up to the Natural Park, from Turquel, you pass close to a small chapel.
It’s an in-distinctive building, standing as a landmark of the locals religiosity, that made some popular people build it, away from everything, almost lost in the mountain.
Once a year there’s a popular celebration in the chapel, and I think that it is all.
One interesting thing to notice:
The chapel was made in the beginning of the 20th century and rebuilt in the forties. Then, the school was still a luxury only available for some Portuguese. The inscription above the door keeps the memory of those time.
To understand what I mean you would have to know some Portuguese, at least what is a “Qumição”(they meant “Comissão” – comity)
The monks of Cister covered a large area around Alcobaça, reaching Candeeiros mountain almost 20 Km distant.
Some constructions are lost but in a big farm called “Quinta de Val-de-ventos” it’s still possible to see how they managed watering needs – a big cistern, in ruins, but still gathering some water, may be seen at the entrance.
Stone is Bread
Atop the mountain, right in the Natural Park, life is hard.Long walls of piled stones have not the purpose to close properties, it’s mainly a way to free small portions of land to use in agriculture.
Those walls, stretching everywhere in the landscape, have been replaced, recently, by a flourishing industry, of stone to construction.
The landscape remains preserved (well…), but it’s easy to have your attention distracted by the large sights, from Turquel at your feet, until the distant buildings and cliffs of Nazaré, with the sun and sea merging in the haze.
Quite often, locals go up the mountain, stop a while, and let the eyes and imagination travel around.
The Natural Park of Serra de Aire e Candeeiros is a reserve for wildlife and flora, but these days, the landscape is changing.The “talefe” is a geodesic construction that marks the highest point of the mountain of Candeeiros.
In my youth one of our bigger challenges was to walk up to the mountain, and climb to the talefe.
Deep changes turned the highest point into a midget.
Will it still motivate the youngsters?
It’s an old tradition taking the children to the fields, to collect a wheat spike and use it to compose a bouquet with wild flowers. The Natural Park of Aire and Candeeiros is not commonly used by locals, but, sometimes attracts visitors from distant places.
It is, indeed, a great pretext to give those happy children a rich day in search of nature.
My friend Avelino is a citizen of the world, whose hobby is… making friends. After many years in USA, he returned home, surrounded by tons of… everything.
So much stuff that he decided to share it, building next to his house a sort of museum.
Unpredictable, and always moving around, the works stop and go, but he couldn’t wait for long and many things are already in display, in a messy but funny “parade”.
It’s by the road to Alcobaça, so you just need to stop and smile. Don’t you dare to stop for a long time, or you risk to get… a new friend.
PS: It is empty now, because he moved the stuff to a warehouse by IC2, but, if I know him, things may change in a glimpse…
PS2 – As I said, he is back to action – let’s see what is going to appear there…
Despite the new presence of the aeolian park, the mountain of Candeeiros maintains all its charm. The struggle to survive against the rocky soil, gave place to a profitable stone business, visible everywhere. sometimes attacking the landscape.
In the southern side, the odd salt exploitation (belonging to Rio Maior area), 200 meters above sea level, still confuses the locals.
Trekking in Candeeiros
Nature admirers find PNSAC a privileged place for walks in a mountain environment.
Casa de Vale-de-Ventos, at the top of Serra dos Candeeiros, is one of the places with the most spectacular views, and the starting point of several trails of different lengths and difficulties.
The dominant activity in Serra dos Candeeiros is stone extraction.
The intense work eviscerates the mountain, but, at the same time, opens accesses and makes images of great intensity available.
Right in the center of Turquel, recently opened a restaurant, focusing on quality. A small space, with a careful and unpretentious decoration, daily offers a variety of dishes whose common feature is the excellence of preparation. Obviously not being a cheap restaurant, the prices are very attractive for the quality of the service.
Location: R. Senhor Jesus do Hospital
Casa Velha – Remote and good
Atop Candeeiros mountain, a recent house imitating an old one houses a typical restaurant, whose quality and low prices attract lots of people.
Good quality, typical dishes (different each day, and with a narrow choice), and, maybe, the exotism of its location, make people gather there every day, with the noise of a Portuguese full restaurant becoming the greatest inconvenience. The people is gentle, and, no doubt, you will feel in the real Portugal.
Favorite Dish: Veal cutlet, Octopus rice, “Cozido à Portuguesa”. Grilled Codfish
Address: Casal de Vale de Ventos
Phone: +351 244450653
Rural tourism – As mushrooms
What a surprise!
Atop Candeeiros mountain, there-se a village called Casal de Vale-de-Ventos, once very poor.
EXPO 98 open the door to stone exploitation, and business developed the area, without stopping people from leaving to easier places.
Many abandoned houses were recovered, and are now available for touristic renting, with all the conditions and a very interesting price.
Of course, touristic attractions in the area are very few, but for those who want to stay in a very quiet place, with minimum comfort, and less than one hour distant from Alcobaça, Nazaré, Óbidos, Caldas da Rainha, Santarém, Leiria, Fátima, Tomar and more, this may be a very interesting and cheap solution for a group or large family. Some friends stayed in one of those houses in New Year’s eve, and I passed a few hours with them, in a big and comfortable house (12 of them slept there).
The problem is that I couldn’t find a regular contact to any of them. Maybe the restaurant “Casa Velha” (see my specific tip) may help.
Address: Casal de Vale-de-Ventos, atop Candeeiros mountain
Once the big pretext to join the community, these celebrations serve, today, for the emigrants revive their past in their birth place.
However, the youth keeps having fun, and in St. Anthony’s celebration (June 12th) there’s also a brave guy to climb the post and grab the big cake (and sometimes something else) atop of it.
Fun is also the mean to contribute to several social objectives.
In Turquel, something like this is being born, as if… like this!
It looks like a wine cellar!
It is not.
There is much more than the thousands of bottles of wine, port, brandy and whiskey, almost all with white hair, filling every corner of dozens of displays and shelves.
Boxed there are hundreds of copies, some unique, of pyrograved bottles, exotic glasses (some with political motifs) and other antiques waiting to be displayed.
Maybe a museum!
Yes, that’s closer, leading Mário Rui to suggest the name “Garrafeira-Museum” for that space. It seems appropriate, but Afonso Carvalho still hasn’t decided, and he continues to work hard and with good taste, in the organization and expansion of the exhibition.
Meanwhile, he invites friends and acquaintances to see and give an opinion, and interestingly, each visit can represent a loss in the collection, while he explains that nothing is for sale, but everything may be sold.
Simple and clear.
Let’s wait for the opening of the “Garrafeira-Museum”.
Or the “Vine Bookseller”?
Or the “Páteo do Afonso”?
Or the “Bacchus Archive”?
I will provisionally call it “Afonso’s adventure”
Memories of Turquel
Memories of Turquel is a precious book, published by José Diogo Ribeiro almost a century ago, however, we may add our personal memories.
Turquel was a village with history and personality. Now it is a small city, with better quality of life, but where the troubles of modernization are well expressed.
Most symbols of the past are gone, and the remaining classical signs wait their turn to be replaced by uncharacteristic three storey buildings in name of money.
Unless the crisis forces to postpone the projects, and it seems to be happening…
The Shepherd eagle
My neighbor has sheep. Nothing unusual.
He also has dogs, but, I think he only uses them to hunt and guard the house. So, who guarded the sheep?
Looking closer, today, I noticed that it was a… eagle. At least, she was there, carefully looking at the animals. As a matter of fact I don’t know if it was guarding or seizing them, maybe thinking they were a little big to swallow. I’ll see it better next days and let you know.
It seems that a couple of cats are now helping the eagle. What a confusion!
– I bet two sheep and a lamb!
– I cover it, and bet three more sheep and the dog!
PS – I don’t know who won this poker game.
I was so nervous that I abandoned the table!
Forgive me, but I love this picture, took 60 years ago.
The memories of those nice old ladies in my youth…
When needed, for a religious or social investment, the people organizes some festive parades, where each neighborhood gathers all the local contribution in decorated vehicles (everything serves, since trucks to toys) and meet in a party where most of the offers are sold.
Imagination doesn’t shine, but generosity uses to be immense.
Recent changes in the social characteristics of the population (immigration) make this tradition a rare event.
Monument to Incompetence
In the sixties, a group of locals organized a committee to buy a small land inside town, planning to open a wide avenue. The land was too steep, and the idea was abandoned, as was the land, for decades.
In the eighties, Turquel needed a Medical Centre. Election after election, for about 10 years, all politicians promised to built it.
No one did, with bureaucracy pushing the problem from health Ministry to City Hall, and back. No one had the formal competence to do it.
One day, my brother, architect, in conversation with the Mayor, his friend, found the solution: The municipality had no competence to build a Medical Centre, but could build gardens – The steep abandoned public land in the centre of town could be gardened, with a few works to level it allowing the installation of the medical services. It was “Columbus’ egg” and the Mayor ordered the project, quickly finished.
As usual, the plan was reserved to the following elections. Turquel had, at the moment, an idiot as president, willing to be re-elected, that started to announce the marvels of the coming works, swapping things and confusing people: what should be a garden with the medical center hosted in a small construction to level part of the land, was announced as a new building surrounded by gardens.
People’s imagination started to work – one said the it was good to include the post office, the other a bank, another one a school of music, and when the information reached me it “was” already a three storey building, including a senior’s residence.
The real politicians understood the risk and tried to correct it asking my brother to enhance the project. He gave the only correct answer: “Everything is possible, just tell me what do you want”.
The problem was that they needed a big building, and the mayor had money to pay only the modest project he ordered and my brother finished. No way out, in the political discussion.
Elections to come, and the idiot started the works. As soon as the population understood their modesty, the contestation grew to a point that forced him to stop. Dignity and politics sometimes don’t blend, specially in limited minds, and he escaped the contestation accusing – the architect, of course.
My brother’s bright idea, accepted by the Mayor, led to a project approved by City council. Incompetence, and more ambition than dignity crashed it.
The unfinished garden stands, in the centre of town – the perfect monument to the worst of policy. The saddest point is that only a small percentage of the people knows the truth.
At last, someone wise decided to recover the walls and give them some use, but the “garden” still commemorates the old incompetence.
Turquel is today one of the places where ballroom and latin dances are taken more seriously, with several couples in competition.
This gives us the chance to organize some of the official competitions, with top level dancers, and that’s what keeps happening twice a year, in 2018 in May and June, gathering more than 500 dancers.
Though a small town, Turquel is rather active, with lots of activities either locally confined, or shared with our neighbors.Folklore exhibitions are regular, and dozens of countries from all the continents have performed in Turquel and Alcobaça.
Spain, with several regions naturally joins Portugal as the most representative, but many others, including the remote Kazakhstan, China, Cook Islands, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Senegal, and several American countries had come.
Casa Sousa Lopes
The best shop in the world
The oldest (almost centenary) and one of the more solid shops in Turquel, with a policy of quality products in mid range prices, sold comparatively cheap.
This is, no doubt for me, the best shop in the world, because… it’s mine, and it is managed by the woman with the best taste in the world – Fernanda. ( Don’t dare to doubt! She is the woman who choose… me!)
What to buy: All clothes for women, men, children, and home.
Address: R. Sr Jesus do Hospital, 10 Turquel , close to the Market Phone: 351 262 919114
Arts and crafts
My special friend João Moreira has the skill that I will never have, nor dream to…
His atelier, at the north entrance of Turquel, deserves to be visited. Tiles and glass work are his specialty, and if you decide to buy something, you will be the lucky one.
Address: R. Escola Antiga , 4 (North of Turquel, in the way to Alcobaça) Phone: 351 96 2961616
If it happens to you passing trough Turquel in a weekend, look at the sports center. Maybe you have the chance to see very… very small children rolling seriously as adults, in one of the best schools in the entire world (and…remember, also with a ballroom dance school, where this friend of yours shows all the youth of his 62… I mean… 71 now).
In 26th August 2012 we celebrated the 50 years of the club, with a game by the same players that inaugurated it in 1962. I tried, but… dancing is safer now, so I decided to be the referee.
And to dance, of course.
The celebration continued in June 2014, closing with the publication of the “Gold Book” of the club.
PS – Please, don’t criticise the author – it took me almost two years of hard work.
Healthy, funny, and open to all the family! What else should we demand for a nightlife event?
Twice a week (Monday and Friday) a few dozens of people of all ages gather in the club to learn ballroom dancing.
The more advanced or daring are already in competition, the other, for the moment, only share the fun, and learn.
I’m the eldest, and, with Fernanda, we risk to become regional champions (respect, OK?) because… we compete with our shades.
The fun and social interaction goes far beyond twice a week and… excuse-me: I have to stop writing and go back to practice for next Saturday competition in Abrantes.
Many Saturdays, many competitions gone, and dancing keeps being a pleasant and healthy solution for the night.
Address: Hoquei Clube de Turquel
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