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Library > Fact Sheets > Portuguese Rooster


Posted 5/11/2009 Printable Fact Sheet

Question: What's the legend behind the ceramic Portuguese rooster that is seen in all local souvenir shops?

The Portuguese rooster, or "Galo de Barcelos," as is commonly known among the Portuguese people, is a symbol of honesty, integrity, trust and honor and also recognized as an unofficial symbol of the country. 

Its legend is so old no one knows exactly how it started besides there being several versions of the legend. 

However, the most known version tells that a crime had been committed in the Portuguese town of Barcelos, and a pilgrim from Galicia was passing through the town on his way to São Tiago de Compostela in Spain and was accused of a crime. 

The man didn't have way to prove his innocence and was condemned to death by hanging by a local judge. 

As a last request before he was hanged, he asked to appear in front of the judge one more time to declare his innocence once again. His request was granted and he was brought before the judge who was dining with some friends. 

The pilgrim once again declared his innocence and in the presence of the judge's guests he pointed to a roasted rooster on the table and said: "As sure as I'm innocent, so will that rooster crow!" 

The judge didn't believe him and ordered his immediate execution. But when the man was about to die in the gibbet the dead rooster stood up on the table and crowed. 

The pilgrim was immediately set free and went his way in peace. Some years later he returned to the town of Barcelos and built a monument in honor of São Tiago and the Virgin Mary.

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