Travel the World Café at Elizabethtown Public Library
Elizabethtown Coffee Company is the heart of the World Café program at Elizabethtown Public Library and helps to advance our mission. The vision of the World Café is to increase awareness of authors, cultures and realities from around the globe. We want everyone to be able to discover new places and different ideas that expand our thinking and our minds.
Each month the Library selects a different location. Sometimes its a region within the United States. It might be a coffee or tea growing country and it may even be a body of water that houses sea creatures and mythical beings. You can sign up to participate in this year-long program and complete your World Café passport for a year of exploration and a chance to win fun prizes.
December highlights Portugal!
Location & Geography
Portugal forms majority of the western coast of the Iberian peninsula. Spain forms the northern and eastern borders while the Atlantic Ocean is to the west and south.
The geography of Portugal is fairly diverse, especially considering its small size. The Estrela Mountains form the high point of the country, reaching 6,500 feet. This is contrasted against the low lands around the coast. Portugal also has two island groupings which are hundreds of miles away from the mainland. The Madeira Islands are roughly 600 miles away and the easternmost island of the Azores is at a distance of 875 miles.
Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe, officially becoming the Kingdom of Portugal in 1143 with the Treaty of Zamora. Before this, the region was settled by Iberian peoples and Celts who migrated into the land during the first millennium BCE; then came the Romans followed by Germanic invaders until it became a county of the Kingdom of León in 868.
The capital of Portugal is Lisbon and there are a couple of legends concerning its founding. Some claim that Odysseus, from Homer’s Odyssey, founded the city. During his travels, it is claimed that he resided in the region for quite sometime before departing and causing heartbreak for Calypso. Saddened at his departure, Calypso turned into a snake and became the seven hills of the city. Others claim that Elishah, the great-grandson of Noah in the Bible, migrated west with his uncle Tubal and founded the city.
The sailing and traveling aspects of both founding legends of Lisbon are fitting since Portugal became one of the largest maritime empires during the Age of Discovery, beginning in the 15th century. The Portuguese Empire is one of the longest lasting European empires, having started in 1415 with the conquest of Ceuta and ending in 1999 when Macau was handed over to China. The empire also had a wide expanse, reaching Africa, Asia, North America, South America, and Oceania.
The prominence of the empire was due to the control of the seas. Portugal’s success in sailing came from advancements in navigating, new technologies and inventions, and map creation. One notable improved vessel was the caravel. This small ship was fast, maneuverable, and was able to sail into the wind. It also had a shallow keel, allowing it to sail in shallow waters. The caravel was used to explore the African coast and Atlantic Ocean, and it was the ship of choice by many famous Portuguese explorers.
The wealth of Portugal did not last forever, and by the 19th century, much of their wealth had diminished. This was caused by multiple factors overtime, mainly including the devastating 1755 earthquake in Lisbon, the Napoleonic Wars, the independence of Brazil in 1822, and a civil war lasting from 1828 to 1834. Later, the 1910 revolution ended the monarchy and Portugal became a republic.
The 20th century was unstable for Portugal politically with repressive leaders and a dictatorship from 1926 to 1974. Then in 1976, Portugal adopted a new constitution and became a socialist country. Eventually, the political realm stabilized and Portugal limited the presidents power and added the role of prime minister.
The Legend of the Barcelos Rooster
In Medieval Portugal in a village called Barcelos, this story began. The residents were alarmed by a recent theft. A traveler was passing through on his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. He was blamed for the crime but declared that he was innocent.
After the man was arrested and sentenced to die, he demanded to be seen by the judge. He went to the judge’s house, finding him sitting down to his dinner of roast chicken (rooster). Despite his declaration of innocence, the judge found him guilty. The traveler declared that the cooked rooster would crow if he was put to death.
Shortly after, just as the pilgrim was about to be hanged, the cooked rooster stood up on the judge’s table and let out a “Cock-a-doodle-do”! Shocked, the judge rushed to the traveler and saved him just in time. The grateful traveler continued his pilgrimage.
Today, the Barcelos Rooster has come to be a reminder to never give up, even in the face of great trials. It also is used a symbol of tourism in Portugal.
(The websites Visit Portugal and We Are Portugal were used for information in this retelling of the legend.)
The Barcelos Rooster is a popular souvenir of travels in Portugal. For this month’s craft, you can make your own Barcelos Rooster! The one pictured above is from one of our team members. Come and visit it at the Library when you come to pick up your craft kit.