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The Barcelos Cock: The Legend that saved the Pilgrim

The Barcelos Cock: The Legend that saved the Pilgrim

February 25, 2015

Barcelos has an old story that gave the city and the country a symbol: The Barcelos Cock. Find everything about this legend with us!

Have you heard about Barcelos Cock and its legend? If you’ve never heard of it we will tell you the story that made this cock a symbol of innocence. Supposedly, after this episode, the cock was immortalized in ceramic and painted with many colours. Now it is a Barcelos iconic symbol and also Portugal’s emblematic emblem.

Are you just as curious as I to discover this mystery? Let’s begin with our story! Once upon a time…

The Unsolved Crime

According to the legend, there was a time when Barcelos inhabitants were worried and frightened due to a crime that occurred here. We are talking about ancient times, when people who committed a crime would be hanged to death. In this case the guilty person wasn’t found.

So in a certain day, a Galician pilgrim, devotee of Santiago de Compostela, heading to the city of its patron saint to fulfil a promise. After a long journey he interrupted it to stay the night in Barcelos to rest and continue his pilgrimage next day.

The Bridge and the Archaeological Museum of Barcelos

However he came to the wrong place in the wrong time (poor man!). As he was a foreigner, people easily declared him guilty for the unsolved crime.

The Singing of the Roasted Cock

Brought to justice, the pilgrim was considered guilty by the judge, but he swore innocence. As he was about to be hanged, he asked (what he thought would be his last request), to be in the judge presence once again in order to claim for mercy. Taken by the guards to the judge’s house, where he and his friends were gather to eat a delicious roasted cock, the pilgrim begged for his life and told once again that he was innocent.

The historical centre of Barcelos and the monument that has sculpted the legend of the cock

In an act of desperation, he said the following expression: “It's absolutely true that I’m innocent and to prove it that roasted cock will sing when I’m about to be hanged”. After his words (and as expected) everyone in the room start laughing and making comments on how crazy the man was. Certainly, no one gave importance to his senseless words and he was taken by the guards again to the gallows.

The Archaeological Museum of Barcelos that has inside the monuments built by the pilgrim

The Moment of the True Miracle

Ahead to a huge crowd which also turned out to condemn him, the guards put the rope around his neck and when the trapdoor was open, his body fell helpless only secure by the rope. And then, the roasted cock on the judge table, sang. 

It was a miracle and the judge rushed himself to the gallows in order to free that innocent man. Furthermore, the rope knot was luckily loose and with the help of the judge the Galician survived.

The emblematic symbol of Barcelos and Portugal: The Barcelos Cock

After his fair release, the people and the judge let him follow his pilgrimage route. Years later, he returned to Barcelos and build a monument in honour of Santiago de Compostela and the Virgin Mary.

And so… end of the story: the Barcelos Cock saved a life and became a beautiful symbol of Portugal…Wasn’t that a great history?