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The Barcelos Cock

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The legend goes that a Galician pilgrim, en route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, was wrongly arrested for a crime in Barcelos and sentenced to hang. En route to the gallows, the pilgrim was escorted to the magistrate’s house to make one final plea. The judge and his friends were sitting down to a roast dinner, at which the pilgrim proclaimed “As surely as I am innocent, that cock will crow if I am hanged”. Up rose the bird from the table and the pilgrim was saved. This tale of the “Cock of Barcelos” – its scenes sculpted onto a cross in the town’s archeological museum – has endured over the centuries to become a real Portuguese emblem, and you’ll see the symbol all over the country, from the ubiquitous rooster-shaped ceramic figures to images reproduced on tea-towels and ornaments.

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