Friday, March 15, 2013

In a roundabout way

This is not a new subject for those Central Portugal bloggers, but it’s my version and I’ve been meaning to show off this very special (‘special’) part of Castanheira de Pera for quite a while now.

A friend, Emma, has already written one of the best blogs about our town on her blog, Emma's House in Portugal – read it here.

Rightful Castanheirense (those born in Castanheira de Pera) were a very proud bunch.  In their lifetime they have seen the town change from flourishing to slightly sad (like Brighton about 30 years ago before it got good again – you know what I mean).   Castanheria de Pera is a town built on wool, from socks to traditional hats the town was once full of mills powered by the Pera stream.  Sadly, a walk along the stream at the back of town shows the decline of this industry, abandoned mills almost litter you pathway.  The whole industry replaced by cheaper imports.

But despite this sad decline, Castinheria de Pera is not so different from so many Portuguese towns, because no matter where you are, how small the village, how depleted the population, there seems to be a pressing need to decorate the village roudabouts.

Not for the Portuguese the sad little mini roundabout where no one quite realises the rules still apply (Jersey folk using the mini roundabout at the top of Beaumont you know who you are).  The Portuguese like to stamp their roundabouts and stamp them with art.

In Castinheira town centre we are treated to a whole host of roundabout art, from the sublime to the simply ridiculous.  Most of the art tells the story of the town, its past success as an epicentre for woollen mills. 
From the water mill to the needle to the large loom lifted from one of the abandoned factories and placed as a reminder of times gone by on the roundabout.





Some of the art is just mental…..(not strictly on a roundabout, but too good to pass up).

Bilbao has the Jeff Koons dog


We have the Astroturf fox (although I think it’s a mouse)


Do other countries decorate their roundabouts with such style I wonder?  I don’t recall any in the UK, but I may well be wrong.  Surely the French would use every opportunity to express their cultural identity, but I cannot recall ever having commented on it when in France.    Maybe Portugal has found its niche here, this is their expression of cultural and regional identity and frankly, long may the slightly bonkers roundabout art continue!

To take a look at some more images of excellent, tragic an inspired roundabout art, follow the links a reader has posted on the end of Emma’s blog.

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