It was the year 1820, on 24th August, precisely 200 years ago today that one of the most significant announcements of Portugal echoed in Porto: "PEOPLE OF PORTO! Let's redeem those captives in Lisbon!"
This marked the beginning of the Liberal Revolution that would set in motion the establishment of a constitutional regime in Portugal. The Portuguese Court and King D. João VI returned from Brazil and that was the end of the absolute monarchy, thus paving the way for the first Constitution, which would be established in 1822.
At the time, the Palace of the Government in Lisbon deemed this "a heinous rebellion crime", but the Liberal Revolution in Porto was, later on, embraced by the capital.
"It was the beginning of a difficult, lengthy and stormy Foundation of modern Portugal", as stated by Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, in an opinion article, published on 22nd August in the Diário de Notícias. The Mayor also recalled that the "country was engulfed in a severe political, economic and social crisis, and was living under a double tutelage", namely as an English protectorate and a Colony of Brazil.
The Portuguese National Television is broadcasting live from Praça da República, in Porto, today, 24th August, to mark the Bicentennial of the Liberal Revolution. Mayor Rui Moreira was interviewed live and explained that Porto has always been a "restless freedom city". The Mayor also added that "it is also important to keep in mind that Humanity has only experienced minor liberty periods in time, and that it is important to practice citizenship, to speak our minds, without always being worried about political correctness".
"Still to this day, Porto is the city of liberty and that is why D. Pedro has left us his heart. Here, there has always been the habit of freedom; for instance, when people wanted certain books or magazines, the bookstores in Porto would have them, as censorship would not reach the Invicta as easily", Rui Moreira furthered.
Rui Moreira also stated that "it is time that those who initiated all this, who took part in this movement should be honoured, namely in the Foz area, where the synedrion (aka council or assembly) gathered to prepare the Revolution".
Porto City Hall has prepared a comprehensive programme to honour this historical period in time, when Porto rescued the nation. The celebrations started in the beginning of the year, but had to be adjusted due to the pandemic.
The beginnings of that Liberal Movement and the first year of that revolution is portrayed in the exhibition "1820. Revolução Liberal no Porto", which inaugurated on 20th February, at 6pm, at the "Gabinete do Tempo" of the City Museum - Casa do Infante.
The display was authored and organised by José Manuel Lopes Cordeiro and curated by the Centre for Planning of the Museu da Cidade, and it was the starting event of the comprehensive programming to celebrate the 200 years of this milestone date: 24th August 1820.
The display is on show till 10th January 2021. This event is access free, but due to the ongoing pandemic, visiting hours had to be adapted; as such, only 10 visitors are admitted at a time, and face masks are compulsory. There is also the possibility to book guided tours to the limit capacity of 10 people per visit.
It should be highlighted that one of the most remarkable pieces of the exhibition is the Book Chamber, now Minutes Book, of Porto City Hall, which is displayed to the public for the first time.
This historic piece is the material testimony that Liberalism was founded on 24th August 1820 in Porto and that thanks to the movements held in the Invicta, the Portuguese Court and the King returned to Portugal, after decades of being settled in Brazil, and that a Constitutional regime was established.
This edition of Porto Book Fair, one of the most relevant literary events in the city, also celebrates this landmark period in history.
The Fair kicks off on 28th August and it will include the launch of the book "1820. Revolução Liberal do Porto", an edition by Porto City Hall, authored by José Manuel Lopes Cordeiro. The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will take part in the event, alongside Nuno Faria, Artistic Director of the Museu da Cidade, and Dayana Lucas, designer.
See here the full programming of the Liberal Revolution.