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Construction of the last Rabelo, antique Douro river boat carried Porto wine 13 years 11 months ago #79

  • oliveira
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Well, we have here on a net in Portugal, a Portuguese Forum -   "The City Amazingly" "A blog of images and a few words about Porto, one extraordinary blog." Wherein appeared an article by Mr.Carlos Romão, concerning the construction of the last Rabelo, an antique river ship used to carry Porto, Portugal wine barrels. (These links pop into a new window, so you may come back and read the rest of the story.)

Make a brief but virtual visit to Porto via YouTube.
Portugal's Douro River
"Europe's most beautiful river"

[float=left] [/float]
For thousands of years, foreign connoisseurs have cherished the wine that is grown in northeast Portugal on the mountainsides along the Douro River.
Douro wine was often mentioned in royal decrees, and by the 13th century it was shipped down the Douro River to the coastal town of Porto, and exported as far afield as Holland.
By the beginning of the 17th century as many as 1,200,000 cases reached Porto each year, and in 1638 a German diplomat named Cristiano Kopke founded a Douro wine shipping company that is still in existence today. In 1675 wine destined for Holland was called for the first time by its modern name: Porto. Although, by law, only wine produced in Portugal may be called Porto, other countries accept and respect its translation (Port or Port Wine).

These reaches of the Douro have a micro-climate allowing for cultivation of olives, almonds, and especially grapes important for making the famous Port wine. The region around Pinhão and São João da Pesqueira is considered to be the center of Port wine, with its picturesque quintas or farms clinging on to almost vertical slopes dropping down to the river.

Traditionally, the wine was taken down river in flat-bottom boats called rabelos, to be stored in barrels in cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto. As you cross the bridge Luís I to Vila Nova de Gaia, you may admire the Rabelo boats on the riverbank. They are the symbol of the famous Port Wine and the trademark of the Port Wine Cellars.

The Rabelo boat, which was invented in the 9th century, was used for transporting the products from the farms of the Douro for centuries. In 1792, the Companhia Geral da Agricultura e Vinha do Alto Douro published numerous charters and documents concerning this type of boat, therefore establishing the identity of the Rabelo.

The purpose of its peculiar shape was to overcome the natural obstacles of the Douro river and to make the boatmans task easier.

The large amount of Port Wine produced in the farms required frequent transportation downriver. The journey lasted more than a week and the conditions were precarious, often leading to dangerous accidents.

Following the construction of the railway and the improvement of the public highway, the Rabelo boat gradually lost its importance. Finally, the dams along the Douro river brought its activity to a standstill.

Nowadays, this symbol of the Port Wine and trademark of the Cellars still competes fiercely for a place of honour in the regatta of S. João, organized by the Confraria do Vinho do Porto (Port Wine Brotherhood) on June 24th (municipal holiday).


The smallboats seen here in Porto, with the broad sails are what this article discusses.
This is an unique document and is the only one of its kind. In my opinion, it is an excellent recent historic document and deserves republishing to help preserve its historic significance. The two languages are presented side by side, the original document in Portuguese to preserve the original inflection of the story and then to the right is an English translation. Please be aware that the following is a work in progress. For now it is a direct translation, from the original Portuguese using Googletm translator. The translation to English is a bit rough in places. Please excuse this, as the English text will be further edited.  But by all means, please enjoy your visit, as we follow along this story.

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Last edit: by oliveira.

Re: Architecture of Rabelo 13 years 11 months ago #80

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Re: Architecture of Rabelo 13 years 11 months ago #81

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Re: Architecture of Rabelo 13 years 11 months ago #82

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Re: Architecture of Rabelo 13 years 11 months ago #83

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