June is known, in Portugal, for the endless parties. With streets filled with decorations and popular music, Portuguese people and tourists of all ages gather to celebrate the “Santos Populares”.
While São João (Saint John) is commemorated in Porto, in Lisbon it is Santo António (Saint Anthony) who takes over the stage. According to the legend, the Saint had the gift of bringing couples together and was, therefore, nicknamed “matchmaker”. This tradition, which lingers until today, appeared for the first time in 1958 when the marriage of 26 couples with financial difficulties was guaranteed, in the Church of Santo António. Related to this custom is the offering of “manjerico” – the lovers’ plant – associated with love confessions. “Manjerico” is a sensitive plant and, therefore, taking care of it implied a great commitment between couples that had to keep it healthy until the following Santo António.
Although the whole city participates in the celebrations, the party mainly happens in the traditional boroughs: Mouraria, Graça, Alfama e Madragoa. The food and beverages’ stalls invade the streets and the aroma of roasted sardines becomes common, due to the multiple barbecues that take place inside and outside of the houses. Santo António’s peak happens on the 13th of June: the day of his death. The popular parades are held on this day, performed by the multiple boroughs that gather to march to the rhythm of choreographed dances and the sound of popular music. These parades began in 1932 and, even though they were interrupted by the 25th of April 1974, they continue to be a crucial part of Santo António.
At Hotel Portuense we are proud to be located near the main stages of the party. Only 9 minutes away from Mouraria, 18 from Graça, 19 from Alfama and 27 from Madragoa, you do not need to wait in the endless transport queues.