Constancia, once the home of the famous writer Luis Camoes.
Constância is a small town rich in history, it stands on the shores of what were once the mighty Zezere and Tagus rivers, due to damming in the last century the rivers have become smaller and less treacherous.
The Zezere is a favorite spot for both swimmers and fishers and both rivers are very popular for canoeing.
Contancia has a small, unobserved beach that is much visited by locals, mostly the water is shallow and warm but when the dam of the Castelo do Bode opens the water rises and becomes cold and treacherous.
Most of the time, when the dam is not open it’s one of the best places to be on hot days and the opening of the dam ensures clean, cooler waters that can be enjoyed only a few hours later.
When the dam opens it’s not safe to swim in, but during these times you’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants and things to do and see in Constancia.
Contancia was once the home of the renaissance writer Luís de Camões and although most of the world, outside of Portugal, will strangly not have heard of him he ranks with Shakespeare and Dante as one amongst the most prominent of renaissance writers. He had a impressive life in which he travelled more than any other renaissance writer.Most of his works have been translated to English and they make interesting even extraordinary reading and give an extended view to Portugal’s rich cultural past.
His life, just like Shakespeare’s, is full of mystery and there are few proven facts.
And just like Shakespeare he speaks to our romantic souls and our fascination with drama and passion.
his twenties he served as a soldier in North Africa, loosing an eye to the Berbers and later, held administrative posts in both India and Macao, most of his writings he would have done abroad as he spent most time there.
He spent quite some time in jail for not fulfilling debts
Many of his poems are inspired by his great love Catarina after her death.
There is evidence that he spent some time in Punhete, the original name of Constancia, from the elegy “O Sulmonense Ovídio, desterrado”. Some scholars claim that he may have been born there.
Whatever the truth is, his presence has left a mark on this place and it’s people, that you will possibly share just by walking through its medieval winding streets that take you from the river to the old church and chapel on the mountain to sit and take in it’s exquisite views over the Tagus and surrounding countryside.
“Wipe away, with death, the day of my birth; may it be forgotten forever, and never come back in the sweep of time.
And if it ever returns, eclipse the sun and blacken the earth. Let all light fade and disappear.
Let wild omens reveal that everything must die. Let monsters be born. Let blood rain from the sky. Let every mother not recognize her child. Let all the stunned and terrified people, with tears streaking down their faces, pale and worn, believe their world is doomed and overthrown.
You, frightened people, accept these wonders and fears, for this was the wretched day on which was born the most miserable life that ever was known.”
-translated from the Portuguese by William Bauer, 2005 Luís de Camões
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