The Festival of Fishermen and Filigree

Festival Nossa Senhora da Agonia

Over the last few days, the city of Viana do Castelo in northern Portugal has been partying like its 1772. For nearly 350 years, each August, the town holds a festival for the Nossa Senhora da Agonia, the patron saint of fisherman. So what exactly do fishermen and filigree have to do with each other?


Salt carpet in Viana do Castelo

Salt carpet. Photo c/o olharvianadocastelo.blogspot.com/

The answer is Viana do Castelo. The city has a history of fishing and is also home to the traditional art of filigree. The Nossa Senhora da Agonia festival incorporates various aspects of local culture. The highlight of the celebrations is a parade to the sea. Thousands of people come to watch as marching bands, giant caricature-like figures, women covered in traditional bridal outfits, dancing groups and various floats parade down the streets. The streets are covered in giant flower carpets arranged in beautiful designs as a sign of religious devotion. Some streets have salt “carpets” with nautical motifs (see the video below, at 1 minute in). As it’s a festival dedicated to the patron saint of fisherman, the parade continues all the way to the sea, where countless flower-covered boats and ships sail together in celebration. And, of course, there are fireworks in the evening.


Many of the women in the parade wear black mordoma and red lavradeira outfits traditionally worn by brides. Most impressive are their chests are covered in filigree necklaces and brooches. If, like me, you are unable to attend the celebrations in person this year, have a look at the video below so you can get excited for next year.

Mordoma at Nossa Senhora da Agonia

Photo c/o: Rui Manuel Fonseca / Global Imagens

To get your hands on some filigree jewelry, check out My Little Shop. But maybe just opt for one or two pieces, at once…



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