Guide to Rail and Trains in Portugal
The Castle of Beja

Alexandre Herculano -- The tale of a Bloody Castle


Alexandre Herculano, (1810-1877) introduced the historic novel to Portugal His remains lie in a majestic tomb in the Jerónimos Monastery at Belém, near Lisbon. Herculano told many an inspiring and powerful tale about his nation, but the most moving may have been the story of a father, a son, and a castle. Few Portuguese school children escape without reading Herculano's "Tale of Honor," which takes place at Faria Castle.  In the 14th century, Castilians outnumbered the commander of the castle, Gonçalo Nunes, and also held his father, Nuno Gonçalves, captive after he had tried to get reinforcements to break the siege. They threatened to kill Nuno if his son did not surrender. But, Nuno told his son to fight to the last.


"You know, Gonçalo Nunes, to whom this castle belongs, under the code of war, I placed it under your control?."

"It is of our lord, the king, D. Fernando of Portugal, to whom you swore allegiance."

"You know, Gonçalo Nunes, the duty of an Alcaide is to never hand over, for any reason, your castle to the enemy - even if you are buried in its ruins?"

"I know, my father! - said Gonçalo Nunes, in a soft voice so as not be heard by the Castilians. "But do you not see that it is your death if they think that you counseled me to resist?"

Nuno Gonçalves, as if he had not heard his son, then said in a loud voice, "Then if you know how to fulfill your duty, Alcaide of the castle of Faria! Damned be you to hell, the moment that anyone enters this castle without stepping over your dead body."

The Castilian commander was not amused and killed Dom Nuno on the spot. his final words were, "Defend yourself, Alcaide!" But the outnumbered Portuguese resisted with fierce determination and after a terrible siege, the Castilians were defeated.

Today, in nearby Barcelos, a statue of the father and son stands in the center of the town, united in an embrace, their swords still ready to meet the enemy.



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