F is for Fonte (fountain or spring)

Fonte in Largo do Carmo, Lisbon- from Wikipedia, by Rui Pedro Carvalho

There is an astonishing array of beautiful fountains adorning Portuguese towns and villages. Here are just a few I can’t resist sharing.

Fonte de Toural, Guimaraes- from Wikipedia,

Fonte do Idolo, Braga- Nabia, goddess of rivers and water- from Wikipedia

Fonte de Agua Ferreas, Braga- from Wikipedia

Fonte da Rua de Bonjoia- from Wikipedia, by Antonio Amen

Fonte de Leoes (lions), Porto- from Wikipedia, by da Sousa

Fonte de Sao Bento, Corticeiro de Carapelhos, Mira- from Wikipedia, by Jose Olgon

Azulejo, Fonte de Sao Bento

Fonte do Rossio, Lisbon- Creative Commons

Varied aren’t they?  There are hundreds I could have shared.  Do you have a favourite?  I think probably the last one’s mine, but I love Nabia too.  I also came across the term “chafariz” in relation to fountains and am not sure if this refers to a specific type.  Maybe my Portuguese friends can help me out with this?

The word “fonte” appears in many place names in Portugal.  In fact, when we’re directing people to our home in Tavira, we tell them to turn off the E125 at the roundabout signed Fonte Salgada.  In this sense it relates to a natural spring.

Fonte Pequena, Alte

My first sighting of natural springs here in Portugal was in the village of Alte.  Fonte Pequena (little spring) and then Fonte Grande (large spring) and the surrounding lush greenery came as a complete surprise.  It seemed a world away from the Algarve to which I was used.  Alte is described in detail in my Personal A-Z of Portugal, but I came across a lovely snippet of the poetry of Cândido Guerreiro, born in the village in 1871 and commemorated at the fontes:

“As the place where I was born lies encircled by four hills

Through which waters run singing

The songs of fountains and mills,

Waters taught me to speak.”

(Porque nasci ao pé de quatro montes

Por onde as águas passam a cantar

As canções dos moinhos e das fontes,

Ensinaram-me as águas a falar.)

I often go out with a walking group in the Algarve, or rely on a map and my husband, to find local beauty spots.  We found Fonte de Benemola, the Eternal Spring, one February day with the help of Julie Statham’s book, “Algarve-Let’s walk”.   The white faced cistus I love wasn’t yet in bloom and the valley was peaceful as can be, the fonte rippling silently in its depths.  On our way back to the car we spotted the solitary basket weaver, his wares strung along a reed fence.  He rather charmingly demonstrated his whistles and we purchased a small bowl.  A slightly wonky fruit bowl now sits on top of my fridge!

Fonte de Benemola, near Querenca

There is a wealth of natural springs in Portugal, some of which have been developed into health resorts.  The term “caldas” refers to thermal springs, as in Caldas de Monchique in the Algarve.  Further north, Caldas da Rainha (Queen’s hot springs) has had a thermal hospital since 1488, when Queen Leonor discovered the curative power of the waters.  Beautiful Sintra was also a spa.

Fonte in the back streets of Sintra

Spring water is a popular source for drinking water because of its relative purity and high mineral content, believed by many to have health benefits.  Just north of Coimbra, the small town of Luso is home to one of the most famous bottled waters in Portugal.  I seldom go walking without a bottle.

This post is part of my Personal A-Z of Portugal.  I’ve been following Julie Dawn Fox’s challenge for a while now.  If you’d like a look at what’s gone before, and maybe to join in with an A-Z of your own, please follow the links.  I need to catch up with my personal A-Z of Poland next.  See you next time.


  1. Wonderful variety indeed. Not sure I can pick a favourite. I did notice what looked very similar to the old style of British telephone boxes. Are they common in Portugal (I’ve only been once a long time ago but don’t remember seeing any).

    1. Most unusual Kat. I might Google it and see if I can find out why that one’s there in Guimaraes. Would like to go and conduct research in person but the other half says no!

  2. I like Fonte de Benemola best because it looks so peaceful there – I feel I could lie down on the embankment and soak up the serene atmosphere!
    Great post Jo!

    1. Thanks Barb. It’s funny-all those “glam” shots and quite a few people have gone for my own Benemola. I wasn’t even including that when I asked the question really so it’s a nice surprise. The basket maker was a sweetheart too.

  3. I wonder what was wrong with WP today. I could like posts but not comment. Funny hey? Anyways, I saved my emails so I could come back and see if the problem was fixed and luckily it was. 🙂 I absolutely love these fountains! Fonte de Leoes is my favourite! Great post hon and thanks for the virtual tour. 🙂
    *big hugs*

    1. Ooh, I love that one too. I usually save my reading and commenting till evenings (or early mornings!) so didn’t notice any problem, but it can be cranky at times. (like me!) The rain is lashing down atm and I’m waiting to go Nordic walking- fingers crossed.

  4. I like this, Jo. Perhaps for me, the ‘horse trough’ fountain in the back streets of Sintra? But as you say – fountains are a feature of civic architecture in Portugal . Thanks for dropping by my blog today. I’m glad I’ve found yours now …

  5. This is a lovely post, I enjoyed reading it and going through the pictures. It’s hard to pick a favorite because they’re all beautiful. I do like the Fonte do Rossio because it reminds me a little bit of the statues in the Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza Navona in Rome.

    Have a wonderful evening!


  6. I love water fountains and I have a selection of all the ones I have taken around my city. I love your post today. Thanks for the inspiration. I think I will do a post as well later on. I like no. 2,6 and 9 the best.


  7. The one on the backstreets of Sintra is probably the one I like most because of the pure mineral water that flows from it. I can imagine it’s been in use for the longest time. 🙂
    Are all these fountains from natural springs?

    1. Not Lisbon and Porto Tita, but the others are. I was amazed at how many sites there are. I’ve only shown a fraction. Good job I’m not resolved to track them all down. I should’ve started younger!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.