Cidadãos Estrangeiros na toponímia de Cascais
As surprising as it may seem, daily life in Cascais and Estoril is deeply influenced by the stories and history of many foreign citizens who, at some point in their lives, decided to come here for safe haven, for family peace, for its safety, for being a place of interest for business investment or even just because of its inspirational landscape.
Acknowledging their importance and paying tribute are kind ways of keeping the memories of these foreigners alive. Discover the names and the stories behind some of these famous people who chose Cascais and Estoril as their home and to whom the Municipality has honoured, by naming streets and places after them.
During recent history, many royal and aristocratic European families sought Portugal, a neutral country during the II World War, out as a safe haven destination. Their presence is clearly marked in the details of Cascais municipality’s daily life.
Among some of the common elements that bring back memories of Cascais’ golden days are its laid back yet elegant life style, its architecture, culture and education. All of them continuously remind us of the time when the Estoril-Cascais coast was the meeting point for a community of distinguished personalities, from the four corners of Europe, factors especially appreciated by the foreign community living here today.
Praça Condes de Barcelona (Counts of Barcelona square)
The relationship between the Spanish Royal family and Portugal, especially in Estoril, has been quite close for a long number of years. With the Spanish Civil War and the II World War, the Spanish monarchy had to take strategic measures to protect the Royal Family, while fighting for their country (even if from a distance).
The Counts of Barcelona arrived in Portugal in February 1946, with the idea of staying closely enough to the power in Madrid, while foreseeing the return of D. Juan to the Spanish throne, after the fall of dictator Franco.
On arrival at Cascais, D. Juan confessed to the journalists that he thought everything was beautiful over here, starting with the weather. While gazing over Cascais bay, he also revealed that it had been four years since the last time he had seen the sea, probably remembering his boyhood in Santander, where he used to spend time practicing water sports*. The connection to the sea and sailing were, without question, an important part of the Counts of Barcelona’s life in Cascais, as well as their children’s. Proof of this can be found in the existence of “His Majesty’s King D. Juan Carlos I Trophee”, promoted by the Cascais Nautic Club, paying tribute to this connection.
His stay was initially covered by a three months visa, as a result of Spain’s instability, but was then extended further, eventually being granted residency permit.
Hotel Palácio then became one of the Count of Barcelona’s preferred places, as a meeting point for gathering with friends, but also with informants who told him what was happening beyond borders, in his own country.
With his return to Spain and to the respective throne subject to Franco’s dictatorship, D. Juan decided to ask his four children to join him in Cascais, who were staying at the time with family in Europe. The infants Pilar, Juan Carlos, Margarida and Afonso, were given a normal education and enrolled in the “Amor de Deus” school in Estoril, a school that welcomed children from all social levels, including the Portuguese colonies. This surprising fact allowed the infants of Spain to have a freer and more eclectic education than the one they might have had, given their statute.
Until their return to Spain, the lives of the Counts of Barcelona in Cascais was calm and peaceful. However, their loyalty to habits of the monarchy was never forgotten, and it was at Villa Belver, that royal members from other European countries, also exiled during the II World War, were welcomed.
Through social life in Cascais and Estoril, many friendships and bonds were made between the Spanish royal family and the local community, some of them still standing. Even nowadays, the Spanish royal family, especially the ex-monarch Juan Carlos and his sister, Dona Pilar, are regular visits of this Villa. For all these reasons, the Counts of Barcelona deserved the honour of a statue, in a square named after them, right in the heart of Estoril, the place that welcomed and protected them.
Currently, Cascais Municipality is also assessing the possibility of creating a “Counts of Barcelona Institute”.
*source: “Reis no Exílio – Portugal Refúgio Real”; Charles-Philippe D’Orléans