Misarela Bridge is located over the River Rabagão, about one kilometer from its mouth in the river Cávado, in the parish of Ferral, municipality of Montalegre district of Vila Real.
It is implanted in the bottom of a steep canyon, set on the rocks, and with some altitude in relation to the riverbed, it is supported by a single arch with about 13 meters of the span.
The descent to the Misarela Bridge is made on foot, since the road is narrow and rocky, making it impossible to use any motorized means of transport. Along the way, a viewpoint from where it is possible to observe part of the river, and the bridge, in the distance. On sunny days, the landscape is stunning and the silence comforting.
Built in the early 19th century, it has been classified as a Public Interest Property since 30 November 1993.
It wouldn’t be a “normal bridge” if it wasn’t for the legend that attracted me to visit it. The Barrosão people are essentially religious, but sometimes they resort to witchcraft, popular medicine or beliefs, to see if they can acquire what they need.
Legend of the Misarela Bridge:
It is said that in times gone by, a man, a fugitive from justice, lived hidden among trees and rocks, by the river Rabagão.
One day he was discovered and wanted to flee, but as he could not pass the river, due to the height and the slabs surrounding him, he was bewildered:
– “By God or by the devil, a bridge would appear to me here!”
To the man’s amazement, at the same instant, the bridge appeared and the devil said on it:
– “I’ll let you pass, but on the condition that you sell me your soul.”
The man as he was distressed, I told him yes and he passed.
Later, when he repented, he went to confession to a priest and told him what had happened. The priest then decided to go and rescue that soul from the devil. To do this, he found a boiler with holy water, and when he arrived at that place, he did just like the fugitive, and at that very moment, the devil appeared to him.
When the priest saw the devil, he sprinkled holy water on it with a branch that he cut from the tree, and at that very moment the devil burst and left a devilish smell in the air.
As the bridge was blessed, the people began to believe that miracles could be worked there.
There were many mothers who could not avenge their children, from that moment on, the couple who felt that their wife was pregnant, went, and goes, there before midnight, takes a rope and a glass, lights a fire in the middle of the bridge arch and waits until the first person to baptize her child in the womb.
If no one comes at night they have to wait until someone comes, even if it is day. As long as it is not baptized, the man, because the woman cannot leave the middle of the bridge arch, pushes all the animals or the person who wants to pass by and does not want to do the baptism.
When finally someone comes along who wants to baptize his son, man, and woman, he takes the rope rolled up in the cup and gathers water that passes under the bridge. If the couple forgets to take the rope, the godfather or godmother picks up the glass, goes back and picks up water under the bridge, whatever it takes, and then starts the baptism.
The godfather or godmother says:
– “I baptize you, creature of God, by the power of God and the Virgin Mary. If you’re a boy, you’ll be Gervaz, if you’re a girl, little lady.”
The woman who’s pregnant loosens her skirt and water is poured into her belly. The best man continues:
– “Now let us pray an Our Father and a Hail Mary.”
The Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary are prayed, but the Amen is not said in the Hail Mary.
Legend has it that every fetus baptized there doesn’t die. If they die, the first request they make to God is for their godparents, the second is for their father and the third is for their mother.
It seems that even today there are many women who believe in the legend and don’t mind spending nights and nights there to see if they can avenge their son. When I was there I didn’t see anyone, but maybe it was an atypical day because they say that there are many “Gervários” and many “Senhorinhas” there…
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