Horta dos Cães Tower

37° 0´ 52.596" N, 7° 55´ 47.928" W

S. Francisco House
San Francisco Barn
San Francisco Tower

The Tower
in Athens
Back to Faro
A bit of mythology
Adamastor, the Camões Titan
Symbology: Hercules
Symbology: Adamastor

The Tower

This building was commissioned in the first half of the eighteenth century by Judge Manuel Verissimo de Mendonça to the algarvian master mason Diogo Tavares de Ataide. Verissimo de Mendonça Manuel intends to mark its nobility in the city of Faro, but as their dwelling was outside the urban area (Site of Figures), he commissioned this work. Located within the perimeter of the seventeenth century city wall in a clearly visible place and straight to the door of "Repouso" (one of the entries in the old town), acted as a tower before the dominant city, in ancient Horta dos Cães. Would, presumably, function as recreational farm. However, Judge dies in 1747 and is the grandson Manuel Mascarenhas Figueiredo Manuel which continues the work and sees it over. In it are several Greek indications, especially mythological. The Octagonal tower , unique in the Algarve, reminds the Tower of the Winds in Athens

in Athens

The Tower of the Winds (Ο Πύργος των Ανέμων), or the Andronicos Clock (Ρολόι Ανδρονίκου Κυρρήστου), was built in 47 b.C by the Astronomer Andronicos, in marble, octagonal , with a height of 12.10m, length 3.20m and diameter of 8.36m. At the top of each of the eight faces of the building there's an embossed figure subtitled underneath representing each of eight winds, and a sundial. The roof is conical and had a weather vane on top. Inside the building functioned a water clock surrounded by three figures: Poseidon (god of the sea), Atlas (titan who bore the brunt of the heavens) and Hercules (Heracles in Greek mythology, divine hero, son of Zeus and Alcmene his mistress). In 1750, the tower begins to be thoroughly studied and in 1751 designs of the tower, by James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, emerge and start circulating in Europe. In 1762, these same authors published the book "Antiquities of Athens" with the outcome of their studies. Between 1838 and 1841 excavations were carried out around the tower because the tower had about 2m buried. Only then the tower was completely uncovered, so prior to 1838 only around 10m of the tower were visible.

Back to Faro

Roughly constructed simultaneously with the studies carried out in Athens, the Horta dos Cães Tower besides the same octagonal plan has very similar dimensions like the height of about 10m . The edges are oriented to the cardinal points and not the faces but also here we find figures in relief (of mass, widely used at the time) captioned underneath . At the top of 7 tower faces is a window. The 8th side (E-NE) is opened by a door. The roof is also conical, an octagon hip roof. This tower has two floors, while the Tower of the Winds has only one. The door of the ground floor facade is in W-SW with a crest embossed on top of this entry and is up for just one area, without divisions. On the N-NE wall there is a mini-tunnel connecting the ground floor of the tower with an attachment, which seems to have served as a kitchen. On the W-NW wall is a figure of an Indian defeating a giant animal (crocodile), with the caption "Cape of Good Hope Adamastor" (see table Adamastor, the Camões Titan ). In the S-SW side, is the figure of Hercules (Heracles in Greek mythology) with the caption "Hercules" , wearing the skin of the Nemean Lion that he defeated in his 1st labour and bringing the Lernaean Hydra (2nd labour of Hercules - see table a bit of mythology ) in his hand.

Thus, we also find Hercules on both towers, and even Adamastor was a Titan (portuguese), so he also linked to Greek / Roman mythology.

Symbology: Hercules

Manuel Mascarenhas de Figueiredo Manuel, also popularly known by "Manuelinho de Faro" , was a great man and of a very rare strenght, as the hero Hercules, ie , the figure of Hercules in the tower fits well with the tower of Athens but also with his own figure. He was the Faro's Hercules. Anyway, the similarities with the Tower of the Winds are too many to be considered coincidences and the time of the studies of the tower in Athens also enters into agreement.

But why representing the 2nd labour of Hercules? "When a head of hydra is cut off two more will take its place so the more you cut the more will appear, representing an addiction. There is a picture of Cesare Ripa, in referring to a statue of Hercules, in Rome, called the " Heroic Virtue . Hercules wears the lion skin, with the paws tied at the waist showing generosity and strength of spirit. He has also the weapon (cudgel) in one hand and the apples (from the 11th labour of Hercules) in the other hand. But in the tower in Faro he has a hydra on hand, and not apples. There is also another picture called " Addiction " in which the figure has a monster with 7 heads on hand. So ... perchance he would sign the cancer and so chose the labour that originated the constellation of cancer? Would he have himself encountered some " beast with 7 heads "? Or has he mastered something he considered an addiction, so heroic and virtuous?

Symbology: Adamastor

Regarding the Adamastor figure, In the meeting between Adamastor and Vasco da Gama there isn't any appearance of a crocodile-like animal as seen in the image of the Faro tower, but as for the Egyptians as for the Hindu , crocodiles had its legends as a powerful being of the waters.

As José Eduardo Horta Correia also mentions in his article "The Tower of Horta dos Cães" , Cesare Ripa shows us the discovery of America as entering a New World where the figure passes over a reptile, a large lizard, (this large nobility animal is common in this new continent) in his image "America". In the image " Lust ", there is a figure sitting on top of a crocodile; Cesare Ripa explains that for the Egyptians, the crocodile is a symbol of lust, of plenty, is an fruitful animal, very common in the Nile River. The crocodile appears again in the image "Fasting" and "Chase" also with the figure on top of the crocodile, though here they are standing. In fasting, man dominates gluttony, lust of eating, dominating the mighty crocodile. So what did he intended to represent with Adamastor dominating the animal? Probably he just wanted to represent the titan of the seas so powerfully dominating the feared and respected creature of the waters. Or is Adamastor also dominating all that is lust? As the discovery of America, the passage through the Cape of Storms was the gateway to a new world, a new ocean. Vasco da Gama took over the situation and the one called "of Storms" became known as "the Good Hope" as it is subtitled in the tower. Also Adamastor, which initially frightened anyone, throughout the conversation we feel empathy and humanize him...

Very interesting also is the similarity that exists between Adamastor and an African legend, the legend of Umlindi Wemingizimu : Quamata, son of the sun-god TIXO and the earth-goddess Djobela created the world, but the great sea dragon, Nganyaba, wanted to prevent him from creating land on the sea so Djobela helped Qamata by creating 4 giants; one at North, East, West and the largest one at South. The guardian giant at the South is Umlindi Wemingizimu represented by the same Table Mountain. What was then to Manuel Mascarenhas de Figueiredo, the true meaning of that figure in the Tower? We can have an idea, but without much clarity and with much doubt...


In 1780, Manuel de Mendonça Figueiredo Manuel sells the property to the Franciscan Friars who pretended to build a Monastery of Barefoot Carmelites, however, it did not happen and the reasons are unknown. Apparently, then have served as barn for some time. Reaching the century XX however, the property now belongs to the family Ramalho Ortigão who wanted to subdivide this area. As a result, the tanks and gardens were destroyed around 1924, leaving only a tank and the ruins of a well in property. On September 29, 1977, this tower (Barn) is classified as a national monument.


The walls of both the tower and the annex are crumbling, with large holes already in the Annex. The edge between the figure of Hercules and the stairs also has lost wall, which is broken down. The cracks are too many and the building is now a danger to human presence. The ceiling of the ground floor is leaking water on the South side. On this floor were created divisions in false walls and the floor is degraded and covered with broken glass. The initially masonry stairs to the first floor collapsed several years ago and has been replaced by a metal stair. The 1st floor is also divided into 3 divisions. All of it, from ceilings to walls and tiled floor, are in a state that could be considered "red alert". This property is still private.

Addendum: already after this page was post online the doors of the tower were sealed walled up.

Consulted works:

- The Lusíadas of Luis de Camões, with Royal privilege - Luís de Camões, 1572
- Iconology overo Descrittione d'Imagini delle Virtù, Vitii, Affetti, Passioni humane, Corpi celesti, Mondo e sue parti - Cesare Ripa, 1611
- Iconology di Cesare Ripa Perugio, cav.te de Sti. Mauritio, e Lazzaro - Cesare Ripa, 1613
- Iconology del Cavaliere Cesare Ripa Perugino, Tomo Secondo - Cesare Ripa, 1765
- Corografia ou Memoria economica, estadistica e topografica do Reino do Algarve - João Baptista da Silva Lopes, 1841
- The Antiquities of Athens and other monuments of Greece, third edition, with additions - James Stuart, F.R.S. F.S.A., and Nicholas Revett, 1858
- Faro, evolução urbana e património - Rui Mendes Paula, Frederico Mendes Paula, 1993
- Faro edificações notáveis – Francisco Lameira, Câmara Municipal de Faro, 1995
- Faro, a arte na história da cidade - Francisco Lameira, Câmara Municipal de Faro, 1999
- A Torre da Horta dos Cães - José Eduardo Horta Correia, 2006
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