Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Love, Art and Coimbra

Coimbra, a city in central Portugal, has one of the most beautiful - and creepy - love stories ever to be heard. It is the story of Pedro and Inês, a Portuguese heir to the throne and a Spanish aristocrat's maid. It has a tragic ending, much more gruesome than Romeo and Juliet (Pedro's own father, king Afonso IV, fears a political scandal and has Inês assissined), and contains what is one of the most extraordinary episodes in royal history: Pedro, besides declaring war on his father, declares he had wed his lover in secret shortly before her death, has her body exhumed and placed on a throne, and has the entire court kiss the dead girl's hand as a sign of loyalty to their sovereign.
Inês spent her last years in a Monastery in Coimbra, and the city is to this day associated with romance.
Now, what is particularly enjoyable in the story you are about to read, is that it happened in the same town, and yet, none of it ever meant to deal with the legend. It is but a simple story of two people. One of them happens to be the architect and artist Juan de la Mora.

"These hearts were painted by my girlfriend and I in Coimbra, Portugal a couple of years back. She is from Coimbra and I am from Chicago and we've been able to maintain a long distance relationship for the past 2.5 years. Since then, we continue to paint some of these hearts every time we are together in Coimbra. What is interesting about Portugal's Calçada (sidewalk), is that you can take a combination of a minimum of three stones and find the shape of an abstract heart form. The heart can grow by adding more stones to the original three."