Every city has its heroes. Not the Batman ones, the real ones, the ones who dedicated their lives helping others in the real world. Porto has known some. But this post is dedicated to Diocleciano Monteiro, the Duke of Ribeira.
Duque of Ribeira
Diocleciano Monteiro, born in 1902 and baptized as Diocleciano Monteiro, it was his own mother that shortened his name to Duque. His courageous story starts by the age of 11 when he saved from the Douro waters an older boy than him. From there he never stopped.
He was a sails man, which made him spend a lot of his time in the Douro River. He knew the river like no other – and we very well know how temperamental the river is and how many legends are associated with disaster about the river.
The “Duque” was always alert. Whoever fell in the river was saved by him. Even those who had passed deserved the saving of the “Duque” so that they would not stay in the bottom of the River.
He became famous by rescuing the bodies of those who committed suicide by jumping off the Luís I Bridge. His knowledge of the currents was so extent, that if he was told where and when the body had fallen he could immediately predict in which area would be most likely for it to be. When he was told that there was a body in the river he would not rest, would look for it night and day, until it was found. And, when that happened, he would put it in the margin of the river and give it a kiss in the forehead.
The “Duque” also taught the boys from Ribeira to swim, giving them cork-floats to avoid drowning in the Douro River.
He became the most popular person in the Ribeira of Porto and acquired several honors. Had an autograph’s book where it had names such as the Queen Isabel II of England (!) and several Presidents of Portugal, and so many other celebrities.
He died when he was 94, and those who stroll through the Ribeira of Porto can see the memorial of the “Duque” near the Bridge Luís I.
Porto is filled with these amazing stories and characters and that’s why it’s important to share them with you. If you’re planning on visiting Porto, join one of the Free Walking Tours in Porto with these local team: City Lovers Tours, and learn all about this wonderful city.