Did you spot them when you were there? It took us until our second day. I was photographing a rather delightful building covered in azulejos when I spotted the rings. These were probably some of the most elaborate we came across.
We had two theories why they were there. The first I came up with when I recalled something I had seen in Amsterdam. Perhaps their purpose was to enable the building occupants to transfer heavy furniture with ropes up to the upper floors!
MrB quickly pointed out though they were not always located above windows and there wasn’t a pulley system. I concurred that my theory was unlikely to be correct, and when I spotted them on a couple of churches I rejected it completely!
Our next theory was a joint one and far more plausible. We decided they were there to facilitate maintenance work such as painting or re-tiling the building, or perhaps even they were there for window cleaners. I had after all seen painters abseiling down a building in Lisbon so window cleaners abseiling down made sense! To find out for definite we spoke to a Porto resident who had a passion for Porto’s buildings and had recently restored. But before I tell you what he said – why do you think they are there?
Luís, our AirB&B host, said that they are left over from when the buildings were constructed, and whilst not every building owner decided to leave them in situ a significant proportion had. Luís indicated that most had kept them because they were fixed into the wall, which kind of makes sense. However a little part of me still thinks, given the elaborate style of some of them, that it was a deliberate building technique to have these scaffolding/rope ring bolts fixed in the walls in order to facilitate future maintenance work.
Whatever the history and whatever the purpose though I had great fun looking for them on our Porto strolls. How many can you spot in the picture below?!