Portugal Rooster Symbol: Meaning, Significance and More

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

· 5 min read

The Portugal Rooster symbol, known as the Galo de Barcelos, embodies the rich folklore and traditions of Portugal. Galo de Barcelos represents luck, happiness, and prosperity, making it a cherished emblem nationwide. Its origin ties back to an ancient legend involving a dead rooster's miraculous intervention in proving a man's innocence. Today, this symbol adorns ceramics, linens, and souvenirs, capturing the hearts of locals and visitors alike. The significance of the Portugal Rooster traces its historical roots and cultural impact. Through streets, homes, and markets, the Galo de Barcelos continues to spread its vibrant message across Portugal.


What is the Meaning of the Portugal Rooster Symbol?

The meaning of the Portugal Rooster symbol, known as the Galo de Barcelos, is deeply rooted in Portuguese folklore and symbolizes luck, happiness, and prosperity

The rooster is a powerful emblem of Portugal, embodying the country's spirit and identity. Its vibrant colors and intricate design reflect the rich tapestry of Portuguese heritage, making it a cherished symbol for both locals and visitors alike.

It represents justice, faith, and the Portuguese spirit of resilience. 

Today, the rooster of Barcelos is not just a popular souvenir but also a cultural ambassador that embodies the values and traditions of Portugal.


When Was Portugal Rooster Symbol Originated?

The Portugal Rooster symbol, or the Galo de Barcelos, is believed to have originated in the 17th century. The legend associated with this symbol traces back to the town of Barcelos in northern Portugal and has been an integral part of Portuguese folklore for centuries, embodying themes of faith, justice, and luck.

This colourful ceramic rooster, decorated in bright shades of blue and red, is a popular souvenir for tourists visiting Portugal. However, the rooster's history goes much deeper than its charming appearance. The story is associated with the 17th-century calvary that is part of the collection of the Archaeological Museum located in Paço dos Condes

Legend has it that in the village of Barcelos, a roasted rooster stood up on the table and crowed, proving the innocence of a man who had been falsely accused and facing a death sentence.

What is the Story Behind the Portugal Rooster Symbol? 

The story begins in the Middle Ages, centered around a local inn in Barcelos, where an impoverished pilgrim stopped on his way to Santiago de Compostela. A guest at the inn, who was a judge, accused the pilgrim of stealing a silver spoon and sentenced him to be hanged.

As the pilgrim was led to the gallows, he requested to meet with the judge, who was dining nearby. The judge dismissed the request, but as the pilgrim declared his innocence, he pointed to a roasted rooster on the table, predicting it would crow as a sign of his innocence. Shortly after, the rooster stood up and crowded, prompting the judge to realize his mistake. He hurried to the gallows to stop the execution, only to find he was too late; the pilgrim had already been hanged.

The judge, disturbed by the meal and the events, rushed to the gallows, finding the pilgrim's body hanging lifelessly. Miraculously, the cooked rooster stood up and crowed again, signaling an unresolved crime. The judge, armed with this revelation, sought permission from the authorities to exhume the pilgrim's body. Upon his second approach to the gallows, the rooster crowed a third time. It was then discovered that the spoon had indeed not been stolen. The pilgrim's innocence was finally established, and a monument was erected in his honor.

With its rich mix of legend and history, the Portugal Rooster symbolizes the resilience and cultural heritage of the Portuguese people.


What is the Significance of Rooster in Portuguese Tradition? 

The significance of the rooster in Portuguese tradition, particularly the Galo de Barcelos, is profound and multifaceted, embodying themes of faith, justice, and good fortune. This emblematic figure stems from a legend involving a miraculous event that asserted an accused pilgrim's innocence through a dead rooster's crow. Beyond its captivating story, the rooster symbolizes the Portuguese people's resilience, optimism, and belief in second chances.

In Portuguese culture, the brightly colored rooster of barcelos is often seen as a token of good luck and is widely used in decorative items and souvenirs. It serves not only as a cultural icon but also as a reminder of the importance of integrity and the power of belief in overcoming adversity. Through its vivid colors and bold presence, the rooster conveys a message of hope and joy, resonating with both locals and visitors alike. It celebrates the rich tapestry of Portuguese heritage, making the rooster of Barcelos a cherished symbol across the country.


Luck and Prosperity

The rooster of barcelos embodies luck and prosperity. Its presence is believed to bring good fortune and abundance to those who possess it or display it prominently. This iconic symbol holds deep cultural significance in Portuguese folklore, where it is revered as a guardian of prosperity and a harbinger of positive energy. The symbolic meaning behind the Portugal rooster is its association with luck and prosperity in Portuguese culture.

Faith and Justice

The Portugal rooster symbol represents faith and justice. Its presence is deeply intertwined with Portuguese culture, symbolizing the values of integrity, righteousness, and the pursuit of justice. In folklore, the rooster is often associated with vigilance and protection, serving as a guardian against injustice and adversity. Portugal rooster symbolizes faith and justice in the context of Portuguese tradition and beliefs.

National Identity

The Portugal rooster symbol embodies the nation's identity and pride. It represents Portugal's resilience, strength, and cultural heritage. As a revered emblem, it symbolizes unity and patriotism among the Portuguese people, transcending mere symbolism to become a cherished national icon. The significance and enduring legacy of the rooster of Barcelos helps in shaping the country's identity.


Vibrancy and Resilience

The beautiful colors of the rooster look very vibrant and represent resilience. The colorful representation of the Barcelos Cockerel was adopted for many years as the symbol of the tourism of Portugal.

Artistic Expression

The medieval stone cross that can be seen in the Archaeological Museum of the town is related to the legend of the Cockerel of Barcelos. It is usually represented by a colorful ceramic rooster decorated with hearts and flowers.


Misunderstandings about the Portugal Rooster Symbol

Misunderstandings about the Portugal Rooster symbol, or the Galo de Barcelos, are not uncommon, given its widespread popularity and symbolic importance in Portuguese culture. 

These misunderstandings about the Portugal Rooster symbol are limited to Barcelos, religious symbolism, solely decorative, superstitions, modern origin, and exclusive to Portuguese.

Some of these misunderstandings are as follows: 

Limited to Barcelos

Some people believe that the Rooster's significance is limited to the town of Barcelos due to the famous legend. While Barcelos has a strong association with the Rooster, it has become a national symbol representing Portugal's identity and culture. It is famous among the Portuguese and the visitors who visit Portugal on trips also know about it.

Religious Symbolism

The Rooster, often linked to religious symbolism, reflects a deep respect for faith within Portuguese culture. Known as the Rooster of Barcelos, its connection to the town of Barcelos is significant, though it is not an official emblem of Portugal. The legend underscores cultural values rather than religious doctrines, making its association with religious symbolism more nuanced.

Solely Decorative

The Portugal rooster symbol, often seen as decorative, holds deeper cultural significance. 

While it may adorn various items like pottery, textiles, and souvenirs, its origin stems from folklore and legend. 

Representing courage, resilience, and national pride, the rooster symbolizes more than just decoration. Its presence in Portuguese culture reflects centuries-old beliefs and traditions, making it a cherished emblem.

Superstitions and Magical Powers

The Portugal rooster symbol holds deep superstitions and magical powers within Portuguese culture. 

Legend has it that the rooster's crow can ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. In some traditions, it's believed to possess protective qualities, safeguarding homes and families. 

Additionally, the rooster symbolizes courage, resilience, and national pride, making it a revered emblem in Portugal.

Its presence is often seen in traditional art, decor, and even as souvenirs, reflecting its significance in everyday life. 

Modern Origin

The misconception that the Rooster symbol is a modern marketing invention overlooks its historical depth. While the colourful ceramic rooster depiction adds a contemporary appeal, the origin story of the Rooster is both ancient and well-celebrated. The addition of a cross in honor of the Virgin Mary and St. James pays homage to the divine intervention believed to save the pilgrim, enriching its historical significance.

Exclusively Portuguese

Some of the people think that the Rooster symbol is exclusive to Portugal, and is found in Portugal only. The rooster symbol or Portuguese rooster is exclusively Portuguese and it is not available anywhere else.



In conclusion, Lagos, Portugal, offers a treasure trove of incredible beaches that cater to all tastes. Whether you're seeking a peaceful escape or an adventurous water sports experience, the beaches in Lagos deliver.

The legend of the Barcelos Rooster remains a celebrated and curious national symbol in Portugal. The story of an impoverished pilgrim wrongly accused and then proven innocent by a talking rooster resonates with locals and visitors alike.

With their pristine sands, stunning cliffs, and access to various recreational activities, these beaches are sure to captivate visitors and provide unforgettable memories of a trip to Portugal's Algarve region.

Frequently Asked Questions on Portugal Rooster Symbol

Q: What is the significance of the rooster in Portuguese culture?

Ans. The significance of the rooster in Portuguese culture is that it brings prosperity and luck to the people.

Q: Why is the rooster a national symbol of Portugal?

Ans. The rooster is a national symbol of Portugal because it unites the people and stands for justice and faith. It is also one of the most curious national symbols of Portugal.

Q: How does the rooster play a role in Portuguese art and handicrafts?

Ans. The rooster plays a role in Portuguese art and handicrafts because it acts as a decorative item in every other household in Portugal. It can be found in gift shops and art museums.

Q: Are there specific events or festivals in Portugal that celebrate the rooster symbol?

Ans. Yes, the annual festival known as the Festa das Cruzes is celebrated for its famous rooster symbol in May.

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

I am a globe-trotter with a passion for exploration. From the sun-kissed coasts of Portugal to the snow-capped peaks of Switzerland, my travels are as diverse as they are inspiring. My journeys through Spain, Finland, Austria, and Germany have fueled my soul and shaped my writing.