Rodrigo Berquó the man of the Waters: The man behind the Thermal Hospital dream!
Rodrigo Berquó The visionary of Caldas da Rainha
One of the most important contributions to the history of Caldas da Rainha was that led by Rodrigo Maria Berquó (1839-1896), who held the position of administrator of the Termal Hospital (hence Rodrigo Berquó the man of the Waters), between 1888 and 1896, and simultaneously that of Mayor of the City, between 1890 and 1891.
Berquó was born on January 1, 1839, to D. Maria Teresa Caldas (was it a premonition?), And to D. João Maria Berquó, Marquis of Cantagalo, a title attributed by D. Pedro I of Brazil and that Rodrigo would inherit. It remains to be added that the Berquó clan was still composed of Rodrigo's seven brothers.
It is not known for certain where he would have been born, if in Brazil if in Portugal, since his father was part of the Court of D. João VI who traveled to Brazil, having later also served D. Pedro I of Brazil.
The formation of Rodrigo Berquó
Graduated in architecture / engineering, that was the reason for his coming to our land.
It is also known that Berquó frequented the places where the national elite circulated, such as Cascais, Caldas da Rainha or Sintra, where he dedicated himself to varied activities such as bullfighting, an activity with tradition in Caldas, to music that is always an important component of the most diverse celebrations or shooting, an activity that would be part of the play program of Caldas in the following years.
His sporting appetites earned him the designation of sportsman, very popular at the time to name those who stood out for their athletic and sporting facets.
But Berquó also stood out for his qualities as a host and a good coexistence, a characteristic that would also be seen in his visits to Caldas either before or after he was appointed administrator of the Hospital.
He was a multifaceted man we can say!
Rodrigo Berquó the man of the Waters or Hot Springs
n the eight years he worked in our city, Berquó carried out renovations in the entire thermal complex (Hospital Termal, Mata, Pavilões do Parque, Parque D. Carlos I, Clube de Recreio, Palácio Real (today Museu do Hospital e das Caldas), Casa Convalescença and Casa dos Administradores), modernizing it, expanding it and making it more effective, functional and aesthetically attractive.
The works of Rodrigo Berquó
But he did not stop at the thermal heritage and tried to involve other aspects, including the street that skirts the Hospital and whose toponymy currently pays homage to Berquó himself.
At a time when hygiene and public health dictated rules, it also promoted several measures to combat the lack of wholesomeness and hygiene of the then still village of Caldas da Rainha, where the buildings, with their own projects, of the Hospital of Santo Isidoro stand out (inaugurated in 1893 and which today corresponds to part of the ESAD.CR complex) and the Slaughterhouse (inaugurated in 1894 and which today corresponds to the Youth Center) and also intervened in the sewage networks and drinking water supply.
Other works he aspired to do but for financial reasons, or because he was unable to gather the support of the local elites, ended up not being realized, namely cultural equipment such as a new Bullring and a Theater.
All of these measures aimed to equate Caldas da Rainha with the most prestigious resorts in Europe, some of which were visited by Berquó himself.
Latter also stood out for his solidarity and philanthropist side, donating money or purchasing equipment for the hospital and investing in the training of hospital human resources for which he created a school, thus spilling over the professional scope that brought him to the village.
Fruit of his personality, adept at coexistence and sociability, he also contributes to animate the local elites, making use of his skills as a baritone, clarinetist and actor with whom he actively participated in the local animation and occasionally invited illustrious friends who helped to enrich the parties the village.
The friend "Carlos" and his "weight" Bordalo Pinheiro...
His work in the village was recognized by King D. Carlos, who distinguished him with the title Oficialato de S. Tiago in 1892 and with the Order of S. Tiago the following year.
However, his determination and conviction led him to be criticized by the local community, especially the elite, and he was even satirized numerous times by Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, who among other “treats” nicknamed him Moisés das Águas Frescas regarding the supply of the Parque lake .
Despite criticism and the unfinished work, due to his premature death in 1896, Berquó contributed with his ideas to make our land a spa that could meet with its most prestigious foreign counterparts.
He resisted, not without difficulty, all the pressures and criticisms he was subjected to and tried to make the then village of Caldas da Rainha one of the main national thermal complexes, urbanistically ordered and recreational rich and diversified.
The legacy of his work in the following years was mainly visible in the affirmation of Parque D. Carlos I as the main driving force behind the recreational and social activities of the resort, since his other great ambition and great project did not come to fruition, the Pavilions of the Park , since they were never used for the purpose for which they were designed.
At the centenary of his death in 1996, a tribute exhibition was held and a plaque was placed at Parque D. Carlos I, highlighting one of the most important figures of our land and that we invite all interested to come to know better with GoCaldas.