The statue stands in a prominent spot in the city, but it wasn’t immediately met with acclaim.
Monument origin story
In 1974, The Carnation Revolution toppled the fascist Estado Novo regime in Portugal. Even though the revolution was spearheaded by the Portuguese military, a transition to democracy soon followed. This also marked the end of Portugal’s colonial period in Africa.
With new found freedoms the people of Portugal were able to assess the fascist government that held a tight grip for over 40 years.
José Aurelius is a Portuguese sculptor who has worked in several mediums. His large-scale work is displayed in public venues like the Sete Rios Metro station in Lisbon and the Portuguese embassy in Brasilia.
On Freedom Day (April 25th), 2005, Jose unveiled his latest creation, The Monument to Anti-Fascist Resistance, Freedom and Democracy. The 12 ton, 30 foot creation is made of 3 massive steel parts which lock together to make the monument. It sits on a cement base in the long and skinny park that stretches between the east and west bound sides of Av. Luisa Todi.
The monument is draped in heavy ropes and chains, representing the struggle against fascism in Portugal and, perhaps, Setubal’s economy which relies on fishing and trade.
When the monument debuted in 2005, it was met with mixed reactions. Some people didn’t know what to make of such an abstract work. Others were outwardly negative, complaining that city resources could have been put to better use. However, many others like the piece, especially its theme of struggle against a dictatorship that wrecked so many lives in Portugal.
Today, The Monument to Anti-Fascist Resistance, Freedom and Democracy still stands in the area between the two sides of Av. Luisa Todi. The park like atmosphere is pleasant and well-kept. There are benches nearby where you can sit an contemplate Mr. Aurelius’ work. But, it seems most locals just walk on past the statue, either unmoved or uninterested.
However, when Freedom Day (April 25th) rolls around each year, the monument is often a spot where politicians make speeches or concerts are held.
About the Author
Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides to Lisbon, Porto, Sintra, Monsaraz, and Evora in Portugal. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.