24 June 2018

The Head of the House of Romanoff visited the Cerdeira Village Art and Craft Project in the Village of Cerdeira, Portugal

On June 19-22, 2018, the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, visited a number of towns and cities in Portugal. The purpose of Her Imperial Highness’s visit was to learn about the activities of the Cerdeira Village Art and Craft Project in the village of Cerdeira. (See www.cerdeiravillage.com.) She was invited to Cerdeira by the founders of the Art and Craft Project, José Serra (who attended high school and university in Russia) and his wife, Natalia Serra (née Baikova).

The Grand Duchess arrived in Lisbon from Madrid on June 19. Her Imperial Highness was accompanied by the Director of the Chancellery of the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, Dr. Alexander N. Zakatov, and by members of the organizing committee for the Grand Duchess’s visit: V. P. Poterukhin, S. A. Dobrova, O. Iu. Vrublevkii and S. T. Vrublevskaya. Her Imperial Highness was greeted on arrival at the airport by José Serra, who then led the entire delegation to the village of Cerdeira.

That evening and on the morning of June 20, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia toured the Arts and Crafts Project and learned about the history of the revival of the village of Cerdeira and the creation of this unique social and cultural Project, which is founded on the notion of the harmonious combination of nature in all its wealth and beauty, and human history, and culture. Her Imperial Highness explored the village and learned about the extraordinary range of arts and crafts practiced by the artisans and craftsmen in the village.

Later, the Head of the Imperial House of Russia and her party, accompanied by José and Natalia Serra, traveled to the city of Lousã, where they attended an official reception in the City Hall. Her Imperial Highness was greeted by the Mayor (the Chairman of the City Council) of the city of Lousã, Luis Antunes; and the senior elected leadership of the city government, including: Vice-Mayor Rui Lopes; the Assistant Mayor for Culture and Education, Henriqueta Afonsa; the Assistant Mayor for Civil Defense, Emergencies, and Fire Protection, Ricardo Fernandes; the Vice Mayor for Youth Services and Entrepreneurship, Orlando Ferreira; and the special advisor to the Mayor, Victor Carvalho.

The historian Vitor Maia Costa gave a brief lecture to all those gathered at the reception, describing the history of the city of Lousã and its environ. Mayor Antunes spoke next, formally welcoming the Grand Duchess to Lousã. In her response, Her Imperial Highness expressed her thanks for this warm welcome and, in particular, for his on-going support for the Cerdeira Village Art and Craft Project in Cerdeira. The Grand Duchess expressed her belief that this Russian-Portuguese project is vitally important for the city of Lousã, the Coimbra region, and for Portugal in general. The Grand Duchess also described how the Cerdeira Village Art and Craft Project serves as a vital part of Russian-Portuguese cultural and humanitarian cooperation, and as a model for the revival of national heritage and of the creative arts and traditions of the town of Cerdeira, which has been settled by many generations of Portuguese.

In recognition of his support for the Project, the Head of the Imperial House of Russia awarded the Imperial Medal “In Commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of House of Romanoff” to Mayor Antunes and to the artist Kerstin Thomas, who was also instrumental in the founding of the Cerdeira Village Art and Craft Project. The Grand Duchess personally presented the medals and accompanying Certificates.

Mayor Antunes in turn thanked Her Imperial Highness and said that he accepted this award as a testimony not only of his own gratitude but that of the entire staff of the Mayor’s office. The Mayor then presented the Grand Duchess a decorative plate with the coat of arms of the city of Lousã and city flag, as well as also wine, honey and liqueur produced in the region.

After the official reception in City Hall, the Grand Duchess toured the tenth-century Arosa Castle, then attended a luncheon hosted by Mayor Antunes. Also attending were members of the mayor’s staff and administration, as well as the representative in Portugal of the Russian Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Russian Nationals Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo), Vladimir Alexandrovich Luzgin.

In the afternoon, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia and her party visited the city of Coimbra (the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal in the 12th and 13th centuries) and toured its renowned university and other local sites.

On June 21, the Head of the Imperial House of Russia visited other ancient villages in the region around the city of Lousã. Then the Grand Duchess attended a luncheon at the restaurant “Sabores da Aldeia” in the village of Candal, hosted by José and Natalia Serra. After lunch, the Grand Duchess attended a meeting with all those connected with her visit to discuss future collaborations between the Cerdeira Village Art and Craft Project in the village of Cerdeira and the Chancellery and other organizations linked to the Imperial House of Russia. After lunch, the owner of the restaurant, Mário Santos, presented the Grand Duchess several souvenirs displaying the Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Portugal.

That evening, Her Imperial Highness attended a concert of Portuguese Fado music in Lousã, arranged by the Mayor in honour of the feast day of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (celebrated on June 24 according to the Gregorian Calendar).

On June 22, the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, together with her delegation, departed for Lisbon. In Lisbon, the Grand Duchess took a tour by car of the city, then thanked José and Natalia Serra and all the organizers of her successful and memorable visit to Portugal. The Grand Duchess then departed for Madrid.

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