The city of Porto, the second largest in the country, is located in northern Portugal. Bathed by the Douro River, it is the city that gave its name to Portugal and is also known as the northern capital.
Its historic center, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, captivates everyone who visits it for its beauty and uniqueness. Those who come to Porto can not fail to be tempted by its gastronomy: the famous francesinha, Porto-style guts, cod, sausages, wine, among many other delicacies.
The famous Porto wine, its museum and the cellars are also part of the places to visit, as well as the numerous monuments that make up the city: the Clérigos Tower, the Sé Cathedral, the Serralves Museum, the Casa da Música, among others.
In summer, you can have fun at the most famous party in town: S. João do Porto.
Porto Football Club is the city club with several titles won.
History of Porto
Porto, the city that gave its name to Portugal, formerly Cale, was a small Celtic village located at the mouth of the Douro where the Romans built a port called “Portus Cale”, origin of the toponym Portugal.
The small village was occupied by the Romans, making Portus Cale a must stop on the route between Braga and Lisbon.
In the year 456, it was taken by the Visigoth king Theodoric II. The Visigoths ruled the city until the year 716, when it was conquered by the Arabs.
The Arabs remained in Porto until the city was reconquered by King Alfonso I of Asturias. After the reconquest, it was almost abandoned until, in 880, the last Asturian king Alfonso III the Great ordered it to be repopulated.
In 1096, King Alfonso VI of Castile and Leon married his daughter Teresa with Henry of Burgundy and granted them a county: “Condado Portulacense”, with capital in Porto.
The independence of the Kingdom of Castile and Leon
The head of the independence of Portulacense County from the kingdom of Castile and Leon was Afonso Enriques, son of Teresa and Henry of Burgundy, who in 1138 beat the Muslims at the battle of Ourique. This date is considered the basis of Portugal’s independence.
Five years later, in 1143, Count Afonso Henrique was recognized as king of Portugal by King Alfonso VII of Castile and Leon, under the name of Alfonso I Henrique, consolidating Portugal’s independence.
In 1383, the city of Porto supported the uprising of the Grand Master of the Order of Avis, the future king John I of Portugal, against the Castilians who besieged Lisbon.
In 1387, John I of Portugal married Filipa de Lancaster, granddaughter of King Henry III of England, from which the Windson Treaty arose and with him the oldest existing military alliance in the world between Portugal and England. In 1394 was born in Porto Henrique, “the Navegante”, son of João I of Portugal.
The discoveries enriched Portugal, which became the European center of maritime trade, and its ports, including Porto, lived a time of strong dynamism. In Porto there was a large maritime and commercial activity that made the city the leader of the Portuguese shipbuilding industry.
From 1415, the portuenses also became known as “tripeiros”, due to the great sacrifice they had to endure during the conquest of Ceuta by the Portuguese.
For 60 years, from 1580 to 1640, Spain and Portugal were united in the largest empire ever known.
In 1580, Porto sided with Prior de Crato against King Felipe II of Spain in the dispute for the Portuguese throne. It also supported the 1640 Lisbon revolt that ended the union of the two countries.
Spanish domination represented a great urban and administrative growth for Porto. The two united countries envied the rest of the world. It was an era of great artistic productions that would culminate in the so-called Golden Century of Porto, the 18th.
In 1756, Porto became the center of the uprising against the Marquis of Pombal, which intended to create a British monopoly on port wines.
During the Napoleonic invasion, the Spaniards occupied Porto in 1807. Two years later, in 1809, it was recovered by General Soult to the French.
In the 18th century, Porto’s golden age, the city underwent a significant change, being filled with beautiful neoclassical and baroque buildings. The engine of economic strength is due to the development of the industry associated with its famous wines.
Porto, liberal and progressive city
Its tradition of fighting for civil rights gave Porto its reputation as liberal and progressive. During the nineteenth century was the cradle of important poets and sculptors.
In 1820, Porto was the scene of a military uprising that ended the absolute monarchy, giving way to a liberal constitution.
Porto was the bastion of Pedro IV of Portugal and I of Brazil, in the struggles between liberals and absolutists. From 1832 to 1833, the city endured the harassment of absolutists.
With the help of Spain, the absolutists surrendered. However, the liberal victory was wrought at the expense of numerous sacrifices of the inhabitants of Porto, who fought heroically in defense of the Constitutional Charter.
In 1890, the port of Leixões was built, which boosted the economic growth of Porto. In the early twentieth century, with the arrival of the Republic, the city was transformed. Symbol of this era is the construction of Avenida dos Aliados.
Porto from the twentieth century
In 1919, an attempt for independence from Lisbon led by Paiva Couceiros temporarily made Porto the capital of northern Portugal. The immediate republican reaction ended the uprising,
During the Salazar dictatorship, which lasted until the Carnation Revolution of 1974, many infrastructures improved, such as the construction of the Arrábida bridge in 1963.
In 2001, Porto was, together with Rotterdam, the cultural capital of Europe and, for such event, was built the flashy auditorium “Casa da Música” in Boavista, symbol of this centrality.
Today, Porto, economically speaking, is lagging behind Lisbon, although it continues to maintain its reputation as a working, open and welcoming city.