Porto – history

Porto, a great historic city!

Porto, a 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 Visigothic king Theodoric II. The Visigoths ruled the city until the year 716, when it was conquered by the Arabs. The Arabs remained in Oporto until the city was reconquered by King Afonso I of Asturias. After the reconquest, it was almost abandoned until, in 880, the last Asturian king Afonso III, the Magno, ordered it to be repopulated. In 1096, king Afonso VI of Castile and Leon married his daughter Teresa with Henry of Burgundy and granted them a county: the “Portulacense County”, with capital in Porto.


The independence of the Kingdom of Castile and Leon
The king of Castile and León was responsible for the independence of Portulacense County, and was born in 1138, defeating the Muslims in the Battle of Ourique. This date is considered the basis of Portugal’s independence. Five years later, in 1143, Count Afonso Henrique was able to be recognized as King of Portugal by King Alfonso VII of Castile and Leon, with the name of Afonso I Henrique, consolidating the independence of Portugal.

In 1383, the city of Oporto supported the uprising of the Grand Master of the Order of Avis, the future King João 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, marriage from which the Treaty of Windson arose and with it the oldest military alliance in existence between Portugal and England. In 1394 he was born in Porto Henrique, “o Navegante”, son of João I of Portugal.

The discoveries enriched Portugal, which became the European hub of maritime commerce, and its ports, including Porto, experienced a period of strong dynamism. In Porto was developed a great maritime and commercial activity that made the city to lead the Portuguese shipbuilding industry.From 1415 onwards, the Portoans were also known as “tripeiros”, due to the great sacrifice they had to endure during the conquest of Ceuta by the Portuguese.

Porto was spanish during some time…
For 60 years, from 1580 to 1640, Spain and Portugal were united in the largest empire ever known. In 1580, Porto was on the side of Prior de Crato against King Felipe II of Spain, in the dispute for the Portuguese throne. It also supported the Lisbon revolt of 1640 that ended the union of the two countries. The Spanish domination represented a great urban and administrative growth for Porto. The two united countries made the rest of the world envious. It was an era of great artistic productions that would culminate in the call Century of Gold of Porto, the XVIII. In 1756 Porto became the center of the insurrection against the Marquis of Pombal, who intended to create a British monopoly with Port wines.

During the Napoleonic invasion, the Spaniards occupied the Port in 1807. Two years later, in 1809, it was recovered by General Soult to the French. In the 18th century, the golden age of Porto, the city experienced a significant change, being filled with beautiful buildings of neoclassical and baroque style. The engine of economic strength is due to the development of the industry associated with its famous wines. Porto, a liberal and progressive city Its tradition of fighting for civil rights gave Porto its reputation as liberal and progressive. During the nineteenth century it was the birthplace of important poets and sculptors. In 1820, Porto was the scene of a military uprising that ended the absolute monarchy, giving place 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 withstood the harassment of the absolutists. With the help of Spain, the absolutists surrendered. However, the liberal victory was forged 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 Porto’s economic growth. At the beginning of the 20th century, with the arrival of the Republic, the city was transformed. Symbol of this time is the construction of Avenida dos Aliados. From the 20th century In 1919, an attempt at independence from Lisbon led by Paiva Couceiros made Porto temporarily the capital of Northern Portugal.

The immediate Republican reaction put an end to the uprising, During the dictatorship of Salazar, 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 that event the “Casa da Música” auditorium was built in Boavista, symbol of this centrality. Nowadays, Porto, economically speaking, is lagging behind Lisbon, although it continues to maintain its reputation as a working, open and welcoming city.

Credits: Tudosobreporto