History of Porto & Portugal
The origins of the urban centre of Oporto date back to the Late Bronze Age, 8th century BC, approximately. From the beginning, the pre-historic settlement had important commercial links with other European Atlantic ports and with the Mediterranean Basin.
The city was formerly called Cale and, as it linked up with its "Portus", it became Portucale, from which the name Portugal was derived.
The walls of Oporto were built during the Roman period.
Between the 13th and 15th century, the maritime and commercial activities underwent great changes, and links with important European ports were strengthened. The shipyards of Oporto and Vila Nova de Gaia were the most important in the country.
Oporto in 1304, was the birthplace of Infante D. Henrique, know to us today as Henry the Navigator. Henry was the driving force behind the earliest discoveries, launching the era of the Portuguese overseas discoveries.
Henry was the third son of King João and Philippa of Lancaster, sister of Henry IV of England and daughter of John of Gaunt, whose Bristol estates remain in everyday use in Gaunt's Lane, behind the Lord Mayor's Chapel.
One of the negotiators of the 1352 treaty between England and Portugal was born in Oporto. His name was Afonso Martins Alho. Britain and Portugal have been Allies since the signing of the Treaty of Windsor in 1386.
The inhabitants of Oporto are known as tripeiros, because to help the army conquer Ceuta in 1415, they offered all the good meat to the expeditionary forces leaving themselves with only tripe to eat. Hence one of the city's most traditional dishes is "tripas a moda do Porto".
The author of the well-known Carta da Descoberta do Brazil (1500) was the Oporto-born Pero Vaz de Caminha. He was a former servant of the Mint, who was requested by the King to follow the expedition of Pedro Alvares Cabral and write the official report of the journey.
The Spanish occupation (1580-1640) was a period of great urban and administrative development, the significant artistic changes reaching their peak in the 18th century. Important changes in urban reform were carried out and also beautiful Neoclassical buildings, influenced by the British colony in the city, were built. This was also the golden age for Port wine.
Oporto has always been known as a liberal and progressive city, with a long-standing tradition of defending civil rights.
After the establishment of the Republic, the city underwent a renovation process, during which time the Aliados Avenue was constructed. This harmonious and beautiful avenue is the northern limit of the protected area of the historic centre, overlooked by the paternal eye of the Câmara Municipal (Town Hall).
Oporto is also known as the "city of work", due to the traditional dynamism of the city's bourgeoisie and their honesty and straightforwardness.
Oporto's intense social and cultural life has very special characteristics.
A well known Portuguese lyric is: Braga prays, Quimbra sings, Lisbon takes the money because Porto does the work!