History of Porto

Porto, previously known as Cale, was a little Celtic Hamlet located on the mouth of the Douro river. When the Romans added a port, “Portus Cale”, it not only gave its name to the Porto of today but the nation of Portugal.

Porto spearheaded the 12th-century Christian reconquest, which brought Portugal independence. Strategically positioned on the Douro, this is the birthplace of Henry the Navigator, who trailblazed the Age of Discoveries in the 15th century, and of port wine ‘discovered’ by British merchants in the 17th century. Its rich history was acknowledged when its centre became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1996.

Porto put the ‘Portu’ in ‘Portugal’. The name dates from Roman times, when Lusitanian settlements straddled the Rio Douro. The area was briefly in Moorish hands but was reconquered by AD 868 and reorganised as the county of Portucale, with Porto as its capital. British-born Henri of Burgundy was granted the land in 1095, and it was from here that Henri’s son and Portuguese hero Afonso Henriques launched the Reconquista (Christian reconquest), ultimately winning Portugal its status as an independent kingdom.

In 1387 Dom João I married Philippa of Lancaster in Porto, and their most famous son, Henry the Navigator, was born here. While Henry’s explorers set off around Africa to India, British wine merchants – forbidden to trade with the French – set up shop, and their presence continues to this day, evidenced in port-wine labels such as Taylor’s and Graham’s.

Over the following centuries Porto acquired a well-earned reputation for rebelliousness. In 1628 a mob of angry women attacked the minister responsible for a tax on linen. A ‘tipplers’ riot’ against the Marquês de Pombal’s regulation of the port-wine trade was savagely put down in 1757. And in 1808, as Napoleon’s troops occupied the city, Porto citizens arrested the French governor and set up their own short-lived junta. After the British helped drive out the French, Porto radicals were at it again, leading calls for a new liberal constitution, which they got in 1822. Demonstrations in support of liberals continued to erupt in Porto throughout the 19th century.

 

Wine profits helped fund the city’s industrialisation, which began in earnest in the late 19th century, at a time when the elite in the rest of Portugal tended to see trade and manufacturing as vulgar. Today the city remains the economic capital of northern Portugal and is surpassed only by much-larger Lisbon in terms of economic and social clout.

 

Living in Porto

Porto is the perfect place to work, live and enjoy; it’s a safe city, sunny, with a rich culture and heritage, a plethora of high-quality health services, international schools, excellent flight connectivity and a booming tech-driven economy and a stimulating Research and Development environment. Porto is also known for being very welcoming and open to foreign cultures, which helps everyone integrate, whilst offering a unique quality of life for everyone who has chosen Porto as their home.

Whilst Lisbon has been at the forefront of Portugal’s property story, demand has also steadily increased in Porto. The Porto region accounts for approximately 30% of all real estate transactions in Portugal, with the number of property transactions increasing 18.4% between Q3 2017 and Q3 2018. Thanks to the city’s thriving technology sector, and strong education and research institutions, business in Porto is booming and housing demand is outstripping supply.

Porto, like other Portuguese cities, is suffering from a major residential supply shortfall and property prices continue to rise. House prices in Porto’s historic centre have more than doubled since 2014, albeit from a lower base, following a period of negative growth prior to 2011 and in 2018 alone the city saw a 22% growth in house prices

The city is home to an extensive public transport network which includes the Porto Metro, a light rail system. The Porto Metro comprises six lines serving a total of 82 operational stations linking the historic centre with the main suburbs of the city. Porto Aeroporto is the main airport serving the city connecting the city with many European destinations and further afield destinations such as Rio de Janeiro and Istanbul.

 

Moving to Porto

Porto is a picturesque city full of beautiful streets, cosy venues and various cultural finds across the city. In Porto, history blends with modernity and a century-old landmark may sit side by side – each street has a story to tell and each corner reveals a different secret.

Our first development completions in Porto are due mid to late 2022 at Litoral Living and Alvaro. If you would like to find out more about moving to Porto, please complete the contact form below.