The Spanish

Nossa Senhora da Silva
Photo:  Município do PortoCC BY-NC-SA - Some Rights Reserved


According to Pliny at 1st AD, the littoral area located north of the river Douro was the territory of a “tribe” generically known as the Calaicos. This etymon is behind the origin of the name of the Roman town of “Cale” (today Porto), of “Portucale” (a tenth and eleventh-century county and an independent country in the first half of the twelfth century) and also, of “Galicia” itself, former “Galécia”. Calaicos and Galicians have a common origin and are strongly connected to the name given to the most important regional ethnic group at the time of the Romans.

The Galician-Asturian resettlement

After the Moorish Conquest of the Peninsula, numerous inhabitants of the territories located south of the river Minho sought shelter in Galicia. In the ninth century the embankment of the territories started to occur, led by Galician and Asturian nobles. Porto was peopled after the Vimara Peres embankment in 868.

The Restoration of the Diocese

In 1112 the Porto diocese was reactivated, after several decades of a vacant see. The bishop D. Hugo, former canon at the Compostela Cathedral, was nominated and would become an important allied of archbishop Gelmirez against the Braga cathedral’s pretensions. In 1120 Queen D. Teresa donated him the borough that would receive its first charter three years later.

Trade exchanges

Archaeological researches have revealed enameled ceramics from the Peninsular Levant and golden pottery items from Paterna/Manises (Valencia), dating from the early fourteenth century and from the late fifteenth century/early sixteenth century. These were luxurious items, therefore of a high economic and social value. In the sixteenth and seventeenth-century, the ports of Galicia were among the most important commercial partners. In Galicia the Porto traders bought mainly cereal and wood. For quite some time the city was supplied fresh fish by Galician fishermen. Afterwards, their boats would be chartered for the transportation of other goods between Portuguese ports (for example, wine from Porto to Lisbon). In Porto the Galicians bought particularly wine, salt, furniture, olive oil, sugar and coffee. Portuguese boats were also chartered at Spanish ports. Such vessels were used for the transportation of wood for the construction field, from Galicia to Andalusia. At the advent of the Contemporary Age sumptuous objects arrived in Porto from different parts of the world. From Spain we imported wash basins from Seville and textiles from Castile, Segovia and Valencia. There is also register of the import of precious wines from Barcelona, soaps and silks from Valencia, olives from Andalusia and occasionally salted tuna, and some fruit syrup from Malaga.

Scholarships to Salamanca

In the course of the fifteenth century public authorities and the Royal Executive financed the permanence of Portuguese scholars abroad, namely at the University of Salamanca. One of the scholarship students was D. Diogo de Sousa, bishop of Porto between 1496 and 1505. The Porto City Council also subsidized the studies of monks from Mendicant Orders, like the Franciscan Friar João de Xira, who was a confessor of King D. João I and a preacher at the expedition to Ceuta.

An Aragonese artist

At the Cathedral, in the Funereal Chapel of João Gordo, there is a limestone tomb richly iconographical from Master Pêro, an artist probably originating from Aragon, who served Queen Isabel, the Holy.

A notorious typographer

In 1540 Vasco Diaz Tanco de Frejenal printed a João de Barros’ book in this city, titled “A mirror of marriage.” This printer from the neighbouring country, who travelled to Porto with his mobile printer, composed in 1541 the Synodal Constitutions of the Porto Bishopric, by D. Baltazar Limpo. All the Gothic material used in the Portuguese incunabula came from Spain, through German printers established there.

Aid request

In 1620 Pontevedra was short on cereals and asked the aid of the Porto City Council, which authorized the transference of wheat and rye “for being so close to us and for having helped us by giving us fish.”


Confirming the great commercial relationship between both countries, a document from 1347 says that the Galician and the Castilian merchants had established themselves in this city and were therefore regarded as Porto “neighbours.” Due to the geographic proximity and the cultural affinities, the Galicians were a permanent feature of the Porto human landscape. They arrived in Porto as fishermen and boatswains but others dedicated themselves also to commerce.

The Porto inhabitants also emigrated to Galicia. In 1598 many caulkers of Miragaia, Massarelos, São João da Foz were attracted to El Ferrol.

Due to the constant presence of a vast number of people from the neighbouring country, in the mid-eighteenth century Spain had a vice-consul in Porto. In the nineteenth century the Spanish community represented 60 per cent of the total of foreigners, mostly originating from Galicia. The Galicians are mostly linked to heavier kinds of work: water carriers, porters, sugar refiners, bakers, etc. The “Galician” was a typical presence in Porto. Ricardo Jorge classifies him as a “sober, working person, economical and honest.” Júlio Dinis includes one Galician character in his novel “Uma Família Inglesa.” Some of them remained in Portugal only long enough to return home with some savings. Others married here and mixed with the local population. Among these, several industrialists and hotel and restaurant owners can be found.

Liberal ideas

The liberal fights were greatly influenced by the European movement and particularly by Spain. The Catalonian Insurrection of 1817 and the Riego Revolution in Cadiz, on 1 January 1820, influenced the Assembly (Sinédrio), a secret and clandestine association that had a decisive role on the restoration of Liberalism in Portugal. The Cadiz constitution influenced the elaboration of the primitive liberal Constitution of the country. Portuguese liberal military men were exiled to Spain.

The bishop of Porto’s exile

D. António Ferreira Gomes, bishop of Porto between 1952 and 1981, left for exile on 24 July 1959, by order of Salazar. This exile lasted till 19 June 1969. After a brief sojourn in Galicia - where the bishop of Saint James of Compostela welcomed him - he settled in Valencia, until December 1963.

Published 13-09-2013
City of Porto City of Porto
​This is one of Europe's oldest tourist destinations. Its wealth of artistic heritage, Port Wine, open-air leisure spaces and cultural life are just s...
Port Wine Port Wine
Port WinePort Wine is a sweet fortified wine, exclusively produced in the Douro designated region, aged in the cellars in Gaia and exported from Por...
Catholic Community Catholic Community
​Catholicism is the religion practiced by the majority of the Portuguese population. Portugal has currently 7 million Catholic, corresponding to 79.5%...
“Estado Novo” (New State) architecture up to now “Estado Novo” (New State) architecture up to now
Economic, social, political and cultural changes were responsible for the new aesthetical movements and tendencies that would originate the Porto mode...
Geography and location Geography and location
PortoPorto, with an area of 45km2 and population of about 240 thousand, is the second biggest city in the country. It is known as the capital of the...
The Ways The Ways
​There is a vast network of pilgrimage roads and paths to the shrine of the apostle St. James which snake and consolidate themselves throughout almost...
Preparing yourself for the Way Preparing yourself for the Way
​EquipmentFor pilgrims travelling on foot, it is necessary to ensure that your equipment is appropriate for the time of year and suits the physical ...
Portugal Portugal
​Portugal covers an area of 92,094 km2 on the West Coast of Europe/Iberian Peninsula, bordering with Spain in the North and East, and with the Atlanti...
Tradition Tradition
The Porto inhabitants love to recreate traditions and customs, recovering old practices and ways of living. The popular festivals, food and wine are a...
Great Wine Capitals Network: A world of excellence! Great Wine Capitals Network: A world of excellence!
The  Great Wine Capitals Network (GWC) gathers nine cities with internationally renowned wine regions:Adelaide (Australia)Bilbao (Rioja - Spain)...
Porto Porto's São João
​The São João festivities in Porto already stand as a landmark for life in the city and are experienced by more and more tourists and visitors each ye...
Food Food
Porto’s gastronomy is a mirror of its cultural diversity. There are several stories about it, several legends told from generation to generation, whic...