National Sea Day and Porto has a beautiful ocean line. If you’re visiting Porto now, City Lovers Tours has the perfect paln for you to see it
The sea has historically being vital for the Portuguese, situated as it is, on the Eastern coast of Europe buffeted by the Atlantic Ocean. Indeed, Porto and the sea have been linked since its inception. Porto is simply ‘port’ in Portuguese (not the most difficult to work out!) and grew from its proximity to the ocean. There have been people using it as a port as far back as the Celts, while theories exist possibly going further back to even to the Phoenicians.
What really fuelled Portugal’s love for the sea was the drive to explore, discover and, admittedly, conquer. Arguably the Portuguese were the nation which started the Age of Discoveries. The first stop on their adventure was the city of Ceuta taken in 1415. It was actually from Porto that the expedition set sail from. It was also led by a native of the city, D. Infante Henrique. More famously known in English as Henry the Navigator, Prince of Portugal. After Ceuta did not quench their thirst it was the Portuguese that pushed to new worlds, primarily to wrestle control of the spice trade from the ottomans.
It was Bartolomeu Dias who was the first European to round the Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms), later renamed Cabo das Boas Esperanças (Cape of Good Hope) by D. João II to get more people to explore. Vasco da Gama opened up trade with India by sailing there. Then in 1500 with the arrival of Portuguese in Brazil really ruled the waves. For much of the 16th century Portugal was the leading world power. It was this trade across the sea which create so much wealth.
Even today much of Portugal’s culture derives from this love of the sea:
- It’s national ingredient, Bacalhau (salted cod) comes from Norway and is preserved due to the transport (click here to know about our Food Tour)
- The British heavily invested in the Port wine trade in Porto because normal wine was spoiling on the seas. (click here to know about our Wine Tour)
- Finally, the national music of Portugal, Fado, has at its roots the sea.
Even today, one of Portugal’s main industry is tourism. Much of the tourism, especially in the past when it was relatively restricted to the Southern coast of Algarve, is maritime based. The beautiful beaches and excellent surfing.
Due to the location of the city centre the sea is a little bit of a trek for most tourists. A quick way to do it is to join one of our Porto City Sightseeing, experiencing the glory of the sea from an old school VW van fully clued in by one of our fantastic tour guides!