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Oporto (o͝opôrˈtō), Port. Pôrto, city (1991 pop. 310,600), capital of Porto dist. and Douro Litoral, NW Portugal, near the mouth of the Douro River. It is Portugal's second largest city, after Lisbon, and an important Atlantic port. Its outer harbor is at Leixões. Oporto's most famous export is port wine, to which the city gives its name. Cork, fruits, olive oil, and building materials are also exported. Cotton, silk, and wool textiles are milled, wood and leather goods are made, and there are other manufactures.

The ancient settlement, probably of pre-Roman origin, was known as Cale and later as Portus Cale. Oporto was captured by the Moors in 716 and retaken in 1092. The centuries of war depopulated the town. Henry of Burgundy secured the title of duke of Portucalense in the 11th cent., and Oporto thus gave its name to the state that became a kingdom. It was for some time the chief city, although not the capital, of little Portugal.

Wine exports increased after the Methuen Treaty (1703) with England. The creation by the marquês de Pombal of a wine monopoly brought the “tipplers' revolt” (1757) in Oporto. After the French conquest of Portugal in the Peninsular War, Oporto was the first city to revolt (1808). It was retaken by the French but liberated (1809) by Wellington. In 1832, in the Miguelist Wars, Dom Pedro I of Brazil long withstood a siege of the city by his brother, Dom Miguel. Oporto was later a center of republican thought, and in 1891 an abortive republican government was set up there.

The city's most conspicuous landmark is the Torre dos Clérigos, a baroque tower; also noteworthy are the Romanesque cathedral, the two-storied Dom Luis bridge across the Douro (1881–87), the Crystal Palace (1865), the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art (1999), and Rem Koolhaas's celebrated Casa de Música (2005). Oporto is the site of a public university and several private institutions of higher education.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Oporto), a city in northern Portugal, off the Atlantic Ocean, near the mouth of the Douro River. The capital of Porto District and Douro Litoral Province, Porto is second only to Lisbon in size and economic importance. Population, 304,700 (1972; with the suburbs of Espinho, Gondomar, Maia, Matozinhos, Valongo, and Vila Nova de Gaia, about 500,000).

Porto is an important seaport and industrial and commercial center. Because the Douro River has sandbars at its mouth, the outer harbor of Leixoes was built along the Atlantic coast to service Porto. (In 1972 the harbor had a freight turnover of 5.7 million tons.) Porto’s principal industries include textiles (primarily cotton), machine building (ship-building and electrical engineering), and winemaking (primarily port wine, chiefly from Vila Nova de Gaia). The city also produces chemicals, glass, paper, cork, leather shoes, and clothing. There are fish canneries and small foundries and nonferrous metallurgical works. An oil refinery, producing 2 million tons of crude oil per year, is located in Matozinhos. Porto’s university was founded in 1911.

A Roman colony was established on the territory of present-day Porto in the first century B.C. Some distance from modern Porto, the Romans founded a settlement called Portus Cale (hence the name “Portugal”), which became the center of the city. At the end of the fifth century A.D., Porto came under the domination of the Suevi kings. It was controlled by the Visigoths from the sixth through the early eighth century and by the Arabs from the eighth to the tenth century. The city repeatedly changed hands during the Reconquista.

In 1095, Porto became the capital of the county of Portucalia. Since the 12th century it has been one of Portugal’s most important ports and a center for the wine industry. Porto was the center of a bourgeois revolution in 1820, the site of a republican uprising in 1891, and the site of an uprising against the military dictatorship in 1927.

Southeast of Porto is the old city, an area of narrow, winding streets lined with granite dwellings, many of which are faced with tiles. Noteworthy landmarks include a cathedral (1113–36, rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries) and numerous Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque buildings. Near the old city is the baroque church of dos Clerigos, whose tower (1732–63, architects N. Nazzoni and others) serves as a landmark for sailors. Since the 1920’s a new city has developed to the northwest. The Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis, which houses European, including Portuguese, art, is located in Porto.


Marjay, F. P. Porto e seu distrito. Lisbon, 1955.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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