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Porto is an ancient historical city, with a lot of interesting sites and monuments, leisure facilities, and very good well-known gastronomy (it is also famous for the excellent wines produced in the region, mainly Port wine).
Porto is the centre of a culturally and naturally rich region that gathers together history, arts and nature (sea and mountains); it is a perfect starting point for tourist excursions (of various duration's and flavours).
Porto and the English
In 16 June 1147, the English crusaders heading to the Holy Land had to wait eleven days in Porto for the forces led by the Count of Areschot and by Christian de Gistel, which had been separated from the fleet during a storm.
Having heard of the fleet's passage by Porto, King Afonso Henriques tried to reach an agreement with its leaders, persuading them to help him release Lisbon from the Moors.
Trade in the Middle Ages
Since the Middle Ages Porto established important commercial relations with England and soon there was an English community in the city.
With the purpose of making the trade easier and of protecting the exchanges between both countries, many friendship treaties were signed. The Portuguese merchants Gomes Limpo and Afonso Martins Alho went to the court of Edward III in 1352 bearing a letter from the Portuguese monarch in which he demanded the same rights and privileges given to the English merchants in Portugal for the Portuguese merchants in England.
Porto and the Germans
The first visitors
In 1147 several boats with German and Flemish crusaders passed by Porto . The crusaders were persuaded by the city's bishop to help King Afonso Henriques free Lisbon from the Moors.
Germans in Porto
Porto has always been a welcoming and a settling place for people of other nations. From the late 16th century the city had a consul to represent the many German and Flemish subjects - who were mostly merchants - living in Porto . A resident merchant held the position of consul. There were also interpreters. Their services were needed when foreign boats arrived and the City Council established that an interpreter should be married in the city and be a person of good manners and worthy of confidence.
Porto and the Belgians
With the help of the Flemish
In 1147 a fleet of crusaders heading for Palestine arrived in Porto . Many of the crusaders came from Flanders and were led by Christian de Gistel. The Bishop of Porto decided to ask for their help to release Lisbon from the Moors. The fleet joined the Portuguese King and participated in the siege and in the conquest of the city. By the Cathedral, in Porto , some words remember the event in the exact place where the Bishop preached to the crusaders.
In the late Middle Ages the commercial trade between Porto and Flanders was quite active. Textiles, weapons, luxury items arrived from Bruges , Gand, Ipres and Tournai. In exchange, Porto exported honey, salt and wine. These contacts had an influence on the local architecture and one of the biggest testimonies of the Flemish merchants' presence in Porto is an old house from the 14th century, bearing the traces of the Flemish architecture, still visible today on a narrow street at the back of the Cathedral. Recent archaeological excavations revealed the presence of Flemish glazed ceramics from the 14th and 15th-century.
Porto and the Dutch
In the late Middle Ages there was a regular commercial contact between Porto and the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam . Towards the North the businessmen of those days sent honey, salt and wine receiving, in return, textiles , cheese and butter. Archaeological excavations at the old Custom-House of Porto revealed the presence of a great quantity of custom stamps from Haarlem , used to certify the textiles which were also sent from that port.
Porto as seen by Blaeu
The Dutch cartographer Wilhelm Blaeu left us the oldest image of the city of Porto . A map he published in 1619 clearly describes the area around the bar of the river Douro , marking all the settlements and the navigation orientation points along the coast. Porto is represented with its medieval wall (some fragments of which still remain today) and the most important churches are recognisable on the inside.
Porto and the Brazilians
The historical connection
After the Moorish Conquest of the Peninsula, numerous inhabitants of the territories located south of the river Minho sought shelter in Galicia . In the 9th century the embankment of the territories started to occur, led by Galician and Asturian magnates. 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.