The city of Vila Nova de Gaia, is situated on the left bank of the river Douro, before the city of Porto. Both cities are linked by five bridges: the bridges of D. Luiz I, Arrabida, Freixo, D. Maria II and S. João, the last two being rail bridges. A new bridge is currently being built right next to centenary D.Luiz I bridge, the Infante bridge.
These two cities, facing each other, complement each other, given them strong cultural links.
Gaia has been characterized as the antechamber of the coast-north, for those coming from the south by land. Therefore, the county is crossed by an important set of roads and railways.
In the middle Ages, Gaia served as the port connection between the North and South of the country, standing on its foot Portus Cale, who game origin to, according to some historians, the name of Portugal. Since that time Gaia is an important warehouse of wine, especially Port wine, from the XVIII century.
No raw materials or agricultural land of special value its main activity is, and always has been, the Port and the sectors of third order, especially tourism.
The origin of the city is polemic. It is still being argued in which margin was located Roman settlement Cale. Some historians argue, however, that the settlement of Portucale stood in what is now the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, in this century. VI. At the time of the Roman emperor Aîtonino (138-161), it was prepared an itinerary airway military, where it was referred to the road between Olissipo (Lisbon) and historical district of Braga (Braga). Cale was referred to as the last stop before the road ends, and where did the passage of the river Douro. That's the reason of the name Portus Cale (Port of Cale) and later Portucale.
This toponym from the century. IX, specify the territory of Portugal that has now been extended.
Later, Portucale passed to designate Portucale Castrum Antiquum, to distinguish it from the city who then formed on the opposite bank of the Douro, Porto. Besides, Castrum Antiquum was already the name given to the ancient Castle of Gaia, which came to play a key role in the History of Gaia.
It was in Portucale that they decided the fate of the territory, in the struggles between Visigoths and Suevi. The domain Visigoth ended with the Roman Empire, followed by the domain of the Moors. With the Arab occupation, V. N. Gaia is to serve as a border between Muslims and Christians. Despite clashes between Christians and Arabs, and due to the geographical importance of the town, people haven't stopped creating important places of peace and worship among the population Christianized.
In the century. IX, after the Moors come the Galicians, causing the castle Gaia change hands again. This is where comes the Legend of Gaia and consequently the name of Gaia itself. According to legend, D. Ramiro I, King of Galicia, organizes an expedition to the village of Portucale in search of his adulterous wife, Queen Gaia. D. Ramiro eventually win the Moorish king, destroy the castle and kill Gaia, drowning in the river Douro.
After the conquest of Portucale, in 868, by Vímara Peres, Gaia became part of the Diocese of Coimbra. Only from century. XII, with the construction of the Cathedral of Porto is that now belongs to the diocese of Porto.
... and Portugal is born.
Thus, it was from a small rural village near the river Douro, from which extended the name and territory of Portugal ...
At the beginning of the nationality, the royal family has given great benefits and goods to local monasteries, which led D. Afonso III to grant a charter to Vila of Gaya in 1255.
However the king wished that a new town should be born, right in front of the city of Porto and as important as this. Here was created several customs, all of them closed to power the Bishop of Porto, thus the ideal place for the development of trade in the region, because they were not paying taxes.
In 1288, D. Dinis gave charter to the town of Vila Nova d'El Rei, which together with the town of Gaya formed the county down (Vila Nova) and above county (town of Gaya). According to tradition these two counties were separated by the "Fountain of Cabeçudos".
Vila d'El Rei developed rapidly, causing an exodus of the population of the village of Gaya. To let the differences go unnoticed, the two municipalities were merged into one. This leads to the municipality of Vila Nova de alongside Gaya by charter of King Fernando in 1367, the latter has been integrated into the jurisdiction of the Port.
Castle Gaia was again destroyed, this time by the people, when Dona Leonor, wife Aires Gonçalves Figueiredo got the power of the castle, built by her husband to have the forces of the Master of Avis. Tirana, Leonor extorted from the people everything she could, enraging the population which revolted and stormed the castle, destroying it. This is the last reference that exists Castle. From what we know, was never rebuilt, and today almost nothing left of it ...
A Ponte das Barcas - The Bridge of Boats
Until 1806 there was no connection between the two banks of the river, between Porto and Gaia. Only this year (1806) the bridge was built Barcas (made with a series of boats placed side by side and tied together), notorious at the time of the French invasion.
During the French invasion, the Monastery of Serra do Pilar, one of the symbols of this city, has become a cornerstone in the fight for the fate of the country. It was here that the Duke of Wellington commanded the troops who liberated the city of Porto siege carried out by the French in 1808. The population Porto tried to flee the city to escape on Gaia, though they passed over the Bridge of Boats one of the boats that had been untied by the French gave up, giving up the tragedy when dozens of people fell to the river, dying drowned.
Also in the Liberal Wars in 1832/33, the Serra do Pilar played a key role when General Torres, commanding the troops of King Pedro V, made resistance miguelistas troops, from the monastery. It is following the Liberal victory of liberalism and reform that Vila Nova and Vila Gaya merge, giving rise to Vila Nova de Gaia, on June 20, 1834.
In 1842, the bridge of boats was replaced by the Suspension Bridge, and in 1886 this was replaced by the bridge D. Luiz I.
Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto Wine
In Modern Era, V. N. Gaia was the land of seamen, craftsmen, merchants and businessmen. Then begins a new period of development, with the installation of Gaia wealthy Englishmen who buy houses and warehouses for the storage and shipment of Port Wine.
The reason for the port wine warehouses have been set up in Gaia and not in Porto (who gave him the name), is due to two factors: first, the weather and humidity were more favorable in the side of Gaia and second, Gaia did not pay tax to the Bishop of Oporto, and so, despite the wine to be issued by the customs port, storage costs were lower side of Gaia.
With the industrialization of the village, it creates artistic ceramics factories and warehouses iron along with Port wine, not forgetting the use of river resources, particularly fishing on the River Douro and its mouth, diversifying the by various industry sectors.
In 1984, Vila Nova de Gaia became a city in a show of determination of gaienses (people of Gaia).
The Present and the Future
Today, Vila Nova de Gaia is one of the most prosperous and populous counties in the country, with a remarkable monumental and artistic heritage. It is the second largest county in the country, and the fourth most populous, with a resident population of about 250 000 inhabitants, distributed among its 165 km2, and in constantly growth.
The county is potentially rich in tourist activities, not only regional, but especially national and international. Pay attention to the wine cellars of Porto and wealth panoramic, landscape and ethnographic county, as well as its coastline to realizing its tourism potential.
Currently, the county is to gain their independence and autonomy, as proved by their growing social infrastructure, cultural, recreational and economic.