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For the river in northern Romania, see Vișeu River.
Panoramic view of Viseu.
Panoramic view of Viseu.
Flag of Viseu
Coat of arms of Viseu
Coat of arms
Coordinates: 40°40′N 7°55′W / 40.667°N 7.917°W / 40.667; -7.917Coordinates: 40°40′N 7°55′W / 40.667°N 7.917°W / 40.667; -7.917
Country  Portugal
Region Centro
Subregion Dão-Lafões
Intermunic. comm. Viseu Dão Lafões
District Viseu
Parishes 25
 • President Almeida Henriques (PSD)
 • Total 507.10 km2 (195.79 sq mi)
Population (2011)
 • Total 99,274
 • Density 200/km2 (510/sq mi)
Time zone WET/WEST (UTC+0/+1)

Viseu (Portuguese pronunciation: [viˈzew]) is both a city (capital of Viseu District) and a municipality in the Dão-Lafões Subregion of Centro Region, Portugal. The municipality population in 2011 was 99,274,[1] in an area of 507.10 km².[2] The city proper had 47,250 inhabitants in 2001.[3] Viseu is the center of the Comunidade Intermunicipal Viseu Dão Lafões with 267,633 inhabitants.

Viseu has undergone a considerable economic growth, especially in the areas of telecommunications, industry, trade and education. Located in Portugal's northern-center the city is a crossroads linking the seaport of Aveiro in the Atlantic coast to Guarda near the Portuguese-Spanish border and then on to Salamanca, Spain. Coimbra, the regional seat of Centro Region, is about 80 km (50 mi) southwest. The city is noted on the arts scene due to the Grão Vasco Museum and the Teatro Viriato. Wine making (Dão wines) is an important activity in the region. In ancient Portuguese history, Viseu is noted as one of the major urban centers in the area where Viriathus, a legendary warrior and national hero, lived. With three higher education institutions within its limits, the city has played a role as a regional educational center. Its business community is among the largest of Portugal's interior countryside.

History and landmarks[edit]

The city name goes back to the end of the Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages where its name is derived from the Roman term "viso", which means a good view. This was in accordance with the place where the original settlement was formed in Roman times, that was its highest point.

Statue of Viriathus, at Viseu.

Viseu has a statue of Viriathus (? - 139 BC), the Lusitanians' leader who fought the invading Romans for the freedom of Lusitania, made by the Spanish sculptor Mariano Benlliure (1862–1947). In 714 AD Viseu was taken by the Moors who held it for less than a century. The city's fine Romanesque/Gothic cathedral dates from 830 AD. It was captured by Alfonso II of Asturias in 791 but was recaptured by Moors during the Almanzor Offensive. It was finally captured by Ferdinand I of León on expense of the Taifa of Batlabus in 1057.

When Alfonso II of Asturias conquered Viseu a grave was found with the following inscription: 'Hic requiescit Rudericus rex gothorum ' (Here lies Rodrigo gothic king). Rodrigo was the last Visigothic king before the Muslim invasion of Iberia, and he was supposed to have died in the Battle of Guadalete, but his body was never found.

Viseu was the birthplace of one of the greatest Portuguese painters of the sixteenth century, Vasco Fernandes (1475–1540), known as Grão Vasco, who today lends his name to a museum that houses most of his paintings (the Grão Vasco Museum), a hotel, a school, and even a wine label. The museum, installed in the old episcopal palace, shows some of his masterpieces and paintings of other painters of the period known as the School of Viseu.

The city is rich in churches, convents and chapels and has a fine historic quarter (Centro Historico) with narrow cobbled streets, hidden alleyways and intriguing flights of steps. In addition to its important cathedral there are six major churches, four chapels, two convents, and the bishop's palace. There is also a sacred art museum in the cathedral.


The Church of Mercy or Igreja da Misericórdia.

Viseu is approximately 50 km (31 mi) East of the Atlantic ocean. Surrounded by a number of mountains - Leomil, Montemuro, Lapa, Arada, Estrela and Caramulo - the tops of which are covered with thick layers of snow in Winter time, the district is crossed by a network of rivers and streamlets.

The city of Viseu has an almost central position in relation to the District lying on the so-called Viseu Plateau (Port. Planalto de Viseu). It is surrounded by a mountainous system constituted to the north by the Leonil, Montemuro, and Lapa hills, to the northeast by the Arado hills, to the south and southeast by the Serra da Estrela and the Lousã hills and to the west by the Caramulo hills.

The Municipality is characterized by an irregular surface with altitudes ranging between 400 and 700 metres. With a rough terrain, it has numerous water courses. These are found in three basins: the Vouga, the Dão and the Paiva.

Situated in a zone of transition, the concelho has several micro-climates. The Serra do Caramulo, located to the west of the city, plays an important role in climatic terms by lessening the influences of the western air masses (although the Mondego River's basin makes the penetration easier). Consequently, Viseu's climate is characterized by the existence of high temperature extremes, with cold and wet winters and hot and dry summers.


Population of Viseu
(1801 - 2011)
Year Pop. ±%
1801 33,699 —    
1849 36,049 +7.0%
1900 54,047 +49.9%
1930 61,140 +13.1%
1960 79,890 +30.7%
1981 83,261 +4.2%
1991 83,601 +0.4%
2001 93,501 +11.8%
2011 99,274 +6.2%

Due to migration in the 1960s, Viseu suffered a great decline in its population. After the end of the Portuguese Colonial War (1961–1974), with the return of refugees from the Portuguese African colonies that achieved independence, and resulting economic and demographic growth, starting at the end of the 1970s, the municipality increased its population by about 10 percent, giving it an estimated population of 83,261 people. Afterwards, a stagnation set in, confirmed by the 1991 census which showed a population of 83,601.


The city and the region are famous for its wine (Dão Wine) and the Dão Wine institute, the Solar do Vinho do Dão can be found in the city. There is also an annual agricultural fair, the Feira de São Mateus. Furthermore, Viseu is also known for local handicrafts which include black pottery, bobbin lace, embroidery, and copper and wrought iron articles. With the good connections to major industrial centers and to the ports of Aveiro and Leixões, several industries have been installed in Viseu. Visabeira, a Portugal-based international conglomerate with interests in telecommunications, construction, industry, tourism, real estate and diversified services is headquartered in the city. Viseu also boasts a central hospital (Hospital of São Teotónio), two shopping & cinema complexes (the Fórum (2005) and the Palácio do Gelo (2008)), and numerous hostels and hotels in all categories.


Viseu is the location of the state-run Instituto Politécnico de Viseu which has higher education polytechnic schools of education, technology and management, and agronomy. The city's political and civic groups have been pressuring the national government to upgrade this school into a university, but its desire was never achieved. However, there are 2 private university institutions, the Universidade Católica Portuguesa and the Instituto Piaget. Furthermore, since the Bologna process!, the difference between universities and polytechnics are pointless, with the exception of some degrees like medicine, economics or law, that are only awarded in universities.

There are three secondary education (the Portuguese equivalent of High School) establishments: the Escola Secundária de Viriato, Escola Secundária Alves Martins and Escola Secundária Emídio Navarro.


The city of Viseu has a bus network - STUV - which operates several lines within the entire municipality and a recently installed funicular connecting the lower city with the upper city. The A25 motorway (former IP5) connects Viseu to the seaport of Aveiro and Guarda and then on to Salamanca in Spain. The IP3 and A24, connecting Coimbra with Chaves on the Spanish border, crosses Viseu from south to north. Until the nineteen eighties Viseu had railway connections with the coast, but these were closed.

Viseu is now one of the largest cities in Europe without a railway connection. Once it was connected to Aveiro (via the Vouga line, a narrow gauge railway), and Santa Comba Dão (on the Dão line, another narrow gauge railway), where it had connection to the Linha da Beira Alta (broad gauge; international). The Dão line closed to passengers in 1988.

The municipality has an airfield - the Aeródromo de Viseu (code VSE) in Lobato, parish of Lordosa, Viseu.


Administratively, the municipality is divided into 25 civil parishes (freguesias):[4]

  • Abraveses
  • Barreiros e Cepões
  • Boa Aldeia, Farminhão e Torredeita
  • Bodiosa
  • Calde
  • Campo
  • Cavernães
  • Cota
  • Couto de Baixo e Couto de Cima
  • Faíl e Vila Chã de Sá
  • Fragosela
  • Lordosa
  • Mundão
  • Orgens
  • Povolide
  • Ranhados
  • Repeses e São Salvador
  • Ribafeita
  • Rio de Loba
  • Santos Evos
  • São Cipriano e Vil de Souto
  • São João de Lourosa
  • São Pedro de France
  • Silgueiros
  • Viseu


Notable people[edit]

  • Vasco Fernandes, better known as Grão Vasco, one of the main Portuguese Renaissance painters.
  • Carlos Lopes, marathonist. Holds the Olympic Marathon Record.
  • Paulo Sousa, footballer. Two-time Champions League winner.
  • Álvaro Santos Pereira, economist, professor and writer, Minister of Economy, Labour, Transport, Public Works and Communications of Portugal.
  • Fernando Ruas, ex-president of ANMP, ex-mayor of Viseu municipality (1989-2013), Member of the European Parliament (2014 - ).
  • Manuel Maria Carrilho, philosopher, politician and ex-minister of Culture
  • Fernando Seara, ex-mayor of Sintra Municipality
  • Marisa Cruz, TV presenter and model

International relations[edit]

Viseu is twinned with:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  2. ^ Direção-Geral do Território
  3. ^ UMA POPULAÇÃO QUE SE URBANIZA, Uma avaliação recente - Cidades, 2004 Nuno Pires Soares, Instituto Geográfico Português (Geographic Institute of Portugal)
  4. ^ Diário da República. "Law nr. 11-A/2013, pages 552 141-142" (pdf) (in Portuguese). Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Miasta Partnerskie Lublina" [Lublin - Partnership Cities]. Urząd Miasta Lublin[City of Lublin] (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 

External links[edit]