Panoramic view of Viseu.
|Intermunic. comm.||Viseu Dão Lafões|
|• President||Almeida Henriques (PSD)|
|• Total||507.10 km2 (195.79 sq mi)|
|• Density||200/km2 (510/sq mi)|
|Time zone||WET/WEST (UTC+0/+1)|
Viseu (Portuguese pronunciation: [viˈzew]) is a city and municipality in the Centro Region of Portugal and the capital of the Viseu District. With a municipal population of 99,274, Viseu is the center of the Viseu Dão Lafões intermunipical community, with 267,633 inhabitants.
With origins in early Iberian castro culture, Viseu's history spans millennia. During the Roman occupation of Iberia, Viriathus, rebel leader of the Lusitanians, is said to have lived in what is today Viseu. During the Middle Ages, the city often served as the court for various Visigothic nobles, such as King Roderic, and is considered as the probable birthplace of Afonso Henriques, first King of Portugal. The city is remembered as the birthplace of Vasco Fernandes, one of the great painters of the Portuguese Renaissance.
Today, Viseu is a regional economic hub with a strong wine industry and as the seat of international conglomerate Visabeira. Similarly, the city is a center for culture, as the home of the nationally acclaimed Grão Vasco Museum and as seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Viseu. Viseu serves a regional education core, with campuses from various national universities represented, such as the Catholic University of Portugal.
History and landmarks
The origins of the city of Viseu date back to the Celtic period. With its Romanization, the settlement gained importance, being at the intersection of a series of Roman roads linking Merida, Lisbon, and Galicia.
Viseu is associated with Viriathus, since it is thought that the Lusitanian hero may have been born in this region. After the Roman occupation of the peninsula, under the Visigoths, the settlement was elevated to the status of city and to the seat of a diocese by at least the 6th century.
During the eighth century AD, Viseu was invaded by the Moors and became the target of attacks and counter-attacks alternating between Christians and Muslims, as part of the larger Reconquista, until permanently reconquered by the Christians in 1037, when Ferdinand I of Leon re-took the city.
During the time of the County of Portugal, Viseu served as the seat of the court of Henry, Count of Portugal and Countess Teresa, who granted a foral to the city in 1123. Viseu is one of the possible birthplaces of Afonso Henriques, the child of Count Henry and Countess Teresa, who was born in 1109. Afonso Henriques became the first King of Portugal and granted another charter to the city n 1187. His grandson, King Afonso I of Portugal, granted the city another foral in 1217.
During the 1383–85 Crisis, the city was besieged by the forces of Juan I of Castile, leading to King John I of Portugal starting construction on a series of defensive fortifications which would continue being built until the reign of King Afonso V of Portugal.
Early modern era
In 1513, King Manuel I of Portugal renewed the charter of Viseu and a series of works were taken on throughout the city, with the opening of the first square of the city, the Rossio.
In the 19th century, a new Municipal Palace was built in the Rossio, significantly altering the flow of the city, moving it away from the mediaeval center to newer parts of the city.
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.
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 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 less relevant, 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.
- Barreiros e Cepões
- Boa Aldeia, Farminhão e Torredeita
- Couto de Baixo e Couto de Cima
- Faíl e Vila Chã de Sá
- Repeses e São Salvador
- Rio de Loba
- Santos Evos
- São Cipriano e Vil de Souto
- São João de Lourosa
- São Pedro de France
- 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.
- Manuel Maria Carrilho, philosopher, politician and ex-minister of Culture
Viseu is twinned with:
- Cantagalo, São Tomé and Príncipe
- Aveiro, Portugal
- Lublin, Poland
- Marly-le-Roi, France
- São Filipe, Cape Verde
- Arezzo, Italy
- Haskovo, Bulgaria
- Matola, Mozambique
- Instituto Nacional de Estatística
- Diário da República. "Law nr. 11-A/2013, pages 552 141-142" (pdf) (in Portuguese). Retrieved 5 August 2014.
- "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.
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