The city of Oporto is situated on the right bank of the River Douro, being the second largest city of the country. Oporto is the regional capital of the northern area.
In the area where the river ran through, existed a village called Cale (V Century). Later it is referred as Portus Cale and Portucale, the origin of the county´s name. When Vímara Peres repopulates this area in the IX Century, Portucale also designates the territory dependente on it and in the X Century the whole area south of the River Lima.
The Oporto Sé is prior to the foundation of the nation with the small roman church of Cedofeita and the rest of the murals are a fundamental part of the medieval remains of the city.
In the XIV Century the city receives a new mural. Though designated as Fernandina, its construction must have happened between the reigns of D. Afonso IV and D. João I. This fortification defines the historic nucleus of Oporto.
The city collaborated in the Discoveries since the beginning. From here left the Infante D. Henrique fleet to participate in the conquest of Ceuta. In the end of the XV Century Oporto had only one parish and its population didn´t go beyond the 10 000 inhabitants, whereas Lisbon had 50 000.
In the XVII Century Oporto knows an important growth due to the wine commerce. The signature of the Methuen Treaty (1703) favours the exportation of wines to Great Britain and then creates the Royal Company of Wine Agriculture of the High Douro (Real Companhia da Agricultura dos Vinhos do Alto Douro).
With the increase of commerce, the english and other european colonies grew, being the first great influence on the city. The splendor of the Nasoni baroque, so disclosed in the North, leaves in many buildings the mark of prosperity.
Another period of the urban history of Oporto happens in the XIX Century with the Industrial Revolution. Many factories settle down in the city, bourgeoisie neighborhoods are built and avenues are opened. Oporto becomes a commercial and industrial city, with the parish of Massarelos as its center. In this place, that began as the center of the salt production in the XIII Century, foundries, millings and the first thermal center of town are built. Nowadays, the most representative industries in terms of employment ate the textiles, food and drinks, graphic arts and publications editions and chemicals.
With the increase of industrial employment in the city, also its attraction over plantations grows. The problem of lodging finds in Oporto a peculiar solution called the "islands". Solution probably inspired by the old days, the "islands" are small community houses, leading to strait corridors that fill up the inside of blocks.
It was also in the XIX Century that the bourgeoisie Oporto is formed. In 1855 public lighting was inaugurated and the Agramonte Cemetery. In 1865 The Crystal Palace is inaugurated.
The development of a city cannot happen without transportation and the River Douro was an obstacle that was only surpassed with the technical progress of the XIX Century.In 1963 The Ponte da Arrabida was open to traffic and, finally in 1992 Edgar Cardoso finishes the construction of the Ponte S. João, that substitutes Ponte Dona Maria in its railway link to Oporto.
In the commercial and services point of view, Oporto has a lot of quantity and diversity. The economic development dragged the suburbs that register a big population growth.
In the begiining of the XX Century, the establishment of the naval port in Leixões, Matosinhos was vital to the abandonment of the fluvial port. Oporto is an industrial city.
The small workshops prosper everywhere but the factories and "islands" in Cedofeita, Santo Ildefonso, Bonfim and Campanhã are the ones who characterize a city that spread in between farms and gardens, far beyond the fixed limited of the Circunvalação Road.
The renovation of the center of Oporto begins with the Republic, by the opening of the Avenida dos Aliados and the new Town House. Oporto tries to requalify the civic and financial center, formed around the Praça D. Pedro, near the São Bento Station (inaugurated in 1909). The transformation of the city will be led by The Corporative State, with the Ponte Arrabida and the Via Rapida that link the south bank of the River Douro to the Port of Leixões and the Oporto International Airport (Aeroporto Fransisco Sá Carneiro).
The democratic revolution brought the need of a more harmonious development and the approval of the First Urban Plan. The nomination of Oporto as World Heritage opened new perspectives for a renewal of the old part of town, the restructuring of regional circulation networks that ignore the north/northeastern part of the city. It is in the west side of town that the first Shopping Centers are built and where the central services of the Mail and Telecommunications are found.
The parishes of Oporto are: Ramalde, Lordelo do Ouro, Nevogilde, Aldoar, Foz do Douro, Massarelos, Paranhos, Cedofeita, Miragaia, Victória, São Nicolau, Santo Ildefonso, Sé, Bonfim and Campanhã.
Oporto has 327 268 inhabitants in the city alone; 999 267 in the metropolitan area and 1 562 287 in the district area.