Vila do Conde is a local administration belonging to the district of Oporto, located on the northern coast of Portugal, bathed by the Atlantic Ocean and with the River Ave at its feet. Its origins go beyond the foundation of the Portuguese territory, dating back to the year of 953.
It was mainly during the sixteenth century, that Vila do Conde reached its commercial and maritime apogee, due to the shipbuilding industry, whose tradition remains until the present day, and also because of the great harbour and the royal customs house, becoming an important trading post in the history of five hundred. In addition, the presence of king Manuel in Vila do Conde, during a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, would be a remarkable event giving the necessary impulse for the construction of several new buildings and the opening of new arteries in the urban fabric of the city.
In 1516, king D. Manuel I issued the city Charter, and Vila do Conde became a municipality siege later on, in 1871. The city status was granted in 1987.
Nowadays the municipality of Vila do Conde has 21 parishes including 7 unions of parishes, covering an area of about 149 km2 and with an estimated population of 79 500 inhabitants.
The millenary origins of Vila do Conde are imprinted in the landscape, and in the great historical richness of its heritage, traditions, natural sceneries and stories.
Besides the 18 km of beaches that combine with the rurality of the parishes further inland, within the considerable built heritage, the second largest Aqueduct in Portugal with 999 arches and approximately 4km in length and the monumental Santa Clara Church and Monastery, define the old town silhouette. Also, relevant, a few other recognised National Monuments, many religious built heritage spread all over the territory, quite unique examples of Romanesque architecture and monastic buildings, rural and emblazoned houses. Vila do Conde is also a land of artists, where some renowned Portuguese poets have chosen to live or work.
Therefore, defending an urban policy of rehabilitation of the spaces and activities that marked the past of this land, the municipality has carried out several actions of recovery and revitalization of its historic centre and the riverside area, thus maintaining the architectural coherence and harmony of this charming city, investing also in the creation of quite a few cultural facilities in a strategic enhancement of the city cultural and creative scene.
Consequently, in a cultural stance that values the preservation and dissemination of heritage and local historical memory, and by simultaneously assuring the dynamics of a forward-looking approach, it is essential to emphasize the unique diversity of traditions and festivities. Namely, the refinement of its handicrafts, especially the bobbin laces and the ancient art of wooden shipbuilding, the varied folklore with centuries-old traditions, the fishing community’s customs, the gastronomic inheritance left by the wisdom of the nuns of the conventual houses bequeathed, meaningful legacies of the uniqueness of the territory.
Focusing on the mission of promoting the socio-economic development of the municipality, a strategy collaboration with local, regional and supramunicipal actors, has been outlined, in order to achieve an integrated development that meets the highest standards.
In this sense, also the Municipality of Vila do Conde, has been involved in several initiatives and projects around culture and heritage, in partnership or individually, namely:
SOCRATES PROGRAMME – Lifelong learning measure, Project “Not just Books, Library for All” (2007-2009) – In this project participated Portugal, Letónia, Noruega e Suécia, with the objective of identifying the different publics of these institutions, develop comun educational strategies and implement inclusive activities, such as language training, creative writing workshops and other seminars, a movie and publication “No Meu tempo”, amongst others.
NORTE-04-2114-FEDER-000138 – “Valorisation of the Ways of Santiago – Portuguese Way of the Coast” – candidacy in partnership aiming the protection, valorisation, conservation and promotion of the artistic and cultural heritage, involving Vila do Conde and the northern municipalities of Caminha, Esposende, Maia, Matosinhos, Porto, Póvoa de Varzim, Valença, Vila do Conde, Viana do Castelo and Vila Nova de Cerveira.
NORTE-04-2114-FEDER-04-2114 – FEDER-000130 – “”Vila do Conde, an harbour to the world” – sole beneficiary” – aiming the protection of the ancient knowledge and techniques of wooden shipbuilding, in order to assure its identification, protection and continuity. The strategic implementation of the project includes several initiatives that intend the dynamization and the increasing of the touristic flows, as well as the community involvement, being this last one achieved through one of the projects highlights which become, unexpectedly, the largest street musical theatre of Portugal.
NORTE-16-2018-08 – Strategic Urban Development Plan (PI 6.5 – Urban Rehabilitation) – “Restoration of the Melo Palace – Installation of Youth Hostel – aiming the requalification of Palacete Melo, a magnificent historical building, where it will be installed an youth hostel, in continuity of the municipal policy of installing structural equipment in buildings of recognized architectural quality, in order to improve the touristic panorama and the cultural offers of the county.
NORTE-04-2114-FEDER-000373 – “NATURCONDE – REHABILITATION, PROTECTION, CONSERVATION AND ENHANCEMENT OF THE REGIONAL PROTECTED LANDSCAPE OF THE COAST OF VILA DO CONDE E ROM (PPRLVCROM)” – sole beneficiary – aiming the implementation of a set of actions for the protection and preservation of the natural heritage at the same time that conditions of visitation and enjoyment of that specific regional protected costal area, giving at the same time, visibility to the region, from the perspective of attracting new audiences.