|The area between Vila de Ílhavo and Vagos boasts one of the most interesting industrial centres in all Portugal. Vista Alegre very much takes centre stage with its cheerful, colourful group of buildings, built during the nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth century, located on the banks of the Aveiro river.
No visitor can fail to admire the Company Estate, still owned by the Vista Alegre Porcelain Factory, with its Residences, Barber´s, Crèche, former Co-operative, the Fountain and the elegant housing surrounded by hundred-year old trees. Then, there is also the Factory Square, the façade itself as well as the chapel. It all adds up to a great place for a visit.
The Vista Alegre Porcelain Factory was founded in Ílhavo in 1824 through the ambition of businessman José Ferreira Pinto Basto. He received authorisation from King João VI to begin production on 1st July 1824. The royal charter granted Vista Alegre "exclusive 20-year privileges for the Porcelain Factory, glass and chemical processes".
In its early years, the Factory produced glass and crystal pieces and a crude pottery known as ´refractory stone´ or ´pyrite´ (ground stone) ceramic. Kaolin, the raw material essential for perfect porcelain, was discovered in the vicinity in 1834. Combined with the knowledge gained in Sèvres by one of the factory founder´s sons, Augusto Ferreira, it proved possible to produce Vista Alegre porcelain on an industrial scale using only Portuguese materials.
The wealth of Vista Alegre´s history and traditions ensure the maintenance and continued development of an aspect crucial to hand-made porcelain, its production.