Towns and Villages
Founded at the mouth of the river Leça, Matosinhos has always benefited from its close proximity to the sea. Early references to a settlement known as Matesinus date back to the 11th century. In 1514, a royal charter was granted by king D. Manuel I even if it was not until the 19th century that Matosinhos gained town status (1853) before becoming a city in 1984.
The roots of this city lie in fishing and salt production. Matosinhos still remains Portugal's most important fishing port although industrialisation (canning, engineering and wood processing) and diversification means Matosinhos is now home to three of the key components of the regional economy: the Leixões container port, the Petrogal refinery and the Exponor conference centre that regularly puts on major international events.
The Sanctuary of Senhor Bom Jesus is the most important monument in Matosinhos but attention must also be drawn to the heritage of Leça da Palmeira. This is the oldest parish in Matosinhos and well worth a visit and when not for its beaches then for the artistic grace of many of its buildings. Siza Vieira is just one architect to have made his mark here with the Salão de Chá (Tea House) and the Piscina das Marés (Salt Water Swimming Pool). There are also other historical landmarks including the Boa-Nova Lighthouse, the Conceição Farm and the Nossa Senhora das Neves Fortress.