Come and discover almost 200 years of history and experience in the art of porcelain-making on a guided tour of the Quinta da Vista Alegre.
In the midst of some unique countryside, this space includes the harmonious palace where seven generations of the Pinto Basto family have lived, the 17th-century Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Penha de França, a building of great artistic value, the 19th-century housing estate built for the workers, the porcelain factory, the Museum and the theatre.
You can accompany the manufacture of a piece of porcelain all the way from the point of entry of the raw material to the final result, discovering the secrets of this art. Unlike most other manufacturers, Vista Alegre still retains and continues to develop a special department for hand-made porcelain. 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.
At the Museum (temporarily closed) it is possible to appreciate a unique collection illustrating the evolution of porcelain-making over the last 200 years, as well as paintings and objects relating the history of the Factory, its workers and the founding family.
By visiting the housing estate where the factory workers used to live, you will have an opportunity to relive the atmosphere of Portuguese industrial life in the 19th century.
Guided visits to the factory (booking needed): Monday to Friday: 10.15 a.m, 11.15 a.m., 2.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m.;
Closed on weekends, public holidays, Christmas season and August.