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Viana Do Castelo

History

There are remains of Celtic hill settlements on Monte de Santa Luzia, overlooking the contemporary town centre, while Rome’s only lasting mark was to call their settlement Diana, which, over the years, evolved into Viana.

Manueline mansions and monasteries attest to Viana’s 16th-century prosperity as a major port for codfishing off Newfoundland. By the mid-17th century it had become Portugal’s biggest port, with merchants trading as far afield as Russia.

More riches arrived in the 18th century, with the advent of the Brazilian sugar and gold trade. But with Brazil’s independence and the rising importance of Porto, Viana’s golden age stuttered and faded. These days it is still a deep-sea-fishing centre, though it earns much of its living as the Minho’s favourite resort town.