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Flag of Póvoa de Varzim.
Flag of Póvoa de Varzim.
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Location of Póvoa de Varzim' municipality in Continental Portugal

Póvoa de Varzim is a city (and a parish) on the coast of northern Portugal with a population of 63,470 (the municipality in the 2001 census) and 88 km². Most of whom (c. 40,000) live in the urban area (parishes of Póvoa de Varzim, A Ver-o-Mar, Argivai, and part of Beiriz). Póvoa de Varzim, sometimes erroneously called Póvoa do Varzim, is located 25 km (17 miles) north of the Oporto. Póvoa de Varzim is the northern-most part of Oporto metropolitan area. It is best known in Portugal because of the fishery activities, mostly due to the historical documentary and drama film Ala Arriba about the culture of Póvoa in the 1940's, where the actors were real fisherman from the city (then a town) playing themselfs in the film.

The concelho or municipality is divided into 12 freguesias or parishes, and it's essentially a beach resort, with some light industry. Póvoa de Varzim has also a monumental Casino.



Villa Euracini

The region of Póvoa de Varzim has been permantely inhabited since prehistoric times. Some archaeological finds in Martim Vaz, Junqueira, and Vila Velha, inform us of this town in antiquity. The old town on one of the city hill and it was inhabited at least since the 7th century B.C. It is named “Cividade de Terroso” and provides a good view of the whole city and nearby coast. Early inhabitants lived in the mountains as a mean for protection against rival tribes. This changed when the region became part of the Roman Empire, thus the Cividade de Terroso was abondoned in the 1st century A.D. The nearby plain region, where the city is today located, became the land of the Euracini Roman family, thus named Villa Euracini, the population was composed by Romans and servants, often natives who came from the nearby mountains. However, the deeds of this territory - Villa Euracini - are dated 953 and belong to the cartulário of the student body of Guimarães as stated in Livro de Mumadona. Due to this, 953 is often seen as the foundation date of the city.


The Middle Ages

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Póvoa de Varzim in 1868. The main building in the left is the city hall.

In 1308, after enrolling the fifty-four couples of Varazim, King Denis of Portugal created a charter giving them reguengo de Varazim de Susão but obliging them to establish a Póvoa, a small harbour. This harbour has provided Póvoa de Varzim with its livelihood and has been a force for development and prosperity.

King Manuel I of Portugal ordered a new charter to the town in 1514 altering the financial part of the old charter and providing it with alternative mechanisms for the jurisdiction of the monastery. The small town of Póvoa, that had no more than five hundred inhabitants, benefited from its location on the coast becoming involved in the discoveries and conquests of the age. It became a city with its own council house, public square and pillory.

The city has contributed for the colonization of the Algarve during the Reconquista, Madeira and later, Brazil, especially Rio de Janeiro. Due to this, the city still has a cultural relation with some Algarve cities and Rio de Janeiro.

Modern Times

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The Casino Monumental of Póvoa in 2005. The parking area of the casino is underground, in an atempt to reduce the amount of cars in the area.

In the nineteenth century, the city became a summer holiday destination for the rich people of Porto and from other places of Minho Province. This was the time of the "Café-Concerto", private gambling. Railways linked Porto and Póvoa in 1875 and a new transportation line between neighboring Vila do Conde and Póvoa in 1874, and the town knew great development, became the most important touristic area of Northern Portugal, due to its large beaches and a centre for food and textile industries. The development brought with it some problems and in late 1970s, until early years of the 1990s many tall buildings were built in the Northern region of the city, today very restrictive laws regulates the city's landscape, and often buildings can have no more than 4 floors.

The fishing industry has lost much of its importance but still employs many inhabitants. Póvoa is essentially a tourist town, but unlike other urban areas of Porto, Póvoa de Varzim, along with Vila do Conde, is not a bedroom community for commuters to nearby Porto, it has a vibrant night life (mainly the beach discos known as Buddha and Hit Bar) attracks many visitors from the region and outside, it serves has a centre for the neighbouring towns of Esposende and Vila do Conde. The holiday beaches have modern and attractive buildings. Gaming is regulated and official. It takes place in the monumental casino whose beautiful interior is decorated by many artistic creations. The city of Póvoa de Varzim has become the centre of the tourist region of Costa Verde (Green Coast). In late 20th century, the city was largely renewed, with many Gardens and expensive traditional Portuguese pavements, which gives the city a cosmopolitan look.


Póvoa de varzim has 12 parishes (freguesias): A Ver-o-Mar, Aguçadoura, Amorim, Argivai, Balazar, Beiriz, Estela, Laúndos, Navais, Póvoa de Varzim (parish), Rates, and Terroso.


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Built in the 18th century, the Nossa Senhora das Dores Church has 6 chapels (3 in each side), with sculptures representing the 6 pains of Our Lady.

Póvoa de Varzim is mostly a modern city, the old quarters of the city dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries, and there are Portugal's National Monuments: The pillory of Póvoa de Varzim and the romanic Church of São Pedro de Rates, known to exist, at least, since the 9th century. The temple was rebuilt by Count Henry of Portugal and his wife in the 11th or 12th century. The cadaver of Saint Peter of Rates rested in there and gave birth to a legend. In the legend, Saint Peter of Rates was a bishop (ordered by Saint James, the Moor killer) and when he was in a mass, non-belivers behaded him. But a hermit named Félix (name today given to a sacred mount in Póvoa de Varzim), who lived there with his nephew, gave sepulture to the decomposed and mutilated corpse of the bishop. In 1552 the body of Saint Peter of Rates was transferred to Braga. São Pedro de Rates is a small town from the Municipality, and its name derives from this saint.

Other monuments are Municipal Hall of Póvoa de Varzim that dates back to the 18th century; the fort built in 1701, neighboring the Casino; the pillory of São Pedro de Rates; the "Solar dos Carneiros"; the 17th century barroque Nossa Senhora da Conceição church and many other churches in the city such as Nossa Senhora da Lapa", "São Roque", "Nossa Senhora das Dores" and "Misericórdia".


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Casa da Cultura: Biblioteca Municipal, The Municipal Library of Póvoa de Varzim.
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Portuguese pavement in Póvoa de Varzim with family "runes".

Póvoa de Varzim culture has been molded by different cultures namely Romans, Germanic, Vikings and Celt-iberian tribes. But only the Roman heritage is apraised by locals, although the Northern European heritage is very clear in the local culture and ethnicity with their long rule in the region.

Due to modern Portuguese national influence, many local traditions are being lost, and becoming more similar to the rest of the country, namely the Casamento Poveiro (Póvoa de Varzim's marriage tradition) where the couple, after being married, was covered by a fisherman's net and watered with Vinho Verde to bring richness to the marriage. Other tradition that is becoming rare is the Natal Poveiro - Póvoa's Christmas traditions were the family gather in the living-room's floor to eat and celebrate Christmas with hake and potatoes covered by local red sauce.

Póvoa de Varzim has the typical Camisolas poveiras, local pullovers, made traditionally for fisherman to protect them from the cold. These pullovers have runes (named Siglas Poveiras) and fishery motives. The runes are due to Viking settlers that have passed the writing system to the Póvoa's fishermen, a thousand years ago. The runes are used as a family "Coat of Arms" (or signature). In the past they were also used for telling and remembering things, and not for direct reading, working in a similar way as the chinese characters. These Rune drawings are also used to decorate sidewalks and family inscriptions in the city's First Church (Igreja Matriz). The rune of the family was passed by the father to the younger son (in Póvoa, the younger children is the hair), the other children were given a different rune often with a trace (the Pique) for each children, the older son will have one pique, the next two piques, an so on, and the younger son, will have the same symbol has his father. The younger children is the hair because it is expected that he will take care of his parents when they became older. Also, unlike the rest of the country, the women is, traditionally, who governs the family, because the man was usually away, fishing in the sea.

Other typical handcrafts are the Tapetes de Beiriz (Beiriz carpets), of the parish of Beiriz. These are notable carpets awarded and demanded nationally and internationally, thus they cost from 160 euros per square metre to 250 euros. Tapetes de Beiriz decorates the Dutch Royalty Palace and Portuguese public buildings.

The people of the parish of Estela (name taken directly from Latin STELLA, literally star - in Portuguese star became estrela, the origin is the same) and nearby parishes have a unique way of agriculture in the world, the Campos de masseira where a rectangular and large dig is made in one of the large and sandy beaches. In the dig's sides known as quatro vales (four valleys), vineyards are cultivated, to protect the centre area from the North Winds, known as Nortada (typical wind of Póvoa de Varzim, due to two hills). This wind is also the responsible for Póvoa's lowest rain precipitation in the region. In the centre area, fresh water, not salty, is found and everything can be cultivated, but large amounts of water must be added plus Sargasso from the nearby ocean.

A peregrination in honour of Nossa Senhora da Saúde (Our Lady of the Health), takes place in the end of May, between the Igreja Matriz (First Church) and the Chapel of Saint Félix, in São Félix Mount, in the parish of Laúndos, the distance from both places is 7 km. In its majority, the worshippers of this saint are paying promises, notably fishermen of the municipalities of the Póvoa de Varzim and Vila do Conde.

The city's municipal holiday is June 29th, Saint Peter's day, the fisherman, where the population gatters, in the night of 28th to 29th to celebrate the event with fire, firework, street dances, meetings, etc. This festivity is very important and rivals Christmas and Easter as the most important event of the year.


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Pavilhão Desportivo - One of Povoa's sports centres.

The city has developed sport structures for several sport activities namely the Pavilhão Desportivo (Pavilhão Municipal), the two pool institutions near the beach, the Tennis court, the Golf course of Estela, the shooting site, the City Park stadium (Estádio Municipal) and Varzim stadium.

Near the beach and the pools, there is the only bullfighting arena (Monumental Praça de Touros da Póvoa de Varzim) in activity in Northern Portugal. There were some atempts to transform it into an arena for other sports because of today's lack of acceptance of this sport in Northern Portugal. Still, bulfighting follows the Portuguese style where the bull is not killed in public and today there are just a few sessions per year, namely for TV. Bulfighting remains strong in Southern Portugal.


The Marina of Póvoa is a modern marina located at Template:Coor dm Long., making it a stop for boats that are exploring the west iberian coast. It is located in a sheltered area and provides facilities with boat yard services. In the marina, the traditional fishing is still done. The depth is from 1.60 to 3.00 metres. There are also nautical sports activities and clubs.


Póvoa's local newspapers are the weeklies Póvoa Semanário and A Voz da Póvoa.

Póvoa also has two local radio stations, both broadcasting in FM:

  • Rádio Mar, 89.0
  • Rádio Onda Viva, 96.1

Famous people from Póvoa de Varzim

An important figure of the city is Eça de Queirós, a famous 19th century novelist. His work was translated into several languages and he is seen as one of the greatest Portuguese writers of all times. Other famous person is the "Sea Wolf" (lobo do mar) Cego do Maio. Lobo do Mar is today the symbol of the city's Football Club, Varzim Sport Club. The scientist Rocha Peixoto is also noteworthy. Blessed Alexandrina of Balazar was known as a saint even when she was alive. Diogo Freitas do Amaral, a Portuguese politician.

External links

de:Póvoa de Varzim la:Villa Euracini pt:Póvoa de Varzim ro:Póvoa de Varzim


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