The Dutch

Casa da Música
Photo:  Fernando Mendes PedroCC BY-NC-SA - Some Rights Reserved

Former partners

In the late Middle Ages there was a regular commercial contact between Porto and the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Towards these locations the businessmen of those days sent honey, salt and wine receiving, in return, textiles, cheese and butter. Archaeological excavations at the old Custom-House of Porto revealed the presence of a great quantity of custom stamps from Haarlem, used to certify the textiles which were also sent from that port.

Porto as seen by Blaeu

The Dutch cartographer Wilhelm Blaeu left us the oldest image of the city of Porto. A map he published in 1619 clearly describes the area around the bar of the river Douro, marking all the settlements and the navigation orientation points along the coast. Porto is represented with its medieval wall (some fragments of which still remain today) and the most important churches are recognizable on the inside.

The “sea bread”

Throughout the 17th century, Dutch merchants continued to trade with Porto. They bought mainly sumach (a dye-weed used in the textile industry) and, later, wines. From the North of Europe they brought wheat, referred to as “sea bread” by the city’s inhabitants, which was much needed to feed the population since it was scarce around the region.

Strong wines

The regional wines traded in Porto brought many foreign merchants to the city. The fame of the strong wine of the Douro, known as Port, suffered an increasing growth in the seventeenth century. It was soon exported to Holland and today the Dutch are one of the main Port wine enthusiasts.

Dutch faïence

Towards the second half of the seventeenth century, the faïence produced in Holland spread throughout Europe and reached Porto and its region. This is proved by the archaeological excavations that regularly take place in this city and by the collections present in museums such as the Soares dos Reis National Museum and the Guerra Junqueiro House Museum.

Rua dos Vanzeleres (Vanzeleres Street)

A Dutchman named Van Zeller established in Porto in the seventeenth century and his family would have an important role in the local commerce, namely as far as export of Port Wine is concerned. His family name remains in the topography of the western side of the city. Today, the Rua dos Vanzeleres is located where the family had a vast estate.

Writing about Holland

Porto-born Ramalho Ortigão, rightfully regarded as one of the greatest Portuguese writers of his time, published the book “Holland” in 1885. The book enthusiastically depicts the country and its people and is described as a masterpiece of travel literature.

Published 13-09-2013
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