Viseu: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vişeu is also a river in northern Romania.
—  Municipality  —
Panoramic view of Viseu.


Coat of arms
Location in Portugal
Coordinates: 40°40′N 7°55′W / 40.667°N 7.917°W / 40.667; -7.917Coordinates: 40°40′N 7°55′W / 40.667°N 7.917°W / 40.667; -7.917
Country  Portugal
Region Centro
Subregion Dão-Lafões
District/A.R. Viseu
 - Mayor Fernando Ruas (PSD)
 - Total 507.1 km2 (195.8 sq mi)
 - Total 100,167
 - Density 191/km2 (494.7/sq mi)
Parishes (no.) 34
Municipal holiday
September 21

Viseu (Portuguese pronunciation: [viˈzeu]) is both a city (capital of the District of Viseu) and a municipality in the Dão-Lafões subregion of Centro Region, Portugal. The municipality, with an area of 507.1 km², has a population of 100,167 (2008), and the city proper has 47,250[1]. The Greater Metropolitan Area of Viseu is also one of the Grandes Áreas Metropolitanas - Greater Metropolitan Areas of Portugal with 354,162 habitants.

Viseu has undergone a considerable economic growth, especially in the areas of telecommunications, industry, trade and education. Located in Portugal's northern-center the city is a crossroads linking the seaport of Aveiro in the Atlantic coast to Guarda near the Portuguese-Spanish border and then on to Salamanca, Spain. Coimbra, the regional seat of Centro Region, is about 80 km southwest. The city is noted on the arts scene due to the Grão Vasco Museum and the Teatro Viriato. Wine making (Dao wines) is an important activity in the region. In ancient Portuguese history, Viseu is noted as one of the major urban centers in the area where Viriathus, a legendary warrior and national hero, lived. With three higher education institutions within its limits, the city has played a role as a regional educational center. Its business community is among the largest of Portugal's interior countryside.


History and landmarks

The city name goes back to the end of the Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages where its name is derived from the Roman term "viso", which means a good view. This was in accordance with the place where the original settlement was formed in Roman times, that was its highest point.

Statue of Viriathus, at Viseu.

Viseu has a statue of Viriathus (? - 139 BC), the Lusitanians' leader who fought the invading Romans for the freedom of Lusitania, made by the Spanish sculptor Mariano Benlliure (1862 - 1947). In 714 AD Viseu was taken by the Moors who held it for almost a century. The city's fine Romanesque/Gothic cathedral dates from 830 AD. It was captured by Alfonso II of Asturias in 791 but was recaptured by Moors in 930. It was finally captured by Ferdinand I of León on expense of the Taifa of Batlabus in 1058.

When Alfonso II of Asturias conquered Viseu a grave was found with the following incription: 'Hic requiescit Rudericus rex gothorum ' (Here lies Rodrigo gothic king). Rodrigo was the last Visigothic king before the Muslim invasion of Iberia, and he was supposed to have died in the Battle of Guadalete, but his body was never found.

Viseu was the birthplace of one of the greatest Portuguese painters of the sixteenth century, Vasco Fernandes (1475-1540), known as Grão Vasco, who today lends his name to a museum that houses most of his paintings (the Grão Vasco Museum), a hotel, a school, and even a winelabel. The museum, installed in the old episcopal palace, shows some of his masterpieces and paintings of other painters of the period known as the School of Viseu.

The city is rich in churches, convents and chapels and has a fine historic quarter (Centro Historico) with narrow cobbled streets, hidden alleyways and intriguing flights of steps. In addition to its important cathedral there are six major churches, four chapels, two convents, and the bishop's palace. There is also a sacred art museum in the cathedral.


The Se de Viseu or city cathedral.
The Church of Mercy or Igreja da Misericórdia.

Viseu is half way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Spanish border. Surrounded by a number of mountains - Leomil, Montemuro, Lapa, Arada, Estrela and Caramulo - the tops of which are covered with thick layers of snow in Winter time, the district is crossed by a network of rivers and streamlets.

The city of Viseu has an almost central position in relation to the District lying on the so-called Viseu Plateau (Port. Planalto de Viseu). It is surrounded by a mountainous system constituted to the north by the Leonil, Montemuro, and Lapa hills, to the northeast by the Arado hills, to the south and southeast by the Serra da Estrela and the Lousã hills and to the west by the Caramulo hills.

The Municipality is characterized by an irregular surface with altitudes ranging between 400 and 700 metres. With a rough terrain, it has numerous water courses. These are found in three basins: the Vouga, the Dão and the Paiva.

Situated in a zone of transition, the concelho has several micro-climates. The Serra do Caramulo, located to the west of the city, plays an important role in climatic terms by lessening the influences of the western air masses (although the River Mondego's basin makes the penetration easier). Consequently, Viseu's climate is characterized by the existence of high temperature extremes, with rigorous and wet winters and hot and dry summers.


Due to migration in the 1960s, Viseu suffered a great decline in its population. After the end of the Portuguese Colonial War (1961-1974), with the return of refugees from the Portuguese African colonies that achieved independence, and resulting economic and demographic growth, starting at the end of the 1970s, the municipality increased its population by about 10 percent, giving it an estimated population of 83,261 people. Afterwards, a stagnation set in, confirmed by the 1991 census which showed a population of 83,601.


Hospital of São Teotónio, Viseu.

The city and the region are famous for its wine (Dão Wine) and the Dão Wine institute, the Solar do Vinho do Dão can be found in the city. There is also an annual agricultural fair, the Feira de São Mateus. Furthermore, Viseu is also known for local handicrafts which include black pottery, bobbin lace, embroidery, and copper and wrought iron articles. With the good connections to major industrial centers and to the ports of Aveiro and Leixões, several industries have been installed in Viseu. Visabeira, a Portugal-based international conglomerate with interests in telecommunications, construction, industry, tourism, real estate and diversified services is headquartered in the city. Viseu also boasts a general hospital (Hospital of São Teotónio), two shopping & cinema complexes (the Fórum (2005) and the Palácio do Gelo (2008)), and numerous hostels and hotels in all categories.


Viseu is the location of the state-run Instituto Politécnico de Viseu which has higher education polytechnic schools of education, technology and management, and agronomy. The city's political and civic groups have been pressuring the national government to upgrade this school into a university, but its desire was never achieved. However, there are 2 private university institutions, the Universidade Católica Portuguesa and the Instituto Piaget.

Two of its secondary education (the Portuguese equivalent of High School) establishments are the Escola Secundária Alves Martins and Escola Secundária Emídio Navarro.


The city of Viseu has a bus network - STUV - which operates several lines within the entire municipality and a recently installed funicular connecting the lower city with the upper city. The A25 motorway (former IP5) connects Viseu to the seaport of Aveiro and Guarda and then on to Salamanca in Spain. The IP3 and A24, connecting Coimbra with Chaves on the Spanish border, crosses Viseu from south to north. Until the nineteen eighties Viseu had railway connections with the coast, but these were closed. Now the city is one of the largest cities in Europe without a railway connection. Once it was connected to Aveiro (via linha do Vouga; narrow gauge), and Santa Comba Dão (narrow gauge), where it had connection to Linha da Beira Alta (broad gauge; international). The municipality has an airfield - the Aeródromo de Viseu (code VSE) in Lobato, parish of Lordosa, Viseu.


  • Abraveses
  • Barreiros
  • Boa Aldeia
  • Bodiosa
  • Calde
  • Campo
  • Cavernães
  • Cepões
  • Coração de Jesus
  • Cota
  • Couto de Baixo
  • Couto de Cima
  • Fail
  • Farminhão
  • Fragosela
  • Lordosa
  • Mundão
  • Orgens
  • Povolide
  • Ranhados
  • Repeses
  • Ribafeita
  • Rio de Loba
  • Santa Maria de Viseu
  • Santos Evos
  • São Cipriano
  • São João de Lourosa
  • São José
  • São Pedro de France
  • São Salvador
  • Silgueiros
  • Torredeita
  • Vil de Souto
  • Vila Chã de Sá


Notable people

  • Carlos Lopes, marathonist. Holds the Olympic Marathon Record.
  • Paulo Sousa, footballer. Two-time Champions League winner.


  1. ^ UMA POPULAÇÃO QUE SE URBANIZA, Uma avaliação recente - Cidades, 2004 Nuno Pires Soares, Instituto Geográfico Português (Geographic Institute of Portugal)

See also

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Viseu[1], is a charming hilltop city and district capital (around 50,000 inhabitants) in central Portugal. It is situated in the Beira Alta between the mountain ranges of the Serra da Estrela and Serra do Caramulo, about halfway between Aveiro and Guarda off the new A25 Motorway right in the middle of the famous Dao wine region.

The city, a regional center for agriculture and education, has many schools, a modern polytechnic and 2 universities (the Catholic University and the Piaget Institute). There is no heavy industry.

Get in

Viseu has excellent motorway links with other major cities, the coast and Spain via the junction of the A25 (east/west) and A24/IP3 (north/south) motorways. There is an outer ringroad consisting of part A25 and IP5.

Porto airport is the nearest international airport, about 1 3/4 hours away by car.

Viseu has its own municipal airport for light private aircraft.

There are frequent long distance coach services operated by Rede/Expressos to other major cities.

There is no train service. The closest railway stations are in Nelas or Mangualde, both on the Linha da Beira Alta. This makes Viseu the largest city on the Iberian peninsula without a railway station.

Visit:Portal Cidade Viseu

Get around

By car: sign-posting for the city centre is good. There is an inner ring road with 12 roundabouts giving access to the inner city at frequent intervals.

The old town itself can easily be explored on foot. There is also a recently (2009) installed funicular connecting the lower city (The Forum) with the upper city (Adro da Se).


The well-kept, clean and prosperous city has a fine historic quarter (Centro Historico) with cobbled streets, hidden alleys, flights of steps and intriguing corners. There are numerous Renaissance and Baroque mansions and palaces as well as some remaining city gates like the 15th C. Porta do Soar de Cima. The crowning glory is the Romanesque and Gothic Sé (Cathedral), one of the finest in Portugal and partly built directly on granite boulders which is particularly evident at the back. It is located on the Adro da Sé, an impressive square, which is also the location of the striking Misericordia Church with its broad white Rococo facade. Since it is the highest point in town, the square provides extensive views to the surrounding countryside.

However, striking modern architecture is evident too. The Forum shopping, food and cinema centre (2005), bordering the river Pavia, is a good example as is the enormous Palacio do Gelo shopping & restaurant mall (2008) with its indoor ice rink and other sports facilities, easily accessible on the ring road. Also of note is the converted Old Market on the Rua Formosa with cafés and boutiques, and now a venue for exhibitions and open air concerts. The city has ample municipal facilities for visitors such as free internet locations, a modern public library, a new large district hospital, a youth hostel (Pousada de Juventude), a brand new swimming pool complex and other modern sports facilities.

  • Old Quarter (Centro Historico) with Rua Direita, Rua Augusta Hilario, Rua D. Duarte, Praca D. Duarte, Rua Escura, Rua das Quintas.
  • Sé (Cathedral) Romanesque/Gothic with Cloister, built on granite rocks. Walk around the Sé to fully appreciate this.
  • Museum Grao Vasco (former Bishop's Palace, 1563)
  • Museum Casa Almeida Moreira
  • Misericordia Church 18th C.
  • Rossio (Praca da Republica) with fountains, azulejos, Town Hall (19th C.) and Igreja dos Terceiros de Sao Francisco
  • Porta do Soar de Cima
  • Porta dos Cavaleiros
  • Fontelo Park with Solar do Vinho do Dao (Dao wine institute)
  • Nerys Convent (seminary with suspended staircase) and Igreja do Carmo on Largo Santa Cristina
  • Cava de Viriato. Remains of a very large Lusitanian-Roman camp surrounded by an pentagonal earthen wall.
  • Old Market on Rua Formosa
  • Visit the Tourist Information Centre (Av. Calouste Gulbenkian [2]) where friendly and helpful staff offer free city walks in several languages.
  • Walk the streets and soak up the atmosphere in this unspoilt Portuguese city. Eat and drink in one of the many cafés,restaurants or cervejarias.
  • Visit the Municipal Theatre where there is usually an exhibition.
  • Visit the Cathedral, churches and chapels, all free during opening hours.
  • See works by the famous painter Vasco Fernandes in the Grao Vasco Museum. Free on Sunday mornings!
  • Walk the newly constructed riverside walkway along the Rio Pavia which runs straight through the lower city.
  • Visit the modern sports facilities in Fontelo Park
  • Shop in the Rua Direita, Rua Formosa, The Forum and Palacio do Gelo
  • See the Cava de Viriato with Viriato's statue in front.
  • Dao Wine, Serra da Estrela cheese, handicrafts.


The numerous restaurants, cafés, pastelarias, bars and cervejarias provide excellent freshly prepared food for all budgets.

Try the traditional pastry of the region, the Viriato, for sale in good pastelarias.


The excellent local Dao wines from the co-operatives like UDACA (Union of the Dao Co-operatives) and private wineries such as: Casa de Santar, Quinta da Fata, Quinta de Cabriz, Casa de Insua, Duque de Viseu, Grao Vasco and many more.


There are many hotels in Viseu ranging from 1 to 5 stars. A new Pousada de Portugal (the converted old hospital) will open in 2009. All have their own websites and may be booked directly or via various on-line booking agencies. A selection:

  • Hotel Avenida,
  • Hotel Grao Vasco,
  • Hotel Moinho de Vento,
  • Hotel Onix,
  • Hotel Montebelo,
  • Hotel Palacio dos Melos,
  • Albergaria Jose Alberto,
  • Hotel Principe Perfeito,
  • Pensao Rossio Parque,
  • Hotel Ibis,
  • Youth Hostel (Pousada de Juventude),
  • Pousada de Viseu,
  • And quite a few more.
  • Alcafache (spa), Almeida, Caramulo, Celorico, Guarda, Penedono, Pinhel, Sabugal, Santa Comba Dao (rivers Mondego and Dao), Santar, Sao Pedro do Sul (spa), Seia, Sernancelhe, Serra da Estrela (highest Portuguese mountain range), Vouzela.
  • The road from Viseu to Nelas is very picturesque offering views of many vineyards.
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