Portugal has had 5 capital cities throughout its almost 900 years of history. Before the Presidents of the Republic and the Prime Ministers, there were many Kings who ruled the country. The first king was D. Afonso Henriques, who made the city of Guimarães as the location where everything began, and it was therefore called the “Cradle of Portugal”. Among these capitals there are cities that were even capital of Portugal more than once. One of them is not even in Portuguese territory.
Guimarães is a beautiful Portuguese city that became known as the “Cradle of Portugal”. It was the first capital of the country, more specifically of the Condado Portucalense. Guimarães is at the origins of the Portuguese nation and its independence. In this ancient city, there are several traces of the people who started the historical path of the nation. Therefore, its population proudly defends the uniqueness of its city.
Coimbra was also the capital of Portugal. This city became the most important city below the Douro River, so it was capital almost by imposition of this importance. D. Afonso Henriques’ parents, D. Henrique de Borgonha (Count of Portucale) and D. Teresa (Countess of Portucale), made Coimbra their home after the formation of the Portucalense County. The couple built their residence within the city walls, where they raised their family.
D. Afonso Henriques made Coimbra the capital of the County, thus taking over from Guimarães. This change allowed the nation to obtain great benefits, at different levels (territorial, economic, political and social). Coimbra was Portugal’s capital and remained so until 1255, when it was succeeded by Lisbon.
Lisbon is the current capital of Portugal, but this has not always been the case. As Lisbon experienced great prosperity, the royal family decided to move there. The notorious development of the estuary allowed D. Afonso III to make a strategic move, leading to the County’s prosperity. In Lisbon it was easy to dock merchant ships.
Lisbon was considered the capital, although there was no document to support this. It was enough for the royal family and the court to have moved there permanently. To this day there is no document making this change official.
4. Rio de Janeiro
The royal family moved to Rio de Janeiro during the Napoleonic invasion in 1807. When the royal family moved to Brazil, Rio de Janeiro became the new capital of Portugal. It was an unusual and historic milestone. The government of the Portuguese overseas empire was exercised from the former Portuguese colony.
5. Angra do Heroísmo
Throughout 900 years of history, Portugal twice chose an Azorean city as its capital. On both occasions, it was Angra do Heroísmo. At the time of the foundation of the government of D. António, Prior of Crato, Angra do Heroísmo was the capital, more specifically between August 1580 and August 1582. Centuries later, Angra do Heroísmo was again capital because it became the center of the Portuguese liberal movement.
In Angra do Heroismo, a Provisional Junta was embraced on behalf of Maria II of Portugal in the XIX century, during the Portuguese Liberal Wars. The Junta Provisória de Angra occurred between October 5, 1828 and June 22, 1829, and was a provisional government that was formed following the dissolution of the Governo Interino de Angra (Interim Government of Angra).