In 1249 D. Paio Peres Correia, Master of the Order of Santiago gave the residents of Setúbal privileges and guarantees – through the town charter. The village, mostly dedicated to trade in agriculture, fishing and salt industry, became a municipality.
The monarchs always thought highly of the village: King John II ratified the Treaty of Tordesillas and promoted the construction and restoration of important civil and religious buildings (such as the Monastery of Jesus).
The construction of the City Hall, located in Bocage Square, started in 1526, was rebuilt between 1709 and 1733 and was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755. Many of the 12.955 inhabitants perished.
In 1855 the Municipality expanded its territory and became one of the most important urban centres in Portugal, known all over the world for its salt, oranges, cork and cereals.
It was elevated to the rank of city on 19 April 1860.
As of 1855 the canning industry became a very important economic sector and opened up opportunities for other industries such as tin and lithography. The industrial and economic development of Setúbal fostered the artistic and cultural development and led to the growth of many associations, bands and recreational groups also emerged.
In the 19th century the City Council decided to expand the City Hall, which was completed in 1873 and housed the Municipal Library, the Court of Justice, the Municipal Administration, the Treasury, the Finance Department and the Jail.
On the night of October 4th to 5th, 1910 the establishment of the Republic burned down. Valuable documents that contained the history of Setúbal were lost.
Today, the building of the City Hall - opened on 4 May 1939, is modern, wide and functional, according to the design of the architect Raul Lino (1879-1974), which kept the essence of the previous one, adding only an external frontal arch.
With the expansion of the powers and attributions of Local Authorities following the 1974 revolution, the Chamber constitutes the heart of the City, where municipal intervention is planned and directed in areas as diverse as culture; road construction; waste management; sports promotion; support for children and youth; green areas, mobility; the organization of fairs and markets; urban planning and management.