Capital city of the district in North of Portugal, Viana do Castelo is located at the mouth of the river Lima, on whose estuary lies the seaport, with a commercial Pier, fishing dock and three bustling marinas for leisure and fishing boats. The history of Viana do Castelo began at Monte de Santa Luzia, where there is a church today. In 1258, Viana do Castelo was founded along the mouth of the Lima River by D. Afonso III. Its port was very important during the Time of the Discoveries. From this Marine Village left many boats that returned full of treasures that enriched the population. In 1374, the city’s wall was completed, at the time with four doors: Porta de S. Pedro, Porta da Ribeira, Porta do Postigo and Porta de Santiago. In the XVI century, the Victory Gate was opened. In 1502, for defense against piracy, a fortification was built called Torre da Roqueta. On 1 June 1512, D. Manuel granted Foral Novo to Viana for considering it an important maritime trade center. Throughout the middle Ages, Viana was an important seaport, and during the time of the Portuguese Discoveries, the port of Viana was even the third busiest in the country.
Currently, to its notable heritage built over its seven and a half centuries of history, the city added a rich and varied natural heritage, especially the Atlantic beaches, most of them already distinguished with the maximum quality award. In its vigorous associative movement, with more than 200 cultural associations, sports and solidarity, the city stands out with its 28 ethnographic groups and 24 music schools, contributing actively to the preservation of the music, dance, embroidery and costumes embodying Viana’s culture, today classified as symbols of the country.
In the last decade, the city has undergone a major urban requalification and progressive environmental valorization. Nowadays, Viana do Castelo is also considered a "Mecca of Architecture" thanks to the many important names in contemporary Portuguese architecture who have designed the city’s amenities and spaces. This is the case of the Praça da Liberdade by Fernando Távora, the Library by Álvaro Siza Vieira, the Youth Hostel by Carrilho da Graça, the Axis Hotel by Jorge Albuquerque and also the Viana do Castelo Cultural Centre, by Souto Moura, amongst many others.