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Historia

HISTORY

 

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The town was founded by a woman.


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Lope García de Salazar, the famous warlord (banderizo) in Biscay, and its first chronicler and historian, was born in 1399 and died in 1476, poisoned in the Tower in which he was held prisoner by his sons. Did you know that…? On 4 th September 1483, the Catholic Queen, Dona Isabel arrived in the town, wearing a Biscayan style dress. Through her presence, the queen wished to bring about peace and harmony between the warring families and factions (bandos), the result of long standing feuds. She also ratified the special rights, the Charter (Fuero) of Portugalete on 8th September 1483.

 

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The Catholic Kings, Fernado and Isabel, visited Portugalete in 1476 and 1483, respectively. They are both said to have been pleasantly surprised by this rocky landscape with the waves breaking along the shore. At that time the coast was a hotbed of pirates and filibusters.


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On 30 th July 1790, our municipal authorities took the decision to proclaim Saint Roch, San Roque, the patron saint of the town, in recognition of the services and miracles he had performed.

 

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During the Carlist Wars, Portugalete was an important site, and the main bastion for controlling Bilbao, which meant it came under siege on several occasions. Amongst other things, it also acted as a centre of operations.

 

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In May 1845, Queen Isabella II arrived in Portugalete by boat escorted by almost a hundred decorated launches. She visited several parts of the town and ratified its status as a Villa.

 

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On 12th September 1887, Queen María Cristina of Habsburg visited Portugalete to lay the final stone on the new wharf, designed by Don Evaristo de Churruca and commissioned by the Port's Board of Construction,(Junta de Obras del Puerto).

 

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On 24 th September 1888, the railway running between Bilbao and Portugalete was opened by the Minister Don José Canalejas, with the building work supervised by the engineer Don Pablo de Alzola.

 

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The 28 th July 1893 witnessed the inauguration of the Hanging Bridge, the Palace Bridge (also referred to as the Puente Colgante or Puente de Vizcaya), the brainchild of the engineer Don Alberto de Palacio. The Queen, Doña María Cristina, was represented by the Infanta, Isabel. The bridge was so much to the liking of the Infanta that she crossed over from one side of the river to the other no fewer than seven times.

 

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Throughout the Civil War, Portugalete was bombarded and attacked on numerous occasions and the suspension span of the transporter bridge, the Puente Colgante, was destroyed only days before the end of the war in the north.

 

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In response to the growth of tourism at the end of the 19th and in the early 20th centuries, the bandstand and the famous little theater (teatrillo) were built, with their inauguration being attended by Alfonso XIII, a monarch who spent several summers in Portugalete.

 

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