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Flag of Ílhavo
Coat of arms of Ílhavo
Coat of arms
Coordinates: 40°36′N 8°40′W / 40.600°N 8.667°W / 40.600; -8.667Coordinates: 40°36′N 8°40′W / 40.600°N 8.667°W / 40.600; -8.667
Country Portugal
Intermunic. comm.Região de Aveiro
 • PresidentFernando Caçoilo (PSD)
 • Total73.48 km2 (28.37 sq mi)
 • Total38,598
 • Density530/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC±00:00 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+01:00 (WEST)
Local holidayEaster Monday (date varies)

Ílhavo (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈiʎɐvu] (About this soundlisten)) is a municipality located at the Centre of Portugal. The population in 2011 was 38,598,[1] in an area of 73.48 km².[2]

The municipality of Ílhavo includes five parishes and two cities: Gafanha da Nazaré (about 15,000 inhabitants) and Ílhavo (City) (around 17,000 residents with Gafanha Da Aquém).

General information[edit]

Several stories have been gathered as part of the popular history of this city:

Traditionally, the local women — As ilhavenses — are famous for their great beauty. It is claimed the city was founded by Greek colonists around 400 BC to whom the beauty of "ilhavenses" women is attributed, but others state that the Phoenician settlers are the ones responsible for that.[3]

Ílhavo's nickname is "the city of the lamp" (a cidade da lâmpada). According to legend, one Sunday during Mass, one of the most important relics of the church (an oil lamp) was stolen in front of everybody and was never found. The myth continued given Ílhavo that nickname.

International relations[edit]

Praia da Barra Beach in Ílhavo

Twin towns - sister cities[edit]

Ílhavo is twinned with:[4]



Population of Ílhavo Municipality (1801–2011)
1801 1849 1900 1930 1960 1981 1991 2001 2008 2011
5 436 6 797 13 163 17 709 25 108 31 383 33 235 37 209 41 271 38 598


Administratively, the municipality is divided into 4 civil parishes (freguesias):[5]

Cities and towns[edit]

There are two cities in the municipality.

Civic information[edit]

Ílhavo received its rights on 13 October 1296 from King Denis of Portugal and is composed of four parishes. The city lies within the District of Aveiro. On 9 August 1990, it was elevated to the rank of a city. Fernando Caçoilo of the Social Democratic Party is the Mayor.

There are 28,749 people eligible to vote (2006). The municipal holiday is Easter Monday.

Famous People[edit]

  • Alexandre da Conceição
  • António Bagão Félix
  • Carlos Paião
  • Euclides Vaz
  • Jacinta
  • João Carlos Celestino Gomes
  • Ribau Esteves
  • Haka (Portuguese rapper)
  • Maria Inês Santos


Within the municipality, there are two villages that are popular in the summertime: Praia ("beach") da Barra, where the tallest lighthouse in Portugal (Farol de Aveiro ou da Barra) is situated, and Praia da Costa Nova (Costa Nova do Prado), with its typical houses called Palheiros (they are characterized by façades in wood or concrete, decorated with lively and cheerful colors in alternation with white) and the fish market.

The tallest Portuguese lighthouse
Praia da Costa Nova, typical houses "Palheiros"

In Barra, one can find the tallest Portuguese lighthouse (62 meters from the ground but 66 meters above sea level). It was built between 1885 and 1893. The light can cast as far as 23 nautical miles out to sea.

Ílhavo is deeply connected with the fishing of codfish;[6] with the effect most of the captains were original of there. These connections of Ílhavo with the sea can be seen in the Museum Maritímo de Ílhavo, which for besides the building, there has the only side surviving tug of fishing of the cod. The ship makes an integrant part of the Museum and provides lodging for temporary exhibitions. Also, next to the Museum it is possible to see a codfish aquarium. The recently renovated Maritime Museum of Ilhavo is dedicated to the White Fleet fisheries and to the Ria de Aveiro fishermen. The main harbor (port) of the region (i.e. Aveiro harbor) is located in Ílhavo municipality.

The city of Ílhavo is famous for his industry of porcelain Vista Alegre, the porcelain company, was founded in the city, where it has its factory.

The city of Ílhavo is known by the famous Bread of Vale de Ílhavo, traditionally handmade and sewed in the firewood oven and also there is the Easter cake or Sweet Bread (with or without eggs) marketed in the heights of the Easter.

The cities of Ílhavo and Aveiro make an urban conurbation and share the lagoon Ria de Aveiro with other nearby municipalities in Baixo Vouga, such as Vagos, Murtosa, Estarreja and Ovar.


  1. ^ Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  2. ^ Áreas das freguesias, concelhos, distritos e país
  3. ^ "The South West to AD 1,000 (Regional history of England series No.:8)
  4. ^ "Acordos de Amizade". cm-ilhavo.pt (in Portuguese). Ílhavo. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  5. ^ Diário da República. "Law nr. 11-A/2013, page 552 59" (pdf) (in Portuguese). Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  6. ^ SILVA, A. J. M. (2015), The fable of the cod and the promised sea. About Portuguese traditions of bacalhau, in BARATA, F. T- and ROCHA, J. M. (eds.), Heritages and Memories from the Sea, Proceedings of the 1st International Conference of the UNESCO Chair in Intangible Heritage and Traditional Know-How: Linking Heritage, 14–16 January 2015. University of Evora, Évora, pp. 130-143. PDF version

External links[edit]