Source of poets and singers' inspiration ,
Porto Covo always enchanted its visitors at first sight.
In the middle of the XVIIIth century, Porto
Covo didn't change from a small place implanted up on the
cliff, close to a small bay. It is known that in 1780 the
small town was comprised of only four houses. Witness of this
Witness of this history, the Island of Pessegueiro with its forts is proof of what remains of a grandiose project of a marine port that Phillip II of Spain and I of Portugal had conceived for that place. This project never materialized and during the XVIIIth century the main activity registered in Porto Covo was connected to the use of the local bay and of the anchorage of the Pessegueiro as fishing ports and trade.
It stayed discreet like this till the day that a member of the high bourgeoisie commercial pombalina was enchanted by that small place. Jacinto Fernandes Bandeira came from a modest family out of Viana do Castelo. He came early to Lisbon attracted by the commercial activity in which he met great success. Jacinto Fernandes Bandeira quickly reached fame, power and richness during the Government of Marquês of Pombal. In his career he received countless titles, among which was the Knight of the Royal House, in 1794, for "having begun the village in the location of Porto Covo, that became very useful to the trade and transport of the county of Alentejo, and took on the responsibility to complete the construction of the village according to the map that he presented ", so says the decree. To realize the construction of the village, Jacinto Fernandes ordered a plan consisting of two drawings; the "Map of the Configuration of the Land and Porto Covo that is intended to be inhabited and cultivated" and a "Plan of the New Village of Porto Covo" (see picture). A new cycle began in the life of Porto Covo, associated with the ascension of Jacinto Fernandes Bandeira who, on June 13, 1796, received the title of Lord of Porto Covo "in consideration for the activity which promotes the construction of Porto Covo, to the benefit of the agriculture, the fishing and the supplying of the Court".
In 1802 Jacinto Fernandes becomes "Chief Governor of Vila Nova de Mil Fontes" and, some time later, he rises to Consultant of the Royal Treasury. On August 15, 1805 he received the title Baron of Porto Covo.
The village is inspired by the geometric plan of the low pombalina, in Lisbon, as one can read in the book "Porto Covo - an example of urbanizations of Lights", by historian António Quaresma" In it two squares that give the resemblance of an H: the Square of Poleirinho, close to the harbour and the Square of the Market. Between the two, the social services: the hospital for disabled and exposed persons and the church. Everything in the new village is rationally and predetermined: habitation blocks, granary, coal warehouse, inn, facilities for the fishermen, building of the Town Hall and the jail and the Treasury. Surrounding a great part of the group, a wall with the double function of fortifying and of impeding anybody falling off the cliff.
Jacinto Fernandes Bandeira dedicated his life to the growth of the village, coming there to die on May 30, 1806. Single, he left his inheritance to its nephew: Jacinto Fernandes of Costa Bandeira who received the title 2nd Baron of Porto Covo. He, in his time, because of his valuable contribution to the politics of the kingdom rises to the position of minister of Finance and president of the Bank of Lisbon. He is elevated to Viscount of Porto Covo in 1825 and in 1843 becomes a Count. Under this 2nd Baron's regency Porto Covo's growth is not very significant, one century later, about twenty houses. Porto Covo never got to play the part of port of Alentejo. It had however a secondary part as commercial port, fishing being its more important activity.
The development of the village only registered a significant progress with the construction of the industrial complex of Sines. At its height it increased from fifty homes and 246 inhabitants in 1940, to one hundred and forty four houses in 1980, registering then a total of 539 inhabitants.
Included in the town of Sines, Porto Covo became a municipality in 1984, evolving from a fishing village in to a tourist attraction, potentialising the beauty of its landscape with its beaches of fine white sand heated up by the sun and its people's hospitality. Another point of tourist interest is the Island of Pessegueiro, its beach with good conditions for windsurfing, boat rides and sport fishing.
Noticias de Sines, June 3 2000
With the kind authorization of :
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER OF THE LITTORAL ALENTEJO