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The district capital of Viana do Castelo, charmingly situated at the mouth of the Rio Lima below Monte de Santa Luzia, is an important harbor on this part of the Portuguese Atlantic coast, here called the Costa Verde. Although it has some industry textiles, timber, fish processing and shipbuilding its attractive townscape and good beaches also make it popular with tourists.
Originally a Greek trading post, and still a modest little port in the Middle Ages, Viana achieved prosperity and importance at the time of the great voyages of discovery in the reign of Manuel I, especially on account of the then very profitable cod fisheries off the coast of Newfoundland. In the 19th C., during the conflict between the Liberals and the monarchy, it sided with the Royalists and thus earned its charter from Queen Maria II and was henceforth known as Viana do Castelo, having previously been called Viana da Foz do Lima.