With an area of 73,48 km2 and a population of 38 598 inhabitants, Ílhavo is situated in a coastal plain with low altitude and big topographical uniformity, limited to the east by more significant reliefs. The most expressive geomorphological element of the region is formed by a Lagoon system, commonly called Ria de Aveiro, which evolution was crucial to the population of the Municipality.
From the mid-1800’s, for several reasons, also related to the localization and natural patrimony, Ílhavo had a huge and out-of-common economic development, which significantly influenced its future. According to several studies, the evolution of the resident population in the Municipality, was marked by different demographic factors which explain its development, among them birth rate, mortality rate, emigration and immigration. However, in the last two centuries, with its urban centre strongly consolidated, the population kept growing consistent and gradually, which is explained by the incorporation of the “Gafanhas” lands, but also by the recognition of the dynamism of the territory industry, especially the naval construction, the ceramics and glass factories, and most particularly, the installation of the Porcelain Factory of Vista Alegre (since 1824) and its success, that made immigration to the Municipality grow.
During the 20th century, Ilhavo’s population triplicate, which is related to several reasons: the resuming of the Cod Fishing and Transformation, that attracted many people from the interior of the country, to the capture but mostly to the transformation and the handmade fish drying fields, that needed a lot of people to do the work; the development of the naval wooden construction; the famous porcelain tradition of the Fábrica de Porcelanas Vista Alegre; the glass production and the faience tradition, with the installation of several artisans and workshops, among them Oficina da Formiga and CASCI (Social Action Centre of the Municipality of Ílhavo). It’s also important to say that the deep industrial restructuration in the fabrication of porcelain during the 20th century allowed the Vista Alegre factory to make the production more profitable, by increasing the effectivity of its capacity to respond to the growth of the consumption and the globalization of the markets. On the other hand, keeping a manufacture area, highly specialized and focused on the know-how of the workers and the centuries old tradition of the company, allowed the factory to have a privileged place among the great European manufactures, bringing huge value to Ílhavo’s territory.
This successful path has been consolidated in the next decades and the positive tendency of the resident population of the Municipality of Ílhavo is still happening today.
João António Filipe Campolargo
Mayor of Ílhavo
Ílhavo, a municipality in love with ceramics.
Ílhavo is the municipality that looks at crockery from top to bottom. Every detail of the plate, cup or tureen is appreciated here, from the decorative motifs to the stamp that identifies the manufacturer. And the manufacturer that immediately comes to mind is, without a doubt, Vista Alegre, which for almost two centuries has rooted this passion in the Ilhavenses.
The reputation that Vista Alegre porcelains have achieved over decades goes beyond borders and, at the same time, leaves its mark in the territory where the company is based. Since its foundation, it has been an important driver of the municipality’s economy, also with an impact at a cultural and social level, being one of the largest employers in the region. On one hand, it makes tradition persist, on the other hand, it introduces innovation and prestigious design.
But the ceramics culture in Ílhavo does not stop there. In recent years other ways of enhancing the value of utilitarian and decorative tableware have emerged, as is the case of Oficina da Formiga, which explores the tradition of Portuguese faience, recovering the motifs and colors used in the potteries of the second half of the 19th century.
In Ílhavo, artisanal production has diversified and there continues to be a renewal of talent and new potteries, as is the case of Aquiles. This vocation for ceramics is also the “raw material” for the production of artistic ceramics, of great social value, moulded and painted by disabled people, from Centro de Ação Social do Concelho de Ílhavo (CASCI).
Besides this cultural and even affective character, materialized, above all, in the decorative and artistic ceramic ware, there are several industrial units in Ílhavo, both in the area of utilitarian ceramics, and in the area of high-quality floor and wall tiles, which make a significant contribution to boosting the economy and creating jobs in the municipality.
In addition, we cannot talk about ceramics in Ílhavo without mentioning the heritage of Portuguese tiles, which we can appreciate especially in the historic residential areas.
It is with this value that we attribute to ceramics that we believe we can make a strong contribution to the network work to be developed by Associação Portuguesa das Cidades e Vilas Cerâmicas.
For all the reasons mentioned and more, I take this opportunity to invite you to visit the Municipality of Ílhavo and get to know up close the work developed in the ceramics area.
João António Filipe Campolargo
Mayor of Ílhavo
Municipal Councillor Assunção Mariana Ramos, Ílhavo
Vice President of General Assembly Board