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.
Mayor of Ílhavo
“Bom Dia Cerâmica” is an initiative developed by the Associação Portuguesa de Cidades e Vilas Cerâmicas (Portuguese Association of Ceramic Cities and Towns) – AptCC – of which the Municipality of Ilhavo is one of the founding members. This year, despite the different circumstances because of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the purpose remains the same: protect the historic patrimony that make us all so proud.
The artistic and utilitarian ceramic has a very strong presence in our Municipality, thanks to the Vista Alegre Factory, which has been active for almost 200 years now and has brought Ílhavo’s all over the world; and, on the other hand, thanks to the more recent industries, like Oficina da Formiga, which is trying to divulge the Portuguese faience, bringing a part of our tradition to the Portuguese and foreign homes. I would also like to highlight the socially-oriented side of the ceramic that is developed and produced in the Centro de Ação Social do Concelho de Ílhavo (Social Action Centre of the Municipality of Ílhavo) by people who have disabilities.
With these arguments, I invite all of you to follow the “Bom Dia Cerâmica” project, so you will know better what is produced in Ílhavo and in all the Municipalities that are part of the AptCC. I am sure that will be a enriching experience all around the country.
Mayor of Ílhavo