Discover why Vila Nova de Gaia coastline is, since the 19th century, the most popular bathing area of the country's northern coast.
In a letter sent to Miguel Torga, Sophia de Mello Breyner confessed that Granja, in Vila Nova de Gaia, was her favourite place in the world. The poet, who spent her childhood and youth in a farmhouse in Campo Alegre, now transformed into the Botanical Garden of Porto, found in the sea in front of her famous white house on Granja beach, the serenity she wanted for her summer holidays, but also the secret food for her poetry. "White house in front of the vast sea / With your garden of sand and sea flowers / And your intact silence in which / The miracle of the things that were mine sleeps." And there she found inspiration for some of the most famous children's short stories of the Portuguese literature, such as "A Menina do Mar". This book describes the enchanted encounter of a girl who lived in a "white house in the dunes, facing the sea" with a happy fish, a wise crab and a strong octopus.
The blue of the Granja waves lives in Sophia’s poetry in such a way, and with such magic, that this place, to the north of Portugal, where most houses have balconies overlooking the sea, sometimes seems to be merely a literary creation. But it's not. This sacred and passionate place really does exist. And Sophia was just one of the many people from the intellectual elite of the early 20th century who couldn't do without long periods of time in her house with sea view. Besides, this was also the place of choice for literary and political meetings of some of the most important cultural figures of the country, such as Eça de Queirós, Guerra Junqueiro or Ramalho Ortigão.
In recent years, the fascination with Praia da Granja has spread to other beaches in Gaia, such as Miramar and Francelos, where more and more people want to buy an apartment. This increase in interest is normal, since the municipality is one of the few in the country that has managed, for several consecutive years, to repeat the feat of making the most of the blue-flagged beaches: 18 European awards have been raised on 18 beaches along 18 kilometers, distinguishing the environmental quality of the territory, its safety, well-being and support infrastructures. This is also why the place that was found by the Portuguese high society of the time is nowadays the area where football players and television and arts figures want to buy a villa.
The world has changed, but that immortal place next to the beach - "ecstatic and naked beach, with big sands and big waves", as Sophia described it, - has not. On the contrary, the municipality has developed, and its charm has multiplied. The first houses with river view appeared in Granja in the 1970s, thanks to a Portuguese doctor and politician, who even became the mayor of Porto, called Frutuoso Osório. It was "a stream of houses for the family of the wealthy merchant of Porto, and some carefully-sold plots were the way to give life to this valued seaside resort", described a historian, stressing that, after that kick-off, Granja would quickly become the most aristocratic beach on the Portuguese coast. This was not unrelated to the fact that, in the meantime, the train had started to make the connection between Gaia and Lisbon.
A newspaper in the region thus described the first place in the country to have an exclusively pedestrian street and that had become the chosen one of the national elite. "Granja has become a privileged and elegant place: a place for horseback riding, fêtes, tennis and cricket tournaments, balls and concerts, tea and bridge afternoons. A place of princes and princesses, a fairytale place." All the national press talked about the same place, referring to the municipality of Gaia and Granja beach as being "a delicate shell like a camellia petal, a nest made of purple and perfumes".
The paradisiacal place is the same, but the real estate market in Gaia has changed. Where once there were small houses, today there are luxurious villas that, as Ramalho Ortigão used to say at the time, "define for themselves the art of knowing how to live well and exquisitely". But today there's also a pier full of possibilities, restaurants and terraces, open-door Port wine cellars, an indescribable view over the Douro River, a vast array of fully-preserved heritage and a connection to Porto that takes only a few minutes.
And there is a real estate network that allows you to choose a house hanging from this dream scenario. If you don't believe in it, contact LUXIMOS Christie's International Real Estate and find out for yourself.