The pleasures of afternoon tea run like a trickle of honey through English literature from Rupert Brooke's wistful lines on the Old Vicarage at Grantchester to Miss Marple, calmly dissecting a case over tea cakes at a seaside hotel.
- Stan Hey
Historic references to the city go back to the 4th century and to Roman times, although Celtic and Proto-Celtic remnants of ancient Citadels were found in the heart of where Porto now lies. In the Roman period the city developed its importance as a commercial port, primarily in the trade between Olissipona (Lisbon) and Bracara Augusta (nowadays Braga), but would fall under the Moorish Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 711. In 868, Vímara Peres, a Christian warlord from Gallaecia and a vassal of the King of Asturias, Léon and Galicia, Alfonso III, was sent to reconquer and secure from the Moors the area from the Minho River to the Douro River, including the city of Portus Cale, later Porto and Gaia, from where the name and political entity of Portugal emerged (see Portucale). In 868 Count Vímara Peres established the First County of Portugal (Portuguese: Condado de Portucale), after the reconquest of the region north of the Douro river.
In 1387, this city was the scene for the marriage of João I and Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, symbolizing the long-standing military alliance between Portugal and England, the world's oldest military alliance, which still holds via NATO.
In the 14th and the 15th centuries, the shipyards of Porto contributed to the development of the Portuguese fleet. In 1415, Henry the Navigator, son of João I, left from Porto to conquest the Muslim port of Ceuta in northern Morocco. This expedition led to the exploratory voyages that he later sent down the coast of Africa. Portuenses are referred to this day as "tripeiros", in reference to the fact that higher quality meat would be loaded onto ships to feed sailors, while off-cuts and by-products such as tripe would be left behind and eaten by the citizens of Porto. Tripe remains a culturally important dish in modern day Porto.