Creating a city image based on foreign visitors’ views retrieved from historical documents
The case of Porto
Keywords:Travel books, Tourism, Early Modern Age, Porto, Travel guides
Porto has been a city with a mercantile vocation since at least the 12th century. In fact, in 1353, during the reign of Afonso IV, the Porto merchant Afonso Martins Alho assumed a pioneering role when negotiating the first trade treaty with King Edward III of England. As the commercial cosmopolitanism of this city has been known since ancient times, it will be important to know how foreigners described the landscape of the city once known as Portucale during the Early Modern Age (15th to 18th centuries). In this context, this study will seek to reveal the evolution of the imagery of the city of Porto built by foreigners. Therefore, we will characterize the profile of the first travellers who settled in the village and who poured their experiences into travel book accounts. These precocious travellers were diplomats, nobles, soldiers, scientists, artists, among others. The narratives, in this historical period, still had a biographical bent, where personal considerations and opinions about the places they visited were prominent. These types of reports are useful, if seen as a complementary source to others, as they present testimonies that are far from the reality of Porto, as well as comparative views with the reality of the country from which these travellers come. Therefore, the methodology used will focus on a space delimited by the city of Porto and its term and on a time interval that will begin in the mid-fifteenth century and end in the beginning of the eighteenth century. Through the analysis and documentary interpretation of secondary and primary sources, we will seek to know the specific ways in which outsiders represented the “Porto destination”. With regard to the implications of our investigation, we believe that this will prove useful for the marketing managers of the Porto destination, since, by getting to know the way in which the imagery of the city was constructed by outsiders, during the Early Modern Age, they will be able to promote the Porto destination in a more authentic and differentiated way than the direct competition.
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