Vila Franca de Xira is a Portuguese municipality in the District of Lisbon, belonging to the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon. It is located in the traditional province of Ribatejo.
The location of Vila Franca de Xira in the Tagus river plain has led to this area not being unrelated to Romanization, which can be spoken not only in Roman presence - proven by the existence of scattered findings in almost all the parishes, but also of Roman occupation, namely in Povos.
The location of Vila Franca de Xira's territory in the Tejo River Plain has led to this area not being unrelated to Romanization, which can be spoken not only in Roman presence - proven by the existence of scattered findings in almost all the parishes, but also of Roman occupation, namely in Povos.
Favourably conditioned by its geographical situation, the region of Vila Franca was, at the time, crossed by the main access road to Lisbon (Olisipo) which, in Alverca, bifurcated: it followed one through the valley of Vialonga to Santo Antão do Tojal and Loures and the other along the river towards Póvoa de Santa Iria. The river was, however, the great waterway through which the products arrived and flowed.
To prove this, the set of amphorae that have been found by fishermen in the riverbed of the Tejo, namely near the mouchões of Alhandra and Póvoa, and that denounce the intense Roman commercial activity. Transported in the holds of the ships, the amphoras contained products such as wine, olive oil, cereals and canned fish.
Also epigraphic gravestones, existing in several parishes of the municipality, witness the Roman presence. Dedicated to the Manes gods are the epigraphic tombstones from the mount of Senhor da Boa Morte (Vila Franca de Xira), Póvoa de Santa Iria and São Romão (São João dos Montes). In Alverca (Bom Sucesso) another gravestone was found which was out of place in the primitive context.
The arrival of the train in 1856, as part of the opening of the country's first section of railway line - from Lisbon to Carregado - marked the beginning of a new period in the region's development.
In Vila Franca de Xira, at the turn of the century, the industrial milling and also a belt factory were installed. The Alverca arrived in 1918 the Aeronautical Material Park that would originate the current OGMA - Aeronautical Industry of Portugal, and that, for its dimension of implantation, would condition the future planning of the village. Contemporary of industrialization, it was a strong cultural and associative movement that took place in the municipality in the second half of the nineteenth century and that would have repercussions to the present day. In 1870 the 1st of December Philharmonic was created in Vila Franca de Xira. From the Ocarinist Group of Vila Franca (1886), which evolved in 1891 to Fanfarra 1.º de Maio, the current Ateneu Artístico Vilafranquense association would appear later. In 1905 the Salvador Marques Theatre was opened in Alhandra.
Direct witnesses to the changes that took place in the municipality of Vila Franca de Xira from the middle of this century, and of which the writers Alves Redol and Soeiro Pereira Gomes were responsible for the works of fiction that marked Portuguese literature. In Vila Franca de Xira a strong cultural movement took place even in the 30s and 40s, agglutinated by Redol, and known as the neo-realist group of Vila Franca. Both Redol and Soeiro became directly involved in local cultural life by stimulating and leading theatrical and artistic initiatives.
Populations with diverse origins today populate the current municipality of Vila Franca de Xira. We have to go back to the 19th century, and even to the 18th century, to find the first migrants. They were fishermen from the North Atlantic coast, coming from Ovar, Murtosa and Estarreja who came in search of better work and who in these southern lands became known as varinos. From fishing, having passed to the commercial activity, the varinos were mixed with the vilafranquense population, of which they are today an integral part. Also since the XIX century, but mainly from the middle of the XX century, other Atlantic fishermen arrived in the Tagus, this time from Vieira de Leiria beach. Known as Avieiros, their communities still stand out today in the riverside landscape of Póvoa de Santa Iria, Alhandra and Vila Franca. Migrants from the industrial era came from all over the country, especially from the high Ribatejo, Alentejo, Beiras and, less expressively, Trás-os-Montes. These new workers would be joined in recent years by service workers and young people from the capital, dragged in the expansion of the latter to the periphery. In a second wave is to add the emigrants from the former Portuguese colonies who left their countries in the aftermath of the war in the 80's and 90's, in search of better living conditions. At the turn of the century, emigrants from other countries stand out, with great evidence for the eastern countries, which after the break-up of the Soviet Union and the end of the "cold war", in search of more quality of life, move to southern Europe.
In the early 19th century the entire region was shaken by the French invasions. Once again, the strategic location of the area was highlighted in the construction of the defensive system, built in great secrecy between 1810-1812, to face the French invader that began in this county and that would become known as the lines of Torres Vedras.
Another national event was inexorably linked to the name of Vila Franca in the troubled times that accompanied the establishment of liberalism in Portugal. It was the Vilafrancada, a coup d'état commanded by Miguel, which took place from May 27th to June 3rd 1823 in Vila Franca de Xira, where Miguel and a regiment and then the whole garrison and King João VI himself settled. Another character related to the region of Vila Franca de Xira, the 1st Count of Subserra, named Manuel Inácio Martins Pamplona Corte-Real, who was appointed Minister of War after Vilafrancada, but fell in disgrace the following year, in Aprilada.
. It was in the 19th century that the municipality of Vila Franca de Xira took administrative form, as we know it today, as part of the general reordering of municipalities promoted by the liberal regime.
. Successively, the old municipalities that existed in the region and that all had medieval roots were extinguished: in 1836 the Povos municipality was extinguished and in the following year the Castanheira municipality disappeared. In 1855 the reform swept the municipalities of Alhandra and Alverca, and henceforth Vila Franca de Xira became part of this administrative area. In 1886, with the extinction of the municipality of Olivais, the parish of Vialonga moved to the municipality of Vila Franca and finally, already in the twentieth century, in 1926, the parish of Póvoa de Santa Iria was also annexed extending to the south the area of the municipality.
The Municipality of Vila Franca de Xira has today an intense, diversified and quality cultural offer, fruit not only of the Municipality's work in the direct promotion of initiatives, but also of the invaluable work of local cultural agents, our partners of excellence, and other partnerships that we have been establishing with agents of culture at national level. The "Bienal de Fotografia" and the "Cartoon Xira" are good examples of consolidated initiatives, which have long gone beyond the local sphere and have been able to assert themselves in the national cultural panorama, as unique offers of quality and reference.
In terms of equipment, we cannot fail to highlight the Museum of Neo-Realism and the Factory of Words, which, far beyond its primary function - museum and library - are affirmed as true Cultural Centers, poles of dynamics, reflection and enjoyment, modern and community-oriented.
A good example of the action that the Municipality has been carrying out over the years in the formation of publics and education for Art, is the "Palace for the Little ones", an initiative with more than a decade of uninterrupted existence, which continues to be a reference in terms of the cultural, playful, educational and fun offer for the little ones.
The extinction of the municipalities of Povos (1836), Castanheira do Ribatejo (1837), Alhandra (1855) and Alverca (1855) and their integration into the municipality of Vila Franca de Xira represented the transfer of their archives and some archives from the deconcentrated central administration to the Municipality of Vila Franca de Xira.
1841 - 26 March, the secretaries of the town councils have been forbidden to keep their respective notaries in their homes, and they must be collected in the town archives, which is supposed to have had consequences for the town councils in our territory.
1847 - 8 November, it was determined that the town councils should create their "Annals of the Municipality", where "annually the most important events and facts that occur, and whose memory is worthy to be preserved". The minutes of the sessions of the City Council of the second half of the 21st century express several times concern about the "municipal archive" and the will to preserve the documentation, since it was in a state of confusion, "a lot of papers", it was written.
. 1957 - 15 January the documentation was in a house rented by the City Hall, located on Rua Armando. Being "deteriorating due to the fact that that property does not have the necessary conditions for this purpose", it was decided in minutes of ordinary meeting "to order the transfer of part still usable (...) of books, documentation and other papers in the aforementioned archive to the building it owns on Pedro Victor Avenue.
1960 - October 25, the "second left and first right floors of Mr. José Horta's building were rented, with the entrance at number four of Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, from November of that year onwards", a space adjacent to the Council House building. Such procedure was necessary because there was no space for the "archive of documents, books and other Secretariat papers" and because the old warehouse on Rua Armando was being used as a workshop for the Industrial and Commercial School of Vila Franca de Xira.
. 1978 - The City Hall rented the building of the current Municipal Archive, located at Rua Prof. Reynaldo dos Santos (former Rua do Hospital Civil), in Vila Franca de Xira. It is a warehouse built in 1936 and that functioned for decades as a barn. Once rented by the City Hall, it was adapted for archiving and during the 80's and 90's the documental units that were scattered in several buildings were transferred to these facilities.
1993 - 21 October the municipal archive officially opened to the public on the current premises. But, as the archives kept growing, it soon became apparent in 1999 that the Archives facilities were beginning to be insufficient. .
2004 - March of, with the entry into force of a new Organic Regulation of the City Council, the Municipal Archives Division was created, with a view to enhancing the integrated management of archive documentation.
2013 - With the entry into force of a new Organic Regulation of the City Council, the Libraries and Documentation Division was created, which succeeded the City Archives Division and took over the management of the City Archives. The Libraries and Documentation Division was succeeded by the Libraries and Archives Division, under the current Organic Regulations of the City Council of July 2018, which includes the management of the city archive