Archive for March, 2012

I came to this place during a visit to a friend of mine in northern Portugal. Actually, I spent the whole day cruising in Vila Real, and found it an attractive and lovely town. But the focus in this article is about the abandoned power plant, the first of its kind in the country, which allowed Vila Real to be the first town in Portugal to have electricity, back in the last decade of the 19th Century.

The access to the facility is pretty easy. Just park your car at  41° 17.586’N   7° 44.491’W (in case you get lost, ask the locals for “Meia Laranja”). Once there, if you are facing the valley, you will notice a small old house to your left. Walk around it and you will see the narrow path leading down. It’s basically impossible to lose the track.

It took me a long time to explore, not because the place is huge but mostly because it’s so interesting and full of subjects for photography. Now a bit of history: Vila Real was the first Portuguese city with public electricity network as soon as the end of 19th century. In 1894, the first water power plant, constructed by Emilio Biel on Corgo river at Poço do Aguerinho, started the production of electricity for the public netwrok. In 1926, being replaced by another power plant, this power plant was transformed into leather processing factory by Jose Pires Granjo with most of the machinery left in the place. The factory worked until 1950.

Actually, if you are attentive, you will clearly observe the two eras on the small complex of buildings, as well as the different machinery.