To understand Ericeira’s history, we need to know the origins of its name. You may be wondering why our “home” as such a difficult name to pronounce ! Some people believe the name “Ericeira” came from the word “Ouriceira” which meant “The Land of Ouriços”. The word “ouriços” in portuguese represents two different animals – the hedgehogs and the sea urchins. Originally we though that sea urchins gave the name to our lovely village. Recent studies have demonstrated that the name “Ericeira” was actually inspired by the phoenician goddess Artarte, which was often associated with the hedgehog. Which means the phoenicians, who settled in the Lisbon region around 600-800 BC, gave the name to our village.
The importance of the port
The history of Ericeira goes way back! Due to the growing importance of the Port of Ericeira in the economy, in 1229, the Grand Master of the Order of Aviz, Dom Frei Fernão Rodrigues Monteiro, established the “County of Ericeira”. However, in the 19th century, there was a shift in the economy of the region. In fact, Ericeira became important due to its beautifull beaches and tourism potential. The royal family started to go to Ericeira for tourism and health purposes. The air’s iodine levels had became famous among the wealthiests. By the end of this century, the rich families from Lisbon started to build holiday homes in the area. With this, the port of Ericeira became the busiest port in Estremadura region (one of the six historical provinces of Portugal), due to the export of wine and spirits. However, after the develpment of land trasportation, the port went back to focusing only on the fishery.
The end of the monarchy
By the begginig of the 20th century, one of the most important historical event of the portuguese monarchy took place in Ericeira. After the revolution of October 5th 1910, King Manuel II went into exile, fleeing from Praia dos Pescadores. This event resulted in the establishment of the Portuguese Republic.
The families who are known to be “originally” from Ericeira are called “jagozes” – which is very similar to the words “já gozam” (in english – “already mocking/making fun of”). Tells the story that those same words were pronounced by the court of King Manuel II, as they were being mocked by the people while fleeing to Brazil!