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A Sardine Factory in Matosinhos

peregrina2000

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I posted a link to an article a few months ago that describes a factory visit in Matosinhos on the Caminho from Porto. I recently took the tour of that factory and thought it was such a good tour (though a little hokey in spots), that anyone who loves good canned sardines or industrial museums in general ought to consider a visit.

This was a family owned factory until around 2015, I think, when the owners decided they were going to close. Matosinhos used to have upwards of 40 canning factories, and there were now two or three left. And this one had never mechanized. An Austrian company appeared and bought the company, accepting the owner’s condition that no mechanization ever take place. The new owners left the workspace untouched and implemented a few changes like prohibitting the daily communal praying of the rosary, which apparently had been imposed by the family owners. And they started the tours.

The building itself, from the early 1900s has some beautiful features, including a spiral staircase that makes the shape of a sardine (with the ceiling lamp being the eye, quite ingenious!). You see the old business office, the old delivery rooms, and then you head right to the floor of the plant. The women are a classic assembly line. One cuts off the head and takes out the guts with one slash of the knife, another takes off the tail. Then there are those responsible for putting in the seasoning — clove, chili pepper, pickle, small piece of carrot. The tops of the cans are inserted by a machine, which had been a concession to automation made years ago, but the rest is done by hand. Even putting on the labels.

At the end, each person gets a can to try — there were four of us on the tour, so we shared — spicy with tomato sauce, spicy with olive oil, not spicy with tomato sauce, not spicy with olive oil. They were all delicious. Small shop allows for lots of purchases (and you can bring them into the US, no problem).

It’s easy to get there by public transit. Take the 500 bus (now its stop is between the train station and the cathedral, but that may be because of construction) - it goes right along the river the whole way, and then along the ocean. Get off when you see a traffic circle with what seems like a gigantic red fishing net in the middle. Then it’s about a 10 minute walk. M-F is best if you want to see the factory in action, and I think we were right at the end of the season, which runs May-ish through October-ish.

Highly recommended!
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What you've described sounds like a really interesting tour! Porto is one of my favourite cities and when I'm next there, I will do my best to check this out. A good excuse to walk a couple of hours up the coast..

Thank you!

Edit:
I've just googled it to find the location and I can see I would have passed close by it a few times in the past. I didn't find info about visiting though, I imagine you need to book in advance, is it so?
 
Last edited:
Great write-up and photos. I love sardines and I love industrial museums, and my husband and I plan to walk from Porto next year. We're there. 😊
 
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I've just googled it to find the location and I can see I would have passed close by it a few times in the past. I didn't find info about visiting though, I imagine you need to book in advance, is it so?
I am sure that if someone had walked in before the start of our, tour they could have jumped in. But I think you might run the risk that if no one signs up they might not have the guide there. Their website has online ticket sales.


Website with lots of pictures,

 
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I posted a link to an article a few months ago that describes a factory visit in Matosinhos on the Caminho from Porto. I recently took the tour of that factory and thought it was such a good tour (though a little hokey in spots), that anyone who loves good canned sardines or industrial museums in general ought to consider a visit.

This was a family owned factory until around 2015, I think, when the owners decided they were going to close. Matosinhos used to have upwards of 40 canning factories, and there were now two or three left. And this one had never mechanized. An Austrian company appeared and bought the company, accepting the owner’s condition that no mechanization ever take place. The new owners left the workspace untouched and implemented a few changes like prohibitting the daily communal praying of the rosary, which apparently had been imposed by the family owners. And they started the tours.

The building itself, from the early 1900s has some beautiful features, including a spiral staircase that makes the shape of a sardine (with the ceiling lamp being the eye, quite ingenious!). You see the old business office, the old delivery rooms, and then you head right to the floor of the plant. The women are a classic assembly line. One cuts off the head and takes out the guts with one slash of the knife, another takes off the tail. Then there are those responsible for putting in the seasoning — clove, chili pepper, pickle, small piece of carrot. The tops of the cans are inserted by a machine, which had been a concession to automation made years ago, but the rest is done by hand. Even putting on the labels.

At the end, each person gets a can to try — there were four of us on the tour, so we shared — spicy with tomato sauce, spicy with olive oil, not spicy with tomato sauce, not spicy with olive oil. They were all delicious. Small shop allows for lots of purchases (and you can bring them into the US, no problem).

It’s easy to get there by public transit. Take the 500 bus (now its stop is between the train station and the cathedral, but that may be because of construction) - it goes right along the river the whole way, and then along the ocean. Get off when you see a traffic circle with what seems like a gigantic red fishing net in the middle. Then it’s about a 10 minute walk. M-F is best if you want to see the factory in action, and I think we were right at the end of the season, which runs May-ish through October-ish.

Highly recommended!
View attachment 137159View attachment 137160View attachment 137161View attachment 137162View attachment 137163View attachment 137164
Thank you for your informative post, perigrina2000. We plan to visit this sardine factory in September.
 

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