The first telegraph in Portugal lies in… Terreiro do Paço
The first telegraph in Portugal lies in... Terreiro do Paço
The communication and transport revolution began in the 19th century and in Portugal, one of the first steps happened on the 16th September 1856 with the installation of the first electrical telegraphic network, in Lisbon. Right there at Terreiro do Paço.
All was due to the communications development policy headed by Fontes Pereira de Melo, minister of Public Works, Commerce and Industry, one of the most important figures of his time, responsible for the transport and communication revolution in Portugal.
In 1856, the 25 kilometers network was inaugurated, connecting Terreiro do Paço to the king’s courts and Necessidades Palace to Sintra. There is stil a sign of this in the corner of Rua do Arsenal - check it out!
The inauguration went unnoticed by the media, except for a reference in the newspaper O Jornal do Comércio. Maybe that happened because the day coincided with King Pedro V’s coronation or because of the secrecy of the Armed Forces (telegraphy entered the country through the military).
In the following year, the telegraphic network was opened to the public. In the beginning of the 60s of the 19th century, the network grew exponentially, reaching around 2000 kilometers.
And all of this happened in a time where the underwater cables began connecting Portugal to the rest of the world: firstly, with connections to England and Gibraltar, then to Madeira, Cape Verde and Pernacumbo. Later, the connections expanded: Vigo-Caminha, Carcavelos-Ponta Delgada, Horta and the whole archipelago of Azores.
In 1900 the telegraphic network reached 8000 kilometers and from 1911 to 1926 ascended to 9000 kilometers. Change was ahead, making Lisbon closer to the whole world.