130th anniversary of the opening of the Maria Amélia Velodrome

30 de May, 2024

The Rainha Maria Amélia Velodrome opened on 29 June 1894, and this year marks the 130th anniversary of its official inauguration.


The Velo Club do Porto was founded in 1893, with its headquarters in the old Chalet of the Palácio de Cristal. At the request of its president, Baron de Paçô Vieira, King Carlos was made Honorary President, and the name was changed to Real Velo Club do Porto.


In the absence of a place to practise cycling, which was booming at the end of the 19th century among the city’s elite, King Carlos granted land on the Royal Palace estate for the construction of the Velodrome. Engineer Estevão Torres, the club’s 2nd secretary, was responsible for drawing up the plans for the estate, which was then known as Rua de Pombal (now Rua Adolfo Casais Monteiro).

The Velodrome included ancillary buildings, an elegant wooden tribune for about 700 people (other sources say 400 people), housing the royal box in the centre. Underneath the tribune were around 50 cabins rented by members to store their clothes, bicycles, etc. A grandstand with three tiers of seats, with a capacity of 1,000, was located at the top of one of the ramps. There was also an open space for pedestrians. Opposite was a start-finish stand with a board identifying the laps to be travelled. In the same place, on the upper floor, was the jury box. Between the tribunes and the pedestrian seating, the Velodrome’s spectator capacity was approximately 2,500 to 3,000. The construction of the Velodrome and tribune was directed by partner José Isidoro de Campos.


Numerous reports of races and events taking place there can be found, such as a charity event in favour of a children’s dispensary, sponsored by Queen Amélia.


After the establishment of the Republic, the Velodrome was inactive. In 1915 it reappeared under the name Velo-Club do Porto and continued to operate there until the 1930s. With the setting up of the Soares dos Rei National Museum in 1940, the space was transformed into an archaeological garden. The refurbishment of the building in 2001 restored the memory of the old Velodrome, with the construction of the two semicircles on the tops that enclosed the track.