The University of Porto was founded by decree of March 22, 1911, issued by the Provisional Government of the First Portuguese Republic. While it is possible to point the university's predecessors as the Nautical Academy, established by King Joseph I in 1762, and the Drawing and Sketching Academy, created by Queen Mary I in 1779, the university was to be based primarily on higher education institutions created in the nineteenth century, namely the Polytechnic Academy and Medical-Surgical Academy of Porto.
The Polytechnic Academy's main purpose was the teaching of science and industrial engineering of all kinds, and professional specialties such as naval officers, merchants, farmers, factory directors and artists. Heir to the Royal Navy and Commerce Academy of Porto, which was established in 1803 by Prince Regent John (future King John VI), it arose as a result of reforms implemented by Passos Manuel, Minister of the Kingdom in the Government that came out of the Revolution of September. Under this reform, the name of the Academy was changed to the Royal Polytechnic Academy in 1837. However, the Royal Economic and Literary Academy, under the supervision of the Board of Directors of the General Company of Agriculture in the Alto Douro vineyards, was transferred to the Council of Lenses. Despite the great financial difficulties experienced during this period, the Polytechnic Academy of Porto underwent a time of great scientific activity, with eminent scientists such as Gomes Ferreira and Teixeira da Silva.