IN PORTO GALLERY
On a brief visit to Porto, there are some places that cannot be missed. In the words of many visitors, this city has something mystical that is difficult to describe and which varies according to the place, time of day and light.
Whatever it is, it certainly has to do with its people, known to be generous and easy-going, as well as the River Douro and its heritage on both banks, with its bridges and monuments, the tiles, the flowering balconies and the shopping streets. The historic centre of Porto and the River Douro on the Gaia side, where the Port Wine lodges are located, are classified as World Heritage.
Here are our Top 10 recomendations to explore on your own!
What to see & do in Porto
1. PORTO WINE CELLARS
This is one of the historical places of this city that has been developed thanks to the famous porto wine. Situated in the Cais de Gaia, this was the place where, for centuries, stood the river port where various goods were exported and imported. Here arrived the production of wine to be aged in the cellars. There are more than 50 wine producing companies in Gaia, that transformed the wine into that we now recognize as Porto Wine. The area has recently been subject to a major refurbishment, becoming an excellent area for leisure and tourism moments, it was even awarded the "Prize for Tourism - Public Space recovery".
From Cais de Gaia also run the famous Cruises on the Douro River, bound for the Alto Douro region, where all the production of Port wine is made, famous for idyllic landscapes, even considered the most beautiful in the country.
2. SERRALVES MUSEUM
The architectural design of this museum was made by architect Álvaro Siza Vieira on a multidisciplinary perspective. Thus, in addition to 4,500 m2 of exhibition area, where scales, proportions and light are priveleged, the remaining 8,200 m2 include an auditorium, a library, documentation center, shop, library and recreational areas, including a restaurant with a terrace view of the park. All the space was designed to invite reflection and sense of belonging of nature that is always present in all the windows.
The Museum presents a valuable collection of contemporary art, representing the work of local and foreigners artists, since the late 60s to the present day. Is also part of its mission to organize temporary exhibitions, accompanied by educational programs designed to develop the interest in contemporary art, to increase knowledge and provide dialogue between artists and the audience.
3. CASA DA MÚSICA (HOUSE OF MUSIC)
Located in the Boavista roundabout, half way to the historical centre and the Foz, the volumetric and originality of the Casa da Música (“house of the music”) style do not escape one’s notice. Signed by the prestige Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, it was conceived in order to serve a innovative cultural concept of the Porto 2001 - Cultural European Capital.
Thought to be the stage of all sorts of music, from classical to electronic, from jazz to fado, from the great international production to the small experimental project, the Casa da Música asserts on the facilities quality and on a dynamic, innovative and prestige cultural-musical agenda.
4. CHURCH OF SAN FRANCISCO
The church's plan follows the rules of the mendicant Gothic style, that is, with three naves church, projecting transept and tripartite head, with the chancel at a deeper level. However, some innovative elements were introduced as the balls decoration in the cracks of the chancel.
In the century XVI, João de Castilho designed the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, but it was during the eighteenth century that the most significant works occured and gave this temple the baroque splendor preserved to the present day, looking like a gold-covered church due to the abundance of gilt.
Among the carved works that are inside, to highlight the remarkable altarpiece of the main chapel dedicated to Jesse Tree, that was reformulated between 1718 and 1721 by Filipe da Silva and António Gomes.
5. CAIS DA RIBEIRA
Situated right in Porto’s historical centre, the Ribeira Square, next to this Wharf, is one of the oldest Squares in the city, mentioned in old documents already in 1389, even though its design was different that it is nowadays. It was in this Ribeira Quarter that Porto and its commercial and trading connection with the Douro River started, changing much of its attention to this river virtues.
From the Ribeira Wharf one had access to the Barcas Bridge, where in 1809 more than 4 thousand people died while running away from an attack of the French troops. Nowadays a Bas-relief symbolises this tragedy.
The narrow and winding streets, facing Gaia, the typical arcades, the traditional coloured old houses, surrounded by bars, restaurants, cafeterias and shops make of Ribeira one of the most important Tourist places in Porto.
With a special vivaciousness during day and night time, and a cosmopolitan environment, Ribeira is an unique place where history, tradition, vibrancy and beauty perfectly combine. Certainly not to be missed!
6. THE CATHEDRAL SÉ
Built in the 12th century, on a Romanesque style, the Cathedral has been altered all over the centuries, specially in the Gothic period and in the 18th century.
The lantern tower dates from the 16th century and the big rosette window dates from the 14th century. The major transformation works, in a total of 41, were made in the period of 1717 to 1736. The main Chapel was built in the 17th century, in a classical style, yet the altarpiece is Baroque, dating from 1727. The façade’s Portal presents a Rococo style and the splendorous Baroque Galile was conceived by the renowned Nicolau Nasoni in 1736.
The interior Chapels are also dated from different epochs, with the highlight on the Santíssimo Chapel, a precious work of Oporto’s jewellery from the 16th century. There are two Cloisters in the Cathedral, the Ancient Closter and the Gothic Cloister.
The Cabido House was built next to the Cathedral on the 16th century. In this House the canon meet in order to observe and discuss the government of the prelates.
7. TOWER OF CLERIGOS
The Church of Clérigos is a genuine baroque work of mid-century XVIII, designed by Nasoni, an Italian origin architect who left his mark on many monuments of Porto and Northern Portugal. Nasoni lies buried, at his request, on a small chapel.
All of front of the temple shows a very interesting baroque decoration, which is worth appreciating. The granite and marble interior are lined with Baroque carvings which also shows the mastery of his architect. In the chancel, there is one polychrome altarpiece of Manuel Porto.
But the most striking element of this set is the Tower built in granite that rises from the western top of the church body. Unmistakable ex-libris of the city and extremely slender in its 75m tall, the tower is developed in rhythmic moves ending in a baroque decoration crowning.
In 1917, the cleric's tower was successfully climbed by two Spanish acrobats, Puertullanos, father and son, before a huge crowd that milled around. A feat that, looking at the tower, seems unbelievable.
An interior staircase (240 steps) allows access to the top, where you can admire one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Porto.
8. PALÁCIO DA BOLSA
The Stock Exchange Palace, home and property of the Porto Commercial Association - Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Porto, is one of the main ex-libris and tourist attraction centers of the City and region. Most of the Stage State official receptions in northern Portugal are held here.
Over three generations, big names in architecture, painting, sculpture and the decorative arts contributed to the creation of an estate and a unique heritage in the Palácio da Bolsa, a real jewel of the neoclassical style of the century XIX. Arq. Joaquim da Costa Lima to Arq. Marques da Silva, Painter Antonio Ramalho, the Veloso Salgado, Antonio Carneiro or Medina, Soares dos Reis Teixeira Lopes are some examples.
National Monument, located in the area classified by UNESCO as World Heritage, the Palácio da Bolsa is a living and active space, open to the community. As a Cultural and Conference Center, this monument was founder of the "Historic Conference Centres of Europe" Conference Centers European Network installed in monuments or historic sites.
The grandeur of the Hall of Nations, the historical interest of the Commercial Court and the sumptuous President room are worthy of mention. However, the Arab Hall, covered with designs in blue and gold, is its peak.
9. DOM LUIS I BRIDGE
Bridge projected over the amazing Douro river by a disciple and co-worker of Gustave Eiffel: the Engineer Teófilo Seyring, in the end of the 19th century.
This is a representative example of the architecture and Iron techniques.
The D. Luís Bridge, that links Oporto to Vila Nova de Gaia, is composed by two metallic roadways supported by a big iron arch and five pillars.
10. EAT WELL
Take your time to choose the restaurant you are going to eat.
Porto’s dining scene revolves mainly around fresh sea produce and succulent local meats, with regional delicacies such as francesinhas and bacalhau, the local salted cod, taking center stage. There are option for every taste in Porto local cuisine, from traditional family run Portuguese restaurants to fine-dining establishments and riverside venues.