Today was a bit of a rough start. I tried to go to bed at 10:30pm last night, however my neighbour in room 402 was listening to music fairly loud, and smoking pot. I had enough by the time 11pm rolled by, so I knocked on his door to ask him to turn off the music. For some strange reason he was trying to use a hairdryer to blow the marijuana smoke from his room out the window. It was not working very well… He came home from partying at 6:00am or so and tried to enter my room, instead of his, so that woke me up. After having my breakfast it was time for me to venture out into the city.
First stop was Cais da Ribeira, which is is Porto’s historical city center square. It is included as part of the recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ribeira district spreads along the Douro river front, and was used as a center for commercial and manufacturing activities since the Middle Ages. In 1491 the majority of the buildings were destroyed in a fire, and rebuilt with arcades on their ground floors. In the mid-18th century the city needed to improve access for the swift flow of goods and people between the neighbourhood and other areas of Porto, so a new street, the Sao Joao Street, was opened on the North side and connected Ribeira Square and the upper town. The project took place between 1776 and 1782.
While I was in Ribeira I took the Elevador da Lada to the lower area of the Dom Luis I Bridge. This elevator was designed by Antonio Moura, and was built in 1994.
After looking at the view from the lower portion of the Dom Luis I Bridge I took the Guindais Funicular to he top of the Fernandine Walls of Porto. The funicular railway that was built in 1891. It descends 61 metres (200 feet) down the steep cliff from Batalha to the quayside at Riberia. The journey takes a mere 3 minutes.
The Fernandine Walls of Porto are medieval fortifications that began construction in 1336 during the reign of King D. Afonso IV. These Romanesque walls were topped by bastions, strengthened by turrets and watchtowers. The Trecho dos Guindais part of the wall was restored in 1920 and is open to the public to walk along, and also is home to the nearby Funicular dos Guindais.
After exploring the walls I walked across the Dom Luis I Bridge, which is a double-hinged double-deck arch bridge constructed of iron and granite. It has two decks that span nearly 400 metres across the Douro river. It was designed by Théophile Seyrig, and constructed by Société Willebreck between 1881 and 1886. The bridge utilized a toll system from its inauguration until 1944. Today the top deck is utilized by the D-Line public transportation and pedestrians, and the bottom deck by cars. In 2006 the lower deck was widened. The top of the bridge provides some incredible views below.
The Monastery of Serra do Pilar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1996. It was originally built in 1672 and houses a circular church and cloister. Both are situated quite high above the Douro river. The first monastery was constructed in 1538 by the order of St. Augustine. It was completed in 1564, with the cloisters finished in 1583, however was quickly rendered obsolete due to being too small. In 1597 work began on a new church. It took until 1672 to complete! The importance of the site wasn’t recognized until the Peninsular War when it was utilized as a fortified stronghold during the Siege of Porto. The destroyed portions of the monastery were reconstructed beginning in 1927. In 1947 some of the monastery grounds were converted into a military barracks, which remains on site to this day.
The Real Companhia Velha winery was founded in 1756 by King D. Jose I. It is also known as the Royal Oporto Wine Company, and has some of the most ancient cellars in the country. Here I had a tour of the Port House, and tried four delicious port wines.
It was time to get some lunch, so I walked about half an hour in the pouring rain to Aquele Tasco, and had a traditional Portuguese dish called Dobrada, which is tripe, white beans, chorizo, etc. in a tomato sauce served with basmati rice. It’s very similar to French Cassoulet. Afterwards I took pictures of a few more buildings before coming back to my hotel for the rest of the day, since it was raining so hard.
Rua de Santa Catarina 533 is a unique Art Nouveau style building, but I couldn’t find much information on it unfortunately.
Porto Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church constructed between 1110 and 1737! The church encompasses the multiple architectural styles of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque, because it took so long to build. The cathedral is flanked by two towers, which are each supported with two buttresses and crowned with a cupola (dome-like structure).
The Coliseum of Porto is an Art Deco (Streamline Moderne) style theatre and concert venue that was built between 1939 and 1941. It has a capacity for 7000 people (3000 seated, 4000 standing). The building was designed by Cassiano Branco. Originally built as a concert hall, it was transformed to a cinema/studio in 1971. In 1995 the coliseum was to be sold to IURD, the Brazilian Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. This caused a huge uproar by locals, municipal council, civil governor, etc. The “Amigos do Coliseu do Porto” was established, and stopped the sale of the building. In September 1996 the building was purchased by the Amigos. Unfortunately a fire started inside not too long after, which destroyed the stage, principal hall, and dressing rooms. The building was repaired and reopened in December 1996. Between 1997 and 2001 the building underwent numerous upgrades, which included electrical system upgrades, new washrooms on all floors, water supply upgrades, security upgrades, fire protection system upgrades, roof repairs, dressing room renovations, lighting and moving equipment upgrades, HVAC upgrades, etc. A very lengthy list! The building became a protected heritage building in 2005.
A Pérola do Bolhão is a beautiful Art Nouveau styled grocery store.
Be sure to check back soon, when I explore more of Porto. Tomorrow is my last day of exploring Porto before taking a train to Lisbon.
If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.
Today I embarked on a 12 day trip to Portugal. On my trip I’ll be visiting Porto, Lisbon, Sintra, and Cascais. Usually when I fly to Europe I fly via Amsterdam with KLM, or Frankfurt with Air Canada, however this time the best route was via the Azores with Azores Airlines. My first flight was on a a Westjet Boeing 737-700 to Toronto. My second flight was on a brand new Azores Airlines Airbus A321neo LR to Puerto Delgada, Azores. It was only delivered a few days ago, and still have plastic wrap on some items. This was the most turbulent flight I’ve ever been on in my entire life. Quite a few people got ill, and someone had some cardiac issues from stress, however we didn’t divert due to being so close to the Azores when it occurred. My third and final flight was on an Azores Airlines A321neo (non LR). I was upgraded to business class for both the Azores Airlines flights, which was a nice bonus. The food provided onboard was pretty good too!
After arriving in Porto, I took the Metro, which really was not a metro but rather a light rail vehicle, to my hotel called Miragaia Riverside Suites. The front desk gentleman took the time to show me all the great spots I should visit, and recommended a few restaurants that I should try. After checking in I slept for about two hours to get a bit of sleep before I ventured out to explore.
After waking up I headed out for the evening to do some exploring. Before I dive into what I explored, lets go over Portugal’s history, and Porto’s history.
Let’s take a look at the history of Portugal in brief. People have been living in Portugal since about 30000 BC. The first Portuguese were hunters and fishermen. In 5000 BC farming was introduced. Portugal entered the bronze age in 2000 BC. Around 700 BC Celtic tribes entered Portugal from the North, and introduced them to the Iron age. Around the same time Phoenicians (now Lebanon) was also trading with Portugal for tin to make bronze. In 600 BC the Greeks began trading with the Portuguese.
In 210 BC the Romans invaded the Iberian Peninsula and began conquering the area. The Roman empire began to decline by the middle of the 3rd century, and by the 5th century the Roman Empire in Portugal collapsed. In 409 AD the Suevi (Germanic people) invaded Portugal, and in 585 the Visigoths (Spanish people) conquered the Suevi.
In 711 AD the Moors from North Africa began to invade the peninsula, taking the south. Portugal received it’s official name in the 11th century. In 1095 the King of Leon granted Portugal to his daughter Dona Teresa and her husband. When her husband died she married a Galician noble, which caused the Portuguese nobles to overthrow her during the Battle of Sao Mamede, which was led by her son Don Alfonso Henrique, who then became ruler of Portugal. Talk about being stabbed in the back by your own family!
After becoming King of Portugal, Alfonso set about recapturing territory from the Moors, and eventually defeated them in Ourique in 1139. In 1147 he captured Lisbon, which eventually became the capital in the mid-13th century. Portugal continue to grow until 1348-1949 when the Black Death wiped out about 30% of the population.
By the late 14th century Portugal was drawn into war when King Fernando died because his daughter Beatriz, who became queen, married Juan of Castile. The Portuguese feared that Portugal would become united with Castile and cease to be independent, so they rose in rebellion. Naturally the King of Castile invaded Portugal to support his wife. This war went on for two years, until the Portuguese army won at the Battle of Aljubarrota. Dom Joao became the King of Portugal, and Portugal remained independent.
In 1386 Portugal made an alliance with England. In the 15th century Portugal’s naval fleet grew significantly, and they ended up capturing Cueta in Morocco in 1415, Madeira in 1419, the Azores in 1427, Tangier in 1471, and Bartolomeu Dias in 1488.
Ever heard of Christopher Columbus from Spain? I’m sure you have; well he set sail and discovered the West Indies in 1492. Because the new lands were south of the Canaries he claimed they were his. This argument was ended with the Treaty of Tordesillas being signed in 1494; with Portugal and Spain agreeing that all new land west of a line 370 degrees west of the Cape Verse Islands would belong to Spain, and anything east belonged to Portugal.
Portugal continued its expansion around the globe establishing colonies in Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, and even some parts of India. The expansion continued until 1578, when King Sebastian I died in a war in Africa, without leaving a heir. This lead to a steady decline of the Portuguese empire. From 1640-1668 Portugal fought the Restoration War, which restored the King of Portugal, and fended off the Spanish trying to take over Portugal. They also had to fight off Napoleon, which the British helped with.
Portugal began its independence in 1812. A fun fact that many of you may not know is that the ruler of Brazil became the King of Portugal during the 19th century, and the capital city was moved from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 1808 to 1821. In 1910, the First Portuguese Republic was established after a Republican revolution that also brought on the King’s resignation. It was ended in 1926, in a coup d’état that resulted in a military dictatorship.
In 1933, the Second Republic, also known as Estado Novo (New State), was established by António Oliveira de Salazar. Salazar’s dictatorship was notable for nationalism and isolation, which saved Portugal from being a part World War 1 & 2. He always tried to keep Portugal’s colonies under his rule and many Portuguese had to fight Portugal’s Colonial Wars. This led to the end of Salazar’s dictatorship on April 25, 1974, when the peaceful Carnation Revolution, a military coup d’état, took place. Portugal became a democracy in 1975, and joined the European Union in 1986. Today Portugal has a population of 10.3 million people.
Porto is Portugal’s second largest city, with a population of 1.7 million. The city center has only 230,000 people, but the metropolis is quite large. Porto is situated along the Douro River, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Porto gets its named from “Oporto”, which translates to “the port”. Pretty self explanatory.
Porto was originally settled in 275 BC by Celtic people. The Roman’s, Moors, and Napoleonic’s then came and occupied the Iberian Peninsula, which we learned about in my writing of the Portuguese history. During the Roman occupation the city was developed as an important commercial port, with trade routes all over the world.
During the 19th Century Porto became known as the city of bridges, with its first permanent bridge being built in 1806. Sadly that bridge didn’t last very long, collapsing only three years later under the weight of thousands of fugitives from the French invasions during the Peninsular War. That bridge was replaced by a suspension bridge called Ponte Pensil in 1843, however only the support pylons still remain today. The Ponte Dom Luis I, designed by Teophile Seyrig, who was a former partner to Gustave Eiffel, eventually replaced this bridge. The final bridge, the Ponte D. Maria railway bridge was opened in November 1843, and was designed by Gustave Eiffel, who created the Eiffel Tower.
Today you can explore some beautiful UNESCO World Heritage sites in Porto, such as the historic city center, Luiz I Bridge, and Monastery of Serra do Pilar. Porto is also home to Port Wine, which a red wine that is fortified with Brandy.
Exploring Porto – Day 1
Bolsa Palace, also known as the Stock Exchange Palace, was built between 1842 and 1910. The palace is located beside St. Francis Church of Porto, which was once part of the St Francis Convent, which was founded in the 13th century. In 1832, during the Liberal Wars, a fire destroyed the cloisters of the convent, but spared the church. In 1841, Queen Mary II donated the convent ruins to the city merchants, who then used the spot to build the seat of the Commercial Association. The project, designed by Porto architect Joaquim da Costa Lima Junior, began construction in 1842. The Neoclassical palace was inspired by the designs of other structures that had recently been built in the city. Most of the palace was finished by 1850, however the interior took until 1910 to complete.
Across from Bolsa Palace is Mercado Ferreira Borges. This large red iron building was built in 1885 and named after a famous politician from Porto that supported the liberal troops during the civil war during the 19th century. It was originally intended to be a market, but was never used as one. It was originally built to replace an older market in Ribeira, however didn’t quite fit its purpose. Instead, it was utilized as a warehouse for military equipment, a community kitchen, and in 2010 it was turned into a nightclub and a restaurant.
There’s a very special McDonald’s on Aliados Avenue housed in a beautiful 1930’s era Art Deco building. The previous tenant was the Imperial Cafe, which had a large copper eagle at the entrance to the building. This eagle is still there, and now proudly showcases the McDonald’s name below. McDonald’s moved into this location in 1995. Of course I had to get myself a double cheeseburger while I was here.
Garagem Do Comercio Do Porto was originally the home of the newspaper “O Comércio do Porto”, but is now used as a parking garage, offices, and housing. The building, designed by Rogerio de Azevedo, was built between 1928 and 1932. This Beaux Arts (Art Deco) style building is quite unique, as the lower floors are used as a parking garage, and due to the shape of the building a helical parking ramp was used.
Edificio do Comércio do Porto is a Beaux Arts (Art Deco) styled condominium complex next door to the parking garage. The building, also designed by Rogerio de Azevedo, was built in 1930.
Culturgest Porto is an Art Gallery is a beautiful Beaux Arts (Art Deco) style building not too far away from the previous two buildings. It was designed by architect Porfirio Pardal Monteiro, and was built between 1924 and 1931. The building even features some neo-classical design features.
Banco Montepio is across the street from Culturgest Porto, and is another stunning Beaux Arts (Art Deco) building.
Municipal Theater Rivoli opened its doors in 1913 as a National Theatre. In 1923, just ten years later, it was updated and became a movie theatre, and could also house opera, dance, theatre, and other concerts. It was designed by Julio Brito. In 1994 the theatre was closed to undergo an extensive restoration, and was reopened again in 1997.
Liberdade Square (Praca Nova) dates back to 1718, when an urbanization project began, which resulted in the creation of some new streets and a new square. The square was limited in size due to he medieval walls of the city, which are no longer there. In 1788 a neo-classical styled convent on the south side of the square was built where the medieval wall once stood. This building is the oldest building that faces the square. During the 1800’s the square became increasingly important, with the municipality moving to the north side of the square in 1819, the D. Luis Bridge being built in 1887, and the Sao Bento Station opened in 1896. It quickly became a political, economic, and social centre for Porto. In 1866 a monument dedicated to King Peter IV was placed inaugured in the middle of the square. The monument was designed by French sculptor Anatole Calmels. In 1916 the municipality building was demolished, and a large boulevard and new municipal building (Porto City Council) was built on the north side of the square.
The Porto City Council building was built between 1920 and 1955. It was designed by architect Antonio Correla da Silva. In the centre of the building is a 70 metre tall clock tower. In front of the building is a statue of a poet named Almeida Garrett.
The Sao Bento Railway station is a beautiful French architecture style railway station that was opened in 1916. It was designed by José Marques da Silva. Inside the building is a beautifully decorated ceiling, and large panels of Azulejo tile that were designed and painted by Jorge Colaço. The murals represent moments in the country’s history and the multicolored panels depict rural scenes showing the people of various regions.
Rue 31 de Janeiro is a street located in downtown Porto that features stunning view of Clerigos Tower, and the history Porto downtown buildings. I will visit Clerigos Tower on another day.
I finished off my day at Colossus Craft Brewery by having a flight of beers; an American Pale Ale, an American IPA, a local double IPA, and a south. The brewery was opened in 2005.
Be sure to check back soon, when I explore more of Porto tomorrow.
If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.