Top Points of Interest in Porto Portugal
An amazingly scenic city, Porto has captivated the tourism world lately. It was voted last year, 2017, as the best destination in Europe. It held this title in 2012 and 2014. The reasons for this popularity are many but here are some points of interest in Porto that made this city an attractive destination:
Map of Porto in Portugal
We were in Porto in December of 2017 and stayed there for over a week so we had a good chance of visiting some of its major points of interest. This was not our first time to visit but that first time was just a drive through so we did not really have an appreciation of the place as we had this time when we stayed longer.
We were mistrustful of our first view of the city the first time we were there. We saw an old tired city with dilapidated buildings so we decided to stay outside of the city the first days we arrived.
We wanted to stay in a small fishing village in Vila Nova de Gaia for a few days but sadly, that did not work out as the place we have chosen was let out by another person in the company but forgot to take it out of Orbitz.
So, we took their replacement but only for 2 days as it was already quite late to look for another place in an unfamiliar city. But early the next morning, we went on a prowl of the city, parked and lo and behold, when we got out of the parking lot to start our walk, a breathtaking vista opened up to us. It was then when we made the decision to get a place right there where we can enjoy the spectacular view.
Cais da Ribeira
Just imagine this area at the height of Porto's commercial enterprise. The Duoro is still busy and from this vantage, it is fun to watch this boats, now mostly ferrying tourists and no longer goods as in the past. As such, the Ribeira is lined with restaurants, cafes, bars and shops all catering to the many tourists who come to Porto.
Dom Luis Bridge
The spectacular Dom Luis I bridge immediately draws your attention the moment you reach the city of Porto on the Duoro. This 45 meter high double decker metal bridge was constructed in 1880 to span the Duoro connecting the popular Ribeira district of Porto with the port houses of Vila Nova de Gaia.
At its construction in 1880, this 172 meters span was the longest in the world. It was named after the King of Portugal then, Luis I. The Dom signifies it was a gift for the King. This King, however, was one to avoid many of his royal obligations so at the bridge inauguration, he was not present. As such, the "Dom" was dropped and the bridge just took on the name, Luis I.
The designer, Theophile Seyrig, assisted Gustave Eiffel in the design of the neighbouring bridge constructed earlier and named after the wife of King Luis I, Dona Maria Pia of Savoy. In the past, the old bridge here consisted of old port boats lasted together and it was a challenge to cross it such that in 1809, when Napoleon invaded, so many drowned because of the stampede.
Today, the top has a pedestrian walkway and a dedicated line for the city's metro and the bottom walkway is for regular traffic between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia and has narrow pedestrian walkways on each side.
Clerigos Church and Tower
Address: R. de São Filipe de Nery, 4050-546 Porto
The tall bell tower of the Clerigos Church is a major landmark in the city as it can been from various points. Built in a Baroque style for the Brotherhood around 1732 and 1750 by the architect, Nicolau Nasoni.
The tower, however, was only constructed later, from 1754 - 1763. It is 75.6 meters high and 240 steps to reach the top of its 6 floors. Nasoni later joined the brotherhood and was buried in the church but where, is never known.
The Church and Tower are open everyday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. except on:
Sao Bento Railway
This magnificent Sao Bento railway station right in the heart of Porto has many stories to tell and tell it in the most Portuguese way, through its 20,000 azulejos placed together in murals depicting historical events on the royalty, the city, the wars and the country's history including the Battle of Valdevez in 1140 and the Conquest of Ceuta in 1415. The artist, Jorge Colaco, arranged these tiles within a period of 11 years from 1905 - 1916.
This station was built on land which was formerly occupied in the 16th century by the Benedictine Monastery of that same name. Sadly, the Monastery was destroyed by fire and although it was rebuilt, it had to give way to the expanding railway system. Jose Marques da Silva, the architect of this Station, created an impressively beautiful edifice.
If you did not use the railway station to come to the city, you must explore it and spend some time just revelling at the architecture and the tile displays.
Port Houses in Vila Nova de Gaia
Palacio da Bolsa
A historic building listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this used to be the Stock Exchange Palace built in the 19th century on the former St. Francis Convent by the Commercial Association of the city.
Though no longer a centre of commerce, it attracts many visitors for its neo-classical style and its renowned Arabian Hall as well as the excitement of being inside a place only for bankers and investors in the past. Just the experience and the splendour of the Arabian Hall which was an imitation of the Alhambra Palace in Granada as well as the glass domed Hall of Nations is worth the ticket price.
Address: R. de Ferreira Borges, 4050-253 Porto, Portugal
Opening Hours: Everyday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
One can only truly appreciate the building when inside its magnificent halls and this video shows the interior beautifully.
Praca de Liberdade
A bookstore which came to be in Porto in 1881, all because of two brothers
Parque de Cidade
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