Porto is the largest city in northern Portugal. It is located near the mouth of the Douro River and bathed by the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the district and of the entire northern region, and has a considerable population density.
Also known as Cidade Invicta (undefeated city), it is the city that gave Portugal its name. In 200 BC it was called Portus Cale and years later became the capital of the Condado Portucalense.
It is a city internationally known for its wine, Port Wine, for its historic centre classified as World Heritage by UNESCO and for its football club, Futebol Clube do Porto.
Porto – World Heritage Site
The historic centre of the city of Porto has been classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1996. This historical ensemble is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city, where you can find various sites of commerce, squares and buildings – which are at the origin of the city, such as the Sé Catedral (Porto Cathedral).
Visible from various points in the city and even from the south bank of the river, in the heart of the historic centre is the Clérigos Tower – a monument designed by the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni.
Foz is also an interesting part of the city where you can enjoy the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean combined with a sea promenade. Equally interesting is the whole riverside area, where there are several restaurants with excellent terraces.
Also in evidence is the Bolhão Market, an architectural landmark of traditional commerce, where you can still find the famous market sellers, which are characteristic of the city.
Another tourist attraction of the city are the bridges. Given the permanent need for the crossing of people and goods, it was soon realised that the construction of a bridge would be the most advantageous. And so the first bridge was built in 1806, the Ponte das Barcas (Barge Bridge) – which no longer exists today. With the increase in traffic, in 1843, there was a need to build another bridge – Ponte Pênsil (Hanging Bridge).
In 1877, the D. Maria Pia Bridge was inaugurated, which was only used for railway transport. This iron bridge was built by the team of the engineer Gustavo Eiffel. Today, already deactivated and replaced by the São João Bridge – in 1991, it continues to have a prominent presence in the landscape of both banks of the river.
In 1886, the Luís I Bridge came into operation, which currently has the Metro running on the upper deck and cars on the lower deck.
The Arrábida Bridge, built in 1963, had at the time the largest reinforced concrete arch in the world. Today it is the main link between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
The Freixo Bridge, inaugurated in 1995, is of the bridges connecting Porto to Gaia, the one that is most upstream from the Douro River and was built in order to relieve traffic on the Arrábida and D. Luís I Bridge. Finally, the Infante Dom Henrique Bridge or Infante Bridge, inaugurated in 2003, was also built for road traffic.
Points of Tourist Interest
The city features not only several points of historical interest but also more contemporary ones. This is the case of the Serralves Foundation, created in 1989, which houses the Casa de Serralves and the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art.
Casa da Música is also one of the city’s icons, created to be part of Porto’s European Capital of Culture event in 2001, this is Porto’s main performance venue.
In 2004 the European Football Championships were held in Portugal and the city of Porto “saw the birth” of two magnificent stadiums for such an event. Estádio do Bessa Séc. XXI – belonging to Boavista Futebol Clube and Estádio do Dragão – belonging to Futebol Clube do Porto .
Porto’s gastronomy is appreciated all over the country, but the most appreciated speciality among its people are the “Tripas à moda do Porto”. Not forgetting the Francesinhas or the Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá, all washed down with a regional table wine.
Porto currently receives more than a million tourists a year. It has thus become one of the most visited cities in Europe. In 2014, Porto was voted “European Best Destination” for the second time, leaving behind heavyweight competitors.
- Historic Centre of Porto, World Heritage Site
- Sé Catedral (Porto Cathedral)
- Igreja da Lapa (Church of Our Lady of Lapa)
- Museum of Contemporary Art – Serralves Foundation
- Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace)
- Port Wine Cellars – Vila Nova de Gaia
- Casa do Infante, 13th century (where Infante D. Henrique was born) .
- Port Wine Museum
- Guerra Junqueiro House-Museum
- Military Museum of Porto
- Museum of Transport and Communications
- Electric Car Museum
- Soares dos Reis National Museum
- Kadoorie Synagogue (one of the largest in Europe)
- Lello Bookstore
- Casa da Música
- Rivoli Theatre
- São João National Theatre
- São Bento Station
- Bolhão Market
- Café Magestic
- A Ribeira
- A Foz
Festivities and Pilgrimages:
São João, 23 and 24 June