The Porto City Hall overlooks the large square of the Avenida dos Aliados. Construction of the building began in 1920, but it was not completed until 1957. The architect of the 70 m high town hall was Antonio Correia da Silva. On the monumental granite facade you can find sculptures by Henrique Moreira and Jose Caldas. In Portuguese, the town hall is called "Paços do Concelho de Porto", which roughly means municipal palace. With its size, the town hall shows the power of citizenship. But the town hall tower remains 5 m lower than the church tower of the Igreja dos Clérigos. The Porto City Hall is one of the most beautiful structures in the city.
The Cathedral of Porto stands on a hill above the old town. The construction of the Romanesque church century began in the 12th century. Although the building was remodeled several times, the Romanesque style of the facade maintained. The interior was not that lucky, it was changed to baroque.
The gothic cloister next to the cathedral, is very impressive and decorated with Azulejos. Via a staircase you can can get on the roof of the cloister, where you will find another large wall picture made of Azulejo tiles.
The 13th century gothic church looks rather simple from the outside, but the interior is an orgy of gold, that makes "São Francisco" the most magnificent church in Porto. On the ceilings, walls and on the altar several hundred kilos of precious metal were applied around the year 1726. Also worth visiting are the catacombs under the church and the treasures of the monastery.
The early 18th century chapel is located on the Rua de Santa Catarina pedestrian street. The facade of the small church was covered with Azulejos in 1929 by Eduardo Leite. The neoclassical interior is famous for the portrait of Nossa Seniora das Almas from the 18th century.
The 75 m high bell tower of the "Igreja dos Clérigos" is the tallest building in the old town of Porto. In addition, the church stands on a hill, so that you can see the whole city from up here. On the platform, the famous buildings of the city are marked by signs. Built in the 18th century by Niccolò Nasoni, it was the first church in Portugal, built on an elliptical ground plan. The east facade with the main entrance and the Torre dos Clérigos in the west are made of granite, while the other two sides are white plastered.
Next to the "Ponte de Dom Luis I" is a section of the 14th century wall. The wall was erected under Fernando I and therefore bears its name. Next to the city wall is a cable car, that surmounts the heights of the Douro River in just a few minutes.
The train station of "São Bento" is decorated with Azulejos by Jorge Colaço in the interior. The station opened in 1916 and was built on the site of a monastery. The central station of Porto, the "Estação Campanhã", is located a few kilometers further to the east.
The beautiful "Rua das Flores" connects the train station "São Bento" with the old town of Ribeira. In the pedestrian zone there are many shops and restaurants, but unfortunately many of the magnificent houses are abandoned.
Born in Porto in 1394, Infante Dom Henrique is also known as Henry the Navigator. He financed the Portuguese discovery trips to Africa. At his death in 1460, his sailors had already discovered the islands of Cape Verde in western Africa.
The most beautiful part of Portos is the district of Ribeira, on the banks of the Douro. The old town is on the list of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage since 1996. There are numerous shops, restaurants and jetties for cruise ships.
The "Mercado do Bolhão" opened in 1914. The neoclassical market hall, looks a bit run down. Inside there is an open courtyard with market stalls. If you love southern, slightly shabby charm, you can have a good and cheap lunch here.
The nice square is a popular meeting point of the night owls. Nearby there are many bars, restaurants and clubs. The name Praça de Carlos Alberto was given by King Carlos Alberto of Sardinia, who had to abdicate in 1849 in Italy and then lived in Portugal.
Of the two adjacent churches, the left one is the older one. The Church of the Carmelites (left) was built in the 17th century. The Rococo church Igreja do Carmo (right) was built in 1768. Its eastern facade was covered with azulejos in 1912.
The Livraria Lello e Irmão was built in 1906, it is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. The Art Nouveau façade, the imposing staircase and the colorful glass ceilings make the building unique. The Livraria Lello e Irmão is not just a bookstore, you can also get a drink at the bar upstairs. Sometimes the rush in front of the entrance is so big, that you have to queue in front of the door.
On the other side of the Douro, the storehouses of wineries extend along the Riverfront. Most wine merchants offer guided tours of their cellars, followed by wine tasting. Famous wineries are Sandeman, Graham, Borges, Cálem, Ferreira and others.
The construction of the fortress "Forte de São João Baptista da Foz" at the mouth of the Douro, was begun in 1570 to prevent a Spanish invasion. In 1580 Portugal was nevertheless conquered by the Spaniards.
Welcome to Porto
The city on the Douro is known for port wine, but the city is also the namesake for Portugal. The name Portugal is made up of "Porto" and "Gaia". Gaia is the district on the opposite bank of the Douro, where the port wine warehouses are today. Porto has a very small city area of only 41 km² and a population of 237,000 people. Even "Gaia" does not belong to the urban area of Porto. Around 1.7 million people live in the Porto region, making the economic area the second largest in the country after Lisbon.