Porto, another European Jewel: You'll Love It
City of Bridges, with a centre declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and bathed by the Douro River, which connects the Atlantic Ocean with Spain; the second largest city in Portugal. Surely you can imagine what city we are speaking of: yes Porto.
Porto, known as Oporto in English, is located in northern Portugal and is the second largest city after Lisbon, the capital. Porto is full of beautiful bridges that populate and dominate the heights of the Douro River.
In Portuguese style, where life goes on peacefully as in the cities of Southern Europe, we walk around the city and in to the heart of Porto. Streets like the one we present full of life and that is the case with the Avenue of the Allies.
Where modern buildings are joined together amid daytime traffic noise, we find the City Hall; an impressive building made of marble and granite. Restaurants, banks and shops; you can find everything here in this famous avenue. And then we come to Freedom Square.
This square is by far the most important square of the city, dominated by the statue of King Pedro IV.
In the Mercado do Bolhao we discover all kinds of staples such as meat, fish and fruit, and from vegetables to flowers and more.
Another stop, almost mandatory and not to be missed, is Sao Bento Station. Popular with tourists, its curious facade is well worth seeing. The inside of the building is beautiful and is where we will find the history of Portugal.
Now we can visit at least one of the many churches in this city; Baroque style and built in the eighteenth century, it is the Church of the Clerics along with its famously high bell tower Clerics Tower. Here we find an interior full of surprises. But while the church is a small symbol of this city of Portugal, even more famous and visited is its tower, an indispensable part of the city of Porto. Its 240 stairs take us up to one of the best views of the city.
Then, about 80 metres away we can have the pleasure of visiting the art nouveau Lello and Irmao library. This striking neo-Gothic building gives a home to the most beautiful bookshop, not only in Portugal, but probably in the entire Iberian Peninsula. Intricately carved wooden stairs lead us past bookshelves to a balcony, all full of books, and, of course, it is a jewel from the cinema since it was here that some scenes from Harry Potter were filmed.
Along the shores of the Douro River we have the Ribeira Quarter. With colourful buildings and houses, it is a place to spend the afternoon or evening with your partner and to dine along the river’s banks. Here also we come across an arched iron bridge named Don Luis I.
Of the many bridges in this city this is, with its two floors, the best known. While the upper floor is now used as a metro rail route it is on the ground floor where the other vehicles circulate.
So gradually we're getting to uncover all the beauty that Porto offers. Before the end of our trip, we cannot conclude without visiting a place where we will experience a mix of Baroque, Romanesque and Gothic.
The Cathedral of Porto. Large and spacious columns give a majestic and simple touch to the cathedral, and are beautiful even without any decoration. It is essential to visit the cloister, which is accessed from inside the cathedral and is decorated as in another area too with tiles, this time telling stories of saints.
To take a quick break we head for The Crystal Palace. It is divided according to the theme we can see, for example, from gardens where greenery and trees abound to more complex gardens with unusual and vivid flowers and many different types of plants. Also, here we can get great views.
Maybe we need to return to the hotel or the flight time approaches. But not before, as probably those of you who already know the delights of Porto´s wine, resorting to some of its majestic and sublime wineries.
In the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, through the Don Luis I Bridge, we find appellation wines from Porto. You can visit this place and its facilities and see the entire production process; from grape to wine. Try one of its wines before you terminate your trip.
Porto certainly does not disappoint. The city where we can relax while watching this living canvas of churches, streets and squares with a delicious glass of wine Porto is a place that needs to be lived to its fullest potential.
Editing by: Catherine Parker