Searching for the translation of the word that better defines the locals from Porto – “Bairristas” I found: “defender of local interests”, “regionalist” “narrow-minded”. Not knowing what to choose, I choose… all.
The fever they use to promote and defend their town is a little aggressive for those from other places, specially from the south.
That’s why for a long time, I didn’t feel a great sympathy for this town.
Football (soccer) enhances the distance, with all the dirty (even criminal) means used to support the local teams.
Anyway, after a rational analysis, I must admit two things: all the people that I personally know in Porto are gentle and welcoming, and the town itself it’s beautiful, and surprisingly better each time I return. So, let’s forget the “bairrismo” and football, and open myself to the city. I promise a deeper visit one of these days.
PS – I made several other visits, to the splendid city of Porto, getting better each day. Tips will continue being added, but I will keep the old ones, with images and sensations from a long time before the sovereignty of tourism.
The old bridge of D. Luis, still in use, is one of the landmarks of Porto.
Though far from the spectacularism of the Eiffel tower in Paris, the geniality of the master is undeniable, and the style easily recognizable.
The lower platform is great to allow a walking visit of Gaia’s caves where Port wine invites you.
This Baroque tower built in the 18th century by Nicolau Nasoni is, maybe, the most famous building of Porto.
Centrally located, it’s easy to reach and quick to see, being almost impossible to stroll in historic Porto without stumbling on it, and if you have the guts to climb its 240 steps, they say that the views are rewarding (I never risked, but do believe!).
The central square of Porto is the place where everything socially relevant happens.
Dominated by town hall, it is a very harmonious square (they call it Aliados avenue) that no one can miss, because it is in the middle of… everything.
Amidst all the many interesting buildings, forget McDonald’s advertising and look at the building – 9GAG considered it “the most beautiful in the world”
Reading in Lifecooler that:
“Porto Cathedral is the cradle of the city, which has developed from here. It is a must-see monument, because of its artistic treasures. Built in the 12th century in Romanic style, the cathedral has deeply changed throughout time. The façade has two towers and in the middle of them, a rose window. In the inside, the naves have a vault shape. At the end of the central nave, you will find the high choir, illuminated by a Gothic style rose window. The main chapel was built in the 17th century in classic style, dominated by marbles of several colors. The urn with the remains of Holy São Pantaleão, city patron saint, is also a peculiar note worth highlighting.”
.. I should be ashamed! For more than 30 years I only saw it from distance. To be honest, I visited it but forgot what I saw.
Of course, it was a priority in my recent visits to Porto. Twice!
One of my wished visits in Porto is the Arab room, in this palace that now houses the Commercial Association of Porto. That’s the reason why they only allow guided visits, and… not always. That´s why I had to skip it once more – a conference was being prepared, and visits were suspended.
I saw it in TV, it looks nice, but pictures are forbidden, so I don’t know how someone obtained the one that I found in Panoramio.
Phone: +351 22 339 9000
Well, tourism is king, and everything adapts. Visits continue to be in groups, but photos have been liberalized. I show just one of the many that I took, to confirm that it is not to be missed, and you can add yours.
Located facing the Bourse palace, ans surrounded by other beautiful buildings, this square, once occupied by a convent is a great point to those who travel by car, because it has an underground parking, and a perfect location to visit the historic centre of town.
The square’s name is given by the monument to Henry, the navigator, erected in 1900.
Palácio de Cristal
People keeps talking about “Palácio de Cristal” even after its demolition in 1953, to give place to the sports pavilion, that initially kept the name and later was baptized “Rosa Mota”.
It’s a massive construction, in a garden overlooking the river, used to all kind of sports, even our… dancing.
We didn’t dance there yet, only watched, but we will… soon!
The gardens of Palácio de Cristal
This small but lovely garden, around the sports pavilion, is a balcony over the river, with a nice area to rest with a good book, to chat with friends, or to make a picnic, as we did.
A very pleasant spot in Porto.
S Francisco church
This church is an absolute “Must see”.
So rich, in its gilded interiors, that picture is forbidden.
It is a Gothic church from the 14th century, but its great attraction is the baroque decoration from the 18th.
The ticket costs 4€ and allows free entrance at the adjacent museum.
S Francisco museum
Yes, this is a two in one. If the church is something not to be missed, then the museum is… free!
Some paintings, some furniture, some sculpture, the catacombs… well, it’s free!
S Nicolau church
Burnt in 1758 and rebuilt four years later, this small church close to St Francisco, mixes Neoclassical and Baroque styles.
With Rococo decoration it has a reasonable collection of gold and silver pieces.
Boavista – Oficial version
In the beginning of the 19th century the troops of Napoleon invaded and occupied Portugal.
Lisbon has been taken, but not Porto. After a dramatic resistance, Portugal won the war, with the help of the English army. To celebrate the resistance was built a monument almost 50 meters high, with precious sculptures, in one of the main squares of Porto.
Close to it, in the beginning of the long avenue that leads to the seafront, the new building of casa da Música deserves your attention.
In Paris, the “Arc du Triomphe” celebrates, among other, the victory of Oporto (I explain the error in y Paris page).
Do you want to laugh (or, at least, have a smile)?
Read the Moor version
Casa da música
The New White Elephant
The worst of Porto is… jealousy!
Lisbon spent millions building a white elephant to cultural events – CCB, the Cultural Center of Belem, and Porto shouldn’t stay behind. Many millions later, here we have, in Boavista square, this immense and disputed block, able to organize all kind of performances.
Join the discussion, and if you want something more then a drink to fill the night , it must be your first search.
Website: Casa da Musica
Once used to bring the wine down the river, these beautiful boats are only a touristy attraction today.
Most of them are only anchored as decoration for the wineries, only sailing in festive days, but a few are available to a small trip in the river.
Every time I went to Porto, I came with the sensation of disappointment, because it was easy to see the potential of this quarter to boost Porto’s authenticity, but the ruined look, dirtiness and bad frequency spoiled everything.
I went there one more time, and… congratulations.
The recuperation was well achieved, the colors glow in the reflections in the water, and visitors are well received, feeling comfortable and pleased.
An example to continue and follow.
The central point of tourism in the city is Ribeira, the traditional riverside neighborhood, today a huge concentration of restaurants and bars, where, sometimes, you can find a Portuguese.
Close to the best attractions in the city, and the popular crossing to Gaia, it is the liveliest area, where the care and successful efforts of recovery and beautification have protected the typical image of the neighborhood.
Departing point for several cruises along the river, this quarter, close to Ribeira, is also being restored, and shows a clean and nice face to the river.
Well, in the back there was still much work to be done the last time we were there.
Yes, Porto is extremely jealous of Lisbon and doesn’t accept losing in any circumstance.
Lisbon has its coast of Estoril, and Porto has… the Foz.
However, here, this city must accept the defeat. The walk along the river is beautiful, lively, but the sea doesn’t help, and beach is something to forget except for locals.
Defeat? I’m I crazy? Who invented the “francesinhas”?
Serra do Pilar
Just across the river (so, officially in Gaia, I think), in a steep hill, there is the monastery of Serra do Pilar.
Though not yet open to public visit, it’s the perfect place to stop and enjoy the best sight over the river and Porto.
It’s not difficult to reach, at your right, just before you enter the upper platform of D Luis bridge.
View from Serra do Pilar in 1977
Eating in Porto
It was on a terrace of this restaurant, installed in the old Ferreira Borges market, that we fulfilled the obligation to eat a little francesinha on this visit to Porto.
It was very good, benefiting from the company of an excellent Alvarinho wine, at a very reasonable price.
Belver Hotel Beta
Porto, for me, is a badly known town, because, staying only 2 hours distant from my home, I generally don’t stay there. Not staying there, time is usually short.
The only hotel I used in Porto was this one, when it was yet called “Porto Boega”.
It had the advantage of, being a *** hotel (now raised to four, it seems), its situation a little far from the center reflected in the good price, and, as I was going to the north, It freed me from the traffic congestion in the center. Good decision, and good stay (no photos).
Douro cruises – Options
There are two kinds of cruises from Porto – THE Douro real cruises, that taking one or more days will take you to the wine region, and the few hours cruises that will show… not much that you will not be able to see on foot.
It’s acceptable, but somewhat confusing.
The steep slopes of the city are a challenge for the tourist, today made easier by some investments creating elevators. The most used is the Gaia cable car, on the opposite bank, but you can also rest in Porto, taking the Guindais lift, which, going up from the Dom Luís bridge, facilitates access to the Cathedral, or the shorter Ribeira lift, right in the tourist center of city.
Boavista – Moor version
Once upon a time, football was dominated in Portugal by the two national teams: Sporting, whose symbol is a lion, and Benfica represented by an eagle.
The two best regional teams, F. C. Porto and Belenenses (from Lisbon), were the challengers, composing the group called “the four big ones”.
About 40 years ago Porto decided to reverse that domain, and upgraded local F. C. Porto, symbolized by a dragon, to a national level. Belenenses was “expelled” from the top, and a fourth team was needed to compose the big four.
Who should it be? Of course, someone from Porto – Boavista F. C, that adopted a panther as symbol.
The monument of Boavista celebrates that event: My Sporting (the lion), beats Benfica (the eagle), that largely dominated the scene, in the seventies.
Now: Can you find the panther and dragon in the statue?
Don’t waste your time – they are both out, buying referees (Ah, Ah, Ah!)
Lisbon style is the best known and commercially explored, even in… Porto.
Rivalry is strong, but if Lisbon sells Port wine, why shouldn’t Porto sell Lisbon fado?
In Alfandega quarter, this are a few restaurants with live Lisbon fado – at least A Casa da Mariquinhas, O Fado, and Casa Porto à Noite.
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