During the reign of Romans, Porto was known as Portus Cale and it was the most important city in the country. Later, the city gave the name to the whole country. Porto is located on both banks of the Douro River. The banks are connected by a beautiful bridge. The historic center of the city is characterized by a very special and lively atmosphere. Of course, almost every café or tavern here offers to taste the famous port wine. Porto has always been known primarily as a working city, but in recent years it has rapidly turned to a popular cultural center.
Some experts call the Portuguese cuisine "a peasant type" for its simplicity and density. Meat and fish are the basis of vast majority of national dishes. The main side dish is cabbage, which is...
During the reign of Romans a large city wall was built around Porto. In the XIV century, another wall was added. It was built around the cathedral. Nowadays, this double wall is partially destroyed, but in some parts of the city the wall is still well-preserved. The old quarter of Ribeira, located on the north bank of the Douro, is one of these places. This district is full of small steep streets with old houses painted in pastel colors, narrow and dark alleys, small inner yards and coffee terraces. Many people still live here, so Ribeira quarter today is more like a museum of Portuguese culture in the open air. The facades of many houses in the quarter are decorated with colorful azulejo tiles. Even signs with the names of streets are made from these beautiful tiles.
Praça da Ribeira.
Praca da Ribeira (show on map
) (view photos )
is the heart of the quarter. This is a small cozy square with a work of contemporary art in the center – the square is decorated with a cube (O Cubo) by Jose Rodriguez. Despite the chaotic intersection of streets, it’s almost impossible to get lost in Ribeira district – if you go down, you will surely come out to the banks of the de Cais da Ribeira River, where you will find many bars, cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops. There are also small old ships (barcos rabelos) moored to the embankment. Previously, these ships were used as a transport – they brought port from remote villages to the city. Today, they are used for excursion purposes and offer tourist rides along the river. Football fans should definitely not forget to visit the Chez Lapin restaurant
that is a permanent meeting place for fans of FC Porto. In the evening, the embankment of the Douro River is filled with fans of night entertainment.
Perhaps, a beautiful cathedral built in the 12th century is the most famous landmark of Porto. The religious site is located in the center of the city and has a very interesting story. More than 8...
was built in the XII-XIII centuries in the Romanesque style. However, with time, the design of the cathedral got some baroque elements. The cathedral was rebuilt from an old fortress located on Penha Ventosa hill. You can still see this clearly in some elements of the cathedral, especially in its crenellated walls. Such a design of the church was made on purpose – at that time it was important to protect the church from Muslims. The south of Portugal was ruled by the Moors, who were the followers of Islam. The cathedral was under construction until the XIX century. This is the reason why the cathedral complex is an intriguing collection of different architectural styles. For example, the funeral chapel of Joao Gordo is made in the Gothic style. The beautiful tombstone is supported by four lions are decorated with images of apostles.
Step inside the cathedral, and you will see a marble altar with wooden columns covered with gold. The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is the place where visitors will see a silver beautifully decorated icon. Because of the shine of numerous jewels the icon seems to be moving. Beautiful murals also deserve your closets attention. The majority of precious items are collected in the treasury of the cathedral (Tesouro da Se). In addition to ornaments and other decorations of the XIV-XVIII centuries, the treasury is the place where you will find items made of silver and old books. There is a gothic monastery
of the XIV century near the cathedral. Its corridor is decorated with glazed tiles laid in the XVIII century. The tiles depict stories from life of Mary and the scenes from "the Metamorphoses" by the Roman poet Ovid. The square in front of the cathedral is the location of the pillory (pelourinho) with a crown on the top.
San Francisco Church.
A truly irresistible passion for various holidays and mass celebrations is one of the main national characteristics of local residents. Colorful carnivals, costume balls and parades occur here...
Just like the cathedral, the Franciscan Church of San Francisco (Igreja de Sao Fransisco)
is an amazing combination of different architectural styles. Originally, this was a gothic church, and you can see that by the rare of the building. However, eventually some elements of the Baroque style appeared in its design. The church was built in the XIV-XV centuries. In the XVI century a baptismal chapel was added to it. The chapel was designed by architect Diego de Castillo. The altar of the chapel is decorated with icons representing scenes from Epiphany.
The church is mostly known for its wood carving in the baroque style. You will see it everywhere – beautiful cherubs, saints, animals, and flowers can be seen on the ceiling, in the naves, along the windows and columns. Because of such a large number of carvings, that are often glided, it is hard to pay attention to the building itself. This frivolous decor (talhas douradas) was in such a contrast to austerity preached by the Franciscans that the local clergy decided to stop using the church as a place for prayers! The left aisle of the church is the location of the genealogical tree of Jesus Christ.
Port as a symbol.
1. A walk along Douro River is one of the best ways to explore the sights of the city. If you plan to stay in the city just for a couple of days, a boat tour on this river will be the best choice...
Porto is famous throughout the world, primarily as home of the well-known port wine. There are more than 40 wineries in the city. They produce port wine – the real pride of local residents. The majority of manufactures are located in the district that is opposite to Ribeira district. It is located on the other bank of the Douro River. If you make an excursion there, for example, to the cellar of one of the most famous firms that make port, Calem, you will learn a lot about the history and the process of making port. Of course, all visitors will be taken for a walk along huge wooden barrels, some of which can hold up to 60,000 liters of wine. The excursion, which lasts approximately 20 minutes, will be completed with its best part - wine tasting!
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