THE VERTIGINOUS CLERIGOS TOWER
Fellow travelers, prepare your senses well because the places where we will wander in the city of Porto are authentic explosions of beauty, of art, of tastes and smell, of landscapes, of culture and of history. To know this first point, we will also have to warm-up our leg muscles a little… but don’t worry, the effort will have its deserved reward. Promised! Due to it staggered form, Oporto is a city that has endless viewpoints which offers marvelous views over its own city and especially, over the Duero River. These lookouts are found distributed all over the city and they await us on bridges, in the gardens or in the monasteries located on the highest part of the city, in its own cathedral and in many other places. But the most special viewpoint is found on the top of a tower. Come up with us to the Clérigos Tower!
The Clérigos Church is located in one of the most centric points of Porto. This baroque temple is coronated by a bell tower which proudly possesses the honor to be the highest tower in Portugal thanks to its height of 76 meters, a feat possible due to the two meters width of its walls. The church and the tower recibed that name because they were constructed with the funds of a poor brotherhood of the clergy in the mid XVIII centruy. The place selected for that was known as the Hill of the Hanged, a hill named so for being the place where they burried the convicts excecuted by the rope. Sounds chilling, right? But lets come back to the present day…
The entrance to the tower if free but one needs to pay 5 euros to go up the tower which also includes the visit to the Museum of the Brotherhood. Once the fee is paid, we can start the climb which consists of going up the stairs. No more and no less than 225 steps! Remember that it’s a bell tower so we will come across their 49 bells. If there is a chance that they start ringing during the visit, they can startle us. Even though the concert that the carillon offers would be more appropriate for pacing our rhythm of the climb… Once we reach the lookout on the top, we will prove that our effort was worth it. The climbing of the 225 steps, the startle of the bells, the knowing of who was buried in the subsoil…
All of this would make sense and we could obtain our deserved reward: knowing that we are in one of the most impeccable visits of Porto and enjoying the fantastic 360º panoramic view which the narrow lookout has to offer. Prepare your five senses and your cameras to obtain the best memories of the city of Duero!
Iglesia de los ClérigosRua de São Filipe de Nery4050-546 Porto
The gastronomy of Portugal is based on the produce of the sea, especially on cod, the star ingredient of this country cooked with hundreds of different recipes. Porto is not an exception and the restaurants of this city offer us different dishes whose main ingredient is the cod or other delights of the sea. Same as it occurs in the rest of the country. But if something differinciate the gastronomy of Porto from the rest of the country, they are the two of the most typical dishes, whose main component is not fish precisely, but meat. Porto is a special city and unique all the way to the question of taste! You will see the first protagonist meat dish on the menu of many restaurants.
They are the famous francesinhas, baked sandwiches filled with various sausages and covered in cheese or in fired egg, all covered with a secret sauce of the francesinhas and furthermore, this usually is accompanied with luscious French fries. All a stupendous, potent caloric bomb for regaining strength upon walking through the steep streets of Porto. The other plate based in meat is our proposal at this point. We will find out the components and its origin, witness of a “historical history” which shows very well the characteristic of the habitants of this city. We speak about the typical Porto style tripes. Indeed, you have read this correctly… Tripes!
And they are delicious. When did this weakness for the cattle tripes of the habitants of this city emerge? Its origin comes from XV century and is born thanks to a seafaring passion which Portugal always proved had. In those times, the country was immersed in an effervescence to discover new commercial routes through the sea and had lots of boats which set sail from the ports of Porto to start its seafaring adventures. To have these brave sailors well nourished, they set sail with a boat filled with meat parts which they dried and salted for their conservation. The population of Porto kept the tripes of these animals because the best pieces were taken by the sailors and since they did not have other pieces of meat, they started to cook them to live off from. From this deed on to this day, the habitants of Porto are known with the affectionate nickname, Tripeiros (tripe eaters). The later Portuguese discoveries have lots to be thankful for precisely to a great Tripeiro. We speak about the Infant Henry the Navigator, the son of King Juan I of Portugal.
Born in Porto, he was a great driving force of the Portuguese navigation. The city of Porto feels very proud to be the cradle of the promoting member of the monarchy. The Porto style tripes dish consists of baked beans to which entrails of animals and mesenteries are added. In Spain, the cooked tripes receive the name Callos and in many American countries, Mondongo. The Porto style tripes is an overwhelmingly savory dish, ideal for regaining strength and which will delight the lovers of spoon dishes.
By the way, how about a Porto wine with a little bit of cheese?
The commercial area of excellence is all the zone that surrounds the pedestrian part of the Rua Santa Catarina. This commercial street, located on the elevated part of the city, is a swarm of shops, roadside stands, urban shopping malls, restaurants and cafeterias. Of course, there are lots of shoppers, tourists and wanderers who walk these streets and around daily. Precisely in one of these streets near the Rua Santa Catarina, the protagonist of this point is located, another commercial spot but somewhat different from the rest. Thanks to it, we will get to know the essence of this city and what its core offers. Never better said, it is theBolhão Market, a traditional market with food stalls, of flowers, of typical products…
Through the genres which the sellers offer in this market, we can dive into the culinary taste of the Tripeiros and get to know their customs better. The Bolhão Market opened its doors in the year 1914. It is composed of multitud of stalls which surround the central patio and are distruibuted en various floors. What can we find in this market? Everything we need for day to day from the galleries of our neighbors, fruits, vegetables, fishes, meats, flowers… The visit is essential for discovering the gastronomic secrets of the Tripeiros but we outsiders also can do our shoppings.
There are lots of stalls which offer typical products of Porto and for a good price for example, eveyrthing related to the home appliances or also stalls which sell wines of Porto. This place also has various establishments for eating or for simply drinking something. Over the years, the atmosphere that this market had was resulting more nostalgic each time, even somewhat decadent, since many of the stalls which were conserved were almost intact from the beginning of the XX century. Finally, the decadent charm was turning into a decrepitude and a total renovation with urgency was necessary.
So in the year 2015, they approved the works for renovating their installations and their entries. During the implementation of these works, the stalls were transferred to a lower part of a nearby shopping mall. After this necessary remodeling, the opening of the renovated market is foreseen in the year 2021 and it will be then when we can enjoy the market in its original location but in a refurbished space. Despite the renovation of the instalment, the stalls would not lose its essence and their vendors will keep offering us loudly the traditional products like they have done all their lives!
Mercado de BolhãoRua de Sá da Bandeira 360 Porto
PORTUGUES CENTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY
The history which blankets the building which we propose at this point is that of one of the tales which is kept recorded in our memories due to its passionate force. This place, at the same time, will give us the opportunity to take a picture with the protagonists of history, even though they are made of bronze. In the plain heart of the city of Porto, we will find Cordoaria’s Gardenand on one of its sides, we find the Portuguese Centre of Photography(CPF). Precisely, from the heart and its affairs, the two lovers, who know a lot, welcome us at the entrance of this museum. But we warn you that they are in their world and are not even going to realize your presence…The Portuguese Centre of Photography was founded in the year 1997 with the objective of preserving all photographic heritage of the city of Porto.
To harbor this museum, they selected a very emblematic building of the city which held a dark past: the old jailhouse. Well, not so old, keeping in mind that this XVIII century building harbored prisoners until 1974, the year in which the political change which brought together the Carnation Revolution with the consequent disappearance of the authoritarian regime of the Estado Novo (the New State) took place. This museum of photography, which entrance is free, is worthy of visiting thanks to all the snapshots which are exhibited and the camaras that are guarded. Furthermore, entering this museum supposes a whole new experience for the visitors given that when going to its different expositions, one goes through the different punishment rooms and through the cells of the old prison, which by the way, conserves the bars intact.
The center consists of temporal expositions and others which are permanent, organized by their themes. But its most valued treasure is found on the third floor where they proudly exhibit its fabulous collection of photographic machines, some which are more than 100 years old. But let’s go to the history of love… There were quite a few famous celebrities who suffered in the past penitentiary of this building in flesh. Camilo Castelo Branco, a famous writer, is among them. This romantic author of the XIX century had a very passionate love life and this amorous behavior served as an inspiration of his works but also sent him to prison. He and his beloved Ana served time in this jailhouse of Porto after both being sentenced for adultery since Ana was a married woman. His story of love with this woman served him as a light in one of his most famous novels, Amor de Perdición.
The sculpture which presides in the entrance of the Portuguese Centre of Photography received this same name. This "Amor de Perdición” of stone is a homage to the writer and the sculpture represents a mature man which embraces a young, naked girl. Taking a picture with the two lovers is a memory which we could bring along in this passionate visit.
This photo will remind us that some love are very risky even though the risk is worth it. Do you agree?
Centro Portugués de FotografíaLargo Amor de Perdição, 4050-008 Porto
HOUSE OF MUSIC
Porto is like an enormous jewel box filled with riches. In fact, it possesses a colossal diamond which is stored inside one of the major treasures of humanity. We will get to know la Casa dela Música (The House of Music), a diamond filled with music. The visiting of the House of Music gives us an opportunity to know a different Porto, actual, daring and renovating. Due to its Avant-guard design and to its great musical activity, this modern building has become one of the most significant in the city and an all icon of contemporary cultural Porto. The origin of this futuristic construction is due to the fact that the city of Porto received the title of European Capital of Culture 2001, a nomenclature shared with Rotterdam.
To homage this shared honor, they decided that a Dutch architect design a cultural space regarding the event in Porto. Likewise, a Portuguese architect would be doing the same in Rotterdam. That was how the Dutch, Rem Koolhaas created the House of Music in Porto, whose Avant-guard design totally breaks with the omnipresent baroque of the historic town and with its old facades. With this breaking contrast, resides precisely its charm. The House of Music is found in the Boavista neighborhood, right in the Albuquerque Plaza, in a replete area of gardens and right in Boavista Avenue, a long road which finishes in the Atlantic Ocean, around 5 kilometers more to the west following a straight line.
The design of this modern building has a form of a diamond whose angles presents different inclinations when leaning with elegance on the fantastic marble floor of Carrara. The main objectives to achieve in this project were to make it into be a space always opened to the public and that its concerts would be able to reach maximum connection between the artist and the public, almost without barriers. This accessible building has different guided visits per day in various different languages to choose from. In it, we will be able to visit most of its rooms and get to know in depth the ins and outs and the functions of this great music box. One of its most notable spaces is the large main auditorium, whose walls made up of double wavy panes achieve perfect insulation from the outside.
In addition, this modern house also has a VIP room, a restaurant-bar and a magnificent terrace that offers superb views of the city. Here, all musical styles have a place, thus promoting culture from the musical plurality. Likewise, this cultural space pays tribute each year to the music of a specific country, organizing concerts and workshops that disseminate its music and honor its artists. Thanks to all of this, the habitants of Porto are proud of their huge music box and consider it as one of their most significant buildings.
This huge diamond encloses in its beautiful architecture the musical notes that make up the soundtrack of the city.
Casa da Música, Av. da Boavista 604-6104149-071, Porto
THE NARROWEST HOUSE IN PORTO
We should not go too far from the Palace of Justice to visit one of the greatest curiosities of Porto. It is so special that we will not forget it easily… As we cross the Cordoaria Garden to the north, we come across an ecclesial Baroque complex in which almost nothing is what it seems… It looks like a great temple, but if we look at it, it is not just one church but two different ones which are almost glued to each other. Looking at the whole complex from the front, we have on the left the church of the Carmelitas Descalzas, also called “That of the Poor”. The church on the right is that of Carmen, also known as “That of the Rich”.
Although it is incredible to us today, during the XXVIII and XIX centuries each social class had its own spaces for prayer. As a demonstration of its social difference and for a greater distinction, the church of Carmen (That of the Rich) presents its right side elegantly decorated with blue and white tiles, making its class very clear from the outside. Here we can also see that these decorative tiles are the ornamental star of the city and the truth is, we don’t get tired of seeing them embellishing so many places. We just mentioned that both churches were built very closely, almost glued to each other. Here lies the curiosity: “almost” glued. At a simple glance, it seems that both temples are connected together, but if we look closely, we will see that they are separated by a very narrow house.
In fact, it is the narrowest building that we can imagine since it is a house only one meter wide. 100 centimeters wide! But do not think that it is decorative or that its purpose is to fill the gap between the two churches… Throughout many years, this narrow building has been the home of doctors, sacristans or bell ringers. In fact, it was inhabited until the 1980s. The reason for this uniqueness lies in the fact that in Porto, in the past, taxes were paid according to the width of the building. The narrower it was, the less tax was paid! The Church of Carmen offers a circuit in which you go through the different floors of this narrow house which also includes a guided tour of the church, its sacristy and its catacombs for less than 4 euros.
Would you dare visit this narrow house? Whatever your answer is, come as soon as possible to visit this great jeweler called Porto! It’s all a treasure!
Iglesia del CarmenRua do Carmo4050-164 Porto
THE IMPOSING STATUE OF THE JUSTICE PALACE
That justice is a very relative value, which depends on the political moment that a country is experiencing, is a reality that humanity has been able to verify throughout its history. Precisely, in Porto there is an enigmatic lady who, from her stony silence, firmly reminds us of it. On one of the sides of the Cordoaria Garden, we come across the austere Palace of Justice of Porto, a stern and classic building, characteristic of the time of the New State, a name that the dictatorial regime received which led Portugal during a whopping 48 years in the XX century. It is a cold, powerful and firm building that intended to transmit the strength and power of the New State.
The force of justice of the said regime wanted to see them reflected in a solemn statue of 7 meters high that seems to protect the building. In fact, it is the tallest bronze statue in the country. It is apotheotic! This colossal statue watches over us from the outside of this “almost Soviet” building with a sword in one hand. Of course, the scene is a bit imposing… But who is this woman and what does she represent? Let’s know more about her. The grandiose bronze sculpture represents Themis, the goddess of justice in the Greek mythology and was erected during the dictatorship. It possesses some details that could give us some information about how justice was lived during the New State.
The first element that strikes us is the absence of a blindfold. In all her representations throughout history, the goddess of justice appears blindfolded to show the objectivity she must have. But in this case, Themis has her eyes wide open, a detail with which the author wanted to point out that the justice of the regime was in constant renewal, adapting to possible social and legal changes. The other details are that Themis firmly puts a sword at rest and does not raise the scale but carries it almost hidden.
These signs could show the force that the regime imposed on the value of justice. Behind the statue is a huge bas-relief with biblical scenes and with references to the four moral virtues of conduct: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. The Palace of Justice was built in 1961 on the site that formerly occupied the fish market. Its seven floors house the Court of Justice of the entire region, and it also houses a museum, which by the way, is free. It is the judicial museum, a place where artistic items and furniture from the old judicial facilities are exhibited and also an exhibition that shows old law books and notebooks with data on convicts of the old prison, which by the way, had its headquarters a few meters from this building.
Surely in those notebooks, the names of Camilo Castelo Branco and his loved one appear. What history has! Few are the meters that separate the sculpture of this processed couple with that of the goddess Themis, who seems to still keep an eye on there lovers…
Palacio de la Justicia de Oporto
Campo dos Mártires da Pátria 4099 4050-366, Porto
PEARLS OF HISTORIC PORTO
Porto is a city so filled with art and beauties to visit that one may even have the fear of overlooking some of these wonders. Following our comparison of Porto with a jeweler, let’s take a walk like a pearl necklace. Each pearl of the necklace, a treasure to visit. Even this necklace has a clasp! This route is very comfortable for walking, as it only covers two kilometers, and is also downhill. We can start this walk that we can do without haste in about 45 min… Our route begins at the Capela das Almas(Chapel of Souls), a charming neo-classical temple from the XVIII century located right next to the Bolhão metro stop and that leaves those who see it for the first time speechless thanks to its spectacular façade full of 16,000 white and blue tiles that describe scenes from the life of Saint Catherine and Saint Francis of Assisi.
Impressive! From this point, we begin to descend along the pedestrianized Rua Santa Catarina, a commercial paradise dotted with the best-known establishments and always full of liveliness. We go through it until we reach the junction with Rua 31 de Janeiro, where another pearl full of tiles awaits us, the Church of San Ildefonso. The 11,000 tiles on the façade of this baroque marvel tell us about parts of the Gospel. Continuing along Rua 31 de Janeiro towards west, we arrive at the emblematic San Benito Station, one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world, in whose hall some 20,000 tiles describe to us episodes of the history of Portugal. We continue our walk along the iconic Rua das Flores, which we will take right in front of the station.
This precious street, declared a World Heritage Site for its beauty, is a pleasant way to go from the upper part of the city to the riverbank. During your tour, we will find jewelers, bookstores, many charming shops and restaurants with a lot of delights. This street ends at the back of the Ferreira Borges Market, a red and iron structure that houses a place of leisure that includes exhibitions, markets and a spacious restaurant. The main door of this market is in the Plaza del Infante Don Enrique, where there is a great pearl of our necklace: the Palacio de la Bolsa, one of the most beautiful buildings in Porto. This neoclassical building was built in the XIX century and is a national monument.
It houses the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and offers guided tours in which you can visit its elegant and sumptuous rooms.And as the final touch to our walk, descending through any of the streets which leads us to the river, we arrive at Ribeira do Porto, a magnificent walk along the banks of the Douro River with wonderful views of the wineries located in the neighboring Vila Nova de Gaia, and full of terraces where we can recharge our batteries while we observe how the Duero flows rapidly, without knowing that a few kilometers later, it will die in the ocean…
Capelas das Almas
Rua de Santa Catarina 428
Iglesia de San Ildefonso
Rua de Santo Ildefonso 11
4000-542 Porto San Benito Station
Praça de Almeida Garrett
4000-069 Porto Ferreira Borges Market
Rua da Bolsa 194050-253 Porto
Chamber of Commerce
Rua de Ferreira Borges
JARDINS DO PALACIO DE CRISTAL
How tiring the life of a tourist can get at times! More in a city like Porto, full of steep streets topped with cobbled sidewalks and with lots of monument to see. How about we take a little break to disconnect with the mundane noise? We have just the place for that…Just a kilometer away from the Cordoaria’s Garden, we find the haven of peace chosen for our well-deserved rest. A perfect place for relaxing, to be in contact with nature, from a place where we can enjoy various views over the city and which also has a fascinating name: Jardins do Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace Garden). Who wouldn’t want to visit a place with this name…?These elegant and romantic gardens were designed in the XIX century with the purpose of creating an ample green space which surrounded the Crystal Palace. But don’t waste time searching for this mysterious palace stall which no longer exists between the flowerbeds.
During the mid-XX century, it was substituted by the Pabellón Rosa Mota, a modern, multifunctional installation with the capacity to fit 5,400 people with an aspect of a futuristic capsule. Maybe this building would be the least delicate of these gardens but we promise that everything that surrounds it is pure romanticism. Indeed, Pabellón Rosa Mota meets its committed polyvalent installation to a perfection. This vast park possesses different thematic areas to roam around which receive the most suggestive names, like the Medicine Garden, the Garden of the Germinated Cities, the Garden of the Aromatic Plants, or the Garden of Feelings.
How many sensations would we strengthen walking through these evocative gardens? Furthermore, along our walk we could enjoy the company of different birds that roam freely throughout the park like roasters or peacocks. TheCrystal Palace Gardenhave other wonders to visit like the Romantic Musuem, the Chapel ofCarlos Alberto de Cerdeña or theSolar del Vino de Oporto. But one of its major attractions is its sensational viewpoints, spread out along all its breadth and all situated in an elevated position, offering different panoramic views over the city from different angles.
It’s an authentic pleasure for our senses to roam these gardens, to feel the intoxicating odor of these plants, to enjoy its collection of roses and camelias, to delight ourselves with the statues and with the water fountains which adorn the park and to be able to relax before the numerous panoramas which its viewpoints offer us. One of the most relaxing views is to be able to peacefully observe how the ships navigate through the Duero River passing below its magnificent bridges. What a relax! The life of a tourist no longer is so tiring, right?
Jardines del Palacio de CristalRua de Dom Manuel II 4050-346 Porto
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