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Traveling in Porto (Oporto)

Traveling in Porto (Oporto)

by Tony Coelho

Dom Luis I bridge - Porto

Dom Luis I Bridge – Porto

Porto (Oporto as it is know to the British) is the second largest city in Portugal and is the capital of its Northern region. It is an industrial and commercial center that is constantly buzzing. It was built along the hills that are set overlooking the Douro River estuary, across from Vila Nova de Gaia, known for its Porto (Port) wine cellars and taste-rooms. Porto’s historical center had been awarded World Heritage status in 1996 by UNESCO. The inhabitants of Porto separate themselves culturally from the rest of the country while still very much retaining their Portuguese roots.

Visitors will appreciate the side-by-side mix of the classic medieval architecture and the modern architecture. The landscape is hilly and can be difficult to walk around, and they have stairs that are along the cliff. Many buildings are built into the cliff face overlooking the lazy river Douro, the second biggest river in Portugal and key thoroughfare for the Port wine industry. The margins of the Douro are connected by bridges, the most famous called Ponte D. Luis. You must cross this historic bridge to get to Vila Nova de Gaia and appreciate Porto from a vantage point of view and in front of a delicious glass of Port wine.

Se do Porto

Found within the historical center of Porto, it is one of the oldest monuments located in the city as well as one of the most important Romanesque monuments in all of Portugal. They had begun the building process in the 12th century, and it was largely rebuilt a century later. It had extensive work done on it again in the 18th century, though there are still hints of its original Romanesque style.

Palacio da Bolsa

Another historical landmark of Porto, this is a neoclassical monument that honors Porto’s past and present money merchants. It was built from 1842 to 1910, and offers guided tours to visit the rooms throughout the building. One feature is the Salão Árabe, which is a stunning ballroom that has stucco walls with Moorish designs and gilded with some 18k of gold. Another feature is the glass-domed Pátio das Nações, the Hall of Nations.

Casa da Musica

This is an important concert hall space located here in Porto. It is the home of the cultural institution of the same name with three orchestras: Orquestra Nacional do Porto, Orquestra Barroca and Remix Ensemble. It is a recent building, being inaugurated in 2005. The building design itself is notable, getting must praise from architectural critics. It has 2 main auditoriums, though the rest of the building has areas that can be utilized for concerts and other musical activity. There is also a restaurant located at the top of the building as well. You can find many concerts performed here on most nights, including summer concerts that take place outdoors in the adjoining plaza.

Igreja do Carmo

The Igreja do Carmo is a church that dates back to the late 18th century. It is a gorgeous azulejo-covered church and among the best examples of rococo architectures that can be found in Porto. It pays tribute to “Our Lady”. It is a beautiful site to look at and visit.

If you Go

Tours

There are a variety of tours that you can take part in to really indulge in this amazing culture. One of the more popular options is the Douro Valley Wine Tour. This area is very famous for their wine, so it makes sense to visit this scenic region to see the vineyards that are located along the Douro River. On these tours, they often include a traditional lunch of the region as well as visiting a vineyard to taste the award-winning local wines. Some tours will even offer boat rides to each area, really allowing you to take in the breathtaking scenery this area has to offer. Visit or tour pages for more information.

Packages

Popular packages include those that stop in Porto as you tour Portugal. The Lisbon and Porto Towns and Villages and the 8 Day Essential Tour are examples of self-drive packages that use Porto as one of the stops. Private packages include the Elegantly tour of Portugal. Several escorted packages including the Small Group Tour of Portugal also make Porto a must stop. For more information please visit our packages page.

Hotels

Porto has hundreds of great hotels to choose from. For a list of hotels please visit our Porto hotel pages.

Rental Car

Rent your car in Porto by visiting Portugal.com car hire pages.

Conclusion

Porto (Oporto), Portugal offers a very unique spin on the traditional European trip. The city itself is majestic looking, and you will not be disappointed by the history and culture that Porto has to offer tourists. This is especially a perfect spot for those who love to take in world famous wine. You can also enjoy the quiet calm of the Douro River. This is an absolute must-see for tourists that love rich culture and history.

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