Porto – The Birthplace of the Sweet Port Wine
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the oldest European centers in the world. You may know it as Oporto, which is often the way the English speaking world refers to it. The reason for that is very simple. In Portuguese the name of the city is spelled ‘o Porto’, which means ‘the port’. In time, a faulty interpretation of the oral pronunciation led to the name Oporto as a single word. But regardless of how you call it, this is a truly fascinating city, which is particularly famous for its port wine (Vino do Porto), but which has much more than that to offer to its visitors.
The city is locatedin Northern Portugal, along the Douro River estuary. Its name originated in the Roman Empire era, when it was called Portus Cale. It is also believed that this name evolved into ‘Portugal’, meaning that the name of the entire country comes from this specific place. Today its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which determines many passionate travelers to plan their trips around this beautiful area of the city.
Here you will find a series of remarkable sights, each one special in its own way. St Francis’ Church(Igreja de São Francisco) for example is the most important Gothic structure in the city. While its exterior is quite impressive, it is the interior that always leaves tourists in awe. It is a Baroque masterpiece with intricate decorations, all covered in gold.
Another remarkable church is the iconic Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto), which dates back to the year 1110. Its construction was only completed in the 13th century and it is one of Portugal’s most important Romanesque constructions. It is also one of the oldest monuments in Porto, which makes it a prime landmark of the city. If flaunts a unique and pleasant combination of styles, harmoniously merging together Gothic, Baroque and Romanesque elements: the funerary chapel, the porch and the rose window, respectively. The two towers with buttresses and cupolas, as well as the crenellated arch between them give the building the allure of a fortified church.
One of the most easily recognizable monuments of the city is the Clérigos Tower with Roman baroque influences. It stands 248 feet tall, and all its 6 floors and 240 steps are entirely worth climbing, because the view at the top is amazing. The tower was built between 1754 and 1763, but the church that it belongs to is a bit older, as its construction began around 1732. The main façade of the building is adorned with beautiful Baroque decorations like shells and garlands.
When you leave the city, we suggest you choose the route that takes you over the Dom Luis Bridge. Built between 1881 and 1886, it links Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, going over Douro River. This is an important landmark because at the time it was constructed, its arch was the longest one in the world, measuring 172 meters (564 feet). The overall length of the metal bridge is 385.25 meters (1,264 feet), and its height is 44.6 meters (143 feet). Its architect (ThéophileSeyrig) also worked on the grand Eiffel Towerproject. This is definitely not a bad way to leave (or enter) the city: on majorly significant ironwork that is intrinsically linked to Paris’ most iconic monument.
- The best time of year to come here is from March until June and then from September until November.
- If you want to try a new dish while in Porto, you should go for tripas.
- Tips here usually go between 5 and 10 percent from the total bill. For special services you can feel free to give a more generous gratuity.
- If you have time for a daytrip to Douro, don’t let the opportunity pass you by. And make sure you take your camera with you – the views are breathtaking.
- Plush hotels that you can trust: InfanteSagres Hotel,Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa, The Yeatman Hotel, and several others.