Last year Porto was named European best destination by European travel agencies. In 2001 it was designated as European Cultural Capital by Europe Union. Earlier in 1996 UNESCO declared the historical centre of Porto as World Heritage Site. This string of accolades made it easier for me and my family to choose this city as our summer holiday destination for this year.
Ribeira, the ancient quarter of Porto, the World Heritage Site seen from Douro river
Porto or Oporto is Portugal’s second largest city after Lisbon. The city had been developed from the bank of the river Douro which streams to the Atlantic ocean. Due to this strategic location, Porto, then a settlement called Portus Cale, played an important role for trade during Roman occupation in the 4th century BC. Before that the Celts lived there according to the Celtic ruins found in the city’s citadels. In the Middle Ages the Moors occupied Porto.
Porto profited from the conquests of the new world in the 13th – 15th century. Two centuries later industrial growth took place. From then on the city has expanded and continued the developments as shown now.
Enough about Porto’s rich history. Let me show you Porto through my lens. Since the Douro river plays an important role, here are the bridges. The Arrabida bridge guards the Douro river from the Atlantic ocean.
This is the Dom Luis I bridge connecting Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side as seen in the pic. This iron bridge is Porto’s icon. If you look closely you’d see similarity in its design with the Eiffel Tower in Paris. No wonder because Gustave Eiffel’s disciple Teófilo Seyrig, built this. The bridge supports two decks. The upper deck is the rail bridge while the lower one is for vehicles and pedestrians.
One of Porto’s many landmarks; igreja São Francisco (Saint Francis church). The exterior is in Gothic style while the interior is in Baroque. This church is established in 1223. Did you know that Indonesian word for church is derived from igreja; gereja?
A cute entry of a house on the riverbank.
There are three tram lines in Porto. This is tram line 1 which rides a touristic route along the Douro. Its starting point is right in front of igreja São Francisco. One single trip costs € 2,50 (price July 2015).
This restaurant is also situated in the neighbourhood of igreja São Francisco. I had my lunch here, it was delicious. More of Porto food and drink is coming up in another post.
This is one of the streets in La Ribeira which leads to the Douro. Most of the city landmarks are within vicinity of La Ribeira. You just need to be prepared for a walk up and down the streets. Ladies, leave your high heels at home. The streets are really steep.
Avenida Dos Aliados with Porto city hall in the center. This avenue houses many attractive boutiques, restaurants and cafes.
Playing tourist by buying these wonderful postcards.
This souvenir stand is located in Mercado Do Bolhao.
Igreja dos Clérigos with its tower.
Stunning colourful tiled houses
View from the ancient Torre Medieval, beside Porto Cathedral.
Descending Avenida Dom Alfonso Henriques, heading for Sao Bento station and Igreja de Santo Antonio dos Congregados (that stunning blue tiled building in the middle).
During my stay there, I was drawn to the historical city centre almost every day despite me staying in the modern quarter of Boavista. I wish I could stay longer to explore more. Here are 9 reasons why you should visit Porto according to a fellow blogger of mine, Bhella. She did her Master degree there, so consider her advice as the one from a local.
Well, I should end this first post about Porto here. Now I understand why Porto was elected European best destination. And I will surely be back to admire its parks, museums, beaches and ancient architecture. And not to forget the delicious food and wine. Oh Porto!