Porto was elected Best European Destination for 2017. It is the third time for Porto. It has already won this title in 2012 and 2014. Aside for having some of the most beautiful places in the world (in my previous post). Porto also boasts of 3 UNESCO world heritage sites and more.
Dom Luis 1 Bridge – UNESCO World Heritage Site, An Ironwork Showpiece. This iconic bridge opened in 1886, when it held the record for the longest iron arch in the world, with a span of 172 metres (564 ft) and a height of 44.6 metres (146 ft) this was a great feat of engineering.
Dom Luis 1 Bridge – The designer Téophile Seyrig, had been Gustavo Eiffel’s (of Eiffel tower in Paris) partner on the previous project, and showed himself to be a more than able engineer with this bridge. It is worth making the crossing on the upper level, although being 60 metres (190 ft) above the waters of the Douro, it might not be for everyone! I did cross it, but I think it was the longest bridge crossing of my life!
Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar – The convent built in the 16th century belonged to the Order of Saint Augustine. Part of the area classified by UNESCO as World Heritage in December 1996, the Monastery of Serra do Pilar is the architectural landmark of Gaia.
It’s historical centre or I should say OLD TOWN of Porto is a UNESCO world heritage site.
I thought I was able to get away with the 7 hills of Lisbon when we went to Porto. Only to realize that the city of Porto is built along the “hillsides” overlooking the mouth of the Douro river.
The central area of the city is outlined with a traverse of slight ascent and descent paths. But I am not complaining. You can find several old Churches in the Historical Centre.
The Igreja de Santo Ildefonso situated close to Batalha Square, dates back to the 18th century. The church was completed in 1739 and includes a framed altarpiece by the prolific Italian architect, Nicolau Nasoni. It has a striking façade of over 11,000 classic blue and white azulejos, added in 1932 by Jorge Colaço (he also did the azulejos at Sao Bento Train Station).
The Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas are twin churches built between 1756 and 1768. Igreja do Carmo has an azulejo-covered exterior with the church done in the rococo style. The two churches are separated by a very narrow (1m wide) house that was inhabited until the 1980’s. The house was built so that the two churches would not share a common wall and to prevent any relations between the nuns of Igreja dos Carmelitas and the monks of Igreja do Carmo.
The Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto) – It is one of the city’s oldest monuments and one of the most important local Romanesque monuments. The current Cathedral of Porto underwent construction around 1110 under the patronage of Bishop Hugo and was completed in the 13th century, but there is evidence that the city has been a bishopric seat since the Suevi domination in the 5th-6th centuries.
The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace)- inspired by the Neopalladian architecture. Building work began in 1842 and the general structure of the Palácio was completed by 1850.
Cais da Ribeira – The alluring district of Ribeira is made up of medieval streets and seedy alleyways. It is a crumbling but fascinating place, ending at a riverfront square (“Praça da Ribeira”).
With photogenic traditional boats floating at the quayside overlooked by colorful ancient houses, this is the most picturesque spot in the city and the place everyone loves — UNESCO did too, and declared it a World Heritage Site.
Don’t forget to cap your tour listening to Fado (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈfaðu]; “destiny, fate”) is a music genre which can be traced to the 1820s in Lisbon, Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. On 27 November 2011, fado was inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
You can have a free Fado show at Porto Cálem wine cellar. The only wine cellar that offers this treat. It is on every 6pm after the port wine tour. It is nice experience listening to fado while sipping your red and white port wine at the end of the day.
I never expected Porto to be as beautiful as it is. I only knew a few things about Porto prior to my trip. One of them is that it is constantly featured as one of the affordable places to go in Europe. That is true, Porto is a beautiful city without the expensive price tag, well maybe that’s why it’s the winner for Best European Destination 2017!
Facts grabbed from Wikipedia, portugalvisitor.com, and other websites I can’t remember.