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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Oporto

The lively port, industrial and commercial city of Oporto (known in Portugal as Porto: the traditional English name preserves the older form, from "o porto" the harbor), is Portugal's second largest town but also its least typical, with a matter of fact and business like approach to life which perhaps owes something to its British connections; a much quoted proverb says that money is earned in Oporto and spent in Lisbon. Its enchanting location alone makes it one of the most beautiful towns in the Iberian peninsula.

The houses are packed close together against the steep rockfaces, forming highly picturesque terraces. Oporto is like Lisbon in having the old town on a hill to the east and the newer districts on another hill to the west. Large scale replanning in recent years has given the heart of the city attractive new streets and squares, with parks and gardens mingling northern and southern flora.

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Praça da Liberdade

The spacious Praça da Liberdade is graced by a statue, on horseback, of King Pedro IV (d. 1834), who was also Emperor Pedro I of Brazil from 1822 to 1831. Off the north side of the square opens the Avenida dos Aliados, a broad avenue laid out in 1923-29 after the demolition of an old residential quarter and now lined by banks and imposing office blocks, leading up to the City Hall. With its high central tower this early 20th C. granite building is reminiscent of its Dutch and Belgian counterparts.

Igreja dos Clérigos

From the southwest corner of the Praça da Liberdade in Oporto the busy Rua dos Clérigos runs up to the Igreja dos Clérigos, built by the Italian architect Nicoló Nasoni in 1732-48, a Baroque church with an oval interior.
Address: Rua dos Clérigos, Porto, Portugal

Clérigos Tower

Linked to the Igreja dos Clérigos is the Torre dos Clérigos, 75m/245ft high and built in 1755-63 at the expense of the Oporto clergy. It has come to be the symbol of Oporto and there is a panoramic view from the top over the city and the Douro Valley to the Atlantic coast.
Address: Rua dos Clérigos, Porto, Portugal

Campo dos Mártires da Pátria

North and west of the Clérigos church is the broad Campo dos Mártires da Pátria. A part of it is taken up by the Praça de Lisboa, with its market stalls, while another part holds the beautiful Jardim de Joao Chagas (Jardim da Cordoaria). On the south side stands the old prison (18th C.), and at the northwest corner the Hospital de Santo António (begun 1769). On the north side of the Campo is the University (founded in 1911; previously a technical college), which also has a small Natural History Museum.

Soares dos Reis National Museum

Some 500m/550yd northwest of the Campo dos Mártires, in Rua de Dom Manuel II, the Palácio dos Carrancas, built in 1795 as a royal palace, now houses the Soares dos Reis National Museum. The museum's collections are of prehistoric and Roman antiquities, medieval and modern sculpture, pictures, pottery and porcelain, goldsmith's work, furniture and textiles.
The art collection deserves special mention, including as it does work by the Oporto sculptor Soares dos Reis (1847 99; "O Desterrado", "Inglesa", "Flor Agreste"), and by Teixeira Lopes ("Infância de Caim") and Diogo de Macedo. In the field of painting the 16th C. Portuguese school is represented by Vasco Fernandes and Frei Carlos, the 19th and 20th C. by Henrique Pousao (collection of his principal works), Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, António Carneiro, António Carvalho da Silva Porto, Marques de Oliveira, Aurélia de Sousa ("Self portrait"), Eduardo Viana and Dordio Gomes ("Casas de Malakoff"). Works by non Portuguese artists include pictures by Frenchmen Jean Clouet and Jean Baptiste Pillement.
Address: Rua D. Manuel II, 4050-342 Porto, Portugal

Jardim do Palácio de Cristal

A little way southwest of the Soares dos Reis Museum is the flower filled Jardim do Palácio de Cristal, the setting for the Pavilhao dos Desportos, the sports arena, with seating for 10,000 spectators and also a venue for concerts, exhibitions, etc., which in 1952 replaced the former "Crystal Palace". From the south side of the park, where a chapel commemorating King Charles Albert of Sardinia was built in 1851, there is a superb view over the city, the river and the sea.

Romantic Museum

Hidden away to the west of the Jardim do Palácio de Cristal is the Romantic Museum, fully furnished as a Portuguese house of the 19th C., with the room in which King Charles Albert of Sardinia (b. 1798) died in 1849 also on view.
Address: Rua Entrequintas, 220 (Quinta da Macieirinha), 4050-240 Porto, Portugal

Praça de Mousinho de Albuquerque

North of the Jardim do Palácio de Cristal, outside the actual city center and therefore probably not for inclusion on a first trip round Oporto is the Praça de Mousinho de Albuquerque (or Rotunda da Boavista), in the middle of which stands a massive monument 45m/148ft tall (erected 1923-29) commemorating the war with France of 1808/09.

Igreja de Cedofeita

Just east of the Praça de Mousinho de Albuquerque is the little Romanesque Igreja de Cedofeita (12th C.), the city's oldest church whose name - cedo feita = soon finished - indicates the speed with which it was built.
Address: Rua Anibal Cunha 193, Portugal

Museum of Modern Art

A visit to the Museum of Modern Art, on the western edge of the city, is also best left out of a first day's exploration of Oporto. The museum is on the grounds of the impressive Casa de Serralves, situated in its own large park, and puts on temporary exhibitions from various sectors of the arts.
Address: Rua de Serralves 977, Portugal

Igreja de Sao Bento da Vitória

Continuing with the tour of the city, the route goes back from the Jardim do Palácio de Cristal to the Jardim de Joao Chagas and then takes a turn to the right through one of the alleys to the twin towered church of Sao Bento da Vitória. Its simple and rather shabby exterior, dating from the early 17th C., belies the magnificent furnishings and gilt carving of the interior.

Rua das Flores

From the terrace in front of the Igreja de Sao Bento da Vitória steps lead down east to the Largo de Sao Domingos, on the north side of which is the end of the Rua das Flores. This former street of goldsmiths and cloth merchants still has many jewelers' shops in it today.

Igreja da Misericórdia

The Igreja da Misericórdia, in the Rua das Flores, is a church built in the first half of the 18th C. by Nasoni, who was also responsible for the Clérigos church.
Address: Rua das Flores 15, Portugal

Praça do Infante Dom Henrique

From the Largo de Sao Domingos, Rue Ferreira Borges runs southward into the Praça do Infante Dom Henrique, with a monument to Henry the Navigator. The Mercado de Ferreira Borges on the north side of the square provides an exhibition venue in the covered market built in 1883. On the west side of the square is Portugal's most important authority, the Instituto do Vinho de Portugal.

Palácio da Bolsa

On the west side of the Praça do Infante Dom Henrique, occupying the site of a Franciscan convent which was destroyed by fire, is the Stock Exchange, the Palácio da Bolsa, built in 1842 and headquarters of Oporto's Chamber of Commerce. A modern glass building also stands where the convent cloisters once stood. The interior of the building can be visited on weekdays (guide compulsory), and the Moorish Hall, used for official receptions, is particularly worth seeing.
Address: Rua de Ferreira Borges, 4050-253 Porto, Portugal

Igreja de Sao Francisco

South of the Palácio da Bolsa in Oporto is the former church of the Franciscan convent, the Igreja de Sao Francisco. Originally Gothic but remodeled in Baroque style, it has a large rose window. The interior has sumptuous talha dourada decoration (17th/18th centuries); also of interest is the elegant Renaissance tomb of the merchant Francisco Brandao Pereira (d. 1528) decorated with gilded vines, birds and angels. Adjoining the church is a small museum of sacred art. Above the museum there is access to the catacombs which were used in the 17th and 18th centuries as tombs for members of the Franciscan order.
Address: Rua da Bolsa 7, Portugal

House of the Prince (Historical Archives)

Until a few years ago it was considered very doubtful whether the Casa do Infante, or its predecessor (in the Rua Alfândega Velha, below the Praça do Infante Dom Henrique) actually is the site of the house where Henry the Navigator was born. During investigations made in 1992 traces of 15th C. works were discovered together with some from the Roman era, under the foundations. Today it houses the city archives.

Ribeira

View over Ribeira, Porto.
The Rua de Sao Joao continues down to the banks of the Douro. Although the only boats that moor in the former harbor quarter of Ribeira are those taking people for trips on the river, this part of Oporto still retains much of its former charm. Life centers on the Praça da Ribeira. Here and in the alleys around about, the "travessas", there is a maze of colorful houses which are a picturesque attraction for the tourists, albeit less attractive for the people who live here as the quarter is in urgent need of investment. Only some of the houses along the bank of the Douro were renovated and refurbished. Today they are art galleries, boutiques and high class restaurants.

Ponte de Dom Luis I

Walking east from the Centro Regional de Artes Tradicionais, passing by innumerable stalls, shops and simple restaurants, the visitor arrives at the lower tier of the Dom Luis I Bridge. From here it is possible either to walk over the bridge, enjoying the view of Oporto's sea of houses, and ending up by looking around one of the port lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia, or carrying on with the tour to the north and the Cathedral.
The bridge of Louis I, the Ponte de Dom Luis I, leads directly from the center of Oporto to Vila Nova de Gaia. An iron bridge, it was built between 1881 and 1885 by the Belgian Willebroeck Company and spans the Douro in a single arch 172m/565ft wide. There are two roads, the lower one 10m/33ft, the upper one 68m/223ft above the water. From the upper road, which is also open to pedestrians, and from the south end in particular, there are magnificent views of the city and the river within its steeply sloping banks.

Centro Regional de Artes Tradicionais

This center lies in Rua Reboleira, to the west of Praça da Ribeira. Here visitors can see handicraft items from the north of Portugal; there is also the opportunity to purchase some nice gifts.

Cathedral

The Porto Cathedral.
The twin towered Cathedral was originally a Romanesque church built in the 12th C. but later altered in Gothic style and almost completely rebuilt in the 17th and 18th C. while retaining much of its fortified character. The rosette over the portal on the west facade is still Romanesque, and the loggia on the north facade was by Nasoni in 1736. The interior is predominantly Romanesque and there are several richly decorated altars, including the carved and gilded wooden main altar below the choir from the early 18th C., and, even more magnificent, the silver Altar of the Sacrament to the left of the high altar, in the Capela mór, and the work of several Portuguese artists between 1632 and 1732. In the left hand aisle can be seen the statue of Nossa Senhora de Vendoma, patron saint of Oporto. In the south aisle is an entrance, through the sacristy, into the Gothic cloister (1385); the azulejos date from the early 18th C. Adjoining this are the remains of the Romanesque cloister.
The terraces on the north and west sides of the cathedral afford views far out over Oporto's maze of streets and houses. The Manueline pelourinho on the Cathedral's west facade dates from the late 19th C.
Address: Terreiro da Sé, Portugal
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Igreja dos Grilos (São Lourenço)

The terrace on the west facade of the Cathedral faces the Igreja dos Grilos which was built in 1614 by Baltazar Alvarés as a Jesuit seminary church. It derives its name from the barefoot Augustinian monks to whom the church passed in 1780. Because of their brown habits they were known as grillos (crickets).

Casa Guerra Junqueiro

To the east of the cathedral is an 18th C. Baroque building, at 32 Rua D. Hugo, which is also ascribed to Nasoni. It was the abode of Abílio Manuel de Guerra Junqueiro (1850-1923), the poet and political activist whose verses vehemently championed the Republican cause.
Address: Rua D. Hugo, 32, 4050-305 Porto, Portugal

Igreja de Santa Clara

Further east from the Casa Guerra Junqueiro on the other side of the road onto the Ponte de D. Luis I, is the church of Santa Clara, originally Gothic but much altered at the time of the Renaissance and with an interior full of talha dourada.

Praça da Batalha

An ornate church in Praca da Batalha.
The Rua Augusto Rosa in Oporto leads northeast from the Santa Clara church to the traffic thronged Praça da Batalha. Here the most impressive buildings are the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, with blue and white azulejos on its Baroque facade, and the Teatro de Sao Joao (1920).

Oporto Central

The central region of Oporto stretches south of the Praca de Republica to the Douro River.

Bishop's Palace

To the south of the cathedral is the former Bishop's Palace (begun 1771), an imposing building with an elegant staircase and now occupied by civic offices.

Estaçao de Sao Bento

To return to the start of the city walk go west from the Praça da Batalha along Rua 31 de Janeiro to the main railroad station, Estaçao de Sao Bento. This station was built in the early 20th C., and the walls of its concourse are covered in azulejos depicting historical themes and the story of various means of transport.

Alameda das Fontainhas

For another magnificent view, take the Rua de Alexandre Herculano from the southern end of the Praça da Batalha to the Alameda das Fontainhas, a lovely promenade high above the Douro.

Café Majestic

Those seeking refreshment should visit the Cafe Majestic. This Art Nouveau style establishment has a unique atmosphere and stays open until 2am.

Igreja dos Congregados

Opposite the Estaçao de Sao Bento stands the Igreja dos Congregados, built around 1700 and flanked by shops and flats, with azulejos over much of its facade. It is just a few hundred yards from here to the Praça da Liberdade, thus completing this walk round the city.
Address: Praça de Almeida Garrett, Portugal

Vila Nova de Gaia

The lodges, to which Oporto owes much of its fame, is concentrated in the suburb of Vila Nova de Gaia on the south bank of the Douro. "Gaia" is a version of the Latin "cale", i.e. lovely, as in "Portus Cale" (i.e. Portugal).
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Ponte de Dona Maria Pia

Ponte de Dona Maria Pia, east of the center, is a railroad bridge, operational since 1877 and designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. Its iron structure is 344m/1,128ft long and about 60m/197ft above the river. To cope with the increasing volume a new railroad bridge has been built close by.

Ponte da Arrábida

The bridge further west of the Ponte de Dona Maria Pia, outside the center, is the Ponte da Arrábida which was opened in 1963 and carries the expressway. There is now a new expressway bridge to the east beyond the city center.

Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar

On a hill east of the Ponte de Dom Luis is the former Augustinian monastery of Serra do Pilar (17th C.). Adjoining the round church with its splendid dome is a cloister, also circular, its barrel vaulting borne on 36 Ionic columns. From the terrace there is what is probably the very best view over Oporto and the Douro Valley with its bridges.
Address: Serra do Pilar, Portugal

Port Lodges

West of the Ponte de Dom Luis are the long, low armázens, or lodges, often sunk deep in the granite, of Oporto's merchants, many of them British in origin. Almost all the producers offer tours daily (except Sun.) of their lodges.

Igreja do Carmo

Carmo Church in Porto.
To the northwest of Campo dos Mártires da Pátria, opposite the University, on the Praça de Gomes Teixeira, are two adjoining churches. To the right is the Igreja do Carmo (1756), its east end covered with 19th C. blue azulejos, and to the left the Igreja das Carmelitas (1619 28), both of them containing richly gilded altars.
Address: Rua do Carmo, Portugal

Igreja da Immaculada

Oporto's main shopping street, the Rua de Santa Catarina, now partly pedestrianized, runs from the north end of the square to the Praça do Marquês de Pombal, where the church of the Immaculate Conception, built between 1939 and 1947, is a good example of more modern Portuguese church architecture.

Portuguese Photographic Centre

The Portuguese Photography Centre seeks to preserve the photographic heritage, promote Portuguese and international photography and support photographic projects. Photographic exhibitions are held throughout the year.

Quinta do Meio

The venerable tulip tree inside the garden is listed as a national monument. A great variety of sassafras, red-flowering gum, Judas tree and a southern magnolia grow among a collection of camellas and rare Portuguese hybrids.

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