Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Porto, Portugal

Porto is located on the Douro River and is the second-largest city in Portugal.  The city is home to around 238,000 people while the greater metro area has a population of around 1.3 million.

Back in the 4th century, Porto was an outpost of the Roman Empire.  In 711 AD it was invaded by the Moors and in 868 AD it was reclaimed by the Portuguese.

View from Nova de Gaia

The city's most famous export is its port wine.  Although all of the port actually comes from across the river in Nova de Gaia.

The Porto Cathedral is the city's oldest building.  The Romanesque cathedral was completed in 1737.  This is where Prince Henry the Navigator was baptized.

In 1996, the historic city center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Avenida dos Aliados is lined with grand buildings while the town hall sits at the top of the boulevard.

The Clérigos church tower was completed in 1763.  It used to be the tallest structure in Portugal.  Ships used it as a guide when coming in from the ocean.

The Trindade church was built in the early 19th century while the fountain in front of the church dates back to the 18th century. 

The monument to celebrate the 5th centuries since Prince Henry the Navigator's birth was inaugurated in 1900.

The São Bento train station was officially inaugurated in 1916.  However the first train actually arrived here in 1896.  The inside of the station is decorated with lovely blue tiles. 

The Casa da Musica opened in 2005.  The 12-storey building hosts a 1,300 seat auditorium. 

The column with a lion and a flattened French eagle is a monument that celebrates the victory of the Portuguese and British in the Peninsular War.

What looks like one really big church is actually two churches that is connected by a narrow house that is just one meter (3 feet) wide.

The Carmelitas church on the left was part of a former 17th century convent.  On the right is the Carmo church which was built in the 18th century.  The house that separates the churches was inhabited until around 20 years ago.  There used to be a law that did not allow two churches to share a wall.  The house also ensured the chastity between the nuns from Carmelitas and the monks from Carmo.

The Fort of São João Baptista da Foz guarded access to the Porto from the sea.  Construction on the fort began in 1570.


Castelo do Queijo is also known as Forte de São Francisco Xavier.  It's a great place to look at the Atlantic Ocean.


Next to the fort is Sea Life Porto, which is one of a chain of aquariums.  The Porto location opened in 2009.

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