We will cross the Douro River over the Ponte Luis I Bridge to admire the magnificent views, go down to the brightest houses in Ribeira and visit the complex of the episcopal palace Porto. We will try wine, tapas and a great mix of culture, history and people.
The most convenient parking. Sprawled near important objects. The perfect place to start walks on the bridge. It is important to fill up in the parking building itself if you walk along the top of the bridge. If at the bottom of the bridge, then you need to go out at the same level where the entrance was.
By jad99 from Graz, Austria - Ponte Dom Luís I, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32993747
Upper exit from the parking building. We will go here to get up and see beautiful views. It will be necessary after the exit to climb up the narrow street. The rise is not very steep, but if you walk in the summer months make sure that you have water with you.
From the roof of this building, one of the most beautiful views of the city opens. Here is a nice cafe. The cable car already became a touristic attraction and a sustainable mean of transport, connecting Gaia riverside promenade to the upper deck of D. Luis I bridge over river Douro nearby Jardim do Morro Metro station and the Belvedere of Serra do Pilar convent church. The Gaia Cable Car construction began in March 2009, and the public operation started after two years, in April 2011.
The Dom Luís I Bridge or Luís I Bridge is a double-deck metal arch bridge that spans the River Douro between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal. At its construction, its 172 meters span was the longest of its type in the world. It has been confused with the nearby Maria Pia Bridge, a railway bridge that was built nine years earlier (and located 1 kilometer) to the east), that is similar in aspect to the Luís I bridge. In 1879, Gustave Eiffel presented a project to construct a new bridge over the Douro, with a single deck to facilitate navigation. This project was rejected due to the dramatic growth of the urban population, which required a re-thinking of the limits of a single-deck platform.
Photo By Deensel - Dom Luís I Bridge, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62390122
The history of Porto dates back to around 300 BC with Proto-Celtic and Celtic people being the first known inhabitants. During the Roman empire, the city developed as an important commercial port, primarily in the trade between Olissipona (the modern Lisbon) and Bracara Augusta (the modern Braga). Porto fell under the control of the Moors during the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 711. In 868, Vímara Peres, an Asturian count from Gallaecia, and a vassal of the King of Asturias, Léon and Galicia, Alfonso III, was sent to reconquer and secure the lands back into Christian hands. This included the settlement of Portus Cale and the area that is known as Vila Nova de Gaia. Portus Cale, later referred to as Portucale, was the origin for the modern name of Portugal. In 868, Count Vímara Peres established the County of Portugal.
Stairs descend along the medieval walls. Construction of a series of walls began in 1336 in the reign of King D. Afonso IV. In 1387, Porto was the site of the marriage of John I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt; this symbolized a long-standing military alliance between Portugal and England. The Portuguese-English union (see the Treaty of Windsor) is the world's oldest recorded military alliance. Being an early part of the city, this site has not yet been restored. Its proximity to the ancient fishing district explains neglect on the one hand and unique charm on the other.
Photo By Concierge.2C - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16714706
In the 14th and the 15th centuries, Porto's shipyards contributed to the development of Portuguese shipbuilding. Also from the port of Porto, in 1415, Prince Henry the Navigator (son of John I of Portugal) embarked on the conquest of the Moorish port of Ceuta, in northern Morocco. This expedition by the king and his fleet, which counted among others, Prince Henry, was followed by navigation and exploration along the western coast of Africa, initiating the Portuguese Age of Discovery. The nickname given to the people of Porto began in those days; Portuenses are to this day, colloquially, referred to as tripeiros (English: tripe peoples), referring to this period of history, when higher-quality cuts of meat were shipped from Porto with their sailors, while off-cuts and by-products, such as tripe, were left behind for the citizens of Porto; tripe remains a culturally relevant dish in modern-day Porto.
Photo Por Manuel de Sousa - Obra do próprio, Domínio público, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1499281
Throughout the fourteenth century, the port had an expansion of settlements along the riverbank of the Douro, reflecting the growing importance of commercial and maritime activities. A new fence is constructed, commonly denominated Wall Fernandina because, although initiated with D. Afonso IV, his great promoter, was only completed in the reign of D. Fernando. Once there were supports of an older bridge. By the way, the next stop tells us about the history of the bridge. Here also began the famous port and its Riviera district.
Photo Por Manuel de Sousa - Obra do próprio, Domínio público, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1416749
It is a work by António Teixeira Lopes and pays tribute to the tragedy of the “Bridge of Boats” (Ponte das Barcas), occurred in this place back on March 29th, 1809. That bridge consisted of 20 boats linked by steel cables, a project by Carlos Amarante inaugurated on the August 15th, 1806. History has it that during the Peninsular War, at the time of the second French invasion, under the command of the Marshall Soult, as the troops invaded the city, the people of Porto desperately started running onto the bridge. You can imagine the weakness of a bridge made of boats…well, the boats split, and many people died in the Douro river waters – some advance numbers as high as 4000 people, but the real number was never known. Nowadays, people of Ribeira still remember this tragedy with sadness, almost as if they have lived during that time. We go for a walk through the narrow streets of the medieval city.
Photo By Joseolgon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47918249
This building is one of the oldest in the city and the only example of medieval civil architecture in the area of Barredo. It is a five-story building, with facades for two streets, yet has a one-story unevenness. Access to the main entrance is made by an outside stairway to the building, as was common at the time. Despite the transformations suffered, this construction can be traced back to the thirteenth century by the typology of the still existing primitive windows.
Photo By MariaCartas - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12184863
Coisas de Cá is a small craft store selling some of Ribeira’s best small trinkets and art. The store focuses on traditional Portuguese crafts, which makes for the perfect place to buy souvenirs from Ribeira. Choose from Portuguese-made jewelry, ceramics, authentic antique church tiles, and artisan metal art pieces. Since each item sold at Coisas de Cá is handmade by regional artists, they reflect the people, traditions and the history of Portugal as a whole.
Cited already in 1389 as being of medieval origin, this square is thought to be one of the oldest in the city. A busy commercial center, with tents serving as shops and a fish market, it came to the attention of João de Almada e Melo who set out to completely remodel the square in the 18th Century. The works carried out at this time by the Public Works Board, under the influence of John Whitehead, were financed by revenue from wine. Of his original plans, only the sides to the north, with its monumental Praça da Ribeira fountain, and the west were ever completed. The wall to the south was knocked down in 1821, and the medieval buildings along the east side survive to this day. Archaeological work in the 1980s led to the discovery of a 17th Century fountain. Reconstructed in its original location, it was crowned with a sculpture by José Rodrigues known popularly as the 'Cube of the Ribeira.' On the 24th of June 2000, a statue of St. John the Baptist by João Cutileiro was unveiled in a niche in the Praça da Ribeira fountain. A must-see, with lots of exciting nightlife on offer as well. It is included in the Urban Wine Route. , this square is thought to be one of the oldest in the city. A busy commercial center, with tents serving as shops and a fish market, it came to the attention of João de Almada e Melo who set out to completely remodel the square in the 18th Century. The works carried out at this time by the Public Works Board, under the influence of John Whitehead, were financed by revenue from wine. Of his original plans, only the sides to the north, with its monumental Praça da Ribeira fountain, and the west were ever completed. The wall to the south was knocked down in 1821, and the medieval buildings along the east side survive to this day. Archaeological work in the 1980s led to the discovery of a 17th Century fountain. Reconstructed in its original location, it was crowned with a sculpture by José Rodrigues known popularly as the 'Cube of the Ribeira.' On the 24th of June 2000, a statue of St. John the Baptist by João Cutileiro was unveiled in a niche in the Praça da Ribeira fountain. A must-see, with lots of exciting nightlife on offer as well. It is included in the Urban Wine Route.
Photo Por Ugo.sou - Obra do próprio, Domínio público, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4211483
In the opinion of many art critics, the cube and cubism symbolizes a new era in art. Maybe for this reason, this fountain in the form of a cube was installed on the square. It is located opposite the historical fountain and personifies novelty opposite antiquity.
One of the most attractive activities in Porto is a boat trip. It only takes 50 minutes, and you can see the city and its six most beautiful bridges. A walk along the river will remind you of the vital business of the inhabitants of Porto - transporting wine from the valley of the Douro River. Wine, produced in the Douro valley, was already in the 13th century transported to Porto in Barcos rabelos (flat sailing vessels). In 1703, the Methuen Treaty established the trade relations between Portugal and England. In 1717, a first English trading post was established in Porto. The production of port wine then gradually passed into the hands of a few English firms. To counter this English dominance, Prime Minister Marquis of Pombal established a Portuguese firm receiving the monopoly of the wines from the Douro valley. He demarcated the region for the production of port, to ensure the wine's quality; this was the first attempt to control wine quality and production in Europe. The small winegrowers revolted against his strict policies on Shrove Tuesday, burning down the buildings of this firm. The revolt was called Revolta dos Borrachos (revolt of the drunks).
Photo By Turismo En Portugal - De cruzeiro das 6 pontes, Porto, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40113135
The Latinized name Darius may go back to the name used by the Celtic tribes who inhabited the area before Roman times: the Celtic root is *dubro-. In modern Welsh, dŵr is "water," as well as dour in modern Breton with cognate dobhar in Irish. In Roman times, the river was personified as a god, Durius. Another long-established derivation suggests that the name Douro comes for the Portuguese word for "golden". The Douro vinhateiro (winegrowing), an area of the Douro Valley in Portugal long devoted to vineyards, has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Traditionally, the wine was taken downriver in flat-bottom boats called rabelos, to be stored in barrels in cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto. In the 1960s and 1970s, dams with locks were built along the river, allowing river traffic from the upper regions in Spain and along the border. Nowadays Port wine is transported to Vila Nova de Gaia in tanker trucks. In 1998, Portugal and Spain signed the Albufeira Convention, an agreement on the sharing of trans-boundary rivers to include the Douro, Tagus, and Guadiana. The convention superseded an original agreement on the Douro, signed in 1927, that was expanded in 1964 and 1968 to include tributaries.
Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced with distilled grape spirits exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine, though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. Fortified wines in the style of port are also produced outside Portugal, including in Australia, France, South Africa, Canada, India, Argentina, Spain, and the United States. Under European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only the product from Portugal may be labeled as port or Porto. In the United States, wines labeled "port" may come from anywhere in the world, while the names "Oporto," "Porto," and "Vinho do Porto" have been recognized as foreign, non-generic names for port wines originating in Portugal. If you walk another fifty meters along the embankment, you will see a pointer to the wine museum.
Holy Virgin Mary acts as a defender and intercessor. For sailors, her image was of great importance and in any medieval port city one could find more than one chapel dedicated to holy Mary. Built in the sixteenth century, the Chapel was rebuilt in the eighteenth century. Initially, the patron saint of the chapel was Our Lady of Mercy. The invocation of Our Lady of the "O" starts after the demolition of the wall in 1821, where the image of Our Lady of Ó was originally depicted. The image was transferred to this chapel. This is a theory developed by various authors thus justifying the change of name of the chapel.
The building was the victim of Liberal fights that destroyed and forced remodeling. Inside, there is an altarpiece carved in the early century. XVIII, by João da Costa.
It is located in Ribeira, by the river, near the Infante house, the square of Ribeira, “Palácio do Bolsa” (Stock Exchange Palace) churches of St. Francis and St. Nicholas and Ferreira Borges market.
The altarpiece from the early eighteenth century was made by João da Costa. It has an image of Our Lady of O on the right of the altar and the image of Our Lady of Mercy in the centre.
Duration of the guided tour - 15minutes
Open only by prior appointment.
The stories about wine and the port city that made this wine famous make you want to taste the wine and eat a little. If you have not been seduced by tapas yet, you can visit the restaurant and be sure to ask for a Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá. Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá is a casserole of bacalhau, potatoes, eggs, olives, olive oil and onion. It is a specialty from the northern Portuguese city of Porto. The name of this dish comes from Gomes de Sá. He was the son of a wealthy 19th-century merchant (apparently he dealt in cod) in Porto. The family fortune dwindled, and the son had to find a job at Restaurant Lisbonense, a restaurant in downtown Porto where he created this recipe.
Photo Por Adriao - Obra do próprio, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16578613
The Casa do Infante (House of the Prince), or alternately as the Alfândega Velha (Old Customshouse) is a historical house in Porto. The house was originally built in the 14th century as customs and mint, although its present condition derives mostly from a remodeling carried out in the 17th century. Its name derived from an oral tradition that suggested the house was the birthplace of Prince Henry the Navigator in 1394.
Being the Baroque characteristics the polychromy and plenty of forms will be impossible to roll through the city without noticing the many Baroque buildings that populate it. This architectural style is evident in several buildings of civil and religious architecture of the city of Porto. Some of the more representative examples of this style are the Church and Torre dos Clérigos, the facade of the Church of the Misericórdia, Igreja de Santo Ildefonso and the Cathedral, and the latter, of Romanesque origin, was among the first to suffer baroque transformations. From the monks at the church of Santo Ildefonso, we can observe a set of works of great aesthetic value that reflect the Baroque style so characteristic of the city.
The street, which is understood upwards, is a continuation of the road, which descends into the medieval city. Rua dos Mercadores was, along with the streets of Bainharia and Escura, one of the vital circulation routes of Medieval Port, linking the mercantile center located in the Ribeira to the episcopal borough and ensuring the communication with the main routes that leave Porto towards Between Douro and Minho and Trás-os-Montes. Crossing the area outside the Primitive Wall, from the vicinity of the Sant'Ana Gate to the Ribeira Square, near the Douro River, the Rua dos Mercadores has been referred to since 1309, when it is designated as the "run per huvam a Ribeira." It is mentioned again in a letter from D. Fernando dated December 16, 1374, by which the monarch ordered the nobles and prelates of the kingdom not to seek retirement (i.e., lodging), neither in the Street of Merchants nor in the monasteries and inns of the city. The express reference to Rua dos Mercadores is a clear sign of the fact that this is one of the richest streets in the city where the most inviting houses were concentrated.
The Barrio quarter is an intricate group of houses and alleys in the oldest part of the city and is one of the most colorful and picturesque neighborhoods of Porto. The many narrow medieval streets, the high houses that seem to bend, the clothes hanging to dry in the wires, the children playing outside… all that is a very important part of Porto’s soul. For centuries, the whole town was just only the Bairro da Sé. The bishops gave the order to build a wall that surrounded and defended the whole neighborhood. In Rua de Santana, for example, you can still see the remains of one of the old wall’s arches; and also many of the houses were built leaning against the medieval walls. All the main activities in the city took place here. Some streets still maintain in their names a sort of echo of those times: the Merchants Street, Bainharia Street (where sword scabbards were made), among other examples. In the 13th century, the city grew, the old walls were overturned, and the population occupied areas along the river, like the Ribeira. The Fado (traditional Portuguese music) houses, like the famous Casa da Mariquinhas, are also in Bairro da Sé. Some typical taverns, with traditional snacks and drinks, can be found there too.
They say that at this place was the gate of Lies. In the 14th century, It renamed to the Gates of Our Lady of Truths: on the Stairs of Truths; the date of its disappearance is unknown. But today this name uses for the best-known product of Porto - the wine. Passionate about wine?! Arco das Verdades gives you the chance to taste a great selection of northern Portuguese wines and other national products while enjoying the magnificent view over the Vila Nova de Gaia's cellars where our Port wine has been aging for centuries.
The original Episcopal Palace of Porto was built in the 12th or 13th century, as attested by some architectural vestiges like romanesque-style windows that exist inside the present building. In 1387, this mediaeval palace witnessed the marriage of John I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster.
During the 16th and 17th centuries the palace was greatly enlarged, and an old drawing shows it to be composed of a series of buildings with towers, as was typical for the architecture of Portuguese manor houses of the period. The present palace, however, is the result of a radical rebuilding campaign carried out in the 18th century, which turned it into a baroque work.
It is believed that the project for the Bishop's Palace was drawn in 1734 by the Italian Nicolau Nasoni, an architect with an extense work in Porto and surroundings. Building work started in 1737, under the direction of architect Miguel Francisco da Silva, and proceeded slowly. Due to financial constraints, the original project could never be completed and had to be reduced in scale. The works were only finished in the last decades of the 18th century, under the rule of Bishop Rafael de Mendonça, whose coat-of-arms is located on the main portal and the inner monumental staircase of the palace.
The building was used as residence for the bishops of the city until the 19th century. During the Siege of Porto of 1832, the bishop fled the city and the palace was used by Peter IV's troops as stronghold in the battle against Miguel I. Much later, between 1916 and 1956, when the bishops no longer inhabited the palace, the palace served as seat of the Municipality of Porto.
Also known as S. Sebastião or Pelicano Fountain, built in the 17th century, the fountain was located at Rua Escura. However, in 1940, it was transferred to Rua Pena Ventosa, where it now stands. It comprises two symmetrical feminine shapes that support the upper ornamented frieze where the Portuguese royal coat of arms can be seen. At the center, there is a pelican (symbol of the "House of Mercy") with a hole on its chest, through which water used to flow.
Just outside the main entrance of the cathedral, in the open plaza is the unique Pillory of Porto. It is of the manueline style, and I found conflicting information as to whether or not it was built in the medieval times. The legend says that medieval criminals were hung from this pillar.
The Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto in Portuguese) is the most important religious edifice in the city and has been declared a National Monument. It is situated in the upper part of Porto. The Cathedral is in Batalha, very close to the walls that once protected the city. The building looks a bit like a fortress with crenels from the outside. The construction of the Cathedral began during the twelfth century, but it was rebuilt and renovated numerous times throughout the centuries. This explains why the Cathedral is a mix of architectural styles. The temple is predominantly Baroque in style, although its façade and the nave are Romanesque and its cloister and one of the chapels are Gothic in style. Inside, the large pillars make the nave seem narrow with a high ceiling. It has a restrained decoration with bare walls, and only the high altar and some of its chapels are decorated in a Baroque style.
Pedro II Pitões (d. 1152) was a bishop of Porto elected in 1145, famous for his role in the Reconquest. In 1147 Pedro Pitões was commissioned by King Afonso Henriques to receive a fleet of crusaders from northern Europe who were taking part in the Second Crusade. In Porto, Don Pedro gave a speech to the Crusaders to convince them to help the Portuguese conquer Lisbon. The bishop's address to the Crusaders appears transcribed in De Expugnatione Lyxbonensi, manuscript drafted by an Anglo-Norman crusader present among the hearers. From Porto, D. Pedro accompanied the Crusaders to the outskirts of Lisbon, where they met the Portuguese king. There, after some diplomatic attempts, the Crusaders agreed to help in the conquest of the city.
Vímara Peres[a] (Vímara Pérez in Spanish; died in Galicia, 873) was a ninth-century nobleman from the Kingdom of Asturias and the first ruler of the County of Portugal. His father, Pedro Theón (died. after 867), sometimes called Pedro Theón of Pravia, and possibly the son of Bermudo I of Asturias, was a member of the Curia Regis of King Alfonso III and appeared in January 867 confirming a royal charter jointly with other nobles, including Count Rodrigo of Castile. Pedro was actively involved in the Reconquista and was also responsible for ousting and defeating the Vikings when they invaded Galicia in 858. Besides Vímara, Pedro was also the father of Hermenegildo Pérez. Vímara was a vassal of the King of Asturias, Alfonso III, and was sent to reconquer and secure from the Moors (Arabs and Berbers who had invaded Visigothic Hispania), in the west coastal fringe of Gallaecia, the area from the Minho River to the Douro River, including the city of Portus Cale, later Porto and Gaia, from where the name of Portugal emerged. The Kingdom of Asturias was divided internally into several counties or royal provinces. Portus Cale was one of these Asturian counties. In 868, Vímara Peres was named Count of Portugal by King Alfonso III after the reconquest of the region north of the Douro river. Later Portuguese historians viewed this event as the earliest milestone in the history of the state of Portugal, although Portugal did not achieve independence until the 12th century. He was able to expel the Moors and founded a fortified town under his own name Vimaranis (of Vimar) which later became Guimaraes, present-day Guimarães (the Portuguese call it "The Cradle City"). Vímara Peres died in 873 in the territory of A Coruña.
The entrance to the cloister is located inside the Cathedral, through a door to the right of the temple. The cloister dates back to the fourteenth century and is decorated with tiles painted with some of the scenes from the Bible. From the cloister, you can also visit the Casa do Cabildo, which features the Cathedral Treasure, a collection of it’s most precious possessions. The Porto Cathedral and its cloister are two of the best attractions in Porto and a definite must when visiting the city.
Primitive Wall, Old Fence or Romanesque Wall, are names used to identify old walls of Porto, of which only a small part and a small section survived, reconstructed in the middle of the XX century. For a long time known as the Sueva Wall, it is today identified as a work of Roman origin, from the 3rd century, rebuilt in the 12th century. This fence, with an approximate perimeter of 750 meters and an area that did not reach the 4 hectares, delimited the hill of Pena Ventosa that had its neuralgic center in the Cathedral of the Port. The primitive wall had four gates: Puerta de Vandoma: in front of the current Rua Chã, it was the noblest and wide gate, the only one that allowed the entrance of transport; was demolished in 1855. Gate of St. Sebastian: near the Old House; was demolished in 1819. Porta de Sant'Ana or Arco de Sant'Ana, in the Middle Ages also known as the Portal: in Sant'Ana Street; was demolished in 1821. The gate of Lies, from the 14th century Door of Our Lady of Truths: on the Stairs of Truths; the date of its disappearance is unknown. With the growth of the village, in the fourteenth century, there was a need to build a new belt of walls, commonly known as Fernandina Walls.