Henry the navigator who was the most important person in Portugal when it came to discovering the new world was born in Porto in 1390.
He later moved to southern Pportugal where he lived for most of his life, but as a child he lived in Porto and was born just one block from Cais de Ribeira and right next to where the stock exchange is today.
On the square by the stock exchange next to the house where he was born you can see a statue of Henry the navigator standing on a pillar and there is a mueum in the house he was born where you can learn more abaout this very important person in portuguese history.
If you enjoy sitting along the waterfront and eating, then the Riberia District in Porto is the place for you. But be warned the prices are NOT cheap, some of the most expensive in the city actually, and the food is not the best. They have the waterfront to offer tourists so they can "slack off" in the good food department.
But the area itself is beautiful and VERY colorful as you can see in the photos, there is some law against painting two buildings the same color I think. So take a walk along the waterfront like we did to see where the Portugese first began to send their famous Port Wine around the world (especially to England).
For some more information see -
(PS: many of the sites I add here are those that I used, along with VT of course, to plan our trip to Portugal)
Fondest memory: If you are in it for the food, then you might want to take a look at -
Where you can get some idea of the food types and local specialties, we are always looking for them when we travel, but often have to go off the tourist routes to find the genuine item.
Porto, build along the estuary of the river Duoro and the sea, once a town that was serviced by boats and ferries between the old town of Porto and the newer Vila Nova de Gaia on the opposite side of the river, today you have numerous bridges to carry you across.
The first was the suspension bridge Ponte Pensil of which all that remains are the pillars (located in the Riberia area) that sit in the shadow of the newer bridge, the Ponte de Dom Luis I.
The closest bridge to the sea is the Ponte do Arribida.
If you want to know more about these bridges and others in Porto:
Favorite thing: The Avienda dos Aliados where the Porto City Hall stands is a VERY WIDE boulevard that surprised us. After just having left one of the crowded shopping areas a little to the east we wanderded over into Avienda dos Aliados and found it almost devoid of people. The entire length is a strip of concrete with little to draw people to visit or sit. The only thing to enjoy here was some of the architecture.
From the center of the upper town, the Se and the train station, you can access the lower port area and Ribeira. It is just a question of finding the stairway DOWN...we searched and could not find direct way down until a shopowner came out of a store from across the street and showed us a small passageway between buildings that brought us to the stairway that lead down to Ribeira.
This is NOT the way taken by tourists, we saw no cameras, no loud hawaiian shirts and heard no foreign voices, just locals, EXACTLY what we enjoy, a place to see and experience the country we have chosen to visit. It is a lot of stairs, but if you are going down, no great burden and it does give you a peak into a private part of Porto.
We also came across a few avian residents of this part of town, these seagulls do not need to walk the stairs.
Igreja de Sao Francisco is set back from the street and sits up above a set of switchback steps, so when you pass it is easy to miss with only the small unimposing sign to mark its location. Even though the guidebook said that it was open during the time we arrived, the church was closed, just a fact, churches do not always go according to the guide books.
The exterior, in comparative terms for Portugal, is a very simple structure, no blue tiles and even very little other ornamentation.
What you can see in the last photo is a perfect star carved with circles around the five points which I really liked.
What I found on the internet:
Igreja S.Francisco was part of the convent with the same name. Begun in the 14th century and completed in the 15th century. The inside is covered with gilded wood from the 17th and 18th century in Baroque and Rococo styles.
Interesting thing, as you can see from the second photo the church had its doors open, but inside it was devoid of humans, totally empty, no priests, no sinners, not even any tourists aside from US...yet very close by we entered several other churches that had people, some just a few, but another was full almost...Sorry, but I have no idea what the differences are between the different churches, maybe someone has an idea??
One of the nice points in Porto was that the town provides you with information, like on the sign posted in front of the church with a bit of history in Portugese and English. We saw this also in a few other cities, but not as much.
Facts that I found on the internet when I searched for this church were:
What you see today is a reconstruction from the 18th century because this church built in the 17th century was completely destroyed in a fire. Inside are Rococo and neo-classic style altarpieces.
We spent 3 nights in Porto and there were several "constants" in our lives there, the first was that you were either walking UP a hill or walking DOWN a hill (for that reason we often had the Metro in our lives. The other was that wherever you went you would come across a church.
Igreja dos Congregados was one of the churches we passed by and decided to enter, the only information I found on the internet was that it was finished at the beginning of the 18th century, has 20th century azulejos on its facade and the altarpiece is neo-classic.
Simple enough, and here the interior was much richer than the exterior as you can see in the photos, nothing extraordinary, but a pleasant stop on our walk around the town.
I think it is a pity that by the time we reached this beautiful church, we were sort of "churched out", we had seen so many in the last week that we decided just to observe the exterior and did not enter.
Still, like so many structures here in Portugal, the Portugese take care and pride in making their churches and so many public structures very striking, the baroque style of Igreja de Sto Ildefonso is no exception.
Take the metro to São Bento station and the church is in Batalha Square.
When we walked (on Santa Catarina Street) past the Capela das Almas there was some type of ceremony inside so we enjoyed only the outside so as not to disturb them.
For sure this was one of the most decorated churches we came across and probably the only one where the exterior outshone the interior.
That first photo I took from a store shop entryway, trying to get ALL the church facade into my photo (you need a wide angle lens that I do not have), and we almost got it all.
The tiles themselves portray
"The Death of St. Francis of Assisi"
"The Saint in the presence of Pope Honorious III"
"The Martyrdom of St. Catherine"
Impressive one and all.
Favorite thing: The Se in Porto has its fair share of beautiful architecture and art inside as well as outside. Just a few photos that will give you an idea of what to expect. From the ornate side altars dedicated to a specific saint, the burial crypts or the main alter that looks gilt in gold, you will find plenty of places to let your eye and CAMERA wander.
Favorite thing: I think that one of the things that I most often photograph when we visit castles and churches are the columns and arched ceilings. Here in the Se of Porto it was no different, one of my favorite photos is the third one here. Also the play of light and shadow through the circular openings upon the blue tiles was wonderful.
Favorite thing: As you approach the Se, from the train station, you can see the statue of NOssa Senhora de Vendoma guarding the approach. Entering the courtyard you find the Pelourinho (pillory) standing toward the side, walk over and take a look down into the lower reaches of Porto before you enter the Se. At the entrance we loved the snake that formed the stair balustrade.
"The Queima das Fitas (Portuguese for Burning of the Ribbons) is a traditional festivity of the students of some Portuguese universities." (source: Wikipedia)
If you're planning to come to Porto and want to see traditional festivities, you should schedule your trip to the first days of May. The Queima das Fitas is held every year, starts on the Saturday before the first Sunday of May at midnight and lasts a week (p.e. this year: May 1st - May 8th, 2010).
The Queima das Fitas comprehends several events, but I'll mention only the main events:
- It starts officialy with the Monumental Serenata (Serenade) on Sunday at midnight at the "Cadeia da Relação" (near the "Torre dos Clérigos"), were a group of students play Fado. Students from all universities and other higher education institutions of the city attend this event wearing the traditional uniform (composed by a black suit, white shirt, black tie and black cloak). Final year students bring their black folders with colored ribbons, being the colour of the ribbons related to the faculty they attend.
Yellow - Medicine
Light Blue - Sciences
Reddish Brown - Engineering
Dark Blue - Letters
White - Architecture
Red - Law School
Red and White - Business School
Orange - Psychology and Education Sciences
Purple - Pharmaceutics
- On Tuesday the Queima das Fitas reaches its peak with the Cortejo Académico (Parade), when students from the universities march through the downtown streets till they reach the city hall, where they're greeted by the Mayor. During the parade through the city, different year students wear and play different parts: the graduates (the final year students) wear a top-hat and a cane, both the colour of their Faculty; the sophomores wear the traditional costume with their capes fully crossed; the freshmen (who after being greeted by the Mayor become sophomores) wear funny/silly outfits (usually with carnival props related to baby-costumes) the same colour as their Faculty, sing songs as loud as they can, do some sort of group dances, and when they get to the Town Hall have to crawl on their hands and feet to walk by the Mayor. It's a funny and colourful parade, you shouldn't miss it if you have the chance to go!
- During every night of the week a series of concerts takes place on the Queimódromo (next to the city's park). The entry is paid.
(based on Wikipedia page of "Queima das Fitas" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queima_das_Fitas)
If you need to use internet,there are internet-places (cafe is a wrong word-there´s no coffee) to use it.This one was cheapest one we wound at the time we were at the town.
When you see that Parfumeria,go in.It´s a very small shop,and there´s a door to srairway witch goes up to this internet-place.It was about 1,50e per hour or something like that.
It is at R de Sante Catarina,shopping street.Not very far from Capella das Almas going down the road.
Those balconys at photo are from internet-place,and green walls inside.
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