Arriving in Porto after our flight from Sevilla via Madrid was easy going and we were dropped at the door of the Flores Village Hotel in the downtown tourist district near the river called Ribeira along the banks of the Douro river. we settled in and then went exploring down to the riverfront to take in all that was around us. We dined just down the road at Restaurant LSD which was really nice and enjoyed the passing parade from the outdoors table platform along with the stunning blue night sky.
Our room/apartment is really spacious and a good bed a swell. We ventured out after breakfast up to the Art Nouveau Railway station past a fantastic Cat Mural that was too big to capture in one frame and it was something that Porto is really getting into as we discovered some great mural art over the next 3 days. The railway station was having a film being shot when we first arrived set in the early 1900’s but they packed up quick and we were able to check it all out. The ceramic blue and white tiled murals were sensational and it is something that Portugal is renown for.
We decided to jump on the Bus Touristic at the main square and enjoyed a roof top view of Porto crossing the river over the famous bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel before he built the tower in Paris and then looped back over another of the seven bridges of Porto before hoping off near the Cathedral to explore that part of town. The streets are a real eclectic mix of styles over the centuries with a great array of art Nouveau building is varied degrees of repair.
The stunning murals on the Igreja do Carmo church are some of the best in Porto both inside and out.
Bridges Bridges everywhere in Porto crossing the Douro river.
The Ribeira waterfront looking back from the south bank and the terracotta rooftops of Porto.
The old Porto fortifications and the Infancia Bispo church mural
roof top domes of the unusual Igreja de Sao Lourenco
Walking through the Gypsy quarter revealed some interesting charachters along the way some sweet some a bits us but the street art and World cup support was brilliant on the way back down the hill to the Ribeira and its myriad of restaurants where we enjoyed a lovely lunch on the water front at Cafe do Cais.
Wandering around the river side Barrios we found plenty of building refurbishment going on and Porto is going through a major resurgence of Property Investment as it is wanting to lose its rough edge to bring the tourist $ in. lets hope they don’t go too far.
Some of the rustic buildings really have a grungy flair and it would be brilliant if they can keep this element in the way forward.
One of the perfectly preserved buildings is the old Stock Exchange known as Bolsa Palace which was built in the early 1900’s with all the style of the era and past glory days shown in. it is simply magnificent and it pays homage to all trading nations and proclaims that there is no room for Religion, race or cultural discrimination in this world…and especially in the world of commerce. Its main function room is a massively over the top replica of a Morrish Palace just to make the point.
Through our walkings up and down hills and on and off the bus Touristic we found such beautiful Architecture and here are just some examples.
The Art Nouveau period was especially prevelant with many blending into the Romantic style of the late 19th century.
The locals love the outdoors and especially decorating their balconies at Football fever times.
Porto has some fabulous modern Architecture emerging out of the dregs and they are popping up all over town. The world famous Casa de Musica cubist block is a sight to be seen.
On our venture into the suburbs to Bairro Gomes Da Costa we aimed for the sensational Casa Serrvales and the adjoining museum of modern art and luckily our two day bus Touristic took us to the door so we spent the morning taking in all it had to offer. The Casa is one of the best Art Deco buildings in the world and was the Serralves Family home since 1930 when it was built to exacting standards of modernist design. The space, light and layout was ground breaking and this style influenced so many Architects onwards into the 1960’s
The grounds are extensive with many styles of gardens and avenues of trees as well as grottos and outbuildings.
Inside was simple and sensational with massive vaulted sections and garden views in every direction.
The Museum had a fantastic exhibition of school children views on the future of housing and we loved the interesting designs and thought processes they created. There were hundreds of them and we loved every minute.
The Art was pretty good also with graffiti right through to eclectic styles.
On the way back to town we visited the city beaches and you can see why Porto has such a strong beach culture with a massive amount of coastal beaches just like home.
The streets are alive with eclectic sculptures and a real buzz of activity night and day from locals and tourists alike and with a great old tram system and narrow lanes there is something for everyone.
Our last day in Porto started with a walk up the hill to the sensational Livraria Lello Bookstore which is probably the most visited site in Porto and also the most popular bookstore in the world. massive quest awaited us but when we worked how to buy tickets we breezed into the masses and absorbed as much as we could. The design is stunning especially the staircases and vaulting so it is something that time will take care of very well indeed.
there are so many churches in Porto but the most spectacular is the small Clerigos Church with its magnificent oval dome, gilded altar and Torre Clerigos which is one of the symbols of Porto.
No trip to Porto is complete without a visit to the Cafe Majestic and one must try the F or so they say. My suggestion avoid the F as it is a fat filled and gross overblown concept!!! The Majestic how ever is a stunning Art Nouveau fantasy alive and well in 2018. Every immaginable feature and friviolous ornate element has been thought of and the details are stunning.
We concluded our Porto visit with another fabulous fish dinner at a restaurant recommended by our hotel down at the Ribeira called Restaurant Terreiro and then strolled along the waterfront and listened to some great buskers.