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  • Citywalk | Portugal
    Updated at May 7,2015

    Coimbra - Day 2:

    Orientation: The first part of this day - is a walk along the northern bank of the Mondego river (from north-west to south-east). The second part is walk and visit of several sites of old Coimbra along the southern bank of the Mondego river. The last part is visiting old Coimbra - north of the river around the Old University - in sites not covered during the first day.

    Start: Largo da Portagem.

    End: Praça 8 de Maio.

    Distance: 16 km.

    Duration: 1 day.

    We start at the road along the Mondego river. On your left - Largo da Portagem. The triangular square/Largo is the main toll plaza and the city center of Coimbra, at the foot of the Ponte Santa Clara, on the beautiful riverbank of Coimbra's Baixa (Lower Town) district. The Civil Government of the District of Coimbra and the Baixo Mondego Intermunicipal Community is located in a large building near the square. The name means place of the gateway, presumably a gateway to the main city. The name of this square is due to the fact that, here, were formerly raised taxes on goods arriving to Coimbra. In this square is one of the architectural symbols of the city of Coimbra, Hotel Astoria built in 1926 and the building of the Bank of Portugal in Coimbra, both of Adães Bermudez. The statue is of Joaquim António de Aguiar with pen in hand, representing the signing in 1833 of a decree banning religious orders throughout Portugal (the result of an anticlerical liberalism that had infused political thought throughout Europe at the time). Connected to the toll of Largo is the main street of the Lower Town, Ferreira Borges Street, a street that is currently closed to traffic and where there are all kinds of traditional commerce, with cafés and shops.

    On your right Ponte de Santa Clara and the Mondego river and we head south-east:

    It is a splendid walk along the river Coimbra - along the Mondego river (walking to the south-east, and later, eastward). If you're spending a long time in Coimbra it would be worth going for a little wander. A great place outdoor, hiking, reading, picnic, walks, enjoy nature and the setting of the sun on the Mondego. On your left Parque Dr. Manuel Braga and IBIS hotel and Old Coimbra houses nestled into and climbing up along the steep hill overlooking the river:

    Further south-east you'll see, on your left, old wooden boats and a gorgeous shop of antiquities:

    Continue walking and arrive to a wooden deck small pier. Descend the stairs and you face cafe's, umbrellas and chairs along the river front. Further, on your left playground for children with a sculpture of a bear:

    We continue walking eastward along the wooden-deck path bending more distant from the river. On our right a pedestrian bride (ponte pedonal) - Ponte Pedro e Inês with colored-glass pieces decorating its railings. The form "pushes" the limits of structural dynamics. The design is created from two cantilevered walkways, joining in the middle to form a viewing platform. Each walkway is responsible for supporting the other - the two halves are displaced, giving the visual effect of a bridge that does not meet. The bridge, "appears at first glimpse to be impossible," as stated by a local magazine. The balustrade is made from a clear, fractal pattern crafted in colored blue, pink, green and yellow glass. Very interesting and stunning piece of architecture bridge. This bridge is particularly beautiful at night:

    Further east, along the Mondego river, on your left (the path is now asphalted) - the Exploration - Centro Ciência Viva: the first interactive science center in the country. Formed in 1995 as non-profit association, was the main founding members Coimbra University and its Faculty of Sciences and Technology, and the Municipal House of Culture of Coimbra as host. Opened to the public in November of the same year, with the exhibition "Chance in Science", which was, at the time, with the support of the European Science Week. In 1998 it was integrated in Live Science centers network and in 2000, recognized as a public utility. You see pavilions with interactive explanations on: plants, flowers, astronomy etc'.  Continue along the river until Pavilhão Centro de Portugal. Designed by architect Siza Vieira and Souto Moura, for Expo 2000, held in Hannover (Germany), the Centre of Portugal Pavilion, on the right bank of the Mondego Green Park, covers an area of 1,375 square meters, hosting exhibitions, concerts and other events of a cultural nature.

    From here the path is blocked and you are unable to continue east. True, there is further east another bridge Ponte Rainha Santa Isabel Quinta das Varandas. BUT, this is very dangerous to walk over the bridge. NO ACCESS FOR PEDESTRIANS.

    We RETURN westward, along the river, with our face to the west - until we arrive, again, to the colored-glasses Ponte Pedro e Inês. Here, we CROSS the footbridge to the SOUTHERN (or better, WESTERN) BANK of the river. On the west side of the river - we land upon Parque do Choupalinho.

    Now our direction is north. We walk until we arrive to Ponte Santa. The Santa Clara Bridge, is a road bridge and its construction began in 1951 and was inaugurated on October 30, 1954, by the then President of the Council António de Oliveira Salazar. Its construction allowed the replacement of the old iron bridge which began construction in 1873 and opened to the public in 1875, and that in turn had replaced the old stone bridge dated 1513 allowed the continuation of the connection between Santa Clara and the city center (the toll Largo) and the remaining Lower Town. Arriving near the bridge, sharp left onto Av. João das Regras
    220 m., Turn left onto R. de Baixo, take the stairs, 32 m. and Continue straight onto R. Baixo and the ruins of  Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha (Rua das Parreiras) are on your left. The monastery was built in the 14th century on the south bank of the Mondego River, but had to be abandoned in the 17th century due to frequent floods. The well-preserved Gothic ruins of the monastery were excavated in the late 20th century, more than 300 years after being abandoned by the nuns. The ruined church recently reopened to the public after 12 years of restorations with a new visitor center. During the centuries the monastery and church were decorated with religious works of art that are now dispersed. The Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova, to which the nuns were relocated in the 17th century, houses three Gothic tombs which were also relocated from Santa Clara-a-Velha, including that of Queen Isabel. Her tomb, dated from circa 1330, displays her full-size recumbent figure over the lid and is by Aragonese sculptor Mestre Pero. Many works of art of the monastery are now in the Machado de Castro Museum in Coimbra. Painted altarpieces include a triptych of circa 1486 about the life of Clare of Assisi and a painted triptych commissioned to Flemish painter Quentin Metsys in 1517. Others pieces of sculpture and metalwork in the museum testify to the wealth and prestige of the monastery. The Museum has 2 excellent films about the sisters/nuns and local religious history, their struggle to create the Convent (this Convent suffered from flooding from the River Mondego over three centuries and the nuns of Santa Clara were eventually forced to move to an uphill site further away from the river to Santa Clara-A-Nova) and the story of the restoration. Plus an excellent exhibit concerning the religious life of the convent and local history. Also quite a good cafe' with special pastry traditional to the convent. Be aware the whole monastery is in a sheltered spot and will get very hot in the summer months - so hat and water are recommended. Adult - 5 euros, senior - 3 euros:

    Entrance of Santa Clara Velha in Coimbra:

    History of the monastery and artefacts revealed in its premises:

    Tapestries exhibition in the monastery:

    View of the Old city and the University of Coimbra from Moistero Santa Clara-a-Velha:

    Head north on R. Baixo, 40 m. Turn left to stay on R. Baixo, 31 m. Turn right onto Rua António Augusto Gonçalves, 24 m. Turn left onto Av. João das Regras/N1, 29 m. Turn left and see the entrance and tickets office of Portugal in Miniature (5 minutes walk from the monastery). The Portugal dos Pequeninos Theme Park, a miniature village established in 1940, with reproductions of the country's most important buildings and of typical houses and buildings from the former colonies. This recreational-educational park was designed primarily to Children. Live picture of "Portugality" and Portuguese presence in the world, Portugal for the Little Ones is today a historical and pedagogical framework of many generations. Besides being a space approximation of intersection between cultures and peoples, Portugal for the Little Ones is also a qualified show of sculptural and architectural arts. You can see, here, miniatures of important historic buildings in Portugal along with various types of typical buildings existing in the country. You can also see small museums with collections of dolls and miniature furnished houses , collections of handicrafts from Portugal's past overseas colonies like Angola, Brazil, Guinea, Macau, Moçambique, Timor etc'. Opening hours: from 01 JAN to 28/29 of FEB and from 16 of OCT to 31 of DEC - 10.00 - 17.00. From 01 of MAR to 31 of MAY and from 16 of SEP to 15 of OCT - 10.00 - 19.00. Admission prices: Adults (from 14 to 64) 8,95 €,  Seniors ( >=65) 5,95 €, Family (2 adults and 2 children 3-13) 25,95 €. Pictures from Coimbra - Portugal dos Pequeninos - Portugal in Miniature - see Tip below.

    From the ortugal dos Pequeninos theme park it is 600 m. walk to Ponte de Santa Clara. Head north toward Av. João das Regras, 6 m. Turn right onto Av. João das Regras and walk along the street 350 m. Slight left onto Av. Conimbriga, 59 m. Sharp right to stay on Av. Conimbriga, 39 m. Av. Conimbriga turns left and becomes Ponte de Santa Clara. On your right - Praça da Canção. In front of you the University of Coimbra hill. Here, you get perspective which comes from stepping away, crossing the Mondego on the Santa Clara Bridge, walking downstream, and looking back at the town from a distance. The view is stunning:

    After crossing the bridge/street - you arrive, again, to Largo da Portagem. With your face to the square descend the stairs on your left to have dinner in the modest MAFFA restaurant/bar. See Tip below.

    Walk north along Rua Ferreira Borges. On the first turn - turn RIGHT (north-east) to Rua de Corpo de Deus. We climb along this road, when, on our left is Igreja de Sant Tiago:

    In the middle of Rua de Corpo de Deus, on your left, is a charming view of the old and new city. Downstairs is the Mercado Dom Pedro V - the municipal market:

    In the point which stands a telephone cabin and you see, in front, a signpost of "Monumentos" turn sharply RIGHT to Rua Colégio Novo (high wall on your left). Walking further up along Rua Colégio Novo - you arrive to an intersection where Couraça dos Apóstolos is on your left. Continue along the walls of the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences (Sao Augustino College). On your left decaying houses with broken windows.
    Continue climbing up along Rua Colégio Novo until you arrive to the intersection with Rua Sobre Ribas. Turn right to Rua Sobre Ribas to have a look at the Torre do Prior do Ameal or Torre de Anto (Anto Tower). Currently Handicrafts House and declared as National Monument since 1935. Step to the end of the white terrace to get a full view of the tower and the wide wonderful sight around:

    Continue to descend along Rua Sobre Ribas. The road bends left sloping down steeply. Pass the arch and you arrive to the Torre da Contenda - Quarrel Tower. This tower was sold to João Vaz at the beginning of the 16th century (1514). Who built a palace ("Paço de Sobre Ripas") partly over the old tower and also constructed the arch which connects the residence to dwellings on the other side of the street. this later became a residence with renaissance decoration:

    Walk further a few steps to see houses numbers 27 - 33 in red and yellow:

    Return to Rua Sobre Ribas and now climb up direct (NOT TO THE RIGHT) with the signpost pointing to "Igreja S.Salvador, Museu Machdo Castro". A good chance for breeze. Pass under the arch. DO NOT BEND LEFT TO Rua Joao Jacinto and bend RIGHT to Rua da Boa Vista. Bend right, then, left and you face the graffiti:

    Now you descend to Rua do Cabido. If you bend, again, to the right - you'll arrive to the Old Cathdral - Se' Velha. But, you have to bend UPWARD to the LEFT (!!!).  On your right a white building with the Loggia restaurant. On your left - Travessa de S. Salvador. In front of you - a spectacular view of old Coimbra with the University and the Old Cathedral:

    Continue to climb along Rua do Cabido. On your left - Largo Sant Salvador:

    On your right a door with magnificent portico:

    In the end of the exhausting climb of Rua do Cabido - on your right: Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro, adjacent to Igreja (church) San Salvador and, in the background, the Se' Nova (New Cathedral):

    Spectacular views, majestic buildings and grandeur all around. Do not stop here ! Continue to climb to the white-glowing square opposite the New Cathedral - Largo de Se' Nova / Largo da Feira dos Estudiantes which has been considerably enlarged in recent years. The square is richly adorned with large-sclae reliefs.

    Mors - Death:

    Vita - Life:

    The Se' Nova (New Cathedral) stands, boastfully, in the north side of the square. The New Cathedral was, originally, the church of the Jesuit Formation house of Coimbra, established in the city in 1543. In 1759, the Jesuit Order was banned from Portugal by the Marquis of Pombal, Prime-Minister of king Joao I. In 1772, the bishopric seat was transferred from the old Romanesque Cathedral of the city (now called the Old Cathedral of Coimbra) to the vacant, spacious and more modern Jesuit church. The niches of the façade of the New Cathedral carry statues of four Jesuit saints. The Baroque decoration of the upper part of the façade, finished in the beginning of the 18th century, contrasts with the lower part, which follows a rigid Mannerist style. The church has two bell towers located just behind the main façade and a dome over the crossing. You will be asked on the entrance to pay one Euro pro person (as donation to help to maintain the Sé Nova).

    The interior, covered with barrel vaulting, has one nave with several lateral chapels and a transept with a dome and cupola. Both transept arms and the main chapel of the apse are decorated with huge, magnificent gilt wood altarpieces built between the 17th and 18th centuries which are fine examples of the so-called "national" Portuguese artarpiece style. The lateral chapels of the nave have altarpieces in Mannerist and Baroque styles. The 17th-century choir stalls of the main chapel were brought from the Old Cathedral, as well as the beautiful stone baptismal font, carved by Pero and Felipe Henriques in late Gothic-manueline style in the beginning of the 16th century:

    Descend back (west) to Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro, Largo Doutor José Rodrigues.

    Founded in 1911, the Museum opened its doors to the public on the 11th October 1913 being raised to the status of a national museum in 1960. At present it is under the direction of the Instituto dos Museus e da Conservação (Ministério da Cultura). Joaquim Machado de Castro (1731-1822) was born in Coimbra and was one of the most well-known sculptors of the Portuguese Baroque working throughout the reigns of Don José, Dona Maria I and Don João VI. It is one of the most important art museums in Portugal, and is housed in the former Bishop's Palace . During the Middle Ages, this palace was built over the Roman forum of Aeminium (Roman name of Coimbra) and nowadays its remains can be visited on the lower floors of the museum. The bulk of the museum's collection is made up of items from churches and religious institutions in the area surrounding Coimbra. The collections of sculpture (the most extensive of all the national museums of Portugal), painting, precious metals, ceramics and textiles are especially noteworthy. A famous restaurant, Loggia, is situated in the Museum exterior courtyard. The museum was one of the finalists in the "Premier European Museums" competion for year 2013. Entrance fees: Adult - 6 euros, senior (65+) - 3 euros.

    Loggia - the courtyard:

    The Last Supper" by Hodart, "essential work in the history of Portuguese sculpture":

    Deposition in the Tomb (XVI century) of Joao de Rouen:

    Roman Crypt - underneath the Museum:

    Leave the museum and walk west along Rua Borges Carneiro, and, later, Largo Sé Velha. Turn left to Ruas Ilha. From here turn back to catch pretty sun-glowing sights of the Se' Velha (Old Cathedral):

    You have good opportunity to see the Se' Velha under the afternoon sun (coming from the west):

    From the Old Cathedral we walk back to the heart of the Old City - passing several sites - visited in Day 1. Head west on Largo Sé Velha toward R. Coutinhos, 29 m. Slight right onto R. de Quebra Costas.
    Take the stairs, 33 m. Slight left onto R. Quebra Costas, 62 m. Turn right onto R. do Arco Almedina. Take the stairs, 120 m. Continue onto R. Visc. da Luz, 130 m. Continue onto Praça 8 de Maio, 98 m. Turn left onto R. Sofia, 190 m. Turn left onto R. Carmo to see the Church of Our lady, Mount Carmel in Rua Sofia. Opposite the church - there is a branch of Pingo Doce supermarkets.

    Return to Praça 8 de Maio - our final destination.

  • Citywalk | Portugal
    Updated at Aug 22,2014

    Coimbra - Day 1:

    Main Attractions: Coimbra B railway station, Praça do Comércio, Church of São Tiago, Church of São Bartolomeu, Largo da Portagem, Arco de Almedina, Torre de Almedina, Old Cathedral of Coimbra, Largo de Porta Ferrea, University of Coimbra (Porta Férrea, Via Latina, Páco das Escolas, University Tower, Sala dos Capelos (and Private Examination Room and Arms Room), Academic Prison, Saint Michael's Chapel and Joanine Library), Largo Dom Dinis, Coimbra city walls, Coimbra Botanical Gardens, Jardim de Sereia, Praca da Republica, Jardim de Avenida Sá da Bandeira, Rua Olímpio Nicolau Rui Fernandes with its Azulejos, Jardim da Manga, Municipal Museum, Santa Cruz Monastery.

    Duration: 1 busy day.

    Start: Coimbra B railway station.

    End: Praca 8 de Maio (8 minutes walk from Coimbra B).

    Distance: 14 km.

    First of all - Coimbra is pronounced as Ko-EEM-bra. The country’s third-largest city, Coimbra lies at the centre of an agricultural region and has a large market. Perched on a hill overlooking the Rio Mondego, Coimbra is surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful countryside. The city itself is a mixture of ancient and new, rural and urban.

    Coimbra is sort of the Oxford or Cambridge of Portugal —the home of its most venerable university. Coimbra, the former capital of Portugal is 50km. from the Atlantic, and two hours north of Lisbon. From Lisbon  Oriente station: two trains per hour leave for Coimbra, taking two hours or the slower ones - two hours 20 minutes. All trains from Portugal and Lisbon stop in Coimbra-B, a station far from the city center. Your ticket includes a 5-minute connection to Coimbra-A, the station in downtown Coimbra.

    The bus station is located at Av. Fernão de Magalhães and is easily reached by local bus or on foot (a long walk{10 minutes} to city center). It has destinations for all of Portugal (with changes for some far away destinations), and it's faster and fares are normally cheaper than the train.

    With your back to Coimbra B railway station -

    opposite us is Rua Antonio Granjo.We cross this road and Largo das Ameias. On our right is Hotel Mondego and on our left is Hotel Braganca. We cross (cross-lights) Avenida Fernão de Magalhães and enter narrow Rua Adelino Veiga. This road is typical to the Baixa (downtown) of Coimbra: pebbled-roads, blooming containers of flowers in the entrance of every shop and window. Down by the river is Coimbra's "Baixa" (downtown), the commercial heart of the city, with lively cafes, pastry shops, restaurants, boutiques, and other shops leading to the Comercio Square. In the end of Rua Adelino Veiga (and turning, a bit, to the right, east) we arrive to the Praça do Comércio. A beautiful, spacious square in the heart of the historical center of Coimbra. It is entirely closed to traffic, a very nice and easy to get to and accessible pedestrian area.
    There's a large number of great cafe's all with, of course, tables outside too. Many bars, restaurants and a pub with outdoor tables and umbrellas. Once a month in the square there is the Feira de Flea Market with exposure of Coimbra. The square, which at one time was also called Praça de São Bartolomeu and Praça Velha, owes its name to the 'intense trade activity' that took place here, until the last century, before the creation of the new Mercado Dom Pedro V (see later). The square , is irregularly shaped oblong, full with character and potential, BUT, shows clear signs of economic decay:

    As you end Rua Adelino Veiga, opposite,In a corner of Comercio square is the Church of São Tiago (Saint James), with a plain 12th-century façade, but in its interior is an exuberant Rococo alterpiece in gilded wood. Note the beautiful capitals decorating its portals. This Church is very small. Most of the time it is closed.

    Another church, at the end of the square,  is the Baroque Church of São Bartolomeu. This modest but beautiful church located in the historic center of Coimbra in the main street Rua dos Esteireiros, in Largo de Portagem. Very nice facade although it would need a light restoration. The church was built in the 10th century and reconstructed in the 12th and 18th centuries. The reconstruction in the 12th century turned it into a Romanesque church. Today the church has the Baroque look. The façade has two bell towers, one on each side of the main door. There is one nave in the church. The main altarpiece is gilded and is Baroque. In the back you can see some Medieval houses:

    Above it is a large painting of the martyrdom of St. Bartholomew and was painted by the Italian artist Pasquale Parente. On the Gospel side there is a Mannerist altarpiece from the 16th century with a painting showing the death and resurrection of Christ:

    There are Sanitarios in the Praca Comercio (the east side, in the direction of Largo de Portagem).

    The Baixa, the downtown neighborhood. It is a steep, exhausting but walkable uphill climb from there to the Alta, where the University campus sits. In general, Coimbra is a very steep city, and visiting the old quarter is hard. You may use the elevator that stands right behind the market (quite distant from where we are now...) to go up, and make your visit from top to base. It's cheap and comfortable:

    Another mean of transportaion: From Coimbra B train station take Trolleybus No. 1, it stops next to the Library. From Coimbra A (you will have to change there) in case the connecting train just left - take bus No. 5 or 25 to Praca de Republica (near the University).

    We shall climb to the Alta Cidade - on foot. I suggest to go to the University on foot. it's a great experience to walk along the narrow and cobbled streets. I know that it's quite steep, but it's not a long way. Furthermore, in between, there are some wonderful sights to visit. Both areas (Baixa and Alta) are graced with narrow, winding streets, though the Alta is mostly taken up by University buildings and graffiti-covered student housing, whereas the Baixa is loaded with shops, restaurants and other commercial activity. Ancient churches, picturesque plazas and the nearly total lack of international chain stores can make both areas feel like the 1950s — or the 1590s...

    If our back is to Largo da Portagem we turn RIGHT along the stairs (east) to Escadas de sao Bartolomeu. If our back is to Church of São Tiago and the start of Praca do Comercio (where we came from) - turn LEFT (east) along the stairs to Escadas de sao Bartolomeu. In the end of the Escadas, if you cannot resist, turn right and walk along Rua Ferreira Borges until you arrive to the Largo da Portagem. The Largo da Portagem is located down by the river and is the place where various means of transportaion of the city pass by. Many municipal buses seem to go there, including the Yellow Bus tourist bus that takes an hour tour of the city. You can do a river boat tour from there. The main shopping street (Rua Ferreira Borges) is there too. There are a many restaurants in the Largo itself, offering a wide variety of things. They're not all budget ones, but they are useful if you want a quick rest and a snack. Recommended for a little stop and a drink in one of the cafes outside, perfect for soaking up a bit of sun and taking a rest (before we climb to the Alta Cidade). Pleasant classic music from the loudspeakers around:

    Retrace your steps and walk back along Rua Ferreira Borges and turn right (in the first turn to the right) (there is a signpost - "Universidade, Zona Monumental) to the Arco de Almedina. The city of Coimbra had a fence walls, dating back to the sixth century, furnished with several watchtowers. Arco de Almedina was one of the main entrances to the city. The Almedina Arch and the lofty lookout tower formed part of the complex defense of this old city. It is assumed that this arch was built during the reign of King Afonso III and Dinis. The entrance to the ancient, upper town (once both a Jewish and Moorish quarter), is, mainly, through the Arco de Almedina. Steps lead (on your left) (DO NOT TURN LEFT along these steps)up to the Torre de Anto, a 16th century tower that now houses an arts and crafts gallery. Here are also houses called "Republicas" where the university students live, just as they have for centuries. We shall return to Torre de Anto in another day's blog.

    Two-three minutes of climb behind the arch - you see, on your left the Torre de Almedina. Opposite it stands this sculpture:

    This was possibly one of the most imposing towers on the perimeter of the wall, due to its strategic importance, since they constitute the most important access, civil and military, to the city. It may date back to the time of Count Sesnando Davides who conquered Coimbra in 1064, having been over the centuries repeatedly renovated and refurbished. Its present appearance may be the result of a reconstruction in the early sixteenth century by order of Manuel I of Portugal. On the outside of the arc you see the oldest heraldic coat-of-arms of Coimbra and bas-relief of the thirteenth century made ​​by a serpent and a lion. The Almedina Tower is divided into two floors and looks robust as one stone unit. The upper part of the tower is torn by barred windows with columns. One reaches the exterior door by a steep stone staircase outside. Internally, the first and second floors are connected by a narrow staircase masonry.
    Previous building was added in 1541 in order to settle there the Town Hall. It had been known then as the Tower of Appeal. From 1878 worked at the site the Free School of Arts of Design, under the guidance of António Augusto Gonçalves. Currently, and after various interventions of restoration and conservation, the tower houses the Municipal Historical Archive. Adult - 1.80€, senior - 1.20€.

    The Baixa Cidade of Coimbra from Torre de Almedina windows:

    Torre de Almedina interior (Recoltar Palarras organization - Alice Cardoso):

    From Torre de Almedina climb a few steps to Rua Quebra Costas (in Portuguese: Backbone breaker...) and take a photo of this sculpture:

    Continue to climb along Rua Quebra Costas. Arriving to an intersection - turn RIGHT (signpost: Munumentos Universidade). Climb the stairs (on your right - resthouse) and you arrive to Largo da Se' Velha.

    Here stands the Se' Velha de Coimbra - the Old Cathedral of Coimbra. Entrance fees: €2, Opening hours: Mon–Thu and Sat. 10.00 – 18.00, Fri. 10.00 - 16.00. It is one of the most important Romanesque Roman Catholic buildings in Portugal. The Sé Velha (Old Cathedral), renovated in the 20th century, was built between 1162 and 1184. It served as a cathedral until 1772, when the episcopal see was moved to the Sé Nova. Construction of the Sé Velha began some time after the Battle of Ourique (1139), when Count Afonso Henriques declared himself King of Portugal and chose Coimbra as capital. The first Count of Coimbra, the Mozarab Sisnando Davides, is buried in the cathedral. Coimbra Cathedral is the only one of the Portuguese Romanesque cathedrals from the Reconquista times to have survived relatively intact up to the present. From the outside, Coimbra's old cathedral looks like a small fortress. The fortress look is common to the cathedrals of that time and can be explained with the battle time that was taking place at that time. There is a tower-like structure in the middle of the western façade with a portal and a similar-looking upper window.

    The most notable aspect of the Romanesque decoration of the Old Cathedral is the large number of sculpted capitals (around 380), which make of the monument one of the main Romanesque sculpture nucleus in Portugal. The main decorative motifs are vegetal and geometric interlacements and reveal Arab and pre-romanesque influences, but there are also pairs of quadrupeds (including centaurs) or birds facing each other. There are practically no human representations, and no Biblical scenes.

    The north façade has a remarkable, although eroded, Renaissance-style portal called the Porta Especiosa:

    The exterior doesn't give you any indication of the beautiful carvings and sculpture that await inside. The interior of the cathedral has a nave with two aisles, a small transept, and an eastern apse with three chapels. All columns of the interior have decorated capitals, mainly with vegetable motifs, but also with animals and geometric patterns. The windows of the lantern-tower and the big window in the west facade are the main sources of natural light of the cathedral. The cloister, built during the reign of Afonso II (early 13th century), is a work of the transition between Romanesque and Gothic. Each of the Gothic pointed arches that face the courtyard encompass two twin round arches in Romanesque style. The intricate Gothic altar within is of gilded wood, created by two Flemish masters in the 15th and 16th centuries. Sancho I was crowned king here in 1185, and João I in 1385. There are several tombs in the cathedral, including those of the 13th-century Bishop Dom Egas Fafe (to the left of the altar) and Dona Vetaça, a Byzantine princess who was a governess in the Coimbra court in the 14th century. Inside the highlights are a number of fine tombs, a large Late Gothic altar, and a Renaissance font. From the south aisles, a flight of steps leads up to the Early Gothic 13th century cloister:

    From the Old Cathedral climb and zig-zag with Rua da Ilha (south to the Cathedral). Look backward to the the Se' (cathedral) turrets:

    All twisting roads around - are pebbled. The road continues with a light slope downward. You arrive to a signpost pointing to: Universidade, Museu machado castro, Se' Nova. Continue to climb along Rua da Ilha. On your left an asphalted road. You can choose to climb along this asphalted road - just to have a marvelous view over the city roofs:

    Trace back, return and turn left to Rua da Ilha and climb up. Look at the typical roofs of the old buildings around:

    Continue up along this road that changes its name to: Rua Doutor Guilherme and Rua José Falcão. Turn left (road without name) and you arrive to Largo de Porta Ferrea / Ferrera. In 1544, it was the Paço das Escolas which agglutinated all the Faculties of the University of Coimbra, after the final accommodation of the University in this city in 1537. I stress the point that Largo de Porta Ferrera (Ferrea) is the square OUT of the University walls. You enter the University courtyard / Páco das Escolas (Patio of the Schools) through the Iron Gate Porta Ferrera. Unbelievable magnificent square.

    The whole site of the University of Coimbra is reported in a subordinate Tip to this itinerary.

    We leave the Páco das Escolas from the its entrance through the Porta de Ferrea and walk east, crossing the Largo de Porta Ferrea eastward. we walk along Rua Larga and arrive to Largo Dom Dinis - a large roundabout with a statue in the middle: the Monument to D. Dinis (King of Portugal from 1279 to 1325). It is located in Largo D. Dinis on the alignment of the "Iron Gate", which is separated by a wide avenue:

    On our right is the University building of the Dept. of Mathematics. Several steps forward and you see the Escadas Monumentais (Monumental Stairs), Coimbra walls and city's red roofs:

    From Largo Dom Dinis (Diniz) we turn right in 45 degrees, south-east to Calçada Martim de Freitas and walk along Coimbra city walls on your right:

    You pass, on your right, the Instituto Botanico and, immediately further,  under a 16th century aqueduct, is the entrance to the Botanical Gardens, Portugal's largest, created in 1772. There is a combination of flowerbeds (a remarkable collection of some 1200 plants, including many rare and exotic species), meandering paths, and elegant fountains.

    Arcos do Jardim - Botanical Garden Viaduct:

    A corner memorizing Luis Carrisso Martim de Freitas:

    The 19th-century mansion nearby is the House-Museum of Bissaya Barreto, who was a local surgeon. The house was converted into a museum with Portuguese sculpture and painting, Chinese porcelain, old tiles, period furniture, and more.

    I recommend exiting the Botanical Garden from its main entrance in Calçada Martim de Freitas. In case you exit the garden in the western exit, walk around the garden and arrive to Calçada Martim de Freitas. Walk eastward along Calçada Martim de Freitas until you arrive to an extensive square - Largo João Paulo II:

    We continue, from the north-east corner of the square to Rua de Tomar. On your left, you pass Rua Almeida Garrett and we enter Park santa Cruz or Jardim de Sereia. In the eighteenth century, the Incarnation D. Gaspar promoted the garden's arrangement, making it a recreational space, having been built around the playground (the Pella) and, simultaneously, a garden of rest and meditation in Baroque style. The formal entrance to the garden is made from the Republic Square (the opposite direction of our entry). From the back exit - we turn LEFT (WEST) into the garden. Descending the stairs, we find the Fountain of Nogueira with a statue representing a merman opening his mouth to a dolphin, where the water runs to the source, which explains the popular designation of the garden "Mermaid":

    We exit the garden from the Republic Square (Praca da Republica). It presents three statues representing Faith, Hope and Charity, culminating in a cascade. The entrance, consists of a large arches as a quite huge gate. These arches are finely carved and artistically are quite fascinating, and within this park you can admire notable architectural works similar spread all around. There is a Tourist Information office in the Republic Square. We continue from the north-west corner of the square - along Avenida Sá da Bandeira and the Jardim de Avenida Sá da Bandeira admiring the manicured gardening cells, statues spread along the avenue and fountains. On your right - the Golden Shopping Centre.

    The most remarkable statue is the one in memorial to the WW I:

    You continue walking westward along Rua Olímpio Nicolau Rui Fernandes and the University of Coimbra hill is on your left. Mercado (the municipal Market) Dom Pedro V is also on your left, a bit further to the west. If you look on your right - you see a low wall with wonderful cermaic tiles (Azulejos) of various sites in Coimbra (just before, east to, Escola Secundária Jaime Cortesão):

    (Azulejos) of Mosteiro de Santa Clara - a -Velha:

    Azulejo of Igreja de Sao Tiago:

    Azulejo of Arco de Almedina:

    Further west, on your left is Jardim da Manga. Manga Garden is also known as the Cloister Manga. This public area is located at the rear of the Monastery of Santa Cruz, in downtown. It is one of the first fully Renaissance architectural works made ​​in Portugal and its structure is evocative of the Fountain of Life. It dates back to ancient source of Manga, the Monastery of Santa Cruz, belonging to the monks of the Order of St. Augustine, built in 1528. The garden is dominated by a building, that contains dome and a source, connected to four small chapels and small lakes. The whole site Is classified as a National Monument since 1934. The central building is In Renaissance style and characterized by a central dome-shaped body, resting on eight columns and surrounded by four small chapels. Noteworthy are the water games inspired by Moorish architecture:

    A few steps further, on the left (south) side of the Rua Olímpio Nicolau Rui Fernandes street - you can visit a charming exhibition, in the Sala de Cidade (Municipal Museum)  on the history, past and present of Coimbra with many "oldies" - photos from the past of Coimbra (the lion's share from 50-60 years ago):

    In my visit in the Sala de Cidade at July 2014 I enjoyed the photos (temporary exhibition) of Varela Pe'curto. A bit further, still on the southern side of Rua Olímpio Nicolau Rui Fernandes  stands Santa Cruz Monastery (Moistero Santa Cruz), Rua Martins de Carvalho 3 - the next, and last (for today) attraction. It is a National Monument in Coimbra and Portugal. Because the first two kings of Portugal are buried in the church it was granted the status of National Pantheon. Founded in 1131 outside the protecting walls of Coimbra, the Santa Cruz Monastery was the most important monastic house during the early days of the Portuguese monarchy. The monastery and church were erected between 1132 and 1223. Its school, with its vast library, was highly respected in medieval times and was a meeting point for the intellectual and power elites. Its scriptorium was used for the consolidation of royal power by King Afonso Henriques, thus it was not considered strange that he decided to be buried there. Nothing remains of the early Romanesque monastery. It is known that it had only one nave and a high tower in the façade, as typical of the Augustinian-Romanesque constructions, but none of those elements subsisted. In the first half of the 16th century, the Monastery was completely renovated by King Manuel's order. The main portal, built between 1522 and 1525 under Chanterene, is the most emblematic piece of the whole monastic ensemble, harmonising the artistic elements of the Manueline with other features from Renaissance inspiration. Through the whole 16th century, worked at Santa Cruz de Coimbra the most respected architects, sculptors and painters, such as Diogo de Castilho, Machim and Jean of Rouen, Cristóvão de Figueiredo and Vasco Fernandes besides the already mentioned Chanterene, Boytac and Diogo Pires the Younger. It is also called the National Pantheon because the first two kings of Portugal are buried there. These kings are Afonso Henriques and his successor, Sancho I (the conqueror and inhabitant – first and second kings of Portugal). Their tombs were created by Nicolau Chanterene, and these were done in 1530. The tombs are on both sides of the main altar - so you cannot visit this part of the church while a religious service is taking place. You can enter the main part for free but for 2.50 euro you can see the sacristy and much more.

    The square opposite the main entrance of the monastery is Praca 8 de Maio:

    The Monumental entrance. The portal was constructed in 1522 by Diogo de Castilla, with sculptures from Nicolau de Chanterene. There are three sculptures in the central part by Joao de Ruao, and these are the Prophet, King David, and Our Lady. The Baroque triumphal arch came later from the hand of the priest Jose do Couto.

    Inside the Monastery - walls are decorated with “Azulejos” or hand painted stone tiles. They are from the 17th century:

    Baroque pipe organ of the 18th century inside the Monastery of Santa Cruz. The organ is the work of Manuel Brito Gomez Herrera and was finished in 1724:

    After you have visited this all, by leaving the church of Santa Cruz, turn to your left and have a nice cold beer or something else in the café Santa Cruz on the side.

    Another Coimbra tradition is Fado, a more serious cousin of the Lisbon variety. The sombre Coimbra Fado theoretically requires you to clear your throat in approval after a rendition, and not applaud. It is performed only by men, often cloak-wrapped graduates of the university. Fado is native to Portugal and is best described as traditional Portuguese urban folk music. It is based on classical poems and grew out of the oral tradition hundreds of years ago in Lisbon. Two main branches have developed. Both usually consist of two acoustic guitarists and a vocalist. The Lisbon branch has a female vocalist, while the Coimbra branch features a male vocalist. Queima das Fitas, the May festival, is the best time to take in local Fado. But there are several spots that function as performance venues year-round. The best are usually free: the no-cover Café Santa Cruz, in Baixa, housed since 1923 under the vaulted ceilings that used to be part of the adjacent 16th-century church and monastery.

  • Citywalk | Portugal
    Updated at May 7,2015

    Braga - the historical centre:

    Start and End: Braga Railway station.

    Distance: 8 km.

    Duration: 1 day.

    Main Attractions: Arco da Porta Nova, Largo da Praca Velha, Misericórdia, Sé Cathedral of Braga, Old Archbishop´s Palace and Castles Fountain, Paço Arquiepiscopal, Santa Barbara Garden, Igreja do Carmo, Convento do Pópulo, Braga Castle, Reitor Da Igreja Dos Terceiros, Praça da República, Avenida da Liberdade, Largo Carlos Amarante, Palacio do Raio, Convento dos Congregados, Jardim da Avenida Central.

    Orientation: Sometimes called the “Portuguese Rome” for its religious air and many churches, Braga is an ancient town in northwest Portugal. Though it is often described in tourist guides as ‘over-religious’ & ‘buttoned-up’ I did not find it so at all. It has a great balance of commerce, tourist sights and religious places. And it’s very friendly. Its history and livelihood are tied to Christianity dating to the 3rd century. This route offers the central sites that can be visited along 1 day. The city’s 12th-century Sé (Cathedral) is still one of the most popular attractions. The second most known attraction lies outside of town - the renowned Bom Jesus de Monte pilgrimage sanctuary, with its striking Baroque stairway. But the Bon Jesus de Monte is NOT included in this itinerary. Instead we concentrate around the historical centre sites. Most of them less reputed - BUT, believe me - you'll love most of them. To visit the Bom Jesus and another couple of more reputed churches or monasteries - you'll need, at least, additional 4-5 hours.

    Bear in mind: although Braga is an orthodox town - it is vibrant, sophisticated, sensual and very young. There are wonderful squares, cafe's, restaurants, gardening beds and wonderful buildings. A Portuguese MUST.

    Weather: Do yourself a favor - visit Braga in a bright day ! Do not go on a bleak weather day

    Transportaion: Catch the Metro in Porto to Campanhã Station or São Bento Station and then get a train to Braga. Duration: 65-75 min. Price (aprox.): 3-4 €. More or less - every hour. From Campanhã Station or São Bento Station -  local electric trains of the Porto Urbanos network run to Braga about once every hour every day, with extra faster trains in weekday rush hours. There are simple to use ticket machines in the station's hall. The machines take notes as well as coins. NB these 'Urbanos' tickets are NOT VALID on Alfa Pendular or Intercity trains. Urbanos trains are (mostly) bright yellow! Note: If you do use one of the Alfa Pendular fast trains the trip to Braga will cost you a whopping €14,20 to save about 30 minutes. First train from Porto S. Bento to Braga is at 0615 on weekdays, 0645 weekends and holidays and the last trains are at 2245 then a late train at 0115am daily. These stop at Porto Campanhã five minutes later. Be sure to check timetables at the Portugal Railways Official website; look for Urbanos Porto on the front page. Trains from Braga to Porto run daily from 0434 to 2034 daily, then at 2134 (weekends), 2234 (weekdays) and 2334 daily.

    The national long distance bus (coach) network Rede-Expressos has frequent daily service between Porto Batalha bus station and Braga. Times at - tickets cost 6€ and can be purchased on line. Journey time 1 hour. (The TRANSDEV bus company runs a bus once each hour from the airport to the city centre Batalha bus station. Details at

    The railway station in Braga is on the western edge of the city centre, a few minutes walk along a mainly pedestrian street will get you there. None of the city buses directly connect the railway station and main bus station. We shall start our itinerary from the railway station.

    The bus station in Braga is a closer to the city centre, in Avenida General Norton do Matos. Taxis outside if you need one.


    Braga, the capital of the Minho region, is considered the third most important Portuguese city. Internationally famous as a popular tourist destination, Braga attracts visitors with its monuments, magnificent gardens, cuisine and the animated social and cultural life. Probably the main religious center in the country, Braga is known for its baroque churches, magnificent 18th century houses and elaborate gardens and squares. Known, in the Roman era as “Bracara Augusta”, it was also the headquarters of the Portuguese bishopric in the XII century. Braga’s long history can be seen in its monuments and churches. The most impressive church is the Sé, which has several styles, from Roman to Baroque. Braga is also proud of its splendid houses, especially those from the 18th century.

    Braga was Portugal's first city; when Portugal was founded there was only one city on the whole of its territory and that was Braga. The remains of ancient settlements in Braga are thousands of years old and are proven to date back to the Bronze Age.

    Braga is one of the oldest Portuguese cities and one of the oldest Christian cities in the world. It was founded in the Roman times as Bracara Augusta and boasts more than 2,000 years of history as a city. Situated in the North of Portugal, in the Cávado Valley (Vale do Cávado), Braga has a population of about 174,000 inhabitants. It is the centre of the Great Metropolitan Area of Minho (GAM - Grande Área Metropolitana do Minho) with a population of around 800,000 inhabitants. Founded by a Celtic tribe called Bracari and later occupied by the Romans (who made it the administrative center of Gallaecia, or present-day Minho and Spanish Galicia), it became the seat of a large archbishopric and the country's religious capital in the 11th century.

    Braga has a lot to offer, both in terms of culture and entertainment: its night life, cinemas, theatre, exhibitions, museums and art galleries are exceptional. It is a city vibrant with culture and tradition, where history and religion go hand in hand with technology, industry and university life. There are lots of places to visit in Braga. The historic city center, with the cathedral and other churches, museums and traditional shops. The cathedral is almost 1000 years old, and while in there you can have a guided tour to its treasure. You can also visit the beautiful Braga Municipal Stadium, used for the 2004 European Football Championships held in Portugal. The stadium is on the northern part of the city and it is advised to take a cab. While in Braga, looking east or south-east will probably make you sight two distinct sanctuaries on a mountain just outside the city. The higher one, Sameiro, with a beautiful Church with lots of paintings and gold decorations, and the other one, Bom Jesus do Monte, with a beautiful park around it. While in Bom Jesus, you can ride the Bom Jesus funicular, the oldest funicular in the world moved by water balancing. Although Braga is known in Portugal as "Cidade dos Arcibispos" (Archbishop's Town) and has a clear religious connotation, it isn't related to the faith or devoted Catholicism of its inhabitants. That name comes from the fact that the town has many churches and sanctuaries.

    One fact I heard from every inhabitant, in this city, during my visit: Braga is the most fertile city in Portugal - though it is the most orthodox one. Braga has one of the youngest populations in Europe (it was proclaimed to be the European city with the youngest residents in 1989), which makes the city dynamic and energetic. In the past 30 years the District of Braga increased in population by 25 per cent. The district shows parameters of development and quality of living above the national average, which are surpassed only by those of the metropolitan areas of Porto and Lisbon. From statistics and simple calculations one can easily infer that, together with its strategic geographical situation and its rate of development, the aforementioned parameters make this district one of the most attractive regions in terms of investment.

    With the railway station (Estacao Braga) on your back - head north-east (and, later, eastward) along Rua Andrade Corvo (the most right  climbing up street).

    You arrive to an extensive square with non-functioning fountain - Largo das Hortas (public resthouse).

    Largo das Hortas - view to the north and city walls:

    After 300 m. from our start of climbing up - we arrive to Arco da Porta Nova, Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa. The Arch of the New Gate (Arco da Porta Nova), is a Baroque and Neoclassical arch, designed by André Soares in the late 18th century, in the civil parish of Sé, municipality of Braga. The triumphal arch which decorates the western entrance to the medieval wall of the city, was opened in 1512 and traditionally used to present the city's keys to dignitaries and celebrities. The arch representing the principal entrance to the medieval city. It is surrounded by an urban environment, within one of the city's primary arterial roads, in a space between the Campo das Hortas and Rua D. Diogo de Sousa. In its immediate vicinity (on the left, north side) is a medieval tower, which now houses the Museu de Imagem. King Ferdinand completed the wall of city of Braga around 1373, a project begun during the reign of his predecessor King Denis. THe walls' project called also for constructions of a Torre da Porta Nova (Tower of the New City Gate). Sometime in the 17th century, Archbishop José de Bragança, ordered the reconstruction of the Porta Nova gate, to include the extension of Rococo decoration. The historic arch was used by the municipality, throughout the 20th century, to promotional and marketing campaigns.

    The front façade of the arch, looking from west to east along the Rua do Dom Diogo de Sousa:

    The front façade of the arch, looking from east to west along the Rua do Dom Diogo de Sousa with the image of Our Lady of Nazareth:

    On your right - Largo da Praca Velha. This square is a beautiful place near the Arco da Porta Nova. Its old buildings, brightly colored, its restaurants give you a special atmosphere and giving welcome to tourists and visitors to the city:

    Continue east, along the pedestrians-only road of Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa. On your right is the Misericórdia. It is a church built in 1562, the time of Archbishop Bartolomeu Martyrs (1559-1558). it is considered the most important legacy of the renaissance period (Florentine style) in the city, despite the profound changes it suffered in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its monumental Retablo had been built during the years 1735-1740. Its lateral facade is from 1660. Over the centuries it has been the object of several renovations, acquiring the current appearance in 1891. It Is classified as a Public Interest since 1977. The altar is carved authored by Marceliano de Araújo. It is included in the set of buildings in the Se' Cathedral of Braga. Standing against the Cathedral, it is easy to miss...

    Lateral facade:

    The interior of the church was remodeled in the Baroque period. The altarpiece is absolutely fabulous and clearly expresses the art of Marceliano de Araujo.

    Opposite -  the famous Sé Cathedral of Braga, Rua Dom Paio Mendes 10, Rossio da Sé. Open, during the summer months: 09.00 - 12.30, 14.00 - 18.30. No photos allowed inside !!! Taking pictures is strictly prohibited in the premises of the cathedral. So, be cautious !!!Entrance is free. It costs 5 euros per person for the guided tour in the chapels and the museum. Braga is the city of churches, and the Sé is the ex-libris. Due to its long history and artistic significance it is also one of the most important buildings in the country. Built in the 12th century by Count Henry of Burgundy and Dona Teresa. Following his demise, she was chased out of town because of an illicit love affair, but in death Henry and Teresa were reunited in their tombs in the Chapel of Kings. You can visit the Treasury of the Cathedral and the Museum of Sacred Art, an upstairs repository of Braga's most precious works of art. On display are elaborately carved choir stalls from the 18th century, embroidered vestments from the 16th through the 18th century, a 14th-century statue of the virgin and a Gothic chalice from the same period, plus the custódia of Dom Gaspar de Bragança. In the cloister is a pietà, a reflection of human grief.

    Main façade of Braga Cathedral. The entrance gallery (galilee) with three arches is gothic (end of 15th century), but the towers and upper storeys are early baroque (17th century). he original romanesque Western façade of the Cathedral of Braga has been totally suppressed, except for some archivolts and capitals of the main portal, heavily decorated with animal and human sculptured reliefs. The figures of one archivolt, with hens, foxes and a minstrel, may be telling a moralistic song like the Roman de Renart, of French tradition. Between 1486 and 1501, an entrance gallery (a galilee) in late gothic style was built preceding the main portal. The galilee has ribbed vaulting and is decorated with statues and gargoyles, the gargoyles were used for spouts so rain wouldn't ruin the side of the buildings. The beautiful manueline metal gate was originally in the interior of the cathedral, but was moved to the galilee in the 18th century. In the early 16th century, Archbishop Diogo de Sousa modified the main romanesque portal, sacrificing the inner archivolts. The upper part of the façade and towers were totally modernised in the 18th century and are unremarkable. The Southern façade of the cathedral has an interesting Romanesque portal.

    The entrance from Rua Cabido:

    In the courtyard - the Museum of the Se' Cathedral of Braga:

    Side entry to the Cathedral:

    The main chapel of the apse, rebuilt in 1509 under Archbishop Diogo de Sousa by basque architect João de Castilho. The exterior of the chapel has beautiful late Gothic and Manueline tracery with gargoyles and pinnacles, matched in the interior of the chapel by intricate ribbed vaulting. The outer wall of the main chapel has a beautiful early-16th century statue of the Madonna breastfeeding Jesus (Madona do Leite) between the coat of arms of Portugal and Bishop Diogo de Sousa, sponsor of the Manueline renovation. Under the window there is a Madonna with the Child under a gothic canopy between the coat-of-arms of Portugal (left) and that of Archbishop Diogo de Sousa (right):

    Braga Se' Cathedral has three aisles covered by a wooden roof, a transept and five Eastern chapels in the apse. None of the chapels is original Romanesque anymore: the main chapel is Manueline, while the others are heavily decorated in baroque style. In the north wall outside of the cathedral there is a small chapel, of early Romanesque design, that may be a remnant of the late 11th building. This chapel was left outside of the final cathedral, perhaps due to a change of design in the 12th century.

    The nave is essentially romanesque thanks to a "purifying" reform in the 20th century that suppressed most later additions, although most original capitals of the columns have been lost. D. Afonso, son of King John I, is buried in a 15th-century tomb made of bronze, which can be seen in the nave of the Cathedral. Head to the north exit of the nave, where you will find the small but well-stocked Museum of Religious Art.

    Head over to the desk and for a small price you can visit the treasury, the choir and the chapels.

    A high choir was added near the entrance of the cathedral in the Baroque period. You can't help but to stare at the detail of the work. This choir is beautifully decorated with a painted ceiling and sculptured gilt wood (Talha Dourada) choir stalls executed around 1737 by Miguel Francisco da Silva. In front of the high choir there are two gilt wood organs, carved by renowned sculptor Marceliano de Araújo in the 1730s, heavily decorated with baroque and fantastic motifs. These are among the most impressive gilt wood works. Be sure to take the tour of the choir (a small fee) to see the monumental twin baroque organs with exuberant carvings of various cherubs and creatures:

    There are twin organs that are just magnificent. These carved woodworks
    are by Marceliano de Araújo (1737-1739). The organs are still played during major church events. The organs are the loveliest I have ever seen. I could look at them for hours. The highlight is supposed to be on Sundays -  when someone starts to play them. The feeling is heavenly gorgeous:

    The cloister offers access to three chapels, which sit adjacent to the cathedral. Visit the tombs of the ArchBishops of Braga. The treassury holds an invaluable amount of gold, diamonds, art, sacerdodal clothing from the 16th, 17th, and 18th century and not to mention some of the best pieces of Ivory in the country.

    The first of these, the Capela dos Reis, is built directly onto the nave and is home to the Tombs of Henry and Teresa, the mother and father of the first king of Portugal, as well as the mummified body of Archbishop Lourenço Vicente Coutinho, one of Portugal’s leading 14th-century religious protagonists. It also has the mumified ArchBishop of Braga from the 16th century. You can still see his teeth, hair and jewels.

    Next comes the Capela de São Geraldo, which is home to some interesting ceramic works (Azulejos), showing scenes from the life of St Gerald, Braga’s first Archbishop who lived from 1096 to 1108. Words can not do justice...

    The Capela da Gloria is home to more Azulejos, as well as the tomb of Archbishop Gonçalo Pereira, who commanded the Minho forces against the Moroccans in the battle of Rio Salado:

    Exit the Se' Cathedral (we shall return to its rear facade) northward. Continue walking eastward along Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa and you arrive to Largo do Paço. The buildings with the facades facing the Largo do Paço, are the work of the Archbishops Manuel de Sousa, D. Agostinho de Jesus and D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles. The set of houses can be divided into three wings. West wing: Erected on the initiative of D. Agostinho de Jesus (1587-1609), as attested by his coat of arms, inscribed in the balcony facing the Largo D. João Peculiar (where this archbishop watched the processions) and the center sustained gallery by columns. In the central building of the coat reads the Latin inscription: "D Agostinho de Jesus, Archbishop of Braga and Primate of the Spains":

    North Wing: It was also built by D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles. Beneath the coat of arms of the archbishop, is the Latin inscription: "O quam domus antiqua dispari domino dominaris", year 1709 The expression can be translated as "O The old house is different that the Lord has you!" , sentence uttered by Frei Bartolomeu dos Martires when he got there. He added modestly, recalling his predecessors: "How unworthy today what comes to mind your place," the Latin phrase that is due to Cicero:

    In the centre stands the Fountain of the Castles - Fonte dos Castelos from year 1723:

    The Praca do Paco square is surrounded by buildings of the Episcopal Bracarense, hence its name. It is open only from the south side to the Rua do Souto.

    Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa changes its name to Rua do Souto - but still remains pedestrians only road:

    We shall explore the hidden sides of the Cathedral of Braga - before continuing (east) to the historical centre of Braga. From the beginning of Rua do Souto - turn right to Rua de Nossa Senhora do Leite which, later, turn right to Rua de S. Joao:

    From Rua de Nossa Senhora do Leite - turn right agian to see the rear facade of the Se' Cathedral of Braga. We arrive to a closed square - Roseo de Se' - where we can admire the bell towers, on the southern side of the Cathedral. The Southern façade of the cathedral has an interesting Romanesque portal:

    Note the stunning reliefs on this facade while standing in the Roseo de Se':

    Turn right to Rua Dom Paio Mendes to see the western facade of the Se' Cathedral. The original romanesque Western façade of the Cathedral of Braga has been totally suppressed, except for some archivolts and capitals of the main portal, heavily decorated with animal and human sculptured reliefs:

    Return to Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa / Rua do Souto (the pedestrians roads). Continue walking along the elegant road. You pass Rua da Doutor Justino Cruz on your left. You will be striked by the modern, elaborate architectural commercial centre on your left (north) side. On your right Rua Francisco Sanches with pretty tree-lined avenue:

    We turn LEFT (north) to Rua da Doutor Justino Cruz (immediately, on your left, a wonderful porcelains shop. The architectural mix of old and new is admirable. On your right - a dragon statue:

    and behind it - the Millenium building:

    On your left - the Santa Barbara Garden. It is a municipal garden alongside the eastern wing of the historical Archbishop's Palace of Braga. The garden is located in the northeast corner the Archbishop's Palace, on an elevation. It consists of geometric designs carved from beds of boxwood, decorated with cedar topiaries. In the center of the garden there is a fountain with the statue of Saint Bárbara at the top. It was originally established to enhance the exterior of the palace back in the 17th century and to this day it sets the ancient palace walls off to perfection, framing it in greenery and, on sunny days with the blue skies above. Today’s garden is, however, a modern interpretation of the original space, having been completely re-landscaped in 1955 in keeping with the romantic style of its original period. Plaques on the site identify Jose Cardoso da Silva as the designer and landscaper. The plants, blooms and landscaping are well tended and always found in immaculate condition, making the Santa Barbara Garden a veritable feast for the senses. Do not miss the gardens !!!

    The Archiepiscopal Palace (Paço Arquiepiscopal) is seen from the Praca do Paco square and from the Santa Barbara Garden. The Palace is a set of three different buildings with distinct characteristics and time periods: The South wing, defining the Paço Square (see above), is composed of various buildings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries:

    The Eastern wing (facing the Santa Barbara Garden is of Gothic style and dates to the 14th and 15th centuries (see later in this route). The oldest building is set facing the Santa Barbara Garden, being known as Medieval Palace of Braga. It was erected in the late Middle Ages through the initiative of Archbishops Gonçalo Pereira and Fernando the Warrior, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It is currently occupied by the District Archive Braga:

    The Western wing (facing the Municipio Square) (see above) was built in the 18th century in the Portuguese Northern Baroque style. Town Hall Square: The building facing the square was erected by the Municipality José de Bragança in the early eighteenth century, with the authorship of the architect André Soares, Baroque design. This building was consumed by fire on April 16, 1866, been rebuilt under the guidance of architect Manuel Fernandes de Sá, during the 1930s. Currently it is installed the Public Library of Braga:

    The remains of the medieval arcade of the palace forming the southwest corner of the garden:

    Rua da Doutor Justino continues north as Rua do Carmo (on our left is Praca Conde de Agrolungo, and, later, hotel Ibis). On your right, in Rua do Carmo - Igreja do Carmo (Our Lady of Carmel church):

    Nearby (east to the church) , I had dinner in Restaurante cantinho do carmo (see Tip below).

    Return to Ibis Hotel in Rua da Doutor Justino Cruz / Rua do Carmo. With your face to the south - turn RIGHT (west) to Rua Conde de Agrolongo. The spacious Praca Conde de Agrolongo is on your left.  Furher, west, on your right, an impressive building with amazing Azulejos inside - LAR Conde de Arlongo - a retirement hostel for elders. You are not allowed to step inside. What a miss !

    In the south side of Praca Conde de Agrolongo stands a modern sculpture opposite pretty-tiled buildings:

    Close to the LAR Conde de Arlongo, and belonging to the same architectural block there is an ancient convent / church Convento do Pópulo. The 16th century Church of Populo was built on the orders of archbishop Brother Agostinho de Jesus, as his burial monument. He passed away in 1609, with his remains transferred in 1628 to a wooden tomb, ordered by the city of Braga, and located in the main chapel. The original Mannerist style underwent substantial change in the 18th century when the façade was rebuilt in a neo-classical style according to a design by Carlos Amarante. The church is dedicated to the Virgin after the Church of Saint Mary of Populo in Rome. It is well worth a visit for its elaborate finishings including the blue and white tiling attributed to Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes (18th century). By no means - do not miss the tile panels that make up the walls of the grand staircase of the building of the Convent of Pópulo:

    Exit the huge square from its south-east corner. Continue EAST along Rua do Souto. Turn Left (north) Rua do Castelo:

    On your right, in Rua do Castelo - Braga Castle (Castelo de Braga) + Torre de Menagem. It is a historical fortification and defensive line encircling the city of Braga. While, in fact, the only remains of this structure are the various gates and towers along its perimeter, the main keep tower is the only true remnant of the medieval castle. The old castle, today demolished, had an approximate rectangular plan, with towers on each vertice. Of the walls of the city, only the gate, tower of Santiago, tower of São Sebastião and Porta Nova remain. The demolition of the grounds began in 1858 in the Largo do Barão de S. Martinho, with the destruction of the Souto Gate, followed by the Eastern and São Bento Gates, still in the 19th century. After the beginning of the 20th century, many other lines of the castle were destroyed between the Arco da Porta Nova and Rua dos Biscainhos, and from Rua dos Biscainhos and Rua do Alcaide. Few remnants of the medieval lines remain today. The ancient wall can be seen in some of the backyards of homes along the Rua do Anjo and Rua de São Marcos. Still further, there still exist the Gate of São Tiago, even if partially altered due to the construction in the second half of the 18th century, through the addition of the Capela da Senhora da Torre:

    on your left, in Rua do Castelo - Reitor Da Igreja Dos Terceiros. The Church of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis dates back to 1690. The facade, is in the Baroque style, presents a broken pediment, surmounted by a cross and the arms of San Francisco. Inside, the ceiling is vaulted in stone, the altars are gilded and the walls are tiled with motifs signed by Nicolau de Freitas. The church is not open, regularly, to the public:

    The Retablo with Azulejos and list of all Bishops:

    You arrive to Avenida Central. Turn RIGHT (east) to the Praça da República. The Praça da Republica Square is Portugal at its best. It is a wide, expansive space with a fountain at its heart and surrounded by grand architecture from a variety of periods that define the history of this historic city. This is a square that opens up between the wide Largo de San Francisco and Barão de São Martinho and Avenida Central and Avenida da Liberdade. The Republic Square, popularly referred to simply as Arcade. The square was opened in the late Middle Ages. The name Arcade is due to existing archway (west side with the Igreja da Lapa), erected on the initiative of D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles in 1715, in place of another, earlier, dating back to the time of D. Diogo de Sousa. It was here, from the late sixteenth century. Here were marketed food products which were supplied to the city. The space was transformed into a public garden in the mid nineteenth century and the works of the present building of the arch, with the municipal engineer Joaquim Pereira da Cruz project, was completed in 1885. Between 1761 and 1904 the square was named Lapa and off, between 1904 and 1910 - Largo Hintze Ribeiro. Finally, with the establishment of the Portuguese Republic (1910), the square received the current name. In the centre - illuminated fountain. The fountain is named the Vianna fountain, and in fact many locals simply refer to the Praça da Republica Square as “Vianna”. In the south-east corner of the square - the Tourist Information office. A MacDonalds is in the middle if you need a stop. By day, the Praça da Republica Square is the perfect place for hanging out, people watching and admiring your surroundings from the comfort of a café chair, with a pastel de nata, rich, freshly brewed coffee or a light local beer for company. Things are livened up regularly by a variety of street artists who come to entertain the crowds. By night the mood changes and the Praça da Republica becomes a popular dining destination, especially in summer when it is possible to sit outside and enjoy the balmy evening weather as you taste some of the gastronomic delights of one of Portugal’s leading culinary centres:

    In the west side - Igreja de Lapa and the Arcade (Archway):

    The oldest café in the city is the Vianna Café, which lies in the heart of the square and has been a leading congregation point for residents and visitors alike since it was opened as long ago as 1858:

    Turn SOUTH along Avenida da Liberdade. A WONDERFUL AVENUE. Magnificent buildings on the east side, manicured flower-beds, cafe's. Portugal at its best. Braga carpeted it with flowers. An utmost pleasure !

    From this protesting signpost - you can learn a lot about the economic situation in Portugal 2014 (and about its advantages to foreign tourists...):

    On the first crossway - turn RIGHT (WEST) to Rua Doutor Gonçalo Sampaio.  In the END of this road - you arrive to Largo Carlos Amarante. This is a wonderful square with admirable gardening and a couple of important, interesting and pretty buildinmgs: The Hospital de São Marcos (right side of the following photo) and the imposing Igreja de Santa Cruz. In the center of the square is a granite fountain shaped flower, surrounded by a small garden area and some stone benches to sit:

    Igreja de Santa Cruz - what a facade !!!. IBuilt during the years 1625 - 1631. The tower is from 1735. The Retablo from the XVIIIth century:

    The Hospital de São Marcos:

    Return to the Avenida da Liberdade and continue southward. Turn, again, right (west) in the next crossway to Rua Raio - to see the (under construction works) the Palacio do Raio. It is an example of the late Baroque, early Rococo style of decoration by Portuguese architect André Soares, notable for his influence in the northern Baroque movement. The construction of this ornate palace was ordered by João Duarte de Faria, a knight of the Order of Christ, who was a rich merchant. The commission was given to André Soares in 1754–1755, an architect already famous in the Braga region for his artistic and engineering projects. In the context of Portuguese art, André Soares was part of the end of the Baroque period, and beginning of the Rococo; his style used the structure of the Baroque, but the decorative style of the Rococo. In 1760, the staircase was painted. A century later, the residence was acquired by Miguel José Raio, then Viscount of São Lázaro (in 1867), thus, over time, becoming known as the Palace of Raio. In the future will be the Interpretive Center of Memories of Mercy of Braga - the estate institution of ancient and traditional health care in the region. fIt will be fully rehabilitated to accommodate the museum center, as well as the documentary collection of the institution. It will contain collections and machines used in medical care, as well as other utensils of ancient hospitals. The Completion is scheduled for mid-2015 the initiative has a budget of € 4.2 million that will be used in the comprehensive rehabilitation of the building. A masterpiece !!!

    The second-floor balcony with ornate decoration and monolithic lintel, and flanking sculptures:

    Walk back in Rua Raio. Now, your back is in the south-west and your face are in the north-east. Cross Avenida da Liberdadeand look to your left:

    and continue north-east along Rua Raio. Turn LEFT (after the parking lot) to  Rua Dom João Cândido de Novais e Sousa. Cross from south to north the Jardim da Avenida Central

    to see the Convento dos Congregados, Avenida Central 98. A garden with lush greenery, flowerbeds and benches located in the historic city center. A fountain, a lake, a  bandstand and statues of individuals.  The convent is a 18th-century Baroque Basilica designed by the architect André Soares. It is flanked on the top by two bell towers, one of which was finished in the 1960s:

    Walk eastward along the Jardim da Avenida Central until you arrive to Largo Senhora A. Branca:

    Return west to the Praça da República and continue west to: Rua do Souto, Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa, Rua Andrade Corvo - back to the Estacao de Braga (Braga Railway station).

  • Citywalk
    Updated at May 7,2015

    Foz do Douro and Matosinhos Beaches - 1/2 day (better, during the afternoon hours).

    Attractions: Castelo de São João Batista / Forte de São João Baptista da FozBaptista, Praia Foz do Douro, Pergola da Foz, Praia do Molhe, Praia Homem do Leme,  Praia Castelo do Queijo, Praça Gonçalves Zarco, Forte de São Francisco Xavier do Queijo, Praça da Cidade do Salvador ("She Changes" sculpture), Parque Cidade de Matosinhos, Pavilhão da Água,

    Orientation: 1/2 day only. Reserve this route for the afternoon hours. Very pleasant walk along the beaches of the north-west quarters of Porto. We only sample the southern parts of Matosinhos (which is a separate city or suburb of Porto).

    Start : Rua Nova Alfandega.

    End    : Praça Gonçalves Zarco in Matosinhos (from there take a bus to the city of Porto).

    Distance: 5-6 km.

    Transportaion: Come to  Foz and Matosinhos in the afternoon. By tram: tram # 1E and #18 from Porto centre. By bus: #1 (from Praca Almeida Garrett) or #24 (from the Cordoaria). I took bus # 500 from from Rua Nova de Alfândega/Rua Infante D. Henrique (before Igreja/Church de S. Francisco). (every 15-20 minutes). Get off in the Castelo do Luz or Senhora da Lug stops.

    Foz do Douro (Douro's Mouth), on the western side of Porto, is known for being one of the most expensive and prestige area in the city and known for being inhabited by the upper classes. This is the area where the Douro river finally meets the Atlantic ocean, providing wonderful landscapes, that are even better with its seaside walk, lovely and cosmopolitan esplanades, bars and gardens, being a quite lively area during day or night time. Foz do Douro was originally a fishermen quarter. You'll still see small fishing boats, nets and pots along the roadside shingle beaches , as well as lines of men fishing by rod and line. JK Rowling wrote some of the first Harry Potter books at the cafes of Foz, when she was living in Porto.

    The waterfront is very pleasant to walk along - and that's what we are going to do. We start our itinerary in Forte de São João Baptista da Foz. Its construction started during the reign of King Sebastian (1557-1578). A new project that widened and strengthened the fortifications took place at year 1642 - during King Joao IV reign (1640-56). In the early nineteenth century, during the Peninsular War, the castle was involved in acts of Portuguese reaction against the Napoleonic occupation. Due to the evolution of ships and artillery, the castle,gradually, lost its defensive function, being used as a prison for political prisoners. In the twentieth century it was the residence of the poet Florbela Espanca, wife of one of the officers of the garrison. Recently, in the first half of the 1990s, the monument "suffered" archaeological interventions. Currently it houses the Institute of National Defence:

    We recommend sampling the restaurants of Foz do Douro. Head west on Esplanada Castelo toward Av. Dom Carlos I. Turn right to stay on Esplanada Castelo. Turn left to stay on Esplanada Castelo and continue onto R. da Senhora da Luz. Here I enjoyed the Restaurante Popular da Foz, Rua Senhora da Luz, 150 (see Tip below). Head northwest on R. da Sra. da Luz toward Tv. Praia. Turn left onto Tv. Praia. Turn right onto Rua da Praia and turn right onto R. Coronel. Raúl Peres:

    On your right house #23 with colorful ceramic tiles and on your left a beach and rocks with interesting formations. Along the beaches of Foz do Douro there are magnificent outcrops of ancient metamorphic rocks of Pre-cambian age (older than 570 million years) but of of a very special sort of:

    We continue along Avenida do Brasil. Here is the Praia de Gondarem. The Gondarém Beach, a 115m long slender stretch of sand, enjoys the accolade of a Blue Flag as well as a Golden Beach award. It gets its name from two different words, 'gund' which means battle and 'rimis' which means rest. Gondarém means, therefore, 'rest from battle'. It was known for many years as Praia da Conceição as this was the name of a popular woman who was once in charge of the beach. With a stone wall that was hidden at high tide, this bathing area was mostly frequented by children. At that time, the ritual of moving from Praia da Conceição to Praia do Molhe symbolised the passage from childhood to adolescence:

    We arrive to the "Pergola da Foz". The Pergola da Foz is a pergola with balustrade built in cement located between Praia da Luz and the gardens of Avenida de Montevideo in the city of Porto, in Portugal. Despite belonging to the parish of Nevogilde it is one of the images most associated with the Foz do Douro, one of the best known icons of ex libris Porto. It was built around 1930, as part of the project of Improvements and beautification of Avenue Brazil. Its construction was handed over to António Enes Baganha, one of the most important artists of his time in this área. The proximity of the sea contributes to the degradation of the concrete pergola, which led the municipality of Porto to finance rehabilitation works in 2008. The works included the repair of the pergola and the whole balustrade, taking the walls facing the sea was antigraffiti painted with a special paint that takes the porous elements so that, then, with a water jet and a sweeper - it can clean the graffiti...  Take a stroll under the "Pergola da Foz" built in the 1930s. As the story goes, the Mayor of Porto’s wife at the time, had been so enchanted by the pergola of the "Promenade des Anglais » in the French town of Nice that she simply had to have the same in Porto. Here it is called the "Praia dos Ingleses" a reminder that the English (and other British citizens!) have always enjoyed a close relationship with Portugal:

    Opposite - a statue designed by the sculptor Henrique Araújo Moreira, represents a lifeboat in the middle of a storm (or Sea Wolf). It lies in the gardens of Brazil Avenue, having been opened in 1937:

    In this itinerary we can see on the other side the beauty of some houses still preserved ...:

    A few steps further - Praia do Molhe:

    We arrive to Praia Holmem do Leme. The Homem do Leme beach boasts a Blue Flag in addition to a Golden Beach award and an award for its accessibility. A rocky beach with a 374 metre stretch of sand, it is much loved by families thanks to its two play parks. It was the first beach in Porto to be awarded a Blue Flag. The bronze statue which pays tribute to the fishermen and gives the beach its name can be found at the entrance, on Avenida de Montevideu. Created by Américo Gomes (1934), this monument pays homage to the fishermen, represented by the man that vigorously took the helm, that made working at sea his life:

    The next beach is Praia Castelo do Queijo.

    Here, also,  we arrive to Praça Gonçalves Zarco. The Square Gonçalves Zarco - popularly known as the Rotunda Castle Cheese or Rotunda do Castelo do Queijo. The current name was given in 1941 and is in honor of João Gonçalves Zarco - a Portuguese navigator, colonizer and Madeira first captain-donee of Funchal (Madeira capital). In the square the statue of king Joao VI by Barata Feyo:

    On your left is Forte de São Francisco Xavier or Castelo do Queijo. The Square Gonçalves Zarco - popularly known as the Rotunda Castle Cheese or Rotunda do Castelo do Queijo. The current name was given in 1941 and is in honor of João Gonçalves Zarco - a Portuguese navigator, colonizer and Madeira first captain-donee of Funchal (Madeira capital). On your left is Forte de São Francisco Xavier do Queijo. Dominant over the Atlantic Ocean and within walking distance of the mouth of the Douro river, is also known as the Cheese Castle by, according to tradition, was built on a rock of granite rounded, and with a format similar to a cheese (boulder Cheese). This fort is placed in the sea side near and the wall facing the sea is often hit by the waves depending on the tides. At the entrance there are also paintings of the royal families that ruled Portugal throughout the history. If you go to the top, you'll find a couple of cannons and a nice view of the beach. There is a little souvenir shop full of beautiful things the owner of the shop and his wife made. It costs only 50 cents:

    From Praça Gonçalves Zarco - you have 2 options of continuing your trip. The first one is continuing northward to Matosinhos, to Praça da Cidade do Salvador - to see the "She Changes" sculpture and, then, continue to the Parque da Cidade (City Park). The second option is to leave the shoreline and walk eastward to the Parque da Cidade.
    Option 1: Head northeast toward Av. da Boavista, exit the roundabout onto Via do Castelo do Queijo. Slight right to stay on Via do Castelo do Queijo. At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Rua de Brito Capelo. Turn right onto Rua Dr. Manuel Rodrigues de Sousa, turn right onto R. Brito e Cunha. Turn right and Praça da Cidade do Salvador will be on your left with the famous "She Changes" sculpture. "She Changes" is a sculpture designed by the artist Janet Echelman - a symbol of the cities of Matosinhos and Porto. The three support poles are painted to resemble the smokestacks and lighthouses in the area. It is a monumental, red and white, membrane-like sculpture. The net structure is meant to reference the city's fishing industry. The installation consists of three steel poles, cables, a 20-ton steel ring, and a net structure of varying densities and colors:

    From this square (still option 1) retrace your steps, walk back south along Via do Castelo do Queijo and turn left to the Parque de Cidade.

    With option 2: From the Castelo do Queijo - head northeast toward Via do Castelo do Queijo. Exit the roundabout onto Via do Castelo do Queijo.
    Slight right to stay on Via do Castelo do Queijo and turn RIGHT to the Parque Cidade de Matosinhos. Matosinhos is, actually, a city and a municipality in northern Portugal. It is bordered to the south by the city of Porto and lies within the greater Porto sub-region. Porto, and, especially, Matosinhos, boast some of the finest restaurants in Portugal. Whether you are a foodie or just like to eat well, you have come to the right place both for quality and quantity (even Lisbon’s citizens have to concede that the best food in Portugal is in Porto). The best restaurants of the city are mainly located in Matosinhos near the beach and the seaport called "Porto de Leixões" (Port of Leixões) (3-4 km. more north-east along the seashore).

    The City Park, in Matosinhos,  is an elaborately architected landscape with lakes, flora and varied fauna, integrated into the fabric of the city. The modeling of the terrain, the elements of stone and the trees create particularly pleasant interiors where visitors do not realize you are in a densely populated area.

    If you opted to enter the park through option 2 - you'll enter from the south-west corner of the park. If you want to see the Water Pavilion - head north-east. In case you want to shorten your trip - head eastward along the park lakes (and you'll end in the southern entrance near Boavista avenue):

    The Water Pavilion (Pavilhão da Água) was installed at City Park  after the closing of the EXPO 98 exhibition. This building owned by the Municipality of Port is managed by the Science and Development Foundation. It Is open to the public at the City Park from 28 December 2002. The building, designed by architects Alexandre Burmester and José Carlos Gonçalves, was designed to create the illusion that is suspended in the air. The Water Pavilion is next to the north entrance, near the inner ring road. If you opted to arrive to the park with option 1 - you'll easily see the pavilion which is in the north-east side of the park.

    Your best way to return to the city of Porto is: walk west BACK TO Praça Gonçalves Zarco. From there - catch one of the buses # 201 - 205. Every bus has its own destination and area in Porto. Several buses arrive also to the more northern parts of Porto like Marques. The buses' stops are clearly signposted.

  • Citywalk | Spain
    Updated at Feb 14,2019

    Seville - Day 1:

    Main Attractions:  Parque de María Luisa, Plaza de España, 

    Start: Prado de San Sebastian. End: Prado de San Sebastian. Distance: Circular Itinerary of 10 km. Weather: Sunny day only. Public Transport: in Prado San Sebastian we bought a plastic card of 24 rides in Seville for €16.90.

    Day 1 Itinerary: we leave the main bus station of Seville in Prado San Sebastian and walk south, crossing Parque de María Luisa. The park is full with shade of its trees and provide you with its fountains for your feet. Here you can even swim, if you are not confused by such a reservoir. Pleasant rest for those who are tired and want to replenish the balance of power. The Parque de María Luisa is the most famous park in the city and one of its green lungs . It opened as a public park on April 18, 1914 with the name of Infanta María Luisa Fernanda Urban Park. These spaces, which in principle were part of the private gardens of the Palace of San Telmo , was donated in 1893 by the Infanta María Luisa Fernanda de Bourbon , Duchess of Montpensier , city. The park was built with the Plaza of Spain and America on the occasion of the Ibero-American Exposition in Seville in 1929, constituting one of its main attractions. Beautiful plants and trees with giant roots. There are fountains and statues. Also several banks to sit. It will be nice to be in the shade in the summer:

    The park from Plaza America:

    On the southern side of the park - is the consulate of Portugal  on Av. Portugal. If you walk along Av. Portugal (southern side of the Cosulate of Portugal) and continue eastward along Avenida Portugal, and, then, cross Av. Portugal from north to south - you arrive to the marvelous Plaza de España. You see a Building with the writing "Puerta de Aragon". Walking through the gate of this building - will bring you to the wonderful square of Plaza de España:

    Enter this gate to see the marvelous ceramics inside (you'll see hundreds of them in Plaza de España - see below):

    The Plaza de España ("Spain Square") is a plaza built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of the Renaissance Revival style in Spanish architecture. In 1929, Seville hosted the Ibero-American Exposition World's Fair, located in the celebrated Maria Luisa Park (Parque de María Luisa). It was designed by Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier. The entire southern end of the city was redeveloped into an expanse of gardens and grand boulevards. The centre of it is Parque de María Luisa, a 'Moorish paradisical style' with a half mile of: tiled fountains, pavilions, walls, ponds, benches, and exhedras; lush plantings of palms, orange trees, Mediterranean pines, and stylized flower beds; and with vine hidden bowers. Numerous buildings were constructed in it for the exhibition (along with many of the pavilions you can see in and around the Parque Maria Luisa). The Plaza de España, designed by Aníbal González, was a principal complex built on the Maria Luisa Park's edge to showcase Spain's industry and technology exhibits. González combined a mix of 1920s Art Deco and 'mock Mudejar', and Neo-Mudéjar styles. The Plaza de España complex is a huge half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge accessible over the moat by numerous bridges representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. In the centre is the Vicente Traver fountain. By the walls of the Plaza are many tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain:

    Plaza de España is a semi-circular brick building, with a tower at either end (tall enough to be visible around the city, these towers - north and south - are major landmarks). In front of the building, following the curve of its façade, is a 500-metre canal crossed by four bridges, and in the centre of it all is the Plaza itself. You can rent small boats to row in the canal - the Plaza is known as "the Venice of Seville". A major tourist attraction, it is the finishing point of horse-and-carriage rides. You can also rent boats to travel around the semicircle of water:

    Plaza de Espana will take your breath away. This site will blow your mind and senses. It encapsulates whole of Spain and its glory. It is an heavenly place. We don't remember where we shot hundreds of photos - like in this majestic square. Plaza de Espana of Seville is a place you won't forget for years. We spent here more than 6 hours ! Sitting in an alcove on a sunny spring day was a real treat and an ideal way to rest our feet and watch people go by. Many people state that this is the most beautiful square in Europe (rivaling the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca). What a beautiful place to walk around and admire the amazing architecture. You can spend hours there to relax and soak in the wonderful atmosphere!!!

    Measuring 50,000 square metres, the Plaza is the size of five football pitches. The building has a ground level portico and first-floor balustrade with balconies stretching along its length. For taking photos, the balconies are a prime spot, reached by staircases, as you can get the whole sweep of the building. The magnificent central balcony is especially impressive.

    All along the wall by the canal are 48 alcoves with benches, one for each province of Spain, each with a relevant tableau and map, all designed on colourful Azulejos (painted ceramic tiles). Spanish tourists have photographs taken of themselves with family and friends on their home province's bench.

    In a further regional reference, the four bridges represent the four ancient kingdoms of Spain: Castille, Aragon, Navarre and Leon.

    Today the Plaza de España mainly consists of Government buildings. The Seville Town Hall, with sensitive adaptive redesign, is located within it. The Plaza's tiled 'Alcoves of the Provinces' are backdrops for visitors portrait photographs, taken in their own home province's alcove. Towards the end of the park, the grandest mansions from the fair have been adapted as museums. The farthest contains the city's archaeology collections. The main exhibits are Roman mosaics and artifacts from nearby Italica:

    The Plaza de España has been used as a filming location, including scenes for the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. The building was used as a location in the Star Wars movie series — Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) — in which it featured in exterior shots of the City of Theed on the Planet Naboo. It also featured in the 2012 film The Dictator.

  • Citywalk
    Updated at Sep 3,2014

    Walk along the Douro river - Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto - West of Ponte Luis I:

    Start: Jardim do Morro Metro station (line 5, the yellow line), Vila Nova de Gaia (south bank of the Douro river).

    End: Rua Infante Dom Henrique (historical centre, near the Douro river front).

    Highlights: Jardim do Morro, Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar, Belvedere (Miradouro), Ponte Luís I, Vila Nova de Gaia Barcos Rabelos, VNDG wineries, Vila Nova de Gaia quays, Ponte da Arrabida, Porto Academy, Massarelos, Museu do Carro Eléctrico, Museu do Vinho do Porto, Edifício da Alfândega do Porto, Muralha Fernandina, Rua Infante Dom Henrique.

    Orientation: Cross to the south side of the Rio Douro, over the Ponte Dom Luís I, and you leave the city of Porto for the separate town of Vila Nova de Gaia (or just Gaia), though the distinction is irrelevant to visitors. The riverfront here – facing Porto’s Ribeira – also has a long line of cafés, bars and restaurants; cruise boats dock along the esplanade, while the wooden craft with sails are known as barcos rabelos, the traditional boats once used to transport wine casks downriver from the Douro port estates.

    Distance: 15 km.

    Duration: 1 day.

    We take the yellow line of the Metro and take a ride south, crossing the Douro river. Our start point is the first station in the yellow line in Vila Nova de Gaia - on the south bank of the Douro: Jardim do Morro Metro station.
    The Metro station is on the west side of Avenida da Republica. Go SOUTH (opposite side of the river) on Av. da República toward R. Rodrigues de Freitas until you arrive to the cross-lights. Turn left onto R. Rodrigues de Freitas. Turn left onto Rampa do Infante Santo and return northward, following the signpost "Monumento". Climb along the Rampa do Infante Santo from south to north (your face is in the direction of the river). Cross  Largo Aviz on your right and you arrive to the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar.  Part of the area classified by UNESCO as World Heritage in December 1996, the Monastery of Serra do Pilar is the architectural landmark of Gaia. The interesting church and cloisters are laid out according to a circular design unique in Portugal. The convent built in the 16th century belonged to the Order of Saint Augustine. The church is characterized by a circular shape, a replica of the Church of Santa Maria Redonda in Rome, and is covered by a hemispheric vault with a narrow balcony running its full extent. It took 72 year to complete it due to the lack of funding and the political turmoil of those times – with the kingdom of Portugal having fallen to neighboring Spain. One legacy of that event was the adoption of a Spanish saint for the monastery, Our Lady of Pilar. In 1832, during the Siege of Porto, its military value was made use of with the convent swiftly turned into an improvised fort. At the beginning of the 20th century, the monastery was used for military barracks and remains under the tutelage of the Serra do Pilar Artillery Regiment. Within, the Church features some impressive carved gold leaf altars with Solomonic columns. There are also 18th century, polychrome wooden carvings of the saints Eulalia, Apolonia and Augustine. In front of the church, there is a wonderful view point taking in the full grandiosity  of the city of Porto and the river Douro below. The monastery is still belongs to the Portuguese military and is closed to the public. The church is open for Mass every Sunday morning from 10am to noon. Monastery of Serra do Pilar, is a World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO since 1996. It has opened to the public on 8 December 2012 as “House of the Northern Patrimony”. The entrance is done by a lateral door giving access to the welcome desk, to the shop and to the interactive digital table presenting information on Porto and North of Portugal. Then one gets inside the next room in which can be seen a film about the four places classified as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, on the North of Portugal - the historical centres of Porto and Guimarães, the landscape of the Douro Valley and the Archeological Park of the Côa Valley. Here one may see the statue of D. Afonso Henriques, Portugal’s first king, by the sculptor Soares dos Reis, made of plaster which was the cast for the statue existing next to the Castle of Guimarães. Visitors may also enjoy a guided visit by an element of the army, that owns the largest part of the space. On these guided tours, taking place every hour, it is possible to climb to the dome. By security reasons, access is only be allowed to groups of 15 persons at a time. It is necessary to climb 100 steps until the 360.º balcony that surrounds the church, being the last 53 steps done on spiral staircase. Admission fees: - 1, 00€ - visit to the “Patrimony Room” and to the Cloister - 3, 00€ - visit to the “Patrimony Room”, to the Cloister and to the dome. Free – for Youth Card holders, senior citizens (over 65 years old) and children up to 12 years old. Opening hours: SEP-FEB - from Tuesday to Sunday - from 09.30 to 17.30. From March on it is open from 09.00 to 18.30 and on July and August, from 09.00 to 19.00. The monastery is closed on Mondays, and on 25 December, 1st January, 1st May and Easter Sunday:

    Definitely, the main attraction here is the Belvedere (Miradouro) with the most spectacular panoramic view over Porto.

    Ponte Luis I and Ribeira:

    Vila Nova de Gaia and Telefrico Vila Nova de Gaia:

    Boats and barrels of wine - Vila Nova de Gaia:

    Ponte Luis I and Avenida Gustav Eiffel in the northern bank of the Douro:

    Upper and lower bridges - Ponte Luis I:

    From the Miradouro we trace back and walk the whole way to the Jardim do Morro Metro station. Continue, on the west side of Avenida da Republica, more north-west into the park/garden itself of Jardim do Morro. Great views of the Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia waterfronts on both sides of the Douro, and mostly of the Zona Ribeirinha. Not-so-well-kept small park with playgrounds for the kids. Some picnic tables under a shelter. Even on a fine day though it’s something of a windy one.

    From the park/garden southern corner - there is a path leading (zig-zag) down. Walk west along the garden wall and look at the view of the river north-westward:

    Descend the stairs down (southward) and watch the funicular cabins moving up and down from Vila Nova de Gaia quays to the Jardim do Morro and back:

    Walk down (first, south-west) until you arrive to Rua Pilar. Descend Rua do Pilar and turn right onto Escadas Pedrosa. Again, wonderful scenery of the north bank of the Douro and the Telefrico cabins:

    Cross Rua General Torres to watch the panoramic view of Porto and the Douro from a small viewpoint:

    Turn right and descend further to the river. In the end of the zig-zag descent - you'll see the mighty Luis I bridge opposite your face with all its grandiosity:

    The Luís I (or Luiz I) Bridge (Portuguese: Ponte Luís I or Luiz I) is a metal arch bridge that spans the Douro River between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal. It is, actually, two-hinged double-deck arch bridge. At the time of construction its span of 172 m was the longest of its type in the world. The Portuguese government held a competition for the construction of a metallic bridge over the Douro River on a site that was adjacent to an existing bridge that it would replace. Téophile Seyrig (a Belgian engineer, who was a student of Gustav Eiffel) had engineered the D. Maria Pia Bridge project nearby, whilst working as a partner of Eiffel. He now took sole responsibility for the new, major Luís I Bridge. The construction was begun in 1881 and the bridge opened on 31 October 1886. Its total length is 385.25 m, weight 3045 tons. The arch measures 172 m in length and 44.6 m in height. Originally built to carry road traffic on both decks, at various times it saw trams on the upper and trolleybuses on the lower. Now the top deck is occupied by Line D of the Metro do Porto and a pedestrian walkway. The bridge’s top deck is now reserved for pedestrians as well as one of the city’s metro lines. The upper tray offers spectacular views for pedestrians. It also carries the metro. I understand walking along here can be quite daunting for those with a fear of heights. The lower deck bears regular traffic, with narrow pedestrian walkways lining the road. With its archetypical shape and the nice silver-blue color, the bridge is very picturesque, albeit massive at the same time.

    If you are not afraid of heights you should try to cross it on both levels. The views are surprisingly different due to the height difference. I found them to be particularly spectacular in the hard back-light of the afternoon when the people promenading along the quays seemed to become mere silhouettes. The bridge itself looks best in the soft evening light. As we said, the Dom Luis bridge has a lower and an upper floor. The lower floor is mainly reserved for the cars, but you have a pedestrian alley too. But the top floor is what is really interesting as this is reserved for the trains and the pedestrians and you have a fantastic view from the top of the bridge where you can see the river Douro and both it's riverbanks as well as most of the rest of Porto:

    In the end of the descent, on your right, there is a formal entrance for pedestrians:

    Near the entrance to pedestrians - there is a small, circular viewpoint of the mighty Luis I bridge:

    At the moment - we don't cross the Luis I bridge. We'll do that in a later blog/itinerary of Porto. We head to the quays along the west coast of Vila Nova de Gaia and we'll cross the river (from south to north) over another bridge (Ponte Arrabida). With our face to the Douro river - turn left, west and walk along the front line of the river:

    Near Restaurante D. Tonho - Gaia, stand over a jerky, wooden small quay to take photos of the flat-bottom boats called 'Barcos Rabelos' who were loaded with barrels of Port wine. While Port is produced from grapes grown in the Douro valley - traditionally, until 1986 it could only be exported from Portugal from Vila Nova de Gaia. The wine was taken downriver in to be processed and stored in Vila Nova de Gaia cellars.  However, in the 1950s and 1960s, several hydroelectric power dams were built along the river, ending this traditional conveyance down the river. Currently, the wine is transported from the vineyards by tanker trucks and the Barcos Rabelos are only used for racing and other displays. 

    We start, now, reviewing several wineries along our route. Vila Nova de Gaia, of course, is completely synonymous with the port wine trade – you can’t miss the dozens of company lodges and warehouses (known as caves), some in business for more than three centuries, that splash their brand names across every rooftop, facade and advertising hoarding. They almost all offer tastings and tours, conducted in English, with a view to enticing you to buy. Tours of the smaller, lesser-known companies tend to be more personal than those of larger producers, but they are all pretty informative and you’ll soon know the difference between a tawny and a ruby, and which vintages are best. The path along the river might be blocked due to extensive reconstruction works carried on along the river shore. So we are forced to move to Avenida Diogo Leite. On your left the CALEM winery. Established in 1859 by António Alves Cálem, Porto Cálem has dedicated itself to the production, ageing and commercialization of Port Wine and Douro wines. In 1934 a range of Ports was created - Tawny, Ruby and White. In 2006 the reconstruction of Cálem's Cellars were distinguished with the American Award Best of Wine Tourism. Calem differentiate themselves with a port cellar tour, followed by generous tastings accompanied by 45mins of Fado music at 18.30 everyday (except Mondays). Your tour guide will tell you everything about Port wines. At the end you can taste two port wines and you can buy bottles from 10 to 500 Euro's. Touristy but still a nice experience. I recommend taking these tours during the evenings... Tour price: 5 euros. Opening hours: May to October - 10.00 - 19.00 everyday. November to April - 10.00 - 18.00 everyday.

    We cross Rua da Barroca on our left

    and arrive to Kopke wine cellar. C.N. Kopke is the oldest Port Wine Company, was established in 1638 by Christiano Kopke and his son, Nicolau Kopke who came to Portugal as representatives of the Hanseatic League. Kopke, has almost with 4 centuries of success in the Port Wine world and was bought by Sogevinus group in 2006. Most of its success comes from the Old Tawnies from a single year – Colheita Ports – high quality Wines matured in cask during a minimum period of 7 years. Opening hours: May to October - 10.00 - 19.00 everyday. November to April - 10.00 - 18.00 everyday. Only a small shop and tasting house, no tours here but the chance to taste some great port in nice surroundings. Not expensive, full explanation given with the port and all accompanied by some tasty chocolates:

    One minute walk further along Avenida Diogo Leite - on your left a small church:

    and another wine cellar: Quinta Do Noval-vinhos Sa, Avenida Diogo Leite 256. Famous for the unique Nacional Vintage Port, Quinta do Noval produces a world class range of Port wines. Quinta do Noval is one of the major historic Port houses, renowned for its great Vintage Ports, its fine old Tawnies and since 2006 for its Douro wines:

    Immediately next to Quinta Do Noval winery  - is the Vila Nova de Gaia Tourist Information office. Wealth of information and leaflets ONLY of Vila Nova de Gaia.We skip the Sandeman winery, Largo Miguel Bombarda 3 - which is a bit south to our route along Avenida Diogo Leite (price of tour: 9 euros).

    5 minutes further Rota do Douro - cruises along the Douro company.Many options of excursions, cruises, combination with trains etc'. Six bridges cruise along the Douro - price: € 10,00. Length of Cruise 50 MIN. TIMETABLE: 10.00 // 10.30 // 11.00 // 11.30 // 12.00 // 12.30. The tour cost €5 and included a tour of the museum and cellar followed by tasting two of the ports.

    Another cruises company is the Douro Azul company. The “6 bridges” cruise with the company's "Blue Boats" costs 10 euros and gives you the opportunity to admire the old city of Porto, with its typical houses and the hustle and bustle of the Ribeira people, while admiring the architecture of the bridges that connect the two river banks:

    The street changes its name to Av. Ramos Pinto. The next winery is Vinicola Ramos Pinto, Av. Ramos Pinto, 380. A company with over 130 years of history. Opening hours: May to October
    Monday to Friday, 10.00 - 18.00 Everyday, April - Monday to Friday, 10.00 to 18.00 Except Holidays. November to March - Monday to Friday, 9.00 - 17.00 Except Holidays. Last visit, 1 hour before closing. The museum is a tour of the original offices which are beautiful and it is amazing to see it them fully preserved. The main area where you do the tasting is lovely and cool on a hot day. The tour takes about 45 mins. and costs €5 (If you have a ticket of the red hop-on/hop-off bus the entrance is free) and includes a tour of the museum and cellar followed by tasting two of the ports.

    Just before the street changes its name, again, you hit a third cruises company. The same offers, the same prices with Ferreira Porto:

    Summary of cruises companies:

    BARCADUORO (sightseeing by boat)

    Tickets: 10 EUR/adult, free for children up to 11 years

    Fullday tour Douro - Régua - Porto (March-November): 55 EUR/adult, 27,5 EUR/child

    Schedule: non-stop

    Duration: 55 minutes

    Starting: Vila Nova de Gaia

    VIA D'OURO (sightseeing by boat)

    Tickets: 10 EUR/adult, free for children

    Cruise + dinner (19:30): 65 EUR/adult, 32,5 EUR/child

    Schedule: 10:00-18:30

    Starting: Estiva Wharf

    DUOROAZUL (sightseeing by boat)


    Cruise + lunch (12:00): 45 EUR/adult, 22,5 EUR/child

    Schedule: March-December

    Starting: Vila Nova de Gaia

    Fullday tours:

    Porto - Régua - Porto: 56-65 EUR/person

    Porto Pinhao - Porto: 65-69 EUR/person

    Along our walk west you meet also boats builders:

    and fishermen working along Vila Nova de Gaia quays:

    The street along the river, bends, now, to the north-west and changes its name to Cais de Gaia. On your left stairs that lead to  Rua da Fonte Nova and more old and run-down parts of Vila Nova de Gaia:

    View to the northern bank of the Douro from Cais de Gaia:

    Further, the street is called - Cais Fontaínha. There are interesting (still, run-down) houses of Vila Nova de Gaia along Cais Fontaínha:

    The next quays/piers are: Cais Capelo Ivens and Cais do Cavaco.  On your left you see a demolished, aristocratic Quinta (winery estate):

    A rustic quay before arriving to Ponte da Arrabida:

    The next bridge we face is Ponte da Arrabida. The Arrábida Bridge is an arch bridge over the Douro River that connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, in Portugal. It is the most downstream bridge across the Douro River, just a few kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean. It carries 6 lanes of European route A1. At the time of its completion in 1963, the bridge's main span of 270m was the largest of any concrete-arch bridge in the world. The total length of the deck is 493.2m, having a width of 26.5m. The arch has a rise of 52m, and the maximum clearance above river level is 70m above:

    Move to the left pavement of  Cais do Cavaco - turn LEFT to Rua de Cavaco and ascend the stairs and a path (might be muddy and slippery !) leading to the Arrabida Bridge. The bridge is an impressive piece of engineering with one of the largest arches in the world. It is the closest to the mouth of the River Douro.

    View of the Arrabida Bridge from the (dirty) stairs leading to the bridge:

    On the bridge:

    There is a breathtaking view of the mouth of the Douro and the coastal parts of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.

    View to the northern bank of the Douro river from Ponte da Arrabida:

    We cross the Arrabida bridge from south to north. A section of 700 m. - very noisy and bustling. We recommend that you take the eastern pedestrians path. I didn't try the western one (looking to the Douro mouth). The eastern one is safe and provides spectacular views over Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.

    After descending from the Arrabida bridge to the northern (Porto) bank of the Douro river - cross the parking lot, turn right under the small bridge and turn left. On your left is Porto Academy (Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto). The Porto Academy is a "Summer School" organized by the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto. For a week, a group of architects from different nationalities are responsible for various working groups as well as giving a lecture about their own careers or projects. A week (usually, mid-July) of workshops resulting in a final public presentation and the summary of the work in a booklet. You can dine in the academy's canteen/restaurant. Reasonable food with rock-bottom prices.

    Leave Porto Academy from its southern or eastern exits. If you get out from the southern exit - cross Via Panorâmica Edgar Cardoso and continue south along R. do Gólgota. If you leave Porto academy from yje east - turn right onto Via Panorâmica Edgar Cardoso, and turn left onto R. do Gólgota. Turn right to stay on R. do Gólgota. Take the stairs, 100 m.
    Turn right onto R. Cap. Eduardo Romero/R. da Boa Viagem 13 m. Turn left onto R. Cap. Eduardo Romero, 200 m. Turn left toward Alameda Basílio Teles, 89 m. We are in the Massarelos area of Porto. Turn left onto Alameda Basílio Teles. The Museu do Carro Eléctrico, Alameda Basílio Teles 51 is on your left. During Summer 2014 the museum has been formally closed for renovations. It doesn't seem to be opened during 2014. Opening hours: Winter ( 15 SEP - 14 JUN) MON 14.00 - 18.00, TUE-FRI 09.30 - 18.00, SAT, SUN, Holidays 14.00 - 19.00. Summer (15 June - 14 SEP) MON 14.00 - 18.00, TUE-FRI 10.00- 19.00, SAT, SUN, Holidays 13.30 - 19.00. Admission prices: Adult 4.00€, children - 2.50€, children < 4 yrs - free. Members of staff in this museum don't speak even one word of English.

    The museum documents Porto's tram and trolleybus history and is located opposite two of the three heritage tram routes (1 and 18). Here is a tram of Line 18 which rides from Massarelos area to Ribeira in the centre of Baixa Porto and vice versa. The old trams are not included in the Viva VIagem Porto cards. They cost (summer 2014) 1.80€/ride. Line 18 doesn't travel along the river shore but more inland (north).

    You can sneak into the outdoor display of the historical wagons and get some photos of the enchanting trams around:

    We cross Alameda Basílio Teles and walk more to the south along the Douro river - heading EAST. Part of our walk will be on a hanging metal bridge over the river's water - Viaduto do Cais das Pedras. In the beginning of the metal bridge, on our left, beyond Cais Pedras, is the Igreja Matriz de Massarelos (Church of the Confraternity of the Holy Souls) founded at year 1776:

    Viaduto do Cais das Pedras converges with Rua Monchique and continues its way inland. On your left is the Museu do Vinho do Porto,
    Rua Monchique 45. Museu do Vinho do Porto. The Museum of Port Wine is one of the small museums of the Museum of the City of Porto in Portugal. Opened in 2004, the Port Wine Museum is housed in a beautiful eighteenth century building on the banks of the Douro river. The museum aims to publicize the history and the importance of trade in Port wine in the historical development of the city through various panels and multimedia stations that illustrate all business, the wine region, the Douro railway line, the Rabelo boats, the evolution of the bottles and various objects related to the famous wine. No insight into the Port wine itself (well, a "dry" visit only)... Prices: admission €2.20, weekends free. Opening hours: 10.00 - 17.30 Tue-Sat, 10.00 - 12.30 & 14.00 - 17.30 Sun. Closed on Mondays:

    We continue to Rua Nova Alfândega.  Note, on your left, the pictorial, old, run-down houses along this central street:

    On your right - Edifício da Alfândega do Porto, Alfândega Congress Centre. One of the largest congress centres in Portugal. Designed by architect Jean FG Colson and tastefully restored by architect Souto Moura, the building is singular in style with an unforgettable riverside location in the heart of Porto's historic centre. Its construction involved the construction of the pier and of a huge platform- based Customs House, which replaced the old beach Miragaia. Additionally, in order to facilitate the transport of goods, the Customs House and Station were linked by a railway extension in 1888. This set of changes is considered by many as one of the most profound urban and landscape changes of Porto in the nineteenth century. The concept of the building comprised not only the infrastructure for the entry and exit of goods, but also several facilities such as warehouses, railways, turnstiles that facilitated the movement of wagons and cranes. From the 1990s, the building complex met the intervention of restoration and redevelopment with architect Eduardo Souto de Moura. It had been transformed into the Congress Centre, the Museum of Transport and Communications and the headquarters of the Association Museum of Transport and Communications (AMTC) private nonprofit institution established in February 1992 with the mission of preserving the building of the former Customs Port, as well as other assets of transport and communications. The Museum of Transport and Communication. 3 euros. No photos allowed. Opening hours: TUE-FRI 10.00 -13.00 (entrance till 12.00), 14.00 - 18.00 (entrance till 17.00), SAT, SUN, holidays: 15.00 - 19.00 (entrance till 18.00):

    "A Gralha" (The Magpie) outdoor sculpture on the Miragai pier:

    A macabre and sobering exhibition featuring instruments of torture are on display in the Alfândega Congress Center until 28 September 2014. The Maquinas de Tortura (Instruments of Torture) exhibition, which has already been seen in over 10 countries worldwide, features 50 original pieces used during the period of the Inquisition, from 13th to 17th centuries. 7 euros. No photos allowed.

    We continue further along Rua Nova Alfândega heading to the historical centre of Porto. On your left, more old houses along this famous avenue:

    The closer you arrive to the centre - the more packed and dangerous your walk along the Rua Nova Alfandega is. The whole right (south) side of the street is under construction and the north side has no pavements. You pave your way through trams rails and busy, noisy roads with heavy transportation around. On your left Porto old walls in Escadas do Caminho Novo. This is the Muralha Fernandina - the medieval, outer line of Porto walls from the XIVth century. In the middle of this century, even in the time of King Afonso IV, began to be built a new outer wall that was almost completed around 1370 The fact that the work was only completed in the reign of Ferdinand, explains that is commonly referred to as "Ferdinand Wall." The walls began to be progressively demolished from the second half of the eighteenth century to make way for new streets, squares and buildings. Most of the wall has been demolished in the late nineteenth century. The surviving sections of the Walls Fernandine were classified as "national monuments" in 1926:

    Here, a Swiss boys doing Parkour exercises on the stairs leading to the walls:

    Further, eastward - Escadas do Recanto :

    After crossing Rua O Comércio do Porto on your left (north) you arrive to Largo and Rua de S. Francisco:

    A bit further is the central street of Rua Infante Dom Henrique. Note the large-scale fresco on the rear wall of Sao Nicolau church:

    Opposite, in Rua Ferreira Borges - another fresco:

    You may turn left to Monument Church Of St Francis and visit the church and the museum there. But, this visit should last, at least, one hour. We explore the Igreja da Ordem de S. Francisco and the Museu da Venerável Ordem Terceira de São Francisco do Porto in another blog/itinerary of Porto Historical Centre which includes many more sites in Old Porto

  • Citywalk
    Updated at Oct 7,2014

    Guimarães - the historic centre + Monte da Penha (seperate blog):

    Main attracions: Palacio Vila Flor, Toural square, Largo da Misericordia, Largo do Oliveira, church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, Praça de Santiago, Rua de Santa Maria, Ordem Terceira de São Domingos, Plataforma das Artes, Jardim do Carmo, Convento de Santo Antonio dos Capuchos, Guimarães Castle, São Miguel do Castelo, Palace of the Dukes of Bragança, Largo Condessa da Mumadona, Teleférico de Guimarães, Monte da Penha.

    For the Monte da Penha description - see the Guimaraes - Monte da Penha itinerary.

    Duration: 1 day.

    Distance: 7-8 km (without Monte da Penha). 14-15 km. with Monte da Penha. The distance from Guimarães Castle and Palace of Dukes to Monte da Penha is about 5 km.

    Orientation: As the first capital of Portugal and birthplace of the nation's first king, Guimarães is one of the country's most historic cities, and its World Heritage medieval streets with well-preserved monuments make it one of the most attractive places to visit in Portugal. It is possible to visit the city on a day-trip from Porto or Braga. Walking around is no doubt the best option to explore Guimarães. Guimarães' historic centre is somewhat small (but beautifull!) and everything is within a short walking distance. Also, while strolling around you may take some time to admire the architecture, watch people and mingle with locals. Furthermore, there are no steep climbs or uneven pavements, so I’m sure you will feel quite comfortable walking around the city. The castle and Paço dos Duques, which are a bit off centre, are neverthless situated within walking distance, so it’s no use in moving around by car or bus. In the Centro Storico area there are many pedestrianised streets and pathways which are not accessible to cars or public transportation anyway.

    BUT, If you plan to visit a bit further than Guimarães' historic centre and monuments, such as Mosteiro de Santa Marinha on the slopes of Monte da Penha or make a visit in Penha Mountain ( A MUST !!!), or even a bit further such as Citânia de Briteiros or Mosteiro de Tibães, then walking is not enough and a bus, car or a bike would be very convenient. Using public transportation may be enough for visiting Monte da Penha. For visiting the Guimarães historic centre AND Monte da Penha - you'll need one long, busy day. We devoted a separate itinerary blog to Monte da Penha.

    Transportaion: Catch the Metro to Campanhã Station or São Bento Station in Porto and then get a train to Guimarães. Duration: 75 min. - 2 h. Price (aprox.): 5€.  From Porto, you have a train every hour. The train station of Guimaraes is located about 1 km south of the historic city centre.

    Guimarães (jointly with Maribor, Slovenia) was the European Capital of Culture in 2012. Guimarães is one of Portugal's most important historical cities. Its historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it one of the largest tourist centers in Portugal. Unesco declaration, in 2012, was a huge success, with more than 2,5 million people visiting the city in 2012. An exceptionally well-preserved and authentic example of the evolution of a medieval settlement into a modern town, its rich building typology exemplifies the specific development of Portuguese architecture from the 15th to 19th century through the consistent use of traditional building materials and techniques. The historic centre is formed by a large number of stone constructions (950-1498). The period from Renaissance to neoclassicism is characterized by noble houses and the development of civic facilities, city squares, etc.

    The city proper has a population of approx.  52,000 inhabitants. Guimarães is located in a valley and surrounded by hills and because there is some distance to the sea, the Winter is normally cold and rainy and the Summer is hot and lightly humid.

    The city is often referred to as the "birthplace of the Portuguese nationality" or "the cradle city" (Cidade Berço). The historic town of Guimarães is associated with the emergence of the Portuguese national identity in the 12th century. The administrative seat of the County of Portugal was established here by Henry of Burgundy. It  also had been the birthplace of Afonso I, the first Portuguese king. The city played crucial historical role in the Battle of São Mamede (24 June 1128), which had a tremendous importance in the formation of Portugal.

    Guimaraes was founded between year 950 to 957 (10th century) and had its origin around a monastery built by Countess Mumadona Dias, widow of Count Hermenegildo Mendes. To protect the monastery from Muslims, the Countess built also a military tower. In 13th century the city was all surrounded by a big perimeter of walls and divided into low city and high city.

    Your walk: From the Guimarães railway station you turn left along Avenida Dom João IV and walk until Hotel Fundador. Here you turn right and descend along Avenida Dom Afonso Henriques - a nice and shady tree-lined avenue. Immediately after the first turn to the right (Rua Paulo VI) you see the Palacio Vila Flor. The Vila Flor Palace was built by Thaddeus Luis Antonio Lopes de Carvalho Fonseca and Camões in the eighteenth century. Later, passed into the possession of the Jordan family, who completed the work begun by Luis Tadeu. In 1853 it received the Queen Mary II, by decree of June 23 of that year, when the village of Guimarães became a city. In 1884, it was the venue of the I Industrial Exhibition and Trade Guimarães. It was purchased by the city of Guimarães in 1976, served as a place to house the  Guimarães' University of Minho music academy, theater workshop and venue for training classes. It is a striking building in the unfolding history of Guimarães. The Vila Flor Cultural Centre is the result of the restoration of Vila Flor Palace and its gardens, and the construction of a new building for the showrooms. The restoration promoted by the Municipality of Guimarães was granted by tender to the firm of  Pythagoras Architects. The new building for the theater is combined with the nineteenth-century Baroque palace and its gardens. Opened on September 17, 2005 with the concert of the famous Madredeus group. The Vila Flor Cultural Centre has a large auditorium with a capacity of about 800 seats and a small auditorium with 200 seats. The new building also houses a restaurant, Café Concert and administrative services. The restored palace, with an exhibition area of about 1000 square meters, also houses the headquarters of the Assembly Municipal:

    The gardens of Vila Flor Cultural Centre received in 2006, Honorable Mention in the category Open Spaces of Public Use in Architecture and other national awards:

    You keep walking down the Avenida Dom Afonso Henriques street until you're face to face with the old tower's left of what was the old wall where PORTUGAL WAS BORN HERE, and arrive to Toural square. On your right is Jardim Público da Alameda - a space with cement floor beds and lawns, lots of trees and park benches, highlighted by a bronze statue and the bandstand.

    On your right (east), in one of the old towers of the city's old wall it is written "Aqui nasceu Portugal" (Portugal was born here):

    The Largo do Toural, known as the "living room", is considered together with the squares of Oliveira and Santiago - the city centers of Guimarães. There are various commercial spaces located where you can find several references of trade in Guimarães, from bakeries, restaurants, hotels, flagship stores, among others. Is it worth standing in one of the corners of the wide square and observe the architecture of the buildings' facades that flank the square, as well as the pace and city life. In some periods of the year, the night lighting of the square is operative and is very attractive.

    Note, in the square the lovely houses' facades and various traditional shops. There are still a few old shops around the Alameda and Toural square, some of which bring to mind the traditional and exquisite embroideries of Guimarães - like: Largo do Toural, house # 38, Casa Ferreiea da Cunha:

    Historical Centre of Guimarães is classified as World Heritage. It is a great idea to discover the old centre stone by stone, street by street walking along the city walls and getting lost in the tiny streets of this amazing medieval town. A heightened feeling of patriotism seems to fill the air around Toural square and national symbols can be seen everywhere, as well as those of Vitória de Guimarães, the local football club.

    With your face to the north - to the Jardim Público da Alameda - continue north, cross Rua Rainha Dona Maria II and you arrive to Largo da Misericordia. Good to take some nice pictures of the fountain and the square:

    Return to Rua Rainha Dona Maria II and walk EAST until its end - to meet another central hub of Guimarães (but far more quaint than Toural square) - The Oliveira square (Largo do Oliveira) - the historical center of Guimarães, with the Padrão do Salado on the left (picture below). Very well preserved medieval square located in the historic center, with several monuments nearby. So many photo opportunities and spotless . Very clean and all the buildings are so well maintained. Stroll lazily around the Square, visit the Church of Our Lady of the Oliveira ("Oliveira" means the olive tree), enjoy the traditional residences with their balconies and beautiful wooden doors and windows and make a few photos at the Gothic monument of "Padrão do Salado". All dating from the 17th Century!

    The Largo da Oliveira is dominated by the collegiate church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira. The church, originally founded by Afonso Henriques in the 12th C., in thanksgiving for his victory in the battle of Ourique, stands on the site of an earlier convent founded by Countess Mumadona in the 10th C. It was considerably enlarged in 1387-1400 by Joao I to commemorate the battle of Aljubarrota, when most of the original Romanesque cloister was demolished. The church as it appears today is largely 16th C.; the Manueline tower was added in 1505.
    Features of the interior of the church include a Gothic stone altar and the Romanesque baptismal font from the Capela de Sao Miguel do Castelo, where Afonso I Henriques is said to have been christened. The silver altar in the sacramental chapel is particularly valuable:

    Continue NORTH (your left coming from Rua Maria II) along the Rua de Santa Maria, one of the most ancient streets of medieval Guimarães. After the political actions of the Reconquista organized by the Kingdom of Galicia in the 9th century, the medieval foundations of the actual city have roots in the 10th century. At this point, the Countess Mumadona Dias, erected a monastery in her property of Vimaranes, which originated the fixation of people in the area known as "vila baixa" (downtown). At the same time, she ordered the construction of a castle on the hill area which became known as "vila alta" (uptown), to defend the settlement. To connect these to other areas, the Rua de Santa Maria was built:

    Rua de Santa Maria connects Largo da Oliveira and the Santiago Square.  Along its route, note the following monuments:

    The Convent of Santa Clara (currently the Guimarães City Hall - Praca de Municipio). The building of Camara Municipal or City Council is situated at Rua de Santa Maria not far from the Church Nossa Senhora de Oliveira. It is worth to spend there twenty minutes an take several nice pictures:

    The Gothic House of Valadares de Carvalho (# 9), the Casa do Arco (# 28),

    the House of Peixoto (# 39), the  the House of Aries, which today houses the Municipal Library Raul Brandão (# 58):

    and many others that give it its own identity and characteristic to this city. Thus, for many centuries Rua Santa Maria is the most important street of Guimarães and where he lived part of his elite.

    Rua de Santa Maria leads to the Square of Santiago (Praça de Santiago), surrounded by residential complex greatest artistic and environmental quality of 17 and 18 centuries is marked by the presence of the building of the former Town Hall, whose ground floor consists of a porch supported by Gothic arches, element singular articulation between Praça de Santiago and Largo da Oliveira. The story goes that the apostle James S. Guimarães brought an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and this was placed in a pagan temple that is off this square. Honoring this image caused renaming the area -  Plaza de Santiago. So, in this square then once existed a small chapel porch (from the XVII century) dedicated to Santiago which was demolished in the late century. XIX. The current square still retains the medieval traces, despite the changes done over time. The Chapel, despite its demolition in 1887, is still possible to be located in the square: since the design of cobblestone pavement - there is a granite sign which marks the location of the former chapel. The square of Santiago is now a friendly place at any time of the day. The square is one of the main meeting places and socializing with locals and visitors:

    Return south along Rua de Santa Maria. In its middle (our face is, now, to the SOUTH) - turn RIGHT (west) to Praça de São Tiago:

    Continue west along Rua Doutor António Mota Prego. Turn left and continue south along Largo da Misericórdia (already browsed before) and continue west (left) along Rua Rainha Dona Maria II also visited before. Turn left, then right, cross again Largo do Toural, right, left  and enter Rua Dom João I. Here, you see, on your right, the Ordem Terceira de São Domingos - a marvelous building, off the beaten touristic track. The Venerable Third Order of St. Dominic (VOTSD) is a Private Institution of Social Solidarity (IPSS), nonprofit, called "Order of St. Dominic". The building consists of 4 floors and is attached to this Chapel of the institution. It also has a garden and private parking:

    Return north-east to the beginning of Rua Dom João I and turn LEFT (north-west) to Rua Paio Galvão. On your left is the Plataforma das Artes. The Platform of Arts and Creativity is an infrastructural project to transform the Old Market of Guimarães to a multifunctional space dedicated to artistic, cultural, economic and social activity. This site will host a series of skills and arts dedicated to three major program areas spaces:
    1. The International Centre of Arts José de Guimarães, which hosts a permanent collection of José de Guimarães. 2. An area of ​​temporary exhibitions space 3. Complementary activities, presentations and small shows - plus a series of ancillary services and car parking. This space or part is geared to young artists who, in various areas of activity, wish to develop projects of a temporary nature, whilst propelling a creative dynamic environment that will infuse the entire platform. It is planned to install, in this complex, a restaurant / cafeteria and a bookstore.
    THe whole platform complex had been constructed for the Guimarães - Europe Centre of Culture - 2012. It seems that the project had been stuck and suffers from temporary stagnation. With this project, It is intended that the transformation of the marketplace into a multifunctional space dedicated to artistic, economic, cultural and social activities within the scope of European Capital of Culture 2012, will allow, hopefully, for the physical and functional reintegration of the past municipal market area into the urban fabric, to become a reality and so, to recover one key area of the city space:

    Shimmering brass walls surround this arts centre that Portuguese firm Pitagoras Architects has completed in year 2012:

    I recommend visiting the the studio of Barreira Painter with large-scale batiques wit the image of Frida Kahlo in its front. The young, talented painter creates most of his pictures as Improvisations to Solomon Joseph Solomon pictures. Solomon Joseph Solomon (16 September 1860 – 27 July 1927 , UK) was a British painter, a founding member of the New English Art Club and member of the Royal Academy. Solomon painted mainly,  dramatic, theatrical scenes from the Mythology and the Bible on large canvasses. These scenes include some of his more popular paintings. One of Solomon's most popular works was Samson (1887), depicting a scene from the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah. Samson is one of few Solomon paintings on regular display, at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Some other Solomon paintings that have received significant attention include Ajax and Cassandra (1886) and The Birth of Love (1896).

    Solomon Joseph Solomon - Ajax and Cassandra:

    Continue north-west along Rua Paio Galvão until itse nd and turn right onto Rua de Gil Vicente (the main commercial thoroughfare in the city). In the main circular square - continue north along Avenida General Humberto Delgado. Continue north along the avenue. In the first cross way turn right to Rua Agostinho Barbosa - to see the Jardim do Carmo. Framed by palaces and the Convento do Carmo, decorated by seventeenth-century source, is considered by many as the best leisure area of the city. Trapzoidal, distributed by several beds, around a monumental fountain, built in 1583 by master Gonçalo Lopes.

    Return (west) to Avenida General Humberto Delgado and turn right, continuing north along the avenue. In the next crossway - take the right (east) leg and climb along  Rua Doutor Joaquim de Meira. Walking along Rua Doutor Joaquim de Meira - you'll see, on your right the path leading to the Castle. But, keep walking along Rua Doutor Joaquim de Meira to hit Convento de Santo Antonio dos Capuchos. Situated in the middle of a holy hill, the church occupies space in the building built as the XVII century. Visitors are invited to walk the hallways, courtyards and cloisters of the imposing building and visit  its magnificent XVIII century sacristy. In the nineteenth century it underwent major reconstructions and was transformed into a hospital. The original building still retains the early church, the sacristy and cloister:

    Retrace your steps and reverse direction. Return south along Rua Doutor Joaquim de Meira. Turn left onto Caminho do Castelo - to face Guimarães Castelo - Guimarães Castle.The whole area is the Monte Latito within the Colina Sagrada (Sarcred Hill) of Guimarães. It includes the Guimarães Castle, small Romanesque church -  São Miguel do Castelo and the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança:

    The medieval Castle, built on the site of the first fort of the 10th century. The present construction was built from stone, begun at the time of Afonso I and continued with various modifications in the following centuries. The imposing medieval Guimaraes Castle with eight crenellated towers 28m high, was built in the 10th century to protect the population from attacks by the Moors and the Normans. It was then extended to its present size in the 12th century by Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, who was baptized in the small Romanesque chapel next to the castle. It was completely renovated from 1387 to 1413, with three naves and a wooden roof structure, according to the Portuguese Gothic model. The cloister was added in the 16th century and the present sanctuary to the church in the 17th.  Part of it was demolished in the 18th century and since then it has been subject to restorations. FREE ENTRY. Everyday 9.30 -18.00. This is a small castle and the walk takes you inside and around the central tower. It is a short visit since most sections are closed to the public. Signage is minimal. Access to the walls is barricaded:

    Close to the castle, there is a small Romanesque church, São Miguel do Castelo (Igreja de São Miguel do Castelo), ruined in the 19th century and restored in the 1920s. The church is emblematically linked to the foundation of the Portuguese Kingdom; legend suggests that it was the sight of the baptism of the young Afonso Henriques. At this humble chapel, D. Afonso Henriques, the founder and first King of Portugal, was baptized. The "original" baptismal fountain still can be seen inside the chapel. Legend or not, the Church of St. Michael of the Castle (the oficial name of the chapel) was built around the 13th Century, in the late romantic style, at the so called Sacred Hill ("Colina Sagrada"). It became ruins until the 20th Century, when restoration efforts brought it to the actual looks. The Chapel, together with the neighboring Castle of Guimarães and the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança (see below), form a complex of great historical and architectural importance:

    Nearby, south-west to the castle is the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança (Paço Dos Duques De Bragança). The most beautiful building at Guimaraes ! The palace is a wonderful restoration and worth seeing. A large medieval palace, with 39 unusual brick chimneys showing strong Northern European influence. Built from stone down the hill from the castle. The first construction dates from 1420-22, most probably under French influence. The building was conceived as a symbol of the pride of the Bragança family. The building underwent various vicissitudes, serving as a military headquarters in the late 19th century. During the Salazar dictatorship as an official residence for the president. Inside is an impressive banqueting hall with a splendid wooden ceiling, and an extensive collection of portraits, furniture, carpets, and porcelain dating mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Palace was only inhabited permanently during the 15th Century and in the following centuries a progressive abandonment and consequent ruin settled. This condition was only altered when - in the 19th century - what was left of the Palace was reused so a military barracks could be installed in its premises and, in the 20th century, due to political motivations, it was fully rebuilt. Between 1937 and 1959 a complex reconstruction was carried out based on a project by the architect Rogério de Azevedo. At the same time, a Commission was created to gather a group of objects, dating mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries, in order to assemble the interiors. The Ducal Palace of the Bragança was classified as a National Monument in 1910 - even before its reconstruction - and is currently a dependency of the Direção Regional de Cultura do Norte. Inside there is a Museum (1st floor), a wing for the Presidency of the Republic (main facade, 2nd floor) and a vast area dedicated to several cultural initiatives (on the ground floor). The Ducal Palace of the Bragança is one of the most visited Museums in Portugal both by Portuguese as well as foreigners.

    Prices: Adult - 5 euros, senior - 2.50 euros. You can pay one more euro and get a second ticket to the Museo de Alberto Sampaio which doesn't seem well known but is 10 minutes walk down the hill and holds wealth of art and artifacts.

    Open: everyday: 09.30 - 18.15. Last admission: 17.45. Closed: January 1, Easter Sunday, May 1 and December 25. Free entrances: First Sunday of each month, Children up to 12 years old.

    Visitors are allowed to take non commercial photos without flash light and tripod.

    The Palace is located in the urban setting of the historic centre of Guimarães on the top of Monte Latito, encircled by a forested park and green-space, intersected by several pedestrian trails. In its proximity to the southeast, the Chapel of Santa Cruz, to the north the Church of São Miguel do Castelo and the Castle of Guimarães. In a space to the left of the main ramp/entranceway is a monument erected to Afonso Henriques:

    The following description is taken from the Wikipedia(=>)

    Structured around a central rectangular courtyard, the lateral buildings housing the official residences, while a chapel is located opposite the entrance. Its simple/basic form is one of the best examples of Portuguese late-medieval construction used by the nobility, comparable to the 14th century French palaces/buildings of the time. The plan developed around a rectangular building with four rectangular towers, around an interior courtyard dominated by the chapel on the southeast wing. The spaces are articulated and staggered horizontal floors, covered with different roof tiles, in addition to with six tall chimneys. Each façades is made of granite, masonry block and interspersed by rectangular windows of varying styles: cruciform, stained-glass, standard and oblique. A few of the first floor windows are covered in metal grating. The northwest façade has an arch doorway surmounted by corbels and is recessed from the two towers. The superior floor is a balcony that runs the length of the interior courtyard, supported by corbels, which unite the guard towers. The lateral (northeast and southwest) façades are of a lower height and covered by trim and corbels, that support the covered balcony, interspersed by openings at floor level. The southwest wing is broken by the body of the chapel, which extends away from the façade (identifiable by two large Flemish stained-glass windows), and is highlighted by a cantilever roof within the courtyard. The towers are all closed rectangular bodies, with watchtowers, interspersed by small windows. The interior patio, accessible from the main doorway, is a balcony that overlooks the courtyard: supported by Gothic arches on the main floor and columns on the second. At the roof-line, on all interior façades are balconies supported by granite corbels, while the chapel-side façade is highlighted by two isolated balconies (covered by tiled awnings) supported by similar corbels. The same façade is highlighted by a cantilever roof, supported by a rounded wooden arch and two supports decorated with columns. In the interior of this awning is a portal (consisting of four inset arches) preceded by a staircase, which gives access to the chapel. The gallery is covered by masonry stone on the main floor, and tiles on the second, with interior covering in wood.(>=)

    In 1937, restoration work was begun on the building and on 24 June 1959, exactly 831 years after the Battle of São Mamede, the palace was brought back to life in all its Norman-inspired Gothic glory. On the ground floor in the north wing is a small museum of contemporary art, which houses pieces given to the city of his birth by the painter José de Guimarães (the artist who created Portugal´s tourism symbol).

    The main entrance and ramp showing the two floors and entrance:

    The southeast corner of the Palace, showing a clear division between building styles:

    The west facade:

    The austere interior spaces include simple granite walls with ceilings and floors in wood. Spaces on the first floor are divided into several rooms, separated by narrow corridors that run perpendicular to the façades. In these spaces are the visitors reception area, storage, carpenters space, main hall and office of the director of the site. In the main wing is the unique staircase in the palace, consisting of four flights in granite. The intermediary floor, corresponds to the museum space, consisting of the towers and halls with rock fireplaces, including the Salão de Banquetes (Banquet Hall) and the Salão dos Paços Perdidos(Hall of Lost Town Hall), with roofs designed like the interior keel of a boat, in wood. The last floor, was dedicated for the use of the President of the Republic, and is characterized by a succession of bedrooms with private bathrooms, between two suites located within the towers (for the President and Prime Minister. This floor is immediately accessible via the small elevator on the ground floor and staircase from the second floor cloister. The last floor of the posterior wing is marked by a succession of rooms and the chapel.

    Nobles Hall:

    "Prastrana" tapestries depicting Portuguese wars in North Africa. There are four copies of the tapestries Prastrana:

    Helmets and spears from Portuguese wars in Africa:

    Dining Hall:

    Room of Donna Catherine:


    Scipio's Room:

    The courtyard and chapel entrance, showing the Romanesque era portico and exaggerated influences dating from the Estado Novo era:

    The chapel has a single nave, which is covered by a wooden ceiling presenting visible joists. A straight narrow wooden choir, allows access to balconies which extend to the front of the church and the exterior facade, as well as the corridors of the remaining wards. The richly carved wood benches in the nave precede the elevated presbytery, which is delimited by a wooden guardrail. The little chapel is so peaceful and the stained glass windows are beautiful:

    stained glass windows in the chapel:

    Room of St. Miguel:

    We head now to Monte da Penha. Our direction, at the moment, is south (and, later, north-east). We head, first, to Largo Condessa da Mumadona. With your back to the Dukes Palace we descend southward. We turn left (where the carriage with horses stand). You get to small park with stone seats (there are restrooms here !). Descend the stairs. On your left - a nice fountain:

    From the fountain - DO NOT DESCEND THE STAIRS. Take the path to the left. Ascend and descend the stairs - when the palace and the city walls on your left. IN the end of the stairs - cross the street (Rua Dona Constância de Noronha) and turn right (west). Walk west along Rua Dona Constância de Noronha (Tribunal da Comerca - on your right).

    You arrive to the Largo Condessa da Mumadona. Mumadona Dias, or Muniadomna Díaz, Countess of Portugal in the 10th century, who ruled the county jointly with her husband from about c. 920 and then on her own after her husband's death around 950 until her death in 968. Celebrated, rich and the most powerful woman in the Northwest of the Iberian peninsula, she has been commemorated by several Portuguese cities. Guimarães Castle was built by Mumadona.

    Statue of Mumadona Dias, in front of the city court:

    Note, west to the square, the ancient city walls. On your back - the Paço Dos Duques De Bragança lighted under the afternoon sun. With your face southward - pass Convento de Santa Clara and cross southward Rua Almirante Sousa Ventura. Head south on R. dos Combatentes da Grande Guerra toward R. Abade de Tagilde, 200 m. Turn left onto R. Dr. José Sampaio/N101-2, 60 m. Turn right onto R. do Rei Pegu, 300 m. Slight left and you arrive to the Teleférico de Guimarães, Rua Comendador Joaquim Sousa Oliveira 37. THe cable, here, brings you to Penha Mountain - Monte da Penha. Penha is the name of a mountain located right next to Guimarães old town. It offers amazing views over entire city. On the top of the mountain, you may visit the Sanctuary to which you will ride the cable car climbing 400 m over the ground providing passengers with unforgettable experience and most amazing views on Guimarães. Penha Mountain, is the only mountain in Guimarães, when you can have a wonderful view over the city. You can go there through an elevator, where you can taste a little more of the mountain spirit, and at the same time get different views of the city. It provides a journey of 1,700 m., Winning an altitude of 400m. in just 7-10 minutes. Penha Mountain has excellent access and parking for cars and buses, Cable turns a visit to Guimarães Penha mountain - unforgettable. Penha Mountain, beyond the Sanctuary,  offers a wide range of infrastructure, especially one Camping Mountain, a mini-golf, fitness circuits, walking areas and picnic in the shade of leafy trees, restaurants, bars and cafeterias. OPen: Months of November, December, January, February and March: 10.00 - 17.30. Months of April, May and October: 10.00 - 18.30. Months of June, July and September: 10.00 - 19.00 Monday to Friday and Saturdays, 10.00 - 20.00 Sundays and holidays. August: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed for maintenance the last Monday of each month. Last shipment: 15 minutes before closing. Adult - 4.5 euros.


    for the Monte da Penha description - see the Guimaraes - Monte da Penha itinerary.


  • Citywalk | Portugal
    Updated at Aug 31,2014

    Porto Cathedral:

    Start: Praca do Batalha - Batalha Square.

    End: Porto Se' - Cathedral square - Tourist Information Office.

    Duration: 3-4 hours.

    Orientation: This itinerary fits perfectly people who arrive to Porto during the late morning hours or around the midday. It can be combined with another 1/2 day route: Centro Histórico of Porto: From Rua da Bainharia to Praca da Ribeira. The second half of the day is better since the Cathedral is better lighted during the afternoon hours.

    Distance: 3 - 4 km.

    Batalha Square (Praça da Batalha) is a historical public square located in the centre of Porto. It is a pleasant place in which to rest, with several benches and cafés. The name Batalha (Battle) comes from a 10th-century battle fought between the Moorish forces of Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir and the inhabitants of Porto, which resulted in the defeat of the latter and the destruction of the city. The Batalha area has been an important cultural spot for centuries. In 1794, it was here that the Oporto's opera house, the Royal Theatre of São João, was built. The theatre still exists, although the original building had to be replaced in 1908 following a fire. Batalha Square was an important traffic hub until recently, but since the 1980s it has been mostly pedestrianised. The square is also a touristic spot thanks to its monuments, cafés and hotels. You can rest at the courtyard in front of the Santo Ildefonso church (see below), or at the Batalha Square itself.

    "Ardina" (newspaper seller) statue in Praca da Batalha:

    The square was urbanised in 1861, when a statue of King Pedro V of Portugal, standing over a pedestal, was erected right in front of Batalha Palace. The statue is a work by sculptor Teixeira Lopes (father):

    Another important landmark of the square is the Batalha Palace, Palácio da Batalha, a good example of a late 18th-century urban palace of Porto. The main façade, in a style intermediate between baroque and neoclassical, carries the coat-of-arms of the former owners (Silvas, Guedes, Melos e Pereiras). During the Siege of Porto (1832) the owners left the building and it was used for several purposes, including blood hospital. The interior has been stripped of its decoration still in the 19th century. Nowadays it is used as post office. Located on the eastern side of the square.

    Another important cultural venue of the square is the Cinema Batalha, Cine-Teatro Batalha - a landmark of Portuguese Art Deco architecture dating from 1947. Located in the eastern side of the square.

    The square also includes the São João National Theatre - Teatro Nacional São João (1911-1920) in the south side of the square. A building with a French Renaissance look, inspired by the Louvre and the Paris Opera. The city's most important cultural events and shows take place here:

    Santo Ildefonso church, Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, fronted, garrisoned tiles designed by Jorge Colaco (1932). Located on the north side of the square. Built between 1724 and 1730, this hilltop Baroque church is distinguished by its lovely blue and white tile panels that cover the façade. Its oval interior has Neoclassical side altars and a retable on the main alter by Nicolau Nasoni, who later built Clerigos Tower nearby.

    We leave the Praca da Batalha from its western side and walk down along Rua de Madeira. We descend the stairs to get a wonderful view of Estação São Bento, St. Beneto station.

    We arrive to Praça Almeida Garrett. The square is named after the poet, dramatist and parliamentary speaker João Baptista da Silva Leitão de Almeida Garrett, born in Porto in 1799.

    View of the west and north sides of the square with the Church Congregados right:

    right: Sao Baneto station:

    Igreja (church) dos Congregados: The Igreja dos Congregados was built in the late seventeenth century on the site where there was a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony. It may not be the most famous or beautiful catholic church in Porto, but certainly is among the most visited ones. Almost in front of the São Bento Railway Station, the church was built in 1703, replacing a chapel dated as far back

    as 1662. Beautiful tiles, in the Portuguese tradition, decorate its façade. It is near everything and a short visit is strongly recommended. Beautiful church, very interesting structure, inside is lovely:

    Estação São Bento, St. Beneto station. São Bento Railway Station was inaugurated in 1916. The historical station is known for its marvelous tiles (Azulejos) panels that depict scenes of the History of Portugal. It remains in regular use as a railway station, served by trains operated by Comboios de Portugal. The name of the station derives from a Benedictine monastery built on this spot in the 16th century. The monastery fell victim of a fire in 1783, was later rebuilt, but was in a grave state of disrepair at the end of the 19th century. King Carlos I laid the first stone of the station in 1900. The project was entrusted to Porto architect José Marques da Silva, who designed a building under the influence of French Beaux-Arts architecture. The station serves as the main terminus for Porto's suburban railways lines, and doesn't see much other service. It is also the western terminus for trains on the scenic Douro line to/from Pocinho. All trains leaving Sao Bento call at Campanhã as their next station:

    See Tip below - about Sao Beneto station ceramic tile panels.

    Leaving the São Bento Train Station,with your back to the train station and your face to the São Bento Metro station - turn LEFT. Descend along Praça Almeida Garrett to the south and continue climbing Avenida Dom Afonso Henriques (southward) when the old Porto walls on your left.

    You pass the Information Tourist Office onyour right:

    Cross Rua Saraiva de Carvalho, on your left, and continue climbing until you see, on your right the Porto Se' (Cathedral).

    First, you see, on your right, the Casa Museu Guerra Junqueiro. A big mansion from the 18th century, decorated with the belongings of the famous Portuguese Poet from the 19th/20th century. It also houses temporary exhibitions. The palace dates back to 1730 and was built in Baroque style by Nicolau Nasoni. It is located at Rua de D. Hugo, nº 15. In 1940 the estate was donated by his daughter to honor him and it later became a museum. Exhibited in the museum is a collection of religious art, ceramics and furniture etc. We shall visit it later and display its photos after visiting the Porto Cathedral.

    Before you enter the Cathdral square - you climb (after turning right from the main street) a little to the Calçada Vandoma and see, on your right, the statue of Vimara Peres. Vímara Peres (Galicia, circa 820– Guimarães, 873), was a ninth-century Galician nobleman and the first ruler of the County of Portugal:

    Opposite the statue of Vimara Peres - there is a beautiful fountain, Chafariz do Anjo San Miguel -  located right next to the Se' Cathedral, in the place where was the Arch of Vandoma, one of the gateways to the primitive city walls. It was built in the eighteenth century by Nasoni and funded by the City Council. The source is a monument by itself, since it has a kind of wrought iron latticework marble reliefs embedded in the top of the reservoir. It is crowned by the statue of St. Michael.

    The northern walls of the Se' (Cathedral) are adjacent to the fountain structure and foundation. Baroque loggia to the lateral façade:

    The "Terreiro da Sé" is the name by which we know the large square where is the Se' (Cathedral) of Porto. Its unique location (is at the highest point of the city) to enjoy a great view of both the river Douro and the rest of the city. The "Terreiro da Sé" (the Cathedral square) is very impressive by its size, as its contrast to the narrowness of the streets that had risen around. The truth is that it seems incredible that in a place with so dense urban buildings - there is such an extensive square surrounded by some buildings with such large dimensions. We've reached the "Terreiro da Sé" from the modern expansion of Porto - so the contrast should not be so great. The "Terreiro da Sé" not only houses the cathedral ("Se") of Porto, but is surrounded by other important and imposing buildings: - Museum of Sacred Art Be Porto, Palace (" Paco ") Episcopal, Fundación María Isabel Guerra Junqueiro, Arqueossitio (archaeological remains):

    From left to right: Old Town Hall, Porto Cathedral and the Chapter House:

    Episcopal Palace (white building in the background), in Terreiro Cathedral. Not open to the public:

    The Chapter House, Casa do Cabido - glued to the Cathedral:

    The Pelourinho do Porto (pillory) and the medieval tower house in Terreiro Cathedral, opposite the Cathedral of Porto:

    The Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto), (Sedes Episcopalis which means Bishop’s Residence in Latin) located in the historical centre of the city of Porto, is one of the city's oldest monuments and one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Portugal. The current Cathedral of Porto underwent construction around 1110 under the patronage of Bishop Hugo and was completed in the 13th century. The cathedral is flanked by two square towers, each supported with two buttresses and crowned with a cupola. The façade lacks decoration and is rather architecturally heterogeneous. It shows a Baroque porch and a beautiful Romanesque rose window under a crenellated arch, giving the impression of a fortified church. The Romanesque nave is rather narrow and is covered by barrel vaulting. It is flanked by two aisles with a lower vault. The stone roof of the central aisle is supported by flying buttresses, making the building one of the first in Portugal to use this architectonic feature. This first Romanesque building has suffered many alterations but the general aspect of the façade has remained Romanesque. Around 1333 the Gothic funerary chapel of João Gordo was added. João was a Knight Hospitaller who worked for King Dinis I. This was followed by a Gothic cloister, which was added during the reign of King John I and is notable for its delightful baroque tiles by Valentim de Almeida, depicting the life of the Virgin Mary. King John I was in fact married here to his English princess, Philippa of Lancaster, in 1387, while one of Portugal’s most important figures, Henry the Navigator, was baptized at its altar. It was during the 18th century, however, that the Se Cathedral of Porto underwent its most significant changes, succumbing to the rich Baroque embellishments that were added to so ecclesiastical buildings of the time. Structurally these included a new main portal and an elegant loggia to the lateral façade, along with a new apse which was decorated with baroque wall paintings by Nasoni and choir stalls. One of the most notable additions during the Baroque period was the altarpiece of the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, which depicts a beautifully elaborate scene made entirely of silver. Designed by Portuguese artists, this was completed during the late 1800s, as were the three red marble holy-water fonts, supported by a statue. The baptistery also showcases an interesting bronze bas-relief by Antonio Teixeira Lopes which depicts Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist.  In 1772 also a new main portal substituted the old Romanesque original and the tower cupolas were altered. Around 1732 Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni added an elegant Baroque loggia to the lateral façade of the Cathedral. During the War of the Oranges whilst the battle at Amarante was taking place a group of Spanish soldiers briefly took control of the Cathedral before being overcome by the locals of the town. A marble plaque with a Magnetite backing now hangs up behind the altar in order to remind everyone of those who lost their lives whilst regaining control of the chapel. The Se Cathedral of Porto resembles to some extent a fortress, with its rather austere exterior, imposing towers and large rose window. It is visible from many locations throughout the city and is very much a focal point both in the everyday lives of Porto’s residents and within the busy itineraries of the thousands who flock to discover the ancient treasures of Porto every year:

    The interior was also altered during the baroque era. In one of the chapels there is a magnificent silver altarpiece, built in the second half of the 17th century by Portuguese artists. Also in the 17th century the Romanesque apse (which had an ambulatory) was torn down and a new one was built in baroque style, later decorated with new wall paintings by Nasoni and choir stalls. The altarpiece of the chapel, designed by Santos Pacheco and executed by Miguel Francisco da Silva between 1727 and 1729, is an important work of Portuguese Baroque. The three red marble holy-water fonts, supported by a statue, date from the 17th century. The baptistery contains a bronze bas-relief by António Teixeira Lopes, depicting the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist. The South transept arm gives access to the Gothic cloister, which is decorated with baroque Azulejos by Valentim de Almeida (between 1729 and 1731). They depict the life of the Virgin Mary and Ovid's Metamorphoses. The remains of the Early-Romanesque ambulatory contain a few sarcophagi. The terrace is decorated with tile panels by António Vidal. The coffered ceiling of the chapter house was painted with allegories of moral values by Pachini in 1737. Free admission. Non commercial photos without flash light and tripod are allowed. Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 8.40 -12.30; 14.30 -18.00. Sunday and public holidays: 8.30-12.30; 14.30-18.00. From April to October the Cathedral closing time is at 19:00. Cloister - Opening hours:
    Mon-Sat: 9.00-12.15; 14.30-17.15. Sunday and public holidays: 14.30-17.15. From April to October the closing time is at 18:00.Tickets: € 3,00 (cloister only):

    The beautiful arches of the Cathedral-Sé are the great medieval symbol of Porto:

    The Se' interior:

    Gothic cloisters of the Cathedral. Admission - 3 euros. The Gothic cloister, was built in the 14th century. It is quite interesting; many walls are covered with magnificent blue and white tiles, the sacristy is beautifully decorated, and a couple of the chapels worth a visit: Capela S. João Evangelista and Capela de S. Vicente with its golden altarpiece:

    Houses in front of Se Cathedral. Notice facades decorated with tiles. These are examples of many other old buildings in Porto:

    Besides the magnificent cathedral, there is also one of the most beautiful viewpoints of Porto. Here you can see Vila Nova de Gaia and its cellars and the Duoro river:

    Leave the "Terreiro da Sé" (Cathedral square) from its western exit - Calçada de Dom Pedro Pitões and Rua S. Sebastiano.In the intersection of Rua S. Sebastiao and Rua de Hugo note two interesting sites: tower and fountain. On your left - Torre Medieval do Porto - also known as Porto city tower. The tower remained hidden for long centuries among the houses that populate the Cathedral square. During the 1940s, there was an attempt to give greater dignity to the building of the Cathedral and "clean" the surrounding area, resulting in uncovering a medieval tower. As it was a typical example of medieval buildings that preserved the appearance of strength, it was decided to preserve it, moving it about 15 feet from its original location. The building was rebuilt under the guidance of architect Rogério de Azevedo which added a balcony in stone Gothic feature:

    South to the Cathedral square - do not miss the Chafariz (Fountain) da Rua Escura. It was built in the seventeenth century in granite. Has two female figures on both sides of the pipe where the water come out. In the centre - the figure of a pelican. At the top of the fountain you can see a decorative frieze with the shield of the royal arms:

    Walk along Rua de Dom Hugo, first, southward, then eastward and at last north-east. You see the south walls of Casa-Museu Guerra Junqueiro. The stairs on your right are the Escadas das Verdades:

    Opening hours: Monday _ Saturday: 10.00 - 17.30, Sunday: 10.00 -  12.30, 14.00 -  17.30. Open in holidays times. Free admission at weekends. Weekday - 2,20€:

    We made a round route and encircled the whole Cathedral square or hill. Now, we are back in the Calçada Vandoma - where we started our visit of the Cathedral hill. We return to the Tourist Information Office (built over the ruins of a medieval tower, the Casa dos 24), and from there we descend to historical centre of Porto, to the Ribeira (Riverfront) area (see details in a separate itinerary of 1/2 day in Ribeira (Porto Riverfront): From Rua da Bainharia to Praca da Ribeira.

  • Citywalk
    Updated at May 7,2015


    Main attractions: Tram 15, Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, Belém Palace (Palácio Nacional Da Ajuda), Praça do Império, Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), Belém Tower (Torre de Belém), Museu de Combatente, Centro Cultural de Belém e Forte do Bom Sucesso, Belém's Museu Colecção Berardo, Museu De Marinha (MARITIME MUSEUM), Igreja de Santa Maria de Belem, Antiga Confeitaria de Belém – Pasteis de Belem Café - Part 1.

    Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), Museu Nacional dos Coches - part 2.

    Duration: 1 busy day (visiting the interiors of most or part of Belem attractions). 1/2 day - without visiting the interiors. Tip: Arrive to Jerónimos Monastery around 14.00 - 16.00. During the morning hours - there is a long queue there. In case you decide to visit the interiors of the Monastery and the Berardo Museum - allow 1 full day and start early !!!

    Start & End: Figueira Square ("Praça da Figueira") or Comercio Square ("Praça do Comércio").

    Distance (both parts, all Belém attractions): 3-4 km. (without the Belém Palace), 6-7 km. (with the Belém Palace).

    Lisbon's most monumental and historical area is Belém. It was from here that many of the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their voyages of discovery: Prince Henry the Navigator and the first overseas expedition to conquer Ceuta in Morocco, Bartholomeu Dias to round the Cape of Good Hope, the first voyages of Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama to discover the sea route to India, and Christopher Columbus stopped here on his way back to Europe after discovering the New World. Belém is recognized for its concentration of national monuments and public spaces, including a mixture of historical buildings and modern symbols of Portuguese culture. The Discoveries Monument During this time Lisbon flourished with riches pouring into Portugal and saw the construction of great monuments like the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery. Today these monuments and their surrounding museums are must-see atrractions for any visitor. Belem's attractions warrant a full-day visit. We sketch an itinerary for half-day only. Don't go on a Monday, when many of the sites are closed. Located on the mouth of the Tagus River it is located 6 kilometres west of the city centre and 2 kilometres west of Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge). Its name is derived from the Portuguese word for Bethlehem.

    To get to Belem from Lisbon, you will need to take either tram 15 or tram 127 from the downtown area’s Figueira Square ("Praça da Figueira") or Comercio Square ("Praça do Comércio"). I recommend taking the tram from the Figueira squre. Tram 15 runs regularly and takes about 25 minutes to get from Placa da Figueria to the stop for Belem. Tram 15 (destination: Alges) is the best way to reach Belem from downtown. You can hop on 15 either at Figueira Square or Comercio Square (getting off by Jeronimos Monastery). The stop at the Comercio square is quite crowded - so, find shelter (from the sun) under the bus-stop roof in front (cross the street). The tram #15 wagons are air-conditioned and quite modern. You can catch it outside Cais do Sodre railway station as well, but I wouldn't advise that unless you are staying nearby. Usually, there are tens of people waiting at Cais do Sodre (cruise ships porting there) and the chances of you getting on a tram within one hour are nil even though people are crammed on like sardines. Do take care on the tram. All crowded situations are prime hunting ground for pickpockets and tram 15, with its continual loads of tourists, is a favourite spot. Keep cash and cards safely underneath your clothing, never ever in your pockets or bum-bags/fanny-packs, and hold your bag firmly in your arms. The same applies while you are queuing at the bus stop. Don't stand with your daypack facing the road which runs parallel to the tram tracks. Get off at the stop marked Belém (the best) or the next one called Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. A single ticket can be purchased on board the tram costs €2.85, the ticket machines do not accept bank notes and frequently run out of change. A single ticket price is reduced to €1.40 if a pre-paid Viva Viagem ticket is used, these can be purchased from any metro station. A one-day travel pass for all of the public transport in Lisbon costs €6.00. As this is the busiest tram service of Lisbon the trams start early and continue well into the night. The first service departs at 05.00 and the last departure is at 01.00, there are between 4-6 services an hour. Delays are frequent in rush times. The Lisbon tram 15 route also passes the trendy Santo Amaro docks. These old warehouse have been converted into trend bars and restaurants that over look the suspension bridge, River Tejo and marina. The docks area and is served by the Avenue Infante Santo stop which is 11 minutes from Praca do Comercio.

    Another option is the train. Belem's small train station can be found on the Cascais Line that runs between Lisbon's Cais de Sodre train station and Cascais train station. This line is very scenic and many of Belem's attractions (including the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and the Monument to the Discoveries) can be seen from the train.
    When travelling on this line, you should be aware that not all trains stop at Belem. If travelling from Cais de Sodre, you should board a train that stops at all stations to Cascais. These trains say 'TODAS' on the front to indicate that they are stopping at all stations between Cais de Sodre and Cascais.

    Buses no. 28 or 43 depart from Praça da Figueira to Belém, again taking 15 minutes.

    All means of transportaion cost (as of summer 2014) 1.40 euros.

    Do not go to Belem on Mondays since that’s the day that: Jeronimos monastery, Belem Tower and the Monument to Discoveries are all closed.

    We drop the Tram #15 at the 'Belem' stop. Belém's main street and historical avenue is Rua de Belém, a strip of 160-year buildings that have survived several years of change and modernization. This includes the famous pastry shop Fábrica de Pasteis de Belém known for a specific Portuguese confectionery: pastel de Belém (pastéis de Belém), an egg tart made with flaky pastry (see later). Five hundred metres to the east of Praça do Império lies Belém's other major square Praça Afonso de Albuquerque - this is the first park or garden we face. The site of the square used to be a harbour, built in 1753. In 1807, Queen Mary I, Prince John VI and the royal family fled Lisbon from this harbour to Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, to escape the Napoleonic troops which had invaded Portugal. The square is located in front of Belém Palace, an early 18th-century palace that nowadays serves as residence for the President of Portugal. The square is named after the Second Governor of Portuguese India Afonso de Albuquerque, and offers the best views of Belém Palace. It has a beautiful monument, in neo-Manueline style, by artists Silva Pinto and Costa Mota tio, inaugurated in 1902. The monument carries a bronze statue of Afonso de Albuquerque and has interesting reliefs about his life:

    To the southeast of the gardens is the Belém Palace (Palácio Nacional Da Ajuda) (1770), the official residence of the Portuguese President. It had, overtime, been the official residence of Portuguese monarchs and, after the installation of the First Republic, the Presidents of the Portuguese Republic. Located in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém, the palace is located on a small hill that fronts the Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, near the historical centre of Belém and the Monastery of the Jeronimos, close to the waterfront of the Tagus River. The five buildings that makeup the main façade of the Palace date back to the second half of the 17th century, and were built at a time when, more and more, the monarchy and nobility were escaping the urbanized confines of Lisbon. Access to the Palace is made from Rua de Belém at the main gate and ramp (guarded by military sentries). Open every day except wednesdays, 10.00 to 18.00. Closed every Wednesdays, 1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st May, 25th December. Admission charge 5 €
    Admission free: First Sundays of the month (groups 12 pax max.), children under 14, teachers and students if in organized school visit, ICOM members, unemployed EU resident (documentation needed). 50% Discount: Students, Youth Card, + 65, families with children with more than 4 persons. Circuit Ticket 7,5 € Palacio Nacional da Ajuda and Museu Nacional dos Coches. Public transport: Bus and tram: 18, 729, 732, 742, 60
    Estoril railway: Belém Station.

    The Palace is quite distant from Rua de Belem (1.6 km. !). A view of the Palace of Belém from the main obelisk in Praça Afonso de Albuquerque:

    A monument to assassinated monarch King Carlos of Portugal in front entrance to the Ajuda National Palace:

    The eastern façade (and main entrance) to the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda:

    The interior façade from the Palace courtyard looking towards the statue of King Carlos of Portugal:

    The interior of the Green Room, used by the Queen for official duties:

    The avant-garde Blue Room with visual affects that implied a greater grandeur:

    Portrait of the Royal Family in the Green Room:

    Red Room (Salinha Encarnada):

    The Marble Room (known also as the Winter Garden or informally as the Egyptian room):

    The Grand Dining room:

    We continue/return with/to Rua de Belem along the gardens heading to the WEST.

    In the heart of the parks area is  Praça do Império, an avenue of open-spaces and gardens, with a central fountain, which was laid-out during World War II. The square commemorates the Portuguese Empire and was built for the Exhibition of the Portuguese World in 1940. This park has many pathways and a beautiful fountain that changes into several different forms over a few minutes and you could enjoy a walk or just sit and enjoy the sun, birds, vegetation and cute statues of horses. 

    Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) from Praça do Império:

    From the parks/gardens - cross the Avenida Brasilia to the seafront to see:

    Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) - located on the edge of the Tagus' northern bank, this 52 metre-high slab of concrete, was erected in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. The monument is sculpted in the form of a ship's prow, with dozens of figures from Portuguese history following a statue of the Infant Henry sculpted in base relief. Adjacent to the monument is a huge square in the form of a map, showing the routes of various Portuguese explorers, during the Age of Discovery. It is 52 meters tall and is shaped live a ship with historical Portuguese navigators standing at the prow. Inside is an exhibition and you can go up to the top to get a better look at Belem below. Opening hours: Daily 10.00 - 18.00, Closed on Mondays.

    Rosa dos Ventos (Rose of Winds) square north to the Monument of Discveries:

    Continue west along the seafront to:

    Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) - constructed on the rocky outcropping/island along the northern margin of the Tagus River as part of a defensive system to protect access to the Tagus estuary envisioned by king John (Joao) II of Portugal. It is one of Belém's iconic symbols of the parish. Originally, the Tower of Saint Vincent (Torre de São Vicente), it was elaborated by Manuel I of Portugal (1515–1520) to guard the entrance to the port at Belém. It stood on a little island in right side of the Tagus, surrounded by water. Built in 1515, this Manueline style fortress served also the important purpose of being a starting point to much of the voyages the Portuguese made to places like the New World, India, and Japan. It is because of its significance that the Belem Tower has been honored as a UNESCO World Heritage monument. Its design is breathtaking. It has details such as stones that look like twisted rope, lots of balconies, domes, and the arched windows that are customary in the Manueline style. It is completely surrounded by water. You’ll need to cross a bridge to get to it. Opening hours: October-April 10.00 - 17.30, May-September 10.00 - 18.30. Closed on Mondays. Entrance fee: 6 euros. Combined tickets: Descobertas: Jerónimos Monastery /Tower of Belém: €12, Jeronimos: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos + Museu Nacional de Arqueologia: 12 €, Praça do Império: Jerónimos Monastery +Tower of Belém + Museu Nacional de Arqueologia: €16, Cais da História: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos + Torre de Belém + Museu Naciona de Arqueologia + Museu de Arte Popular + Museu Nacional de Etnologia + Museu dos Coches: 25 €:

    Further west along the seashore, quite close to the Belem Tower is the Museu de Combatente. The main purpose of this Museum is the expression of the Portuguese military conquests, with a space reserved to divulgate the Portuguese military history, near the public in general and the combatants, through distinct museum references regarding time, matter and especially shape, from the First World War, the Overseas Campaigns and Peace Missions. Therefore, the Museum of Combatant honours the Combatants who served Portugal in the Overseas Campaigns, with the integration of the “Monument to the Honour of Overseas Combatants” in this space, since 1993. These two symbols – the Museum of Combatant and the “Monument to the Honour of Overseas Campaigns”, stands for the concepts of Culture, Citizenship and Defense. The two of them represent an end of a cycle in the Portuguese history – the End of the Empire, whose beginning is materialized in the same space by the Belem Tower. Outside the fort is a Military memorial and what one assumes is an eternal flame guarded by two soldiers. The museum is managed by the Portuguese equivalent of the British Legion and is housed in an 18th century fort, which at one time was directly attached to the tower and provided protection for old Lisbon from attacks from the river Tagus. Open every day, including weekends, and holidays. From 10.00 until 17.00 (Oct-March), from 10.00 until 18.00 (April-Sept). Prices: 3€ (adults), 2€ (children with seven years old and up, pensioners and groups), free entry (for members of the Combatants League and leaders of groups on guided tours):


    From here we go back eastward. Find the upper bridge (over Avenida Barasilia and the railway track) and walk east along Rua Bartolomeu Dias to arrive to:  the Centro Cultural de Belém e Forte do Bom Sucesso, built in 1992 during Portugal's term in the revolving role at the helm of the European Union presidency. The Belém Cultural Centre, also known as CCB, affords three functions, a congress centre, a concert hall complex and an exhibition centre. The building also has several shops, a restaurant and two bars. The concert hall complex has three halls that are equipped to house different kinds of shows, from ballet to cinema. The exhibition centre houses the Berardo?s Foundation modern and contemporary art collection (Fundação de Arte Moderna e Contemporânea - Museu colecção Berardo) since 2007. The temporary exhibitions vary what they have on show, from sculptures, to architecture, to design, photography and installations:

    It is now an arts complex, containing Belém's Museu Colecção Berardo - a brand new museum of modern and contemporary art. Admission is free. To visit some of the temporary exhibitions it may be necessary to purchase a ticket. Opening times: Tuesday - Sunday
    10.00-19.00 (last admission: 18.30), 24 December 10.00-14.30 (last admission: 14.00), 25 December Closed, 31 December 10.00-14.30 (last admission: 14.00), 1 January 12.00-19.00 (last admission: 18.30). The museum has an extensive permanent collection, but it is also the host of various temporary exhibitions that change on a regular basis.  It is an extensive museum and FREE. For modern art lovers - even 2-3 hours won't suffice. A vast collection showcasing some of the biggest names in art: Picasso, Warhol, Pollack, Abstract and Expressionist works. It is rare opportunity to see so much at one place. GOOD ASIAN-EUROPEAN RESTAURANT WITH REASONABLE PRICES.

    DO NOT MISS  the Museum's gardens. Stunning views of the river (from vey limited and specif hidden points....:

    Stunning views also of the Maritime Museum and the Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos):

    You can exit from the back side of the museum, through its garden to Rua Bartolomeu Dias and to the Museu De Marinha (MARITIME MUSEUM) in the Praca do Imperio. Opening hours: From 10.00 to 17.00  (01 Oct - 30 Apr), from 10.00 to 18.00  (01 May - 30 Sep). Prices: Adults 6,00€, seniors 65+ ​3,00€, students 3,00€, children 12 - 18: ​3,00€.

    The church Igreja de Santa Maria de Belem is adjacent to the Jeronimos Monastery. You can enter it first - since it it in the western part of the monastery.  It features many details embedded in its walls. It contains the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões. Absolutely not to be missed! Very beautiful both externally and internally:

    The ornate Manueline south portal by João de Castilho:

    Tomb of Luis Vaz de Camoes:

    Tomb of Vasco de Gama:

    Royal tombs in the main chapel. Each sarcophagus is held by two elephants:

    The Nave and Apse:

    The Sacrament:

    Belém is home to a number of other museums: Museu da Electricidade (Electricity Museum), Museu do Centro Científico e Cultural de Macau (Macau Cultural Museum), Museu de Arte Popular (Folk Art Museum), Museu Nacional dos Coches (Coach Museum), and Museu da Presidência da República (Presidential Museum).

    Antiga Confeitaria de Belém – Pasteis de Belem Café: A trip to Belem is not complete without stopping at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém. This is a very large cafe-confectionery with several rooms. Some of these are decorated with Azulejos (blue tiles). It’s one of those things that everyone does while visiting the district. They produce about 14,000 of these sweets per day and the café is obviously very popular. You won’t wait more than half an hour until your order gets taken. You can either take-away the pasties or you can eat inside, in the latter case you’ll be taken to a seating area in the back which is very spacious. Soon after you place your order, your warm, straight out of the oven custard tart will be served. Traditionally, these pastries are sprinkled with “canela” or cinnamon and powdered sugar. If you order the pastries to go, they’ll be given to you in a beautiful tube box decorated with a traditional Portuguese design. Café Pastéis de Belém has been specializing in these treats since year 1837 ! These pastries are served warm and sprinkled with cinnamon and/or sugar (if you like). Their original receipt is kept secret. Only three persons knows it. This sweet is believed was created before the 18th century by the nuns at the Monastery of Jerònimos. Antiga Confeitaria de Belèm was the first place selling these tarts since 1837. In this year the baking of the 'Pasteis de Belém' has begun in buildings joined to the refinery, following the ancient 'secret recipe' from the monastery. Passed on and known exclusively to the master confectioners who hand-crafted the pastries in the 'secrets room', this recipe remained unchanged to the present day. In fact, the only true 'Pasteis de Belém' contrive, by means of a scrupulous selection of ingredients, to offer even today the flavour of the time-honoured Portuguese sweet making.

    Opening hours: June 1st – September 30th 8.00 – Midnight, October 1st – May 31st 08.00 – 23.00.

    Now, move to Belém part 2 - Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) and the Museu Nacional dos Coches (the Carriages Museum).

  • Citywalk | Portugal
    Updated at Aug 17,2014

    Parque das Nações (Park of the Nations):

    Start & End: Oriente Metro station.

    Distance: 7-8 km.

    Weather: perfect destination for a cloudy, gloomy or, even, little rainy day. If the day is very hot - go early and spend the first half of the day in this area. Good chance for ocean breeze.

    Tips: No high heels and no sandals in this itinerary. Walking/stepping on wooden bridges and (on our way to the Oceanario) on slotted wooden plates - please use steady-state sneakers or sportive shoes. BRing umbrella if there is even a slight chance of rain. There will be no shelter in most of our route.

    Parque das Nações (Park of the Nations) is a leisure, commercial, and residential area since the 1998 World Exposition. It covers an extensive area in northeastern Lisbon next to the Tagus estuary, formerly used for mainly industrial purposes. The area underwent a tremendous transformation in the 1990s when it was chosen as the location for the World Exhibition. After the exhibition, the area got its current name (the Portuguese still refer to it as "Expo"), and more transformations occurred such as the new Vasco da Gama shopping mall, the Lisbon's International Fair complex, hotels and many new bars, restaurants, office and residential buildings. Many attractions built for the Expo '98 remained and keep drawing visitors, such as the Oceanarium, one of the world's biggest aquariums. In terms of culture, several facilities must be highlighted: the Pavilhão de Portugal (Portugal Pavilion), the Pavilhão Atlântico (Atlantic Pavilion), the Oceanário (Oceanarium), the Área Internacional (International Area), which became the Feira Internacional de Lisboa exhibition centre, and the Estação do Oriente train station. Taking advantage of its geographical position, Parque das Nações also have a brand new Marina, Marina Parque das Nações featuring 600 berths and modern infrastructures, a river pier for cruises or historical vessels. It is also a spot for bird watching as it is sited in the Tagus Estuary, one of the largest and diverse estuaries of Europe. Today, the Parque das Nações is a lively, dynamic and multipurpose space. It is the brand of contemporary Lisboa, a place where the city’s inhabitants have fun, enjoy shows, go for a walk, play sport, shop, work and live in quality and tranquility.

    Oriente Metro and Train station: One of the most stunning modern sights in Lisbon is Oriente Station. It was built by master architect Santiago Calatrava with a roof of glass and steel made to look like a row of trees. Upon arrival at the Parque das Nações, it is impossible not to notice the work of the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The Oriente station dominates the view, serving as an element of urban order, majestic, and includes a bus terminal, car park, underground station, train station and shopping gallery. The entrance to the metro platform has huge tile murals designed by some of the best local contemporary artists. The station will soon be expanded to become the main terminal of the high speed train service planned for Lisbon, and as the city's first stop for the train arriving from the future Lisbon Airport to be built across the river:

    Torre São Gabriel:

    subway art:

    Vasco da Gama shopping mall:

    Towers of offices named after two of Vasco da Gama's ships, São Gabriel and São Rafael:

    Pavilion of Knowledge - Ciência Viva. It is an interactive science and technology museum. Mainly games-based, its exhibitions and activities allow children to explore a variety of themes in an interactive and fun way. The “Pavilhão do Conhecimento – Ciência Viva” was designed by the architect João Luís Carrilho da Graça and awarded with the Grand Prize of the FAD Jury in 1999 and it is an emblematic building, representative of the architectural shift that took place with EXPO’98. With an average of 800 visitors a day the “Pavilhão do Conhecimento – Ciência Viva” is nowadays one of Portugal’s most visited museums.

    Pavilhão Atlântico - The great hall of Lisboa (Arena): The Pavilhão Atlântico is one of the biggest and most modern covered pavilions in Europe, capable of accommodating all kinds of events. With a 20,000-person capacity, the enclosure hosts nearly 100 events per year. With an architecture based on the old ships that played a central role in the Portuguese Age of Discovery, the Pavilhão Atlântico is now the stage for countless sporting events and welcomes the large scale shows that take place in the capital.

    The Atlantic Pavilion Concert Hall:

    The Portugal Pavilion is a striking building designed by Portugal's Pritzker Award-winning architect Alvaro Siza Vieira. Its remarkable sagging concrete roof weighing 1,400 tonnes and measuring 50 by 67 meters (167 by 223 ft) is an instant attention-grabber, undulating like a sailcloth, keeping the maritime theme of most of the district's architecture. The building is currently empty but there have been plans to turn it into an architecture museum:

    With the Feira Internacional de Lisboa on your right and the Arena on your left - turn left (WEST) and you arrive to a garden (Parque das Nações) with fountains and ground decks of wood - with tunnels of water and many pretty colored tiles. There are several volcano fountains in the park:

    From here we head NORTHWARD along the water on wood decks and bridges. On our right we pass near the Torre de Vasco de Gama, Myriad by SANA Hotels, Cais das Naus:

    On our left are housing complexes along the ocean:

    If we look back - we see the São Gabriel and São Rafael twin towers, and the Atlantic Pavilion. The Cable Car provides an air trip over the whole of the Park of Nations, along the river Tagus. The cable car runs parallel to the river along the full length of the site. Round-trip: €5.90, One-way: €3.95.

    Torre São Gabriel:

    We walk north - our destination is the Vasco da Gama Bridge. After passing the Parque de Tejo, we pass by the Passeo de Tejo. On our left is Parque Infantil with an interesting sculpture of Audrey Flack (1931) - Rainha (queen) D. Catarina do Bragance, Bronze, 1998:

    We start to walk on wooden deck bridge - leading to the giant Vasco de Gama (VDG) bridge. It is the longest bridge in Europe (including viaducts),[3] with a total length of 17.2 km, including 0.829 km for the main bridge, 11.5 km in viaducts, and 4.8 km in dedicated access roads. Its purpose is to alleviate the congestion on Lisbon's other bridge (25 de Abril Bridge), and to join previously unconnected motorways radiating from Lisbon. Construction began on February 1995; the bridge was opened to traffic on 29 March 1998, just in time for Expo 98, the World's Fair that celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery by Vasco da Gama of the sea route from Europe to India:

    In the small intersection, on the wooden deck, you can turn right to Estacada das Gaivotas - to get a closer view of the mighty bridge:

    This our final, northmost point. From there turn back (southward) to get far view of the Torre Vasco de Gama:

    We leave the seafront path/bridge. With low houses on our right, we turn RIGHT (west) to these houses and housing quarter. Cross the grass and find a path leading (zigzag) southward (south-west, in the beginning) to these nice residences. We head back to Torre Vasco de Gama. Head west on Caminho das Gaivotas toward Passeio dos Heróis do Mar, 130 m. Turn left onto Passeio dos Heróis do Mar, 10 m. Slight left to stay on Passeio dos Heróis do Mar, 800 m. Turn right onto Rua Comandante Cousteau. The parallel road more south is Rua do Cais das Naus - leading back to Torre de Vasco de Gama:

    Rua Comandante Cousteau:

    Rua do Cais das Naus:

    Again, Torre Vasco de Gama / Myriad Hotel:

    We continue southward (passing by the point where we started our walk along the sea) leaving the Oriente station (on our right, now) on our back. We step now on big plates of wood. Quite dangerous. You can walk here only with sneakers. No sandals and no high heels. We walk, now, along Passeio Neptuno and see the Oceanário on our right:

    WE can stop at the Oceanário de Lisboa or walk even further (south) to the Marina of Parque Das Nações. In the latter case - we can return to the Oceanário through Passeio Neptuno or return along Rua das Musas.

    Oceanário de Lisboa opened during the Expo’98, the Oceanário de Lisboa is one the largest public aquaria in Europe. It is the Oceanário’s mission to promote knowledge of the oceans, educating visitors and the public about the necessity of protecting natural resources, through changing their daily habits. Every year, one million visitors walk through the Oceanário’s exhibits, which rank first as the most visited attraction in Portugal. Students, teachers, families and organized groups may enjoy quite a few activities, including guided tours, theme workshops, seminars, concerts for babies, birthday parties and even spending a very special evening right next to the sharks. The Oceanário de Lisboa was the first European Public Aquarium to be awarded the 9001, 14001 and EMAS Quality Certificates. Other distinguished acknowledgements include the Valmor Architecture (1998) competition, the International Chiara Science Award and the EMAS Award 2005 (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme).
    It also plays a very active role in multiple research and conservation efforts, regularly collaborating with academic and zoological institutions on projects such as CORALZOO, SECORE, FAITAG, and even in situ environmental conservation efforts focusing on Lamprey-eels, from the Tagus estuary, and Sea-turtles in Cape Verde. Together with the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Oceanário created an Award which rewards excellence on scientific projects that encourage a sustainable use of the oceans. Designed by renowned architect Peter Chermayeff, the Oceanário de Lisboa includes two buildings, connected by a bridge. The exhibits are housed on the main building, which is surrounded by water, evoking a docked ship ready to cast off. The support building features a striking wall with 55 thousand tiles, depicting jumbo sized marine animals. The Oceanário is situated in the heart of the amazing Esplanada da D. Carlos I.

    Tickets can be purchased near the waterfall and the big fountain and NOT near the souvenirs shop.

    There is also an computerized/automated vending machine. Free - children 0-3, 11€ - children 4-12, 16€ - from 13 to 64, 11€ seniors 65+. Family - 42€. Opening hours: Summer 10.00 - 20.00 (last entry 19.00) , Winter 10.00 - 19.00 (last entry - 18.00):

    East to the Oceanário I had a dinner at Restaurante Chimarrão - Parque das Nações, Alameda dos Oceanos. See tip below.

    We head back to the Oriente station - passing by, again, the Pavilhao do Conhecimento, Cienca Viva:

    and the Parque das Nações:

    We turn left, here, near the Casino - to the Oriente Station: