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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 | 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 | 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:

  • Citywalk | Portugal
    Updated at Sep 10,2014

    Porto - from Casa da Musica to Torre dos Clerigos:

    Attractions: Praça de Mouzinho de Albuquerque, Avenida da Boavista, Casa da Música, synagogue "Kadoorie - Mekor Haim", Jardim Botânico do Porto, Parque e Jardim da Fundação Serralves, Jardins do Palácio de Cristal do Porto - Crystal Palace Gardens (!!!), Torre dos Clérigos.

    Start: Casa da Musica Metro station.

    End  : Sao Beneto Metro station.

    Weather and Orientation: the first half of the day can be gloomy, cloudy or rainy. But, PLEASE reserve, at least, two sunny, bright hours, during the second half -  for the stunning Crystal Palace Gardens !!! I recommend NOT coming to the Crystal Palace Gardens in the 1st half of the day. Fog obscures, frequently, the view over the Douro but when it lifts the view is fantastic. The gardens are wonderful, especially when the afternoon sun hits the parks at such an angle to create beautiful lighting amongst the trees. But the icing on this cake is the views across the Douro River to Vila Nova de Gaia and Ribeira. Anyone who enjoys scenic views and photography would love these gardens.

    The Itinerary: from the Casa de Musica Metro station walk south to the Rotunda da Boavista - which is the nickname for the Praça de Mouzinho de Albuquerque. A large roundabout in Porto, Portugal. Its official name honours Joaquim Augusto Mouzinho de Albuquerque, a Portuguese soldier that fought in Africa during 19th century. A column in the middle of the square (Monumento aos Heróis da Guerra Peninsular) commemorates the victory of the Portuguese against the French troops that invaded Portugal during the Peninsular War (1807–1814). The column, slowly built between 1909 and 1951, is a project by celebrated Porto architect José Marques da Silva and sculptor Alves de Sousa. After the death of the sculptor Alves de Sousa, still young (38 years), the work was completed under the direction of sculptors Henrique Moreira and Sousa Caldas.

    There are eight streets reaching the Rotunda da Boavista roundabout:

    Avenida da Boavista (twice)
    Rua de Caldas Xavier
    Rua da Meditação
    Rua de Júlio Dinis
    Rua de Nossa Senhora de Fátima
    Avenida de França
    Rua de Cinco de Outubro.

    The Casa da Música, Porto's modern music venue, is located in the west side of the Rotunda da Boavista. Casa da Música (House of Music) is a major concert hall space in Porto, which houses the cultural institution of the same name with its three orchestras: Orquestra Nacional do Porto, Orquestra Barroca and Remix Ensemble. It was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas with Office for Metropolitan Architecture and Arup-AFA, and was built as part of Porto's project for European Culture Capital in 2001. But was only finished in the first half of 2005 and immediately became an icon in the city. The Building engineers were Arup (London) together with Afassociados (Porto). Inside Outside (Petra Blaisse) designed the large 13 curtains, ranging from 22mx15m to 65mx8m, and the gold leaf wood grain pattern on the large auditorium. The building was inaugurated on 15 April 2005. The building's design has been highly acclaimed worldwide. The New York Times, classified it as the "most attractive project the architect Rem Koolhaas has ever built" and saying it's "a building whose intellectual ardor is matched by its sensual beauty". It also compares it to the "exuberant design" in Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. "Only looking into the original aspect of the building, this is one of the most important concert halls built in the last 100 years". The NY Times compares it to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, in Los Angeles, and the Berliner Philharmonie. The House of Music is the main place in Porto to go either for classic music or for any other type of music. Most of Fridays at 9 pm you can listen the Symphonic Orchestra of Porto performing any of the main compositors symphonies. Worth to see a concert and worth to see the building. You can go inside the lobby, free, and you already see enough... Restaurant at the top floor is open on weekdays only ! Food and concerts reasonably priced. The concert hall is with excellent acoustics and enthusiastic audience. I was at a free performance of the three orchestras of Porto and enjoyed the music, the hall and the audience. Easy to reserve tickets at a reasonable price, or free -  online. Opening hours: BUILDING, TICKET OFFICE AND SHOP: Winter: Monday to Saturday: 10.00-19.00, Sundays and holidays: 10.00-18.00. Summer: Monday to Saturday: 10.00 -18.00, Sunday and Holidays: 10:00 -18:00. RESTAURANT: Monday to Wednesday: 12.30–15.00, 19.30–23.00, Thursday to Saturday: 12.30–15.00, 19.30–00.00, Sundays and Holidays: Closed. On performance days, the Bar in the Restaurant closes one hour after the end of the performance. Guided Tours: +351 220 120 210,

    Ceremonial Brass Bands Parade - Casa da Musica square:

    Old houses along Avenida da Boavista, opposite Casa da Musica - the ultimate contrast to the architectural gem:

    We walk west along Avenida da Boavista (part of the famous avenue is under reconstructions).  Turn left (south) in the 2nd intersection to Rua Guerra Junqueiro. WE are heading to the synagogue "Kadoorie - Mekor Haim" ("source of life" in Hebrew) is located on Guerra Junqueiro street No. 340. Its construction started in 1929 and was inaugurated in 1938. It is the largest synagogue in the Iberian Peninsula. In the year 1929, Laura Kadoorie, the wife of a Jewish philanthropist of Iraqi origin, Sir Elly Kadoorie died, and her children saw in this unfortunate event the necessity to honor their mother, a descendant of Portuguese Jews who fled the country from the Inquisition. This tribute was reflected in the monetary support of the Kadoorie family to the construction of large parts of the Synagogue of Porto, which was renamed "Synagogue Kadoorie - Mekor Haim.". For unclear reason I found the Synagogue closed on Saturday ("Shabat"):

    Return back to the Boavista avenue, turn LEFT (west), pass Rua António José da Costa on your left - and you'll see the Porto Palacio Hotel (Boavista 1269), as well, on your left:

    A bit further west, still on the left side (south) of Boavista avenue - you see the Casa das Artes with its interesting garden (nothing to see inside the house):

    opposite, on the north side of Boavista avenue - an art gallery of sculpture. MON-FRI 10.00 - 12.30, 14.00 -19.30, SAT 14.30-19.00:

    Turn left to Rua António Cardoso and walk (south) until its end to enter the Jardim Botânico do Porto (Botanical Garden), Rua do Campo Alegre 1191. Due to temporary works there - the entrance might be from Travessa Entrecampos. Free admission. Guided tours in foreign languages (also free). Open: winter weekdays only: 09.00 - 17.00, summer - weekdays 09.00 - 18.00, weekends 10.00-18.00. The Porto Botanical Garden might not be the most spectacular green space in Porto, yet it might worth a visit. The garden was created in 1951 under the patronage of the Portuguese state, on the former manor of Joao Henrique Andresen. During the time, the Porto Botanical Garden was greatly diminished, both in terms of size (now, its surface amounts to some 4 hectares) and plant life patrimony (though the diversity of the flora is quite notable). However, at present the garden shelters sundry rare and exotic plant species, featuring highlights like the cacti garden, a greenhouse and a historical garden (the latter comprising a rose garden). There’s also a lake situated within the perimeter of the Botanical Garden, the habitat of a fairly numerous population of water lilies. The Porto Botanical Garden is managed by the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto. Part of the greenhouses are closed to the public:

    "The boy of Bronze":

    We leave the botanical garden from its north exit, turn left (west) along Rua Campo Alegre and turn right (north) to Rua Ruben A. Part of the homes, in these roads, are empty. Turn LEFT (west) to Rua da Venezuela and walk the rest of the road until its end. Then, turn right (north) to Rua João Grave. On your left: McDonald branch and WC.  Arriving, again, to Avenida Boa Vista - turn LEFT (west). Here, the famous avenue is not under massive reconstructions with their unavoidable noise and dust. On the left side Porto Magnum project and another commercial / residence complex and on the right - the Bessa(****) hotel. We continue walking west, crossing a bridge over an highway. Note, on your left side (south) house No. 2533 (Colegio Universitaria da Boavista Tangerina). Another house with nice ceramic tiles is in # 2609. Here, is the house # 2671. On its right side a luxurious restaurant:

    We turn left (south) in the next square (note the sculptures) to Avenida Marechal Gomes da Costa:

    In Avenida Marechal Gomes da Costa we walk south-west and turn left (south) (2nd turn) to Rua Serralves. The entrance to the Parque e Jardim da Fundação Serralves is easily noticed with  yellow color. MUSEUM: Tuesday to Friday: 10.00 - 17.00. Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: 10.00 - 20.00. PARK: Mon: 10.00 - 19.00 (JUL-SEP), Tuesday to Friday: 10.00 - 19.00. Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: 10.00 - 20.00. Mon: the Park is closed on Mondays, from April till June. VILLA: Tuesday to Friday: 10.00 - 17.00. TICKET OFFICE: Monday to Friday: 10.00 - 18.45. Saturday, Sunday and Holidays: 10.00 -  19.45. Café: Monday to Friday: 12.00 - 19.00. Saturdays: 10.00 - 19.00. Sundays: 10.00 - 20.00. Restaurant: The Restaurant is closed at dinner time, unless a dinner reservation is made. For reservations: 226 170 355.  ADMISSION FEE: Museum and Park – € 8,50, Park – € 4,00. 50% DISCOUNTS: Cartão-jovem (Youth card), Senior citizens aged over 65, Porto Card. Free - Sundays: 1.00 – 13.00 with free tickets use valid until 13.30, Under 18s, Higher Education Students (B.A. Hons. Degrees and Master’s degrees). Serralves is a cultural institution, one of the most important of all the country. It includes a Contemporary Art Museum, a Park and a Villa, each one an example of contemporary architecture, Modernism, and Art Deco architecture. All the area is filled with beauty and creativity, consisting of several spaces, such as the Park, the House, the Contemporary Art Museum, the Library, the Auditorium and this amazing Park.

    The Museum, designed by Álvaro Siza Vieira, is now the most visited museum in Portugal (more than 300,000 visitors per year) and one of the most relevant in the contemporary art circuit in Europe. The first step towards establishing the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art was taken on November 27, 1996, when the Board of Directors invited Viicente Todoli to become the museum’s Artistic Director, alongside Assistant Director, João Fernandes. Serralves Museum opened in 1999 in order to endow Porto with a space dedicated to contemporary art. The Museum’s core objectives are the constitution of a representative collection of Portuguese and international contemporary art. The building of the Serralves Museum was designed by architect, Álvaro Siza, who was invited in the early 1990s to design a museum project that took into consideration the specific characteristics of the physical setting and the need for integration within the surrounding landscape. The architectural plans for the Serralves Museum were first drawn up in 1991 by the architect Alvaro Siza. The new building was finally inaugurated in 1999, harmoniously integrated within the surrounding urban area and the pre-existing spaces of the gardens of the Park and Villa. The exhibitions - normally three parallel exhibitions – are organized on a quarterly basis. Since the inauguration of the Museum building in 1999 a total of 4.6 million visitors -of all ages and from all parts of Portugal and the world - have visited the various spaces of the Foundation. These results position the Foundation in first place amongst Portuguese Museums and amongst Europe’s most highly visited contemporary art museums with similar characteristics. The Museum has exhibition rooms and store rooms for works of art, distributed across three floors. The upper floor is the location of the cafeteria/restaurant, esplanade and multi-purpose rooms, the entrance floor has exhibition rooms and a bookshop and the lower floor houses the library and auditorium. Access to these spaces is facilitated via a square-shaped atrium located next to the reception, complemented by a cloakroom and information area, in an area adjacent to the Museum entrance. The Museum building also has a workshops area and another area for activities of the Educational Service, together with complementary areas such as a shop and a large terrace overlooking the Park. As in most of Siza’s buildings, the furniture and fittings were also designed by the architect, including lighting fixtures, handrails, doorknobs, and signage. Materials include hardwood floors and painted walls in gesso with marble skirting in the exhibition halls, and marble floors in the foyers and wet spaces. Exterior walls are covered with stone or stucco:

    The Museum is surrounded by water canals:

    Casa de Serralves is a villa and museum located inside the park of Serralves. Owned by the Serralves Foundation, the house was built by the second Count of Vizela, Carlos Alberto Cabral and designed by the architect José Marques da Silva. It is a unique example of Streamline modern architecture in Portugal. Casa de Serralves - in addition to serving as the Foundation’s head office - is an important extension of the Museum of Contemporary Art, used for presentation of temporary exhibitions. Originally designed as a private residence, the Villa – which is a unique example of Art Deco architecture – and the Park – inspired by the modernists – were commissioned by the 2nd Count of Vizela, Carlos Alberto Cabral. With its façade overlooking the Rua de Serralves and the main entrance located in the Avenida Marechal Gomes da Costa, Casa de Serralves is a significant example of Art Deco style. The building was constructed on the outskirts of Porto between 1925 and 1944, combining neoclassical, romantic and art deco elements.

    "Aquário", work by Ana Vieira, in Casa Serralves:

    Casa de Serralves - the Chapel:

    The Rosaleda:

    Serralves Park spans 18 hectares and is constituted by a wide variety of magnificent, harmoniously interconnected spaces: formal gardens, woodlands, and a traditional farm. Designed by the architect Jacques Greber in the 1930s, it constitutes a singular reference within Portugal’s landscape heritage. A visit to the Park, via any of its circuits, involving different routes and durations, is a privileged opportunity to come into contact with nature and appreciate the wide diversity of trees and shrubs, constituted by roughly 200 species and a variety of ornamental exotic plants. In addition, the gardens and the park also constitute a museum setting: visitors to the park will encounter sculptures from the Serralves Collection that are permanently on display. The landscaped gardens designed by João Gomes da Silva, on the approximately 18 hectars of land, preserved the most important species already existing on the site. The new Serralves Park opened to the public in 1987, and was subject to a recovery and enhancement project initiated in 2001 and concluded in 2006. Currently on display in the park are sculptures by Claes Oldenburg, Dan Graham, Fernanda Gomes, Richard Serra, and Veit Stratmann.
    Claes Oldenburg, Plantoir:

    Naivy Baghramian, "Cold Shoulder":

    Aristido Maillol - The draped bather 1921:

    Gilberto Zorio - "The Porto Canoe":

    "Double Exposure" by Dan Graham:

    The lake in the Park:

    The Ginko Patio - Arboretum:

    The Park Fountain:

    View to the Park from the Museum:

    Jardim das Aromáticas:

    WE RETURN THE WHOLE WAY EAST TO CASA DA MUSICA (in case you booked a concert...) or to the Rotunda da Boavista / Praça de Mouzinho de Albuquerque square (our starting point).  It is a 3.2 km. (45 minutes) walk. There are no buses - since part of Boavista Avenue are under constructions works. We take the road Rua de Júlio Dinis to the south east. There are no least than 9 branching from Praça de Mouzinho de Albuquerque. Let us imagine the square to a clock. If Avenida da Boavista is in the 10 hour position (north-west) than Rua de Júlio Dinis is in the 5 hour. On your left is the Brasilia shopping centre (WC inside) and on your right (further after passing Largo Ferreira Lapa on your right) ) - the Vice-Rey hotel. Continue direct and cross Praca Galiza. On your left towers the Lusitania (insurance company) high building.
    Continue south along Rua de Júlio Dinis until its end - and you arrive to Jardins do Palácio de Cristal do Porto - Crystal Palace Gardens. Jardins do Palácio de Cristal do Porto - Crystal Palace Gardens - This beautifully landscaped park is dominated by a huge domed pavilion built in 1956 which replaced the 19th century iron-and-glass "Crystal Palace." Today's pavilion serves as a venue for concerts and sporting events. It is surrounded by a lake, flowerbeds, and roaming peacocks, all overlooking the Douro River, of which there are DIVINE, fantastic views. These romantic gardens were designed in the 1860s by German landscape architect Emile David, to engage the then Crystal Palace, replaced by Rosa Mota Pavilion in the 1950s. It opens at 8 a.m and closes at 9 p.m. (Summer) or at 7 p.m. (Winter). The entrance is free. There are public restrooms.

    The Lime Tree Avenue is the most striking axis of this Park and is flanked by Almeida Garrett Municipal Library (where the Gallery of the Palace is located), the acoustic shell and the Chapel of Charles Albert of Sardinia (built in 1849 by Princess Montléart). They are located near a restaurant and a terrace overlooking the lake. The building is not the most modern anymore and not-so-well kept. The pavillion is usually closed and has nothing interesting to it, besides its cool architecture:

    Avenida das Tilias:

    The Gardens of the Crystal Palace include the so-called Garden Emilio David with some beautiful specimens of rhododendrons, camellias, pines, beeches and Ginkos, beyond allegorical statues and fountains to the seasons:

    The themed gardens are also represented, including the Garden of Aromatic Plants, Garden of Medicinal, Garden Twin City (opened in 2009) and still the Garden of Feelings (opened in 2007), where the statue of Pain Teixeira Lopes . Other enjoyable spaces are the Forest (Bosque), the Avenue of Chestnut-of-India and the Garden of Rose Garden that is enriched with significant elements of the artistic heritage of the city. Nearby magnificent seven specimens of palm trees of California arise:

    Palmeiras das California:

    The chapel that Augusta, Princess of Carignano and later Montléart Princess built in honor of her brother, King Carlos Alberto:

    Everywhere, but, mainly, from the Feelings Garden (Jardim dos Sentimentos) there are strategic viewpoints that offer panoramic views of the Douro river and the city:

    Views from the Roses Garden (Jardim das Rosas):

    There are a few peacocks roaming into the Feelings and Roses Gardens:

    sculpture near the lookout terrace of the Cafe' (yellow house) in the lower level of the Gardens:

    We walk down to a lower level of the gardens where there are many ponds and typical Portuguese mosaics:

    Sorry ! the only exit from the Crystal Palace Gardens is from its north side. You ends up walking all the way back up to the top of the park, in order to drop back down to the Douro and walk to Ribeira or to the Centro Storico. You have to climb up and trace back the whole way to the main entrance (where you started your visit in the gardens...). From the main entrance head east (right) on Rua D. Manuel II, 88 m and turn right again onto Rua Jorge Viterbo Ferreira. Walk till the end of Rua Jorge Viterbo Ferreira and turn LEFT (EAST) to Rua da Restauração. Here it is quite along (and boring) walk along this street until you approach the historical centre of Porto. In the end of Rua da Restauração (cross-lights) turn RIGHT (south) to Campo dos Mártires da Pátria. On your left a park (Jardim da Cordoaria) and on your right the SECRETARIA GERAL DAS VARAS E JUÍZOS CÍVEIS DO PORTO (Palace of Justice):

    Here, our daily route converges to another Porto Itinerary: "Historic Centre of Porto - World Heritage Site". We bend left (north-east) along Rua Campo dos Mártires da Pátria and continue in Rua Senhor Filipe de Nery to hit the Torre dos Clerigos. From here, it is 5 minutes walk to Sao Beneto Metro station. Head southeast on R. das Carmelitas toward R. Arquitecto Nicolau Nazoni, 30 m. Slight left onto Rua dos Clérigos, 110 m
    Continue onto Praça da Liberdade, 120 m. Turn right onto Praça Almeida Garrett, 100 m.

  • Citywalk | Portugal
    Updated at May 7,2015

    Porto - from Moistero Serra do Pilar to Praça da Batalha:

    Orientation: The first half of the day is devoted to walk near the Douro river and to famous, more modern streets in Porto. BUT, the second half - is devoted to the historic centre and, perfectly, complements the routes offered in Porto "Around the Cathedral" and "Historic Centre of Porto" itineraries - in exploring the historic centre of this outstanding city.

    Attractions: Moistero Serra do Pillar, Ponte Luis I, Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, Rua de Santa Catarina, Capela das Almas, Trinidad Metro station, Igreja de Lapa, Banca de Materiais (Bank of Materials), Igreja do Carmo and Igreja Das Carmelitas, Praça de Gomes Teixeira and its Fonte dos Leões, Livraria Lello, Igreja de Trinidade, Porto Town Hall, Avenida dos Aliados, Praça da Liberdade, Praca da Batalha.

    Start: General Torre Metro station, Vila Nova de Gaia.

    End: Praça da Batalha (Sao Beneto Metro station).

    From General Torre Metro station walk east, in the direction of the Avenida República (already known from the "Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia- walk along the Douro river - West of Ponte Luis I" itinerary). The House of Culture (Barbot house) located on Avenue of the Republic, in the Jardim da Casa da Família Barbot, Vila Nova de Gaia, district of Porto. This is an old family residence, erected in 1904 on the initiative of the Viennese Bernardo Pinto Abrunhosa, its first owner. However, the name by which is known comes from Ermelinda Barbot, owned the property in 1945. It is listed as a Public Interest since 1982. The Municipality of Gaia acquired the property, recovered it and then installed the Culture House, headquarters of the Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism of the municipality. The Barbot House - House of Culture currently has an area for exhibitions and promotional events such as debates, seminars, workshops, book launches and musical moments. It is the only example of new art in Vila Nova de Gaia and includes elements of Arabian-inspired rooftop tiles neoclassical inspiration and also elements of oriental taste, approaching the building of a French taste of the late nineteenth century. The roof with sunglasses denotes the influence of the style of the Second French Empire of Napoleon III:

    Walk along Avenida República to the north (river direction).  In the cross-lights of Rua Rodrigues de Freitas - move to the east side of the avenue and climb along Rampa do Infante Santo to Moistero Serra do Pilar (see our itinerary "From Moistero Serra do Pillar to Praca da Batalha"):

    There are FIVE WONDERFUL lookout sites over the Douro river in Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia: Torre dos Clerigos, Moistero Serra do Pilar, Crystal Palace Garden (In my opinion - the best, see later in this route !), Ponte Arrabida and along Avenida Paiva Couceiro in the eastern part of Porto). All of these observation points are described in our Porto blogs. I could not resist returning again (see our itinerary "From Moistero Serra do Pillar to Praca da Batalha") to this  Miradouro and taking photos, again, of the magnificent views of Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia and the Douro river:

    Ponte do Infante:

    Ponte Luis I:

    Vila NOva de Gaia:


    Caves de Gaia:

    Barcos Rabelos carrying some Port wine barrels:

    Torre dos Clerigos:

    Porto Se' Cathedral:

    Funicular of Vila Nova de Gaia:

    Metro on Ponte Luis I:

    We are, now, in Vila Nova de Gaia but we head to Porto itself. This is the first itinerary in Porto that we cross the Douro river (from VNDG to Porto) via Ponte Luis I ( we did the same in the "Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia- walk along the Douro river - West of Ponte Luis I" itinerary - via Ponte Arrabida). From Moistero Serra do Pilar - head west on Largo Aviz toward Rampa do Infante Santo, Largo Aviz turns left and becomes Rampa do Infante Santo, turn right onto R. Rodrigues de Freitas, turn right onto Av. da República, 210 m, turn right onto R. Casino da Ponte and turn left. We cross Ponte Luis I on the level dedicated to the Metro - over a wooden deck for pedestrians.

    Funicular dos Guindais and Avenida de Gustavo Eiffel from the bridge:

    Ribeira from the bridge:

    Vila Nova de Gaia from the bridge:

    The yellow Metro line (No. 5) crossing the bridge:

    View from the northern (Porto) enge of the bridge:

    Cross Rua Saraiva de Carvalho. On your left the ascent to the Porto Se' - Cathedral and on your right, north-east: Torre dos Clerigos. Head north on Av. Vimara Peres, 17 m, slight left toward Calçada Vandoma (leading to the Cathedral), 23 m. Turn back and take photo of the Porto Se':

    Turn right onto Calçada Vandoma, turn left onto Av. Dom Afonso Henriques, 28 m. Turn right onto R. Chã, 110 m and continue onto R. Cimo de Vila. In selecting this route - we opted for the more shady options... Continuing along Rua Cimo de Vila we arrive to an intersection

    and coontinue climbing up along Rua de Santo Ildefonso. Opposite us stands Church of Saint Ildefonso. The Igreja de Santo Ildefonso is an eighteenth-century church situated near Batalha Square. Completed in 1739, the church was built in a Baroque style and features a retable by the Italian artist Nicolau Nasoni and a façade of Azulejo tilework. The church is named in honour of the Visigoth, Ildephonsus of Toledo, bishop of Toledo from 657 until his death in 667. Two notable features of the church are the Retable and the blue-and-white tiling. The artist and architect Nicolau Nasoni designed the retable, which was created and installed by architect Miguel Francisco da Silva in 1745. Approximately 11,000 Azulejo tiles cover the façade of the church, which were created by artist Jorge Colaço and placed in November 1932. The tiles depict scenes from the life of Saint Ildefonso and figurative imagery from the Gospels:


    With your face to the church, continue with the road on your LEFT (west to the church) - Rua de Santa Catarina. The Rua de Santa Catarina is the most commercial artery of downtown Porto, with much of it now forbidden to traffic and reserved only for pedestrians. The planning was due to the visionary spirit of Almadas whose works of redevelopment in the second half of the eighteenth century, brought to Porto a new life. The street was extended to the Alameda Brandy today Marquês de Pombal. In this extension was named Bela Princess street. Much of the land to the west of the street, especially where later was erected the Grande Hotel do Porto in the first half of the nineteenth century were lands belonging to Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira, the Ferreirinha Port wine. The Rua de Santa Catarina features clothing stores, shoe stores, stands selling handicrafts and jewelery - remnants of the permanent fair located at the Battle Square (Praca da Batalha) before the works of redevelopment of the city's downtown. Here are Azulejos opposite the Bolhao Metro station and belong to the pretty Capela das Almas. The facade is really nice and well preserved. The tiles feature the life of St. Catherine:

    Capela das Almas interior:

    We climb north along Rua Rua de Santa Catarina. In the 4th or 5th turn to the left to Rua de Gonçalo Cristóvão. Walk along this street west and on the 3rd turn, if you turn LEFT (we continue westward) to Rua Bon Jardim to face the Trinidad Metro station - the most central and busy station in Porto. It is the only station where lines A, B, C, E and F (which run as one line within the metropolitan area) intersect with line D. It is in the centre of Porto and is the busiest station in the system by passenger numbers:

    We continue west along Rua de Gonçalo Cristóvão and cross rua de Camoes and arrive to Praça República. With the establishment of the Republic in Portugal in 1910, the square's name was changed to the Republic Square. 

    Along the EASTERN side of the Republic Square walk north along Rua Regeneração. Turn left to Largo de Lapa to face the Igreja de Lapa. Father Angelo Sequeira Oporto received on year 1755 the papal permission of Pope Benedict XIV, with generous donations of the faithful community, to build up the Chapel of Our Lady of Lapa's Confessions. The construction of the church dragged on for over 100 years due to scarcity of resources and the Napoleonic invasions. Since 1835, the interior of the church houses the heart of King Pedro IV. From 1837, it is accommodated in a monument built by Costa Lima and located in the Main Chapel, on the Gospel side:

    Monument of King Pedro V:

    The huge organ of Lapa Church:

    We return south to the Praca Republica.  We stick to its west side with our face to the south. Continue south along the narrow Rua dos Mártires da Liberdade road (I suspect the road does not bear a signage in its beginning). BTW, on the south-east corner of the squre - Pingo Doce supermarket. Cross Rua dos Bragas on your right. Take the left, shady side of the road. On your left you pass through Rua Pinheiro. Step a few steps onto this alley to admire the inhabitants passion for football:

    Continue south along  Rua dos Mártires da Liberdade to arrive to Fonte das Oliveiras in Largo de Alberto Pimentel:

    Continue south along Rua das Oliveiras. On your right Teatro Carlos Alberto with restaurant / bar (under reconstruction). I took my lunch, here, in Restaurante a Lareira, Rua Oliveiras 10, Porto, T: 4050-448. See Tip below. In the end of Rua Oliveiras we arrive to Praca / Jardim Carlos Alberto, which we are familiar with from our itinerary "Historic Centre of Porto". Immediately on your right is the Banca de Materiais (Bank of Materials). Here, in the Palace of the Viscounts Balsemão, Plaza Carlos Alberto, 71, 4050-157 Porto,  Tel (+351) 223 393 480.

    You can find a marvelous collection of Azulejos. This is a project initiated by the Municipality of Porto in order to safeguard, enhance and raise awareness of the numerous different specimens such as Portuguese ceramic tiles. No photos allowed. Walk south along Praca Carlos Alberto and turn right to the Igreja do Carmo and Igreja Das Carmelitas (already covered in "Historic Centre of Porto" itinerary:

    With our back to the couple of churches - we turn LEFT (EAST) to Praça de Gomes Teixeira and its Fonte dos Leões (Lions Fountain) (visited in the  "Historic Centre of Porto" itinerary:

    Leave this square from its south-east side and continue down to the Rua das Carmelitas. On your right you see the the Jardim da Cordoaria / das Oliveiras and the Torre dos Clerigos ("Historic Centre of Porto" itinerary). On your left at Rua das Carmelitas No. 144 - the world-renowned bookstore - Livraria Lello & Irmão. Along with Bertrand in Lisbon, it is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. In 2011, the travel publishing company Lonely Planet classified Livraria Lello as the third best bookstore in the world. Also known as Livraria Chardron or simply Livraria Lello (Lello Bookstore). In 1881, José Pinto de Sousa Lello established a bookstore in the nearby Almada street. In 1894, Mathieux Logan sold the old Chardron Library to José Lello which, holding a partnership with his brother Antonio Lello, kept Chardron with the registered name of "Sociedade José Pinto Sousa Lello & Irmão", which then would be referred to as "Livraria Lello e Irmão". The bookstore is located in a house decorated in Art Nouveau, with some features of the Gothic revival. You must go to see the inside of the building as it is spectacular. It has a beautiful stain glass ceiling that gives the store a beautiful glow. The staircase is worth a look. Note that it is very popular so gets quite crowded. Don't let the crowds keep you away.Photos strictly NOT permitted inside the store: If you come early, at 9, before the store opens, they do allow you to take pictures then:


    All the houses in the left (north-east) side of rua das Carmelitas - are exceptionally beautiful:

    With your face in R. das Carmelitas down (south-east) turn LEFT (north-east) onto Galeria de Paris, 140 m. Turn left onto R. Santa Teresa
    37 m and turn right onto Rua de José Falcão. Climb up whole Rua Falcao and note houses nos. 86 - 150 with their ceramic tiles.  In the end of Rua Falcao - turn RIGHT to Rua da Conceição and walk until Largo de Mompilher and Café Candelabro (MON - SAT 10.00 - midnight). The Chandelier is an open café-bookstore opened in December 2009. The shelves are being filled with books, mostly about film and photography.  The cafe' buys used books, especially about photography, cinema, theater, plastic arts. They also seek photographs and postcards, old and new:


    If the Café Candelabro is on your right - there is a dmolished red pagoda on your left. We continue in the same direction we've arrived to the square and Café Candelabro - EAST to Rua Doutor Ricardo Jorge. WE walk until the end of Rua Dr. Ricardo Jorge until we arrive to Praça Trindade.
    On your left is the Igreja de Trinidade and on your right the City Hall of Porto. The Trinity Church was built during the nineteenth century, according to project architect Carlos Amarante (who is buried in this church). The church was opened for worship on June 5, 1841. In the chancel stands out the large panel of the painter José de Brito, representing the Baptism of Christ:

    Porto Town Hall is, formally, in Avenida dos Aliados. Built from 1920 to 1957 in Neo-Baroque style. It is a very impressive building with Doric and Corinthian marble pillars. Its south facade is especially magnificent in the afternoon sun.  It is one of Porto’s landmarks, along with Clérigos Tower, this is one of the most famous monuments among tourists. Porto City Hall is an imposing building that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. Also note worthy is the solid 70m high tower with a carillon clock.

    Salvador Barata Feyo monument in Avenida dos Aliados:

    With the Camara Municipal (CM) (City Hall) on your back - walk south along Rua Clube dos Fenianos which changes to Avenida dos Aliados. The Allies Avenue honors the Allies of World War countries. The magnificence of this avenue and its architectural complexes make it the "living room" of the city, the place par-excellence where Portuenses prefer to celebrate their special days. All the buildings are of quality granite, many of them crowned with skylights, domes and spires. Midway through the avenue on either side are the two entrances of the Aliados Metro Station of Line D. It was the construction of the station that triggered the complete overhaul of the avenue, one work that was given to architects Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto Moura. On the afternoon of May 15, 1982, Pope John Paul II presided over a Mass celebrated next to City Hall, in the Avenida dos Aliados, in his first apostolic visit to Portugal. At the top, where stands the Town Hall of Porto, the avenue gives way to Praca General Humberto Delgado:

    The Avenida dos Aliados is lined with many sculptures. Here is a statue of Garreto (1799-1854) in the Avenida dos Aliados:

    The Avenida dos Aliados ends, in the south, in Praça da Liberdade:

    Head east on Praça da Liberdade toward Praça Almeida Garrett, 65 m. Turn right onto Praça Almeida Garrett, 31 m. Sharp left onto R. 31 de Janeiro, 19 m. Turn right onto R. da Madeira, take the stairs, 290 m. Turn left onto R. Cimo de Vila, 5 m, continue onto R. de Santo Ildefonso and Praca da Batalha will be on the right. From here it is 2-3 minutes walk to Sao Beneto Metro station.

  • Citywalk | Portugal
    Updated at Aug 14,2014

    Sant-George Castle and Alfama.

    Start: Largo Martin Moniz.

    End  : Praca de Comercio.

    Duration: 1/2 day.

    Distance: 6-7 km.

    Weather: Arrive to Sant-George Castle as early as possible to avoid high temperatures while in Alfama.

    Take the Metro to Largo Martin Moniz. We start from this extensive square. There are several places in Lisbon that still remain unmentioned in tourism guides. It's one of Lisbon's biggest squares but has been one of the most overlooked over the last few years. Martim Moniz, a multicultural area, is still one of them. It seems like you’re in the Orient. There are small Chinese groceries, Turkish kebab houses, Indian restaurants and stores, and by the smell you can say you’re in Chinatown or Little Bombay. Great conglomeration of ethnic supermarkets and colorful lifestyle. it's been brought back to life and now attracts all kinds of locals and tourists. Inside the Mouraria shopping center, located in the Martim Moniz square, you’ll find Popat Store. There are African products, dried fish, coconut milk, Okra and hot Piri-piri. Ask the shops owners to find the most exotic spices and products from any corner of the world. On weekends there's a market offering everything from grocery products to clothing. The square is therefore now a meeting place, always accompanied by a view of the Sant-George Castle.

    Take Tram 28 from Martin Moniz to Portas do Sol. From there it is 5 minutes walk to Castle Sant-George. Martin Moniz is one of the terminals of Tram 28. It's perhaps Lisbon's most popular activity: A ride back in time over hills and medieval streets in vintage trams that are still part of the city's public transportation network. Line 28 of Lisbon's iconic trams was inaugurated in 1914 and today it has a 7km route between Martim Moniz Square and the neighborhood of Prazeres (between Graça and Estrela in a shorter journey). It survived the rise of the automobile and of the bus by being the best way to squeeze through the narrow streets and corners of the older districts, for being an attractive tour, and for its clean energy. It's now an essential part of Lisbon's life, a city that would lose part of its soul without the constant rattling of these singular yellow, ringing "wagons". The trams are known as ‘electricos’ in Portuguese, so look out for ‘electrico 28’. The 28 line uses about fifty turn-of-the-century cars, built in wood with a capacity for twenty seating passengers and 38 standing (although many more cram in). The average intervals between each one is 15 minutes and the entire trip takes between 40 minutes and one hour (at a maximum speed of 50km per hour), depending on the obstacles (traffic and doubled-parked cars) along the way. The ride to Sant-George Castle takes 10 - 15 minutes. The first one starts the day just after 6AM, and the last one departs shortly after 11PM. Tickets can be purchased from the driver but most passengers use re-chargable / pre-paid cards, including most tourists who buy the Lisboa Card (recommended to avoid having to get a ticket each time you board, and to save money). Upon entering (always through the front door), validate your ticket by scanning it on the machine behind the driver. As you step on and off, watch your wallet and other possessions as this being a major tourist attraction it's a favorite target of pickpockets who easily blend in with tourists. It passes the Saint George’s (São Jorge) Castle, the famous viewpoint (miradouro) Portas do Sol (Gates to the sun) (see below) and the legendary fleamarket ‘Feira da Ladra’ in Alfama, Graça, Mouraria, Bairro Alto, (Lisbon’s bohemien haunt of artists and writers, and posssibly one of the best spots in Europe for a night out). Last stop: Cemetery ‘Prazeres’ (Cemetery of ‘Pleasures’), really worth a visit !

    Tram 28, near Lisbon’s legendary flea market ‘Feira da Ladra’ ('Market of Thieves'):

    The best stop for St George’s Castle, and there we drop, is at the Largo Portas do Sol viewpoint, which affords delightful views down to the river Tagus, with its boats docked in the harbour and the Alfama rooftops dropping away below. Next stop on the tram 28 route is St George’s Castle itself, sitting at Lisbon’s highest point, perched right on top of a hill and overlooking the Alfama and the river Tagus. Portas do Sol, is a panoramic viewpoint where you can relax or enjoy the cocktail bar and a restaurant offering delicious coffee and light fare:

    Statue of St. Vincent - Patron of the City of Lisbon with a boat (symbol of the city) in his hands:

    From the square walk south to Largo de Santa Luzia and, immediately, turn right to climb Travessa de Santa Luzia. There are brown signposts leading to Castle of S. Jorge. This is a shady road with houses decorated with Azulejos on your left:

    The steep road bends left to Rua do Chão da Feira, bends again left and we arrive to the Entrance gate to Castle of Sant Jorge:

    Here, starts Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo and, 2-3 minutes climb and you face the tickets office of Castelo do Sao Jorge. Open (Last admission: 30 minutes before closing time): 1 November - 28 February (Closed - December 25 and January 1) 09.00 - 18.00, 1 March - 31 October (Closed - May 1) 09.00 - 21.00, Periscope - Tower of Ulysses | Subject to weather conditions 10.00 - 17.00. Prices in euros: Adults 8,50, Students < 25 years old 5,00, Families (2 Adults and 2 children < 18 years old) 20,00, People with disabilities 5,00, Senior (> 65 years) 5,00.

    Castelo do Sao Jorge:

    In brief: It’s located on one of the seven hills in the city and a huge part of the castle was destroyed by the Great Earthquake of 1755. However, the main structures were recovered and, these days, visitors can enjoy the magnificent castle, the views and many cultural activities that are promoted on its grounds. This fortification is situated in the area most difficult to access at the top of the hill, making use of the natural slopes to the north and west. The purpose of the castle was to house military troops and in case of siege. The elite who lived in the Alcáçova (Citadel). Unlike most European castles it was not meant as a residence.

    Saint George's Castle can be seen from almost everywhere in Lisbon. Its oldest parts date from the 6th century, when it was fortified by the Romans, Visigoths, and eventually the Moors. It served as a Moorish royal residence until Portugal's first king Afonso Henriques captured it in 1147 with the help of northern European crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. It was then dedicated to St. George, the patron saint of England, commemorating the Anglo-Portuguese pact dating from 1371, and became the royal palace until another one (that was destroyed in the Great Earthquake) was built in today's Lisbon's Comercio Square. It is now an oasis of peace, but just past the main gate is a statue of King Afonso Henriques and a series of cannons, reminders of the castle's original purpose. What remains of the Alcaçovas Palace where medieval kings lived, is a stone building now housing a restaurant, and round the back, a small archaeological museum in three underground chambers (including the one where Vasco da Gama was once received by King Manuel). Most of the castle was destroyed over the years, especially in the Great Earthquake of 1755, but still includes a long extension of walls and 18 towers. Visitors can climb the towers and walk along the ramparts for the most breathtaking views of Lisbon, or relax in the gardens where peacocks, geese and ducks walk around. One of the Castle's inner towers, the Tower of Ulysses, holds the Câmara Escura, a periscope that projects sights from around the city.

    Immediately, after your entry - you face a bronze statue of Afonso Henriques, the Portuguese monarch who took the castle from the Moors. This statue is a copy of the 19th-century original by the romantic sculptor, António Soares dos Reis, which is located near Guimarães Castle in central Portugal:

    This is one of the most intact castles in Europe with much of the ramparts and keeps still intact. It is awesome to be able to walk the perimeter of the old ramparts and get up into the turrets. It still retains eleven towers, the most outstanding being the Torre de Menagem (Tower of the Keep), Torre do Haver ou do Tombo (Tower of Riches or Trumbling Tower), Torre do Paço (Tower of the Palace), Torre da Cisterna (Tower of the Cistern) and the Torre de São Lourenço (Tower of St. Lawrence) located on the hillside. Ruins of older structures and a cistern still remain in a second courtyard. Also found here is a small door on the northern wall called the Door of Treason which allowed secret messengers to enter or exit when needed.

    Tower of Ulysses:

    Other ramparts:


    Don Manuel I "O Venturoso", King of Portugal (1495 - 1521):

    On your way out - you'll see the Icon of Sant Jorge, protector and defender of Portugal:

    Part of the castle grounds are being dug up for archaeological purposes, as it’s known that the hill has been inhabited for millenia. The museum on the grounds has artifacts that date back to roman times. The ruins are of two times, some Roman, and some Islamic.

    And the views of the city from the castle are breathtaking. I think you can see the ocean from here. Due to its exceptional location, Castelo de S. Jorge stands out among Lisbon’s belvederes for its unique and majestic sights:

    Within the inner courtyard of the castle ruins a small park with water courses and with some animal enclosures has been laid out. Peacocks sit in the old trees or walk along the paths, here and there there are quiet corners in which little fountains babble. There were peacocks roaming the grounds. It is weird. I wonder if they’re natural to the area.

    Another cool thing about the St. George Castle are the falcons and owls that you could hold and have your picture taken with for money:

    We leave Castelo do Sao Jorge and return to Portas do Sol in the same way. With our face to the Tagus river (south) we take, on our RIGHT, the stairs down to Alfama. The flight of steps (starting from Bar Cerca Moura) is DOWN along Rua Norberto de Araújo. On your right walls from the Vizigoth period, the 10th century:

    Alfama is Lisbon's one of the most picturesque and rewarding for walkers and photographers thanks to its medieval alleys and outstanding views. It survived the 1755 earthquake, and a walk through this old-fashioned residential neighborhood is now a step back in time. It is an Moorish-oriental village within a city still made up of narrow streets, tiny squares, churches, and whitewashed houses with tile panels and wrought-iron balconies adorned with pots of flowers, drying laundry, and caged birds. It was settled by the Romans and Visigoths. It was also an important Jewish quarter in the 15th century. But it was the Moors who gave the district its atmosphere and name (Alhama, in Arabic, means spring or bath - a reference to the hot springs found in the area). The Moors were also responsible for its web of streets created as a defense system, while at the same time enabling their homes to remain cool in the summer. Most of the older residents have lived here all their lives and retain a strong sense of community. An increasing number of wealthier people are investing in their properties and moving in. Several renovated buildings directly below the Sant-George Castle have been converted into some of the city's most atmospheric and unique hotels or pensions. The quarter has a quality that needs to be experienced to be truly appreciated, and the best way to get to know it is wander around admiring the postcard-perfect views, visiting the churches, and walking up to the Sant-George Castle for the most breathtaking panorama of the city and the greatest sunsets.

    Turn LEFT in the first intersection to Calçadinha da Figueira.Soon, you arrive to Beco de São Miguel:

    After 5 minutes of walk you'll see the white towers of the Sao Miguel Igreja (church). The original church was built in 1150 and was renovated several times in the 13th C. and 17th C. After the earthquake it had to be almost completely rebuilt, although old parts of the building were incorporated, such as the valuable carving. The ceiling is of Brazilian jacaranda wood:

    With your face to Sao Miguel church - turn right to Calçadinha de São Miguel. From there, immediately, left to Beco de Cardosa. Climb the stairs. On your left:

    On your front:

    In the end of the flight of stairs - turn right to Rua Castelo Picão:

    Turn right to Beco das Cruzes. Bend left along this alley:

    In the end of the stairs - climb LEFT to Rua da Regueira:

    After 180 m. steep climb in Rua da Regueira - we arrive to Largo do Salvador. Turn RIGHT to Rua de Guilherme Braga. Bend slightly, with the alley, to the right - arriving to Largo de Santo Estêvão and Santo Estêvão church. The church was founded in the 13th C. by Dinos I. It originally consisted of five aisles, a unique feature in Lisbon. The earthquake almost completely destroyed it and it was rebuilt in 1773 to an octagonal plan. The ceiling paintings in the chancel and the sacristy come from the original church. The small square in front of the church offers a fine view across the quarter to the Tagus:

    Largo de Santo Estêvão:

    Go down with the stairs with your face to the sea:

    In the end of the stairs you arrive to Escadinhas de Santo Estêvão. On your right a splendid, typical Portuguese fountain with Azulejos:

    Continue descending along the flight of stairs and you arrive to Rua dos Remedios. Do not turn left (we finished with climbing up...). Turn RIGHT, and look on your right on this Manueline door / entrance portal dating from before the 1755 earthquake:

    Continuing along this road and we arrive to a broad street with a nice square - Largo do Chafariz de Dentro. On the Largo do Chafariz de Dentro is located the unobtrusive fountain of the same name. It was called Chafariz de Dentro (inner fountain) as it was unusually positioned, i.e. within the old city walls. Originating from the 14th C., it once also bore the name "Horses' Fountain", as the gargoyles portrayed two bronze horses heads. These were stolen in 1373 by Spanish troops. The fountain was built in its current form in 1622. Here you find the Museu do Fado. OPENING TIMES: Museum: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10.00 to 18.00  (last admission: 17.30). Closed on 1st of January, 1st of May and December 25th. Documentation Centre: Monday to Friday, from 14.30 to 18.00 (by previous appointment), Museum School: Monday to Friday, from 14.00 to 20.00. PRICES: Admission – 5.00€, Reduced admission prices for: under 30 years of age and adults over 65 years of age and other pensioners, organized groups and families, Lisboa Card. Go ONLY if you want to know what Fado is and it's history. How to make a museum about music? Answer: include substantial selection of Fado and the artists to listen to. The €5 entrance includes an audio guide which as well as the usual voice overs includes a vast array of music samples. There are many photos of fado singers within this small museum and for each one you can dial the number into the guide and hear a sample of their singing. You can sit on a comfy chair, tune the headphones and choose from a menu of singers - this gives you songs to enjoy while reading about particular singers. Sights and songs with the same ticket:

    Opposite the Museu there is charming market of handicrafts and antiquities:

    With your back to sea - cross the market and turn left to Rua de Sao Pedro, a narrow and shady alley/road. The Rua de Sao Pedro starts at the northwestern boundary of the Largo do Chafarizde Dentro. This narrow street is very lively. In addition to the open air handicrafts market - there is also an early-hour fish market which takes place here every morning. Building number 6-10 is representative of the houses in this quarter:

    On your right you cross Rua da Galé and on your right Largo de São Rafael:

    Turn sharply down LEFT to Rua da Judiaria. On your right a fountain with running water. Continue walking down along the steps. Again, another fountain with water. This is Lisbon's oldest fountain, the Chafariz d'El Rei. Rua da Judiaria is the center of the former Jewish quarter. It originates from the 13th C., although a fountain possibly stood on this site in Moorish times. The current fountain dates from the 18th C. The King's Fountain is built right by a piece of the old city wall. Not only did Lisbon's inhabitants come here to fetch water, ships anchored in the harbor were also supplied with water from this fountain. The high demand for water must have led to fights amongst the users as an official decree passed in 1551 regulated exactly the withdrawal of water according to sex, race and position.

    Pass through the Arco do Rosário to the Largo do Terreiro do Trigo. During the 16º century it was built a small palace upon the wall. We can still see the windows of it, in the characteristic "Manuelino" style.

    Turn RIGHT to Rua Cais de Santarém and you see the wall with the empty windows of it:

    There is "hole" in the wall. Pass through the "hole" and turn left to Travessa de São João da Praça. This small road continues west as Rua de São João da Praça. Walking further WEST along Rua de São João da Praça - you pass Pois Cafe (#95) on your left. If you want a break in general with an eclectic but homey atmosphere, this is where you want to go. Not only do they have books to peruse through here, but you can have your cake and eat it too! Their cakes are delicious. Depending on time of day and availability, it's hard to go wrong with any of them. The place is cozy, with large tables if you need to work, and comfortable couches if you're there to just relax. They have free Wi-Fi, which is always a plus.

    Continue west along Rua de São João da Praça. It changes its name to Cruzes da Sé. On your right is the Lisbon Se' (Cathedral). It is 650- 700 m. walk to Praca do Comercio. It is a good idea to spare the second half of the day (if it is not so hot...) to Belem. You catch Tram #15 from Praca do Comerci to Belem. Head west on Cruzes da Sé toward Largo da Sé, 67 m. Slight left onto Largo da Sé, 40 m. Continue onto Largo Santo António da Sé, 51 m. Turn left onto Rua da Padaria, 26 m. Turn right onto Rua de S. Julião 170 m, Turn left onto Rua da Prata, 100 m. Continue straight onto Praça do Comércio.

  • Citywalk | Portugal
    Updated at May 7,2015

    Ribeira (Porto Riverfront): from Rua da Bainharia to Praca da Ribeira:

    Start: Tourist Information Office in the Se' - Cathedral square.

    End: Praca da Ribeira.

    Orientation: The city is quite varied architecturally, with medieval as well as modern living side by side. Porto's geography is hard on the feet, but pleasant to the eye. The city is extremely hilly, with many buildings built into a cliff face that overlooks the river. Stairs cut into the stone run up and down the cliff face and offer a laborious but rewarding walking tour. With photogenic traditional boats floating at the quayside overlooked by colorful ancient houses, this is the most picturesque area in the city and the place everyone loves -- UNESCO did too, and declared it a World Heritage Site. While the main streets are busy with tourists, the backstreets are quiet and often completely empty. Yet, it's here where you can discover the most picturesque everyday scenes. I particularly liked the backstreets behind the overcrowded Praca da Ribeira and Cais da Ribeira. There are lots of nice places - hidden plazas, colorful houses in narrow alleys, stairs leading up to other squares. One of the reasons why Porto is such a pretty town is very much because it has Cais da Ribeira facing the river.

    Distance: 6-7 km.

    With your face to the Tourist Information Office in the Se' - Cathedral square, turn RIGHT and descend the stairs (Escadas da Sé) northward to Rua Escura. Turn your head backward to catch one more glimpse of Porto Se' Cathedral:

    In the end of Rua Escura turn LEFT to Rua da Bainharia. The designation of the street Bainharia has medieval origin and owes its name to the high concentration of this concourse Bainheiros, craftsmen who dedicated themselves to the manufacture of sheaths for melee weapons, including swords. Walk along Rua da Bainharia and find your way into the small streets. Just look for narrow roads, colorful walls and lots of houses !

    On the first turn, turn LEFT to Rua de Santana and you arrive to Largo da Colegio. Small square with exceptional view of houses steeply hung over the square. Here you see the rear of the buildings of the street Aldas:

    In the square you find unusual, poorly visited gem: Igreja dos Grilos. Built by the Jesuits in 1577. It is a Mannerist-Baroque-style, funded by donations from the faithful, as well as Frei Luís Álvaro de Távora, who is buried here. The Church and Convent of São Lourenço were built enduring strong opposition from both the Municipal Chamber and the population. However, the followers of St. Ignatius of Loyola finally got the much coveted school which provided free classes - this quickly resulted in a remarkable success. With the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1759, by order of the Marquis of Pombal, the church was donated to the University of Coimbra until its purchase by the Discalced Friars of the Order of Saint Augustine that were there from 1780 to 1832. These friars came from Spain in 1663, settling initially in Lisbon, at the "site of Cricket" (lugar do Grilo), where they quickly gained the sympathy of the village, earning the name "brothers-crickets" (irmãos-grilos) and thus the name of the church where they fixed residence in Porto. During the Siege of Porto, the brothers were forced to leave the convent, which later was occupied by the liberal troops of Dom Pedro. The Academic Battalion, integrating Almeida Garrett, settled there. Today the premises belong to the Seminário Maior do Porto, to which they have belonged since 1834. Its interior is unique, with a magnificent light...and so peaceful ! The interior is monumental, magnificent and monochrome. You can appreciate the weight of history and the building tradition, enhanced by magnificent altars and colorful ornaments. A MUST in Porto !!!

    Crucified Christ, polychromatic wood, 18th Century:

    Ceramic tile (Azulejo) in the church:

    South to the Largo de Colegio and Igreja dos Grilos - there is viewpoint terrace over the Douro river and downtown Porto houses:

    Return, via Rua de Santana, to Rua da Bainharia. Walk west to its end.

    There, turn left to the bustling Rua São João. Walk down south along Rua São João and turn (in the 1st intersection) RIGHT to Rua do Infante Dom Henrique. On your right Feitoria Inglesa - a historic building built by a British consulate in 1785. An excellent testimony to the Portuguese-British alliance and the weight of the British community in the city of Porto, largely engaged in trade of Port wine. The earliest English factory in the North of the country, dating from the sixteenth century, was located in Viana do Castelo. The first regulation of the Factory House of Oporto came in 1727. The house was built between 1785 and 1790, according to a draft of the English consul John Whitehead. The factory house is inspired by the English Palladian style:

    After passing Rua Mouzinho da Silveira, on your right, you arrive to Praca do Infante Dom Henrique and the old, historical houses around it. This square, right in the historic center of Porto, honors the Infante D. Henrique - the most important figure of the early Portuguese discoveries - who, according to tradition, to had been born nearby at the so-called House of Prince, in 1394. This square gets its name from the monument that is in the same center, dedicated to Prince Henry, called "Explorer Prince" or "THe navigator Prince". Made by Tomás Costa, the statue was erected in 1894. The statue comprises several sculptured sets. At the top, there is the prince's statue, standing next to a globe of the Earth. The top part is joined to the pedestal by a neo-gothic phytomorphic stylisation. At the base, there are two allegorical sets: one Victory leading two steeds and two tritons, representing the triumph of the Portuguese sea voyages; a feminine shape symbolising the Faith in the Discoveries. The statue also has low reliefs by the pedestal, representing the conquest of Ceuta and the Prince in the Sagres promontory:

    Mercado Ferreira Borges in Praça and Statue de Infante Dom Henrique: The name honors Jose Ferreira Borges market, a jurisconsult and Porto politician who was at the genesis of the implementation of the liberal regime in Portugal. Built in 1885 to replace the now old Ribeira Market, despite never having fulfilled the functions for which it was originally intended, due to the reluctance of dealers to leave the previous market, the Mercado Ferreira Borges is now used for exhibitions and fairs cultural context:

    Palacio da Bolsa: Palacio de Bolsa, or Palace of the Commercial Association of Porto was constructed in October 1842, due to the end of the House of the Stock Exchange, which temporarily forced the traders to relocate fully outdoors. With a mixture of architectural styles in the building - it presents all its splendor with traces of neoclassical nineteenth century, Tuscan architecture, as well as English neo-Paladian. As headquarters of the Commercial Association of Porto, it,now, serves for the most diverse cultural, social and political events of Porto city. The Arab Hall holds the biggest highlight of all the rooms of the palace because, as the name implies, the nineteenth century stucco captioned Gold with Arabic characters that fill the walls and ceiling of the room. It is in this hall that takes place tributes to the heads of state who visit the city. In the Portrait Room there is one of the famous engraver José Zeferino Pinto tables. The Palácio da Bolsa is open for tourist visits, being one of the most popular heritage buildings in the city of Porto. Opening hours: April - Octobre: 09.00 – 18.30 (everyday). Novembre - March: 09.00 – 12.30, 14.00 – 17.30 (everyday). Individual ticket:  €7,00, student/senior: €4,00. Children < 12 years - free.

    Sala àrab:

    Pátio das Nações:


    There is Mercado - a restaurant/ Cervejaria in the red market building:

    Igreja de S. Nicolau: This church is located almost opposite the Church of San Francisco, and practically opposite to the emblematic Palacio da Bolsa, in the Praça Infante D. Henrique. It is an old medieval church, which had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1758, and therefore presents a mix of classic and Baroque styles. It was named by the bishop of Porto, Nicholas Miller, who had built it. It's small, but what stands out most is the main façade, decorated with tiles and large windows, with a monumental entrance, flanked by pillars on which is the coat of arms of the bishop:

    We continue down (south-west) along Rua do Infante Dom Henrique. Before this street changes its name to Rua Nova Alfândega, on your left - you see a red house with CESAP.PT sign. I have no idea what is this building and I suspect it belongs to the School of Arts of the University of Porto:

    adjacent to the red house is a new hotel: 1872 River House with colored-glass windows (opposite: chemical WC). The 1872 hotel (opened at April 2014) is located at the Ribeira, right where the Muro dos Bacalhoeiros is, and right in front of the Douro. It has eight rooms, some facing the city, some facing the river:

    From here look back to see, again, the Se' Cathedral of Porto. This is the view seen by the hotel's rear rooms visitors:

    The more expensive rooms are overlooking magnificent views of the Douro river:

    Opposite the hotel, on your right, up on a low hill - Igreja (church) de San Francisco. This famous church and other, nearby, religious and cultural sites (Museu da Venerável Ordem Terceira de São Francisco do Porto, Casa da Horta - Associação Cultural) - are reported in another blog/itinerary devoted, more in-depth to the Centro Storico of Porto city.

    Turn left to Rua da Reboleira and zig-zag down to the Douro river. I recommend walking, first, to the EAST (right) arriving to Muro dos Bacalhoeiros densely packed with restaurants, outdoor tables and cafe's. In this area of ​​Porto lived one of the most charismatic figures of the city, called the Duke of Ribeira, known for saving several people drown:

    Here is also the famous restaurant Vinhas d'Alho: Not cheap, but, good food and fantastic scenery around. A lot of passers-by. Limited space for outdoor tables:

    from Muro dos Bacalhoeiros you get a wonderful view over: Ponte (bridge) Luis I, Cais (pier) Estiva, cais Ribeira and Cais Guindais:

    Keep walking along the river eastward and arrive to Largo do Terreiro. Here, you hit the ODE Porto Wine House. The ODE Porto Wine House is very nice restaurant, small, cosy and romantic. Their dishes are based on high quality organic food from local products.

    Largo do Terreiro - grandiose views to : Ponte Luis I, Villa Nova de Gaia and Praca de Ribeira;

    2-3 minutes later, eastward - and you arrive to Praca da Ribeira, Ribeira Square. The square is located in the historical district of Ribeira (riverside in Portuguese). The Ribeira district spreads alongside the Douro river and used to be a centre of intense commercial and manufacturing activity since the Middle Ages. Also since that time the Ribeira Square was the site of many shops that sold fish, bread, meat and other goods. In 1491 the buildings around the square were destroyed in a fire, and the houses were rebuilt with arcades in their groundfloors. During this rebuilding campaign the square also gained a pavement made of stone slabs. In the mid-18th century the city needed new urban improvements to provide for the swift flow of goods and people between the Ribeira neighbourhood and other areas of Porto. In this context, governor João de Almada e Melo opened a new street, the São João Street, that connected the Ribeira Square and the upper town, and promoted the reurbanisation of the square itself. The project, executed between 1776 and 1782, is credited to John Whitehead, English consul in Porto. The square was to become enclosed on its north, west and east sides by buildings with arcades, while the south side of the square, facing the Douro, was enclosed by the mediaeval walls (Muralhas Fernandinas) of Porto. These walls were torned down in 1821, opening the square to the river. The northern part of the square has a monumental fountain, three storeys high, built in the 1780s and decorated with the coat-of-arms of Portugal. The niche of the fountain is occupied by a modern statue of St John the Baptist by sculptor João Cutileiro. The square also has a modern cubic sculpture by José Rodrigues (nicknamed the Cubo da Ribeira) over the remains of a 17th-century fountain. Nowadays the Ribeira Square is a favourite spot for tourists. The small cafes encircle the square, with tables and chairs crammed into the cave like premises. Tables and chairs spill over into the square, with the chance to enjoy a drink or meal, overlooking the river. The Ribeira quarter , lines the banks of the River Douro, from the foot of the Ponte D. Luis, along towards the Praca da Ribeira. This historical (UNESCO protected) area of Porto is well worth a visit, whether just to stroll along the riverside, enjoying the atmosphere, or to linger for a cool drink or meal at one of the many cafes and restaurants. On a blue skied and sunny warm day afternoon, it is very pleasant to choose a table at one of the pavement cafes and enjoy a leisurely drink, and watch the boats gliding up and down the Douro, be entertained by the musicians and singers, and people watch. At the height of summer it's quite crowded and probably not so relaxing. At night time the area changes its character completely, with the thick sea mist swirling around, and the streets leading off Ribeira, being quite dimly lit and narrow:

    São João Batista de Cutileiro:

  • 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.