Portugal Trips

Aveiro - Venice of Portugal

Ariel Shafir



Attractions: The old train station, Lago da Fonte Nova, Canal do Cojo, Mercado Manuel Firmino, Cais de Cojo, Aveiro Forum, edifício da antiga Capitania, Praça General Humberto Delgado, Praça Joaquim de Melo Freitas, Museu Arte Nova, Rua João Mendonça. with its Art-Deco buildings, Jardim do Rossio, Canal de Piramides, Largo do Rossio, Cais dos Moliceiros, Parque Infante Dom Pedro, Parque de Santo António, Praca do Marques de Pombal, Praca da Republica, Museu de Aveiro, Avenida Santa Joana Princesa.

Distance: 12 km.

Start and End: Aveiro railway station.

Weather: Come only in a bright day. The main reason or attraction in Aveiro are the Canals. They look completely different under the sun. The weather in Aveiro is very inviting most of the year.

The “Ria” conquered Aveiro and it became its heart:
Roaming through Aveiro is the same as diving in the waters of Centro de Portugal. Known as the “Portuguese Venice”, the city is quietly dominated by the Ria de Aveiro, described by Saramago as “a living body that connects the land to the sea like a huge heart.” It is what identifies the city, gives it brightness and life and it has permanently marked local traditions. In Aveiro, everything happens around its 47 kilometres of water next to the sea. It is the “Ria”, a silver mirror, which reflects the colour of the moliceiro boats and the Art Noveau houses; it is what makes Aveiro so seductive and unique. The Aveiro “Ria” began to form during the 15th century, when the shore line moved back and left behind sandpits along an area of eleven thousand hectares which created a lagoon. Nowadays, it has become a real network of canals and islands which has made Aveiro earn the title of “Portuguese Venice”. The water shelters many species such as lamprey clams, storks, herons and some birds of prey or mammals like genettas and otters. Its wealth is so exceptional that the Lagoon has been classified as a protected area. A great part of the Aveiro population has always depended on the “Ria” to work. It has enabled harvesting seaweed, fishing, producing salt and it has also stimulated shipbuilding. Over the last few years, the “Ria” has adapted to modern needs and has enabled the city to develop its tourism through activities such as sea sports.

The Aveiro “Ria” Activities:

Apart from tours on board a Moliceiro boat, the Aveiro “Ria” has many other activities to offer you. You can try sea sports and venture in windsurf or kite surf or be amazed by Aveiro as seen from the sky if you choose to air travel over the “Ria”. You can also rent a BACA, Aveiro’s Water Bikes and take a relaxed ride between Lago da Fonte Nova and the Capitania.

General Facts: Aveiro is Portugal's “undiscovered gems” and will provide you a total surprise and pleasure after one day visit. There is no shortage of things to do in Aveiro to keep you occupied for the duration of your stay. After Coimbra - Aveiro  is the second most populous city in the Central Region of Portugal. About 80,000 inhabitants.  Aveiro is well known as "The Portuguese Venice", due to its system of canals and boats similar to the Italian city of Venice. The people's quality of life is very high. The unemployment rate is very low (about 5%). The city of Aveiro has several shopping centers and malls (Pingo Doce Shopping Center, Fórum Aveiro, Glicínias Plaza (Jumbo – Auchan), Aveiro's Shopping Center (Continente & Mediamarkt), Aveiro's Retail Park and the Oita Shopping Center). This city has lots of traditional commerce stores. The most central one being Forum Aveiro with clothes stores, restaurant zone, a book shop and a cinema. Aveiro is known in Portugal for its traditional sweets, Ovos Moles de Aveiro, trouxas de ovos - both made from eggs. Raivas are also typical biscuits of Aveiro. You can regain your strength with regional delicacies. If it is almost lunch time, you can try a Caldeirada de enguias (eel stew) or a Carneiro à lampantana (lampantana lamb). Or, you can get swept away by our regional pastries, in which eggs and sugar are magical, and let Ovos moles conquer your taste as if they were little pieces of sweet gold. The entire city centre can be seen as a day trip on the way to or from Porto (and even from Lisbon or Coimbra) and makes a great day. Aveiro benefits from a developed road network, such as the A1 North/South, A25 East/West, and the IC1; the city itself is located only 7km from Barra and Costa Nova beaches. Costa Nova is a colorful piece of Portuguese coast. This beach is different because of the wooden houses painted with strips of white and bright colours which used to be haystacks and shelters for fishermen. Right next to it, at Barra beach, you will find the dominant and imposing Barra Light, the tallest lighthouse in Portugal. While you’re there, you can also set to sea in style on board the Santa Maria Manuela, a 4 mast lugger built in 1937 which was recovered and now sails the waters around the area. An adventure awaits you.

Transportaion to/from the city of Aveiro: Trains: the city is serviced by Alfa Pendular (Lisbon<->Braga; Lisbon<->Porto; Faro<->Porto) and Intercity (Intercidades: Lisbon<->Porto and Lisbon<->Guimarães) trains, Regional trains, Suburban Trains (Urbanos do Porto) and also the Linha do Vouga, a narrow gauge railway to Águeda and Sernada do Vouga. It takes approx. 75 minutes to arrive from Porto with the Intercidades train.

Note: Aveiro, as many other Portuguese train stations - doesn't have luggage deposit. Trains in Portugal are Swiss-punctual and the the fares ARE VERY REASONABLE.

Walking Itinerary:When you get off from the new train station - the old one is on your right.  The old station and the new staion are side-by-side. The Old Train Station dates from 1864. It is a Portuguese train station from the beginning of the XX century. It is decorated with fantastic Azulejos, blue-white tile panels with historic scenes about rural scenes, folklore and fishery or salt cultures of the region. A beautiful spot not to be missed.  Although the station has been renovated and you don't have the feeling of being in an "original", traditional train station, you can still see the original marvelous tiles on the walls with paintings of local traditions. By the way, there is also a pretty ceramic-decorated wall in the new station. A mixture of old and new not to be missed:

After exiting the train stations turn LEFT (south) to Rua João de Moura. The road bends right and in its end we turn left to Rua do Senhor dos Aflitos. We arrive to Praca Marques de Pombal. On your left a supermarket of Pingo Doce. Cross the square heading south along Rua Carlos Silva M. Guimarães or an un-named road leading to another (un-named) square. Opposite, you see a lake - Lago da Fonte Nova with Hotel Melia Ria on its southern side.  The Fábrica Jerónimo Pereira Campos and the Camara Municipal are on its eastern side. It is a new high quality urban area of Aveiro, with a view over the lake formed by the “Ria”. Note: for your photos-op - this area is better lighted in the afternoon sun (coming from the west). Do not worry, we'll return to the lake in the end of our itinerary.

Factory Jerónimo de Campos Pereira is the former name of this building, which accentuates the character, along with other brands of the ceramic industry in the region. It was designed by the architect José Olímpio and built between 1915 and 1917. The Cultural and Congress Centre is part of an emblematic building of industrial architecture Aveirense. Since year 1995 it had been transformed into a large centre and space with  national and international events: congresses, meetings and incentives, debates, exhibitions, concerts and plays.

The Melia Ria Hotel & Spa is overlooking an artificial lake of the "Ria de Aveiro", right next to the Congress and Cultural Centre (the old Jeronymo Pereira Campos ceramics factory), and about 10-15 minutes walk from the city's train station and the University, surrounded by a modern and high quality touristic shopping centre.  The architecture of the hotel is exceptional, just as its setting by the canal. The hotel doesn't mix with the past ceramics factory : its glass-clad exterior jars next to warm brick of the old tile factory in front:

We walk along the path (north to the Canal do Cojo) or road (south to the canal) of Rua Carlos Silva Melo Guimarães - heading north-west-west. On your left a small park (grass beds) and on your right - new residence project (www.civilria.pt) and a park ((Parque Fonte Nova). BTW, the canal boats are called Barcos Moliceiros.

After passing under the Avenida 5 de Outubro and along the canal (Ria de Aveiro) - we arrive to the Praça do Mercado on our right and Mercado Manuel Firmino - further north (right). The Market Manuel Firmino emerged already in the late nineteenth century,

Beyond Praça do Mercado the canal (Ria de Aveiro) bends left (west) and on our right is the Cais de Cojo and on the left is the impressive commercial centre of Forum Aveiro. The city of Aveiro has, since year 2007, a new pedestrian area, a result of the redevelopment of Cojo Pier, which openrd a new urban front. It completed the continuous pedestrian circuit through the channels between the piers of Fonte Nova (Congress Centre) and Rossio.

The Aveiro Forum Center was opened on 29th September 1998 and awarded with Mipim Award 1999 for best shopping centre of Europe. Forum Aveiro is an integrated urban development project of high quality, with 86 shops, 17.500 m2 of parking with 1.080 places, 56 apartments, leisure areas and a suspended garden. It's both appealing and functional and there you can find many of the best european and world brands. The Olive Garden on top of the Shopping center is something you should definitely visit and relax in:

Walking west along the Canal do Cojo (in the south side along Rua Homem de Cristo or the north bank along Cais de Cojo) brings you to the
Praça General Humberto Delgado, to the end of Canal de Cojo and the beginning of the central canal.. On the the east side of the square (the end of the Cojo Canal) stands edifício da antiga Capitania do Porto de Aveiro (building of the former Captaincy of the Port of Aveiro). This iconic building has a long history, dating back to the times of the early Portuguese expansion. At that early time, Aveiro was in a period of great development with providing easy navigation. The tide mills along the canal passed later into the possession of Prince Pedro. After his defeat and death at the Battle of Carob, their goods were confiscated and given to supporters of King Afonso V. The houses and mills were donated to the Earl of Beja. There is a donation letter of Afonso V to this noble, dated 6 July 1449 which refers to two mills which belonged to Dom Pedro Infante. The Channel Cojo, where the Captaincy building stands was designated as River (Ribeira) of watermills - given the high number of those mills which concentrated along its banks. With continued overseas expansion and consequent abandonment of agriculture, the river mills (Cojo) lost their economic value and entered into decay. In 1700, the milled were possessed by António de Noronha Tavora and Leme, a nobleman of the house of his Majesty, a resident of the city of Porto. In 1830, José Ferreira Pinto Basto, founder of Factory of Porcelains (Fábrica de Porcelanas da vista Alegre) bought the islet's channel Cojo, reconstructing the building and reactivating the tide mills to provide support to the porcelain factory. It was necessary to excavate a portion of the islet to form a boiler. Not much laterAveiro trade was hampered by not entering ships and Aveiro plunged in times of great difficulty. Production and marketing eventually resulted in total deactivation of the mills. The mill were again abandoned. Foi Mendes Leite who later bought the entire area of the islet and the accompanying Ferreira Pinto Basto properties, proceedied to fill the mill's boiler from the house of the mills. The space was utilized for cultivation of diverse products, including cereals for further grinding in the mill. The building had various uses. Served as a salt deposit. From 1856 to 1858 it was the deposit of lead mines.In 1858 was coal deposit and after that year served as a warehouse for packing oranges for export to the UK. Between 1866 and 1875 it was used for the composition and typography of the newspaper The District of Aveiro. The building was again changed in 1888, by Dr. Francisco José Lourenço de Almada Negreiros who installed a steam engine with a power of 80 horses, to grind corn and rice. Mismanagement of this small industrial enterprise eventually leaded to its closure. In year 1893 , Francisco Silva Rocha (1864-1957), architect, professor of design and director of said industrial school, marries D. Soares Deolinda Augusta, daughter of the owner of the building. This link allowed him to realize the old dream of constructing a building for Industrial School. The school was built by the Minister of Culture Antonio Arroyo friend and admirer of Silva Rocha. To relocate the school in adequate housing, Silva Rocha turned the old house into a beautiful building, raising it a floor and giving him a palatial air, without destroying the arches of the tide mill. The result was a harmonious set of Art-Nouvau features. The inauguration was done with pomp on November 3, 1903. In 1912, by disagreements between the owner and the Aveiro City Council, caused the building being transferred to the agency of the Bank of Portugal, and several other institutions have tried to acquire the property. The school continued to operate in the building until 1918, when Silva Rocha was forced to sell it in the face of successive devaluations of the amount of rent paid by the City Chamber. The high inflation and financial difficulties caused by the construction of the current Avenida Dr. Lourenço Peixinho. That year 1918 the building and the land attached were sold to a merchant, Antonio Alves Vine and the next year it was sold to the Company Aveirense of Navigation and Fisheries, SARL. In 1921 this company mortgaged the property, and other assets (ships, etc.). The cancellation of the mortgage with the payment of debts to the CGD, released the building on February 16, 1922. On August 14, 1925, the merchant and ship owner Alfredo Esteves, purchased the property. to its owner, then in liquidation. The building was also the headquarters of Galitos Club. In 1925 the property was sold by the merchant and ship owner Alfredo Esteves to the Navy Ministry. Since then, it was known as the Captaincy building of the Port of Aveiro, and also as the residence of the harbor master.

There are two statues in the General Humberto Delgado square: A Parceira do Ramo - a partner in the business:

and the Fogueteiro:

Immediately, after passing to the central canal, on your right,

(Que rico par de copas = So rich is a couple of hearts)...

is Praça Joaquim de Melo Freitas  paved with small mosaic pieces. This square was under a long debate after the demolition of the Sapataria (shoes) Loureiro building:

The solution found was installing the following fresco (wall painting) in place of the "wound" created by the demolition:

The road to the right (north) of the central canal, in its eastern end - is Rua João Mendonça. An area with some examples of Art Nouveau, an architectural style that can still be found in Aveiro. The marvelous Art-Deco building in # 5-7 is the Tourist Information Office of Aveiro:

The next marvelous Art-Deco building is # 9-11. The House of the Major Individual was erected on the initiative of Mario Belmonte Person in 1907 with project architects Francisco Augusto da Silva Rocha and Ernesto Korrodi. Classified as a Public Interest in 2008 it was converted to the New Art Museum (Museu Arte Nova) (Art Nouveau). Open: TUE - FRI  09:30 – 12:30, 14:00 – 18:00. Weekend – 14:00 – 18:00. Closed Monday. Entrance: €1.00. In the late 19th to early 20th centuries, Art Nouveau was a trendy off-shoot of the Arts & Crafts movement. It is characterized by organic shapes found in nature. Art Nouveau started in Paris, and quickly spread across Europe, with each country incorporating the style within their traditional architecture. In Portugal, Art Nouveau found a home largely in Lisbon, Porto and Aveiro. And, it is in Aveiro that a new museum celebrating the design has opened. On the exterior, extraordinary art nouveau detail is evident in the stone façade as well as the wrought iron embellishments. The building is topped by a noble eagle, a theme that carries through to the interior:

Inside, tiles are the dominant design element. Lining the walls are panels of traditional Portuguese Azulejos (hand-painted ceramic tiles) depicting Art Nouveau motifs of birds, animals and flowers. The Art Nouveau museum is a multi-level space. The first floor features a roadmap for a walking tour of 28 iconic Art Nouveau buildings in the neighborhood. The second floor holds an art gallery of new artists and architects from the city, as well as an auditorium. The top floor is a space for temporary exhibitions. Sometimes, without temporary exhibitions - the museum is quite empty - but. the building, in its own, is beautiful ! No permanent exhibition at all !

Equally awesome is the Casa de Chá tearoom on the first level. This charming café has an indoor room with bistro tables. An upright piano stands ready for expert or amateur players. Outside, bean bag chairs are strewn about inviting guests to relax and enjoy the open air. A huge range of teas are available, as are specialty coffees such as cappuccino. Local cakes and fresh scones are perfect for completing an hour of Art Nouveau appreciation. Casa de Chá Opening Hours: TUE - THU – 09.30 to 02.00, FRI-SAT– 09.00 to 03.00, SUN – 11.00 to 21.00, Closed Monday:

On your left, adjacent to the nortern bank of the central canal, is a park - Jardim do Rossio with artists' stalls of handicrafts and souvenirs and flanked by buildings of Art Nouveau and the Central Channel:

The Ria de Aveiro bends right. It was flowing westward and now the direction of its flow - is northward. We arrive to the most north edge of the Jardim do Rossio. On our right, bordering the north side of the garden/park is Rua João Afonso. Note the house #21:

you can continue north to the Jardim do Rossio and ascend over the bridge Ponte S. Joao. On your left is the Canal de Piramides:

The highway street in front of you is A25. The local maps of Aveiro indicate that there are several sights or attractions more northward along the river. I tried this area - NOTHING TO SEE THERE. So, I recommend that you'll return to the Rossio garden. In the north-east edge of Rossio Garden in Largo do Rossio stands the Statue of João Afonso de Aveiro. It is a work in bronze which stands on a pedestal of quadrangular section coated with limestone. João Afonso de Aveiro, participated in the expedition to the coast of Mine (1481) and the discovery of the River Zaire and of Congo Kingdom with Diogo Cao's. He also associates the discovery of Benin (1486). For that time the discovered territory was known as Lands João Afonso or Lands of Afonso de Aveiro:

We change direction and turn to less beaten, less impressive, but, still, interesting parts of Aveiro. Cross the Jardim do Rossio from west to east and return to the beginning of the central channel - to Praça General Humberto Delgado. Now, walk, again, westward, along Rua do Clube dos Galitos (the south bank of Ria de Aveiro). Cross Largo de São Abraz /
Rua Belém do Pará and, further west, Rua de José Rabumba. The Royal School of Languages (adorned with Azulejos) is on your left. Cross also Rua de Liberdade on your left. Turn RIGHT to Cais (pier) do Alboi and the Canal do Praiso is on your left. On your right  (west) is Cais do Paraiso.

All the roads around are quaint with white wooden houses, budget bars and restaurants. The Canal of Paradise lies between the University of Aveiro and the estuary. In a sunny day you have magnificent scenery before your eyes.  Turn LEFT to Rua 16 de Maio. Here, I recommend dining at the bar-restaurant (rest. churrasqueira) in #9E: budget, generous and delicious food.

We return west to Cais do Alboi (with our face to the channel and our back to Jardim do Alboi) we leave Rua 16 de Maio and turn left (west) to Cais do Alboi.  La Mamaroma restaurant on our left. Turn left to Cais dos Moliceiros and a narrow and small channel (canal) on our right.  The name of the road appears only in its south (remote) end.

Turn right to Rua dos Santos Mártires (and a small chapel on your left). If you continue beyond the end of this road and ascend on a bridge (with blue fence in each side) - you'll arrive to an area of  wetlands which might be appealing in a sunny day. But, you turn left (south-east) to Rua Condessa Mumadona which continues as Rua de Calouste Gulbenkian. On your right the premises of Universidade de Aveiro and on your left - houses or blocks with splendid ceramic tiles. Note house # 10. Almost in the end of Rua de Calouste Gulbenkian, on your left Conservatório De Música De Aveiro Calouste Gulbenkian with ceramic panels:

Turn left to Avenida Artur Ravara. You are heading, now, north-west. Move to the east (right) pavement of the avenue. On your right a new amusement park and behind it - a nice park and lake - Parque Infante Dom Pedro - Parque da Cidade. Infante D. Pedro Park was established on a property belonging to the Franciscan Friars and was prepared from 1862 in a zone that was part of the Santo António Convent. A brook that passed through the park gave rise to a lakes and fountains in a verdant surrounding grove. It has a bandstand in late Art Nouveau style, a staircase with a fountain, a cascade and tiled wall panels, as well as a Lime Tree promenade and the Tea House:

Climb the stairs and exit Parque Infante Dom Pedro from its northern side - to return to Avenida Artur Ravara.  Parque de Santo António (Santo António Park) is located on the opposite side of Parque Infante D. Pedro and was built in the mid-80s. The St. Anthony Park was created in the mid-80s as a result of enlargement of the Infante Dom Pedro Park. The deep Santo António stream, after being cleared allowed for the extension of the park, although it is divided by a busy street. Baixa de Santo António is also set in green spaces and a tennis court for sports lovers:

Return back to Avenida Artur Ravara and advance north-east a few steps. Turn left (north-west) to Rua Homem Cristo Filho (name of the road is not shown in this end). . Take the first turn to the right, immediately turn left and right - to arrive to an extensive square - Praca do Marques de Pombal. Here stands Palacio de Justica (Domus Justica).

We continue northward along Rua Capitão Sousa Pizarro (the west side of the Marques de Pombal square).  In the end of Pizzaro road we turn right to Rua 31 de Janeiro 29 paved with small mosaic stones and populated with quite many restaurants. The whole area around is full with appetizing smells and pastoral atmosphere. With continue, in the same direction with Rua de Luís Cipriano - also paved with mosaic pebbles. Turn left to Rua de Coimbra to arrive to the Praca da Republica. The pink building behind the statue of Jose Estevao Magalhaes is the Antiga Biblioteca Municipal de Aveiro - dated from 1965 and is by the architect Fernando Tavora:

At the west side of the squrae is the Teatro Avierense:

On the east - Igreja da Misericórdia de Aveiro, Rua de Coimbra, 27 decorated with Azulejos. This church, connected to the Renaissance Coimbra, served as the cathedral when creating the Bishopric of Aveiro. Its construction began in 1600 and concluded at 1608. in 1623 the church body was completed and the front door and, in 1653, the chancel. In the seventeenth century the altarpiece was placed and the inner lining tile was made with people from Lisbon. In 1767 the organ was installed and almost a century later, in 1876, the facade was decorated with tiles. In the twentieth century works of conservation and restoration were made:

Note the WALL PANELS OF THE REPUBLIC SQUARE: Tile set that covers the gap from the streets of Coimbra and Belém do Pará access to Republic Square. The Rua Coimbra section highlight circular panels under a background of orange color representing traditional activities and the characteristic symbols of the region, in order to keep alive the memory of times past, namely: the production and transport of salt in baskets, the Moliceiro boat, soft eggs, Tricana, etc. For its part, in Belém Pará Street, under the same orange background sets are rectangular panels represent typical figures. The panels were made by Vasco Pine Augusto Ferreira White. Despite his degree in Pharmacy, this Aveiro artist revealed himself as a painter, sculptor, writer and film maker, reaching such a high status in all these forms of art - to be established and awarded, in Portugal and abroad:

Continue northward along Rua de Coimbra and we arrive, again, to Praça General Humberto Delgado - where Canal do Cojo and the Canal Central are connected. 

In case you have, still, 2-3 spare hours, you can turn south-east along Rua do Batalhão de Caçadores to the Museu de Aveiro, Avenida Santa Joana Princesa. It is a wonderful museum, mostly, devoted to medieval religious art. Most of the exhibits are religious art from the vicinity, beautifully restored & preserved. Important collection of Portuguese Baroque art (secs. XVII / XVIII). Sculpture, carvings, vestments and jewelery. Portuguese painting of secs. XV to XVIII, especially the portrayal of Santa Joana Princess. The museum is based on a former Dominican convent of Jesus (female monastery founded in 1458 as a modest seclusion). It is attached to the Cathedral (Se') and contains a number of intact convent rooms, including the chapel & dining room, as well as the tomb of St Joanna (daughter of King Alfonso V who became a nun and died in this convent). The tomb of Princess Joanna is a masterpiece of Baroque cloister (secs. XV / XVI). Admission: 4 euros, seniors - 2 euros. Photos are allowed (no flash):

We continue from Praça General Humberto Delgado. Turn right (east) to Rua Homem de Cristo (southern bank of the Canal do Cojo). The canal is on your left:

The Forum Aveiro is on your right:

walk a bit northward, climb the bridge and cross the Canal do Cojo from east to west:

  and enter, again, Mercado Manuel Firmino:

Cross the market from east to west (it might be almost entirely closed in the afternoon hours). Turn right (north) ascend the stairs and note the graffiti:

Behind the stairs turn LEFT to Rua Engenheiro Silvério Pereira da Silva and turn right to Avenida Doutor Lourenço Peixinho. On the second crossway - turn RIGHT to Rua do Senhor dos Aflitos. Walk until the end of this road. In its end, in the square (no name) the most right leg (no name) - where, in its end - you see again the Lago Fonte Nova, the Congresses Centre and Melia Ria Hotel:

Climb on the bridge opposite the Cafe' and cross the canal from north to south with your face to the Hotel Meliá Ria. When you arrive to the hotel -  turn your head to the north to get a glimpse of the new residence project:

We are 15 minutes walk from Aveiro old train station. From Melia Ria Hotel head southeast, 100 m. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit
270 m. Turn right onto R. Carlos Silva M. Guimarães, 140 m. At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto R. do Sr. dos Aflitos, 120 m. Turn right onto R. João de Moura. We are back in Aveiro railway station.

Guimarães - Monte da Penha

Ariel Shafir


Guimarães - Penha Mountain:

Duration: 1/2 day.

Orientation: I did the whole itinerary described in "Guimarães - the historical centre" and the Penha Mountain, coming from and returning to Porto - in one day. The visit in Penha mountain is a must. It is a magnificent site with stunning views of the city of Guimarães - but, especially, thanks to the rocky mountain itself with its twisting paths, hidden caves and the special spiritual, magical atmosphere on its summit. The trip up to the mountain top with the cable car - is a rare experience in its own. I did the "journey" to the Penha  mountain during the afternoon. In this part of the day the views of Guimarães from the top of the mountain are unclear, hazy and non-exciting. The city is located west to the Penha mountain - and it is seen best with the morning sun coming from the east. On the other hand, with the afternoon sun, the dramatic mountain sights (rocks, caves, trees, boulder paths and fields) are far clearer and more photogenic in the second half of the day. You must climb to Penha mountain ONLY in a clear day. Take a picnic or buy lunch at the many cafe's and restaurants on the top. Your cable-car ticket entitles you a visit to an historical, religious site and to an exceptional rock garden. A pilgrimage site and an outstanding nature reserve in one ticket... The Penha Mountain, thanks to its natural characteristics, is one of the major points of tourist attraction of Guimarães. You can enjoy a unique natural landscape. It has various features which may be stressed: a campsite, a miniature golf course, a tourist mini train an Equestrian Center, walking areas and picnic. In addition to these facilities, there are also other points of interest, such as: monuments, caves, viewpoints, monumental formations of rocks.

Access: the route, on foot, from Guimarães Castle to Penha mountain cable car station is detailed in the "Guimarães - the historical centre" blog. It is an 15-20 easy walk from Guimarães city historical centre to the Teleferico de Guimaraes, Rua Aristides Sousa Mendes.

Visitors and tourists wishing to travel to the Penha Mountain may do so via the cable car, and enjoying the magnificent landscape that separates the valley and the mountain of Guimarães. The cable car covers a distance of 1700 m and climbs 400 m in altitude. The trip offers panoramic views of Guimaraes.
Lower Cable Car Station
Rua Aristides Sousa Mendes, Issue 37 - Costa
4810-025 Guimarães
tel. (+351) 253 515 085
Fax: (+351) 253 515 240
E-mail: geral@turipenha.pt
Web: www.turipenha.pt

The ride up (or down) takes about 10-12 minutes and the panoramic views from the cable cabin are breathtaking. BTW, there is a path for the climb of over 1600 m (see below). Even if you're afraid of heights, you'll feel safe on this cable-car without loosing a sense of adventure.

Walking from Guimarães city centre: Largo da Républica do Brasil is in the east side of the city centre. From there you walk about 10 minutes - following the signposts of Jardim do lugar das Hortas. Head southeast on Largo da Républica do Brasil toward R. Dr. Ricardo Marques,130 m. Turn left onto R. Dr. Ricardo Marques, 74 m. Turn right onto R. do Rei Pegu,
150 m. Slight left to arrive to the cable-car building.

Open: Months of November, December, January, February and March: 10.00 - 17.30. Months of April, May and October: 10.00 - 18.30. Months of June, July and September: 10.00 - 19.00 Monday to Friday and Saturdays, 10.00 - 20.00 Sundays and holidays. August: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed for maintenance the last Monday of each month. Last shipment: 15 minutes before closing.

Prices: Adult - 4.5 euros (up and return - summer 2014). Just note that during less rush the cable car only operates every 30 minutes. This Teleferico is cheap, quick and efficient. Yםו can even take the bikes inside the cable cabins.

Climbing up on foot: “Rota da Penha” is a circular route of 8.5 Km that takes you to the “Monte da Penha” (Penha Mountain). This route starts and ends at the “Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Consolação e Santos Passos” (Church of our Lady of Consolation). The church is the northern end of Avenida Dom João IV (the avenue that extends from the railway station northward).

Introduction: Monte da Penha or Monte de Santa Catarina is the highest point of the urban area and Guimarães from its top, which is located a statue of Pope Pius IX, it is possible to achieve magnificent views, which can extend up to the ocean. From the top of the mountain at 617 m you can enjoy panoramic views of Guimaraes and the surrounding region.

One of the most important places in Penha Mountain is the Shrine of Penha. This sanctuary is a very important pilgrimage center.Several sights can be found here as well. The Penha Sanctuary which was built in the early 1930's dominates the area. Nowadays it is a popular pilgrimage site. Another religious building is the Chapel of Saint Christopher whose construction dates back to 1880. Numerous grottos are located all around the mountain. One of the nicest is the Grotto of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel which can be found in a rock formation just underneath the Chapel of Saint Christopher. Near the entrance to the Grotto of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel the small Grotto of St. Elias the patron saint of sleep can be seen. Other interesting sights include the Pope Pius IX Statue and the Grotto of Our Lady Lourdes.

Paths map in the entrance to the Penha Park:

The main paths are:

Red route: Zona do Sanctuario (Sanctuary area).

Yellow route: Gruta da Sra. do Carmo.

Light green route: Zona do Pio IX (statue of Pope Pius IX area).

If you´re wondering where the mountain and the sanctuary on top - got their name, it´s these: boulders and dramatic rocks on top of Mone da Penha ( Rock Mountain). Most of the spectacular rocky landscape is on the south-east side of the sanctuary. It  is this natural park filled with boulders everywhere. AMAZING !!! Penedos da Penha - Boulders of Penha (there are: the Mushroom Boulder, Bell Boulder, Duck Boulder, Boat Boulder etc'):

Cedar trees and rocks:

Pine trees and rocks:

This is the famous bar between these gargantuan rocks:

View to Mt. Santa Catarina. Catherine was a very sweet and humble shepherd who lived in the mountain of rock. In those tumultuous times there were Barbarian invasions and Ataúlfo, chief of the Goths, approached the Monte da Penha. From the distance, at night, he could see thousands of lights that heralded the arrival of the terrible army of Ataúlfo. Catherine took the wax from offerings of shepherds and broke it into many pieces, turning it into thousands of small candles, and put them on the horns of the sheep. Ataúlfo was astonished by such a quantity of what he thought were strong army soldiers. He became frightened and so withdrew, humiliated and resentful. Thanks to her noble deed, the pastor was considered holy, and the Serra da Penha considered the mountain of Santa Catarina. On this top of the hill or mountain there is a chapel, a spout or fountain of Santa Catarina and the "bed of Santa Catarina", which, locals say is the place where she rests for ever.

Gruta Nossa Senhora de Lurdes. Image in a cave with the same name, located outdoors and near the monument to Pope Pius IX:

Statue of Pope Pio IX (Pius the 9th) ( Pio Nono) from 6 Sep 1898. This is the highest point of Penha mountain and the urban area and Guimarães From the statue of Pope Pius IX, it is possible to achieve magnificent views, which can extend up to the ocean:

Grotto of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The story goes that, in 1702, a hermit belonging to the Order of St. Anthony, William Marino, originally from France, settled here after traveling around Galicia and northern Portugal. He was delighted with the many natural caves, conducive to meditation.  In the XVIII century, a small community of Carmelites, presided over by St. Elias, succeeded him:

St. Elias, Patron of sleep - in a niche at the entrance of the Grotto of Our Lady of Mount Carmel:

Chapel of Saint Christopher:

Santúario da Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) or simply called  Santúario do Penha. The sanctuary is not a huge church. It´s quite simple and has a modern architecture but the view around it is spectacular and so peaceful. The Shrine of Our Lady of Carmo da Penha, is often called the Shrine of Our Lady of Penha. The works began in 1930, according to the project architect Marques da Silva. The Shrine of the Penha is a work built almost entirely of granite, in order to integrate this in the environment that surrounds it. The design and lines, modern for the time, do not follow the traditional ways, always being straight lines and incorporated into "Art Deco" style of the 1930s. It suffered a fire on February 13, 1939 which destroyed the image of the Lady of the Conception and the hoist that formed the main altar, thus delaying its construction. The conclusion was made without the presence of the architect Marques da Silva who died in 1945. the work had being followed until the inauguration (1949) by Maria José Marques da Silva and Moreira da Silva. Every year, in the second Sunday of September - is celebrated a pilgrimage to the Shrine. It is a very important pilgrimage center that attracts a large number of pilgrims, especially during the time of summer. Of special attention are the tiles adorning the walls, the work of Policarpio de Oliveira Bernardes, and the pulpit of the chapel:

Opposite the Sanctuary - a boulder with tribute to  Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral (Portuguese navigators):

Opposite the Sanctuary - the east entrance:

Exiting the cable car building (with your back to the Teleferico) - turn left (west) in the park (Parque das Hortas). Then, turn right onto Rua do Rei Pegu,190 m. On your right a children park. Turn left onto R. Dr. Ricardo Marques, 74 m, Turn left onto Largo de São Gualter, 44 m. Turn right to stay on Largo de São Gualter and Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Consolação e Santos Passos/ Sao Gualter  will be on the right:

Head northwest on Largo de São Gualter toward Av. Dom João IV
32 m. Turn left onto Av. Dom João IV. Continue straight along Avenida Dom Joao IV until you see the railway station on your right.

Guimarães - said to be where "Portugal was born".

Ariel Shafir


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

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

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

Duration: 1 day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solomon Joseph Solomon - Ajax and Cassandra:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The west facade:

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

Nobles Hall:

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

Helmets and spears from Portuguese wars in Africa:

Dining Hall:

Room of Donna Catherine:


Scipio's Room:

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

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

stained glass windows in the chapel:

Room of St. Miguel:

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

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

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

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

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


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


Braga - City of archbishops.

Ariel Shafir


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 www.rede-expressos.pt - 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 http://www.transdev.pt/aeroportoporto/).

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).

Porto - Foz do Douro and Matosinhos.

Ariel Shafir


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.

Porto - along the Douro - from Campanhã to Ribeira

Ariel Shafir


Porto - from Campanhã to Ribeira: 1/2 day:

Main attractions: Museu Militar do Porto, Rua Duque Saldanha - a lot of houses with ceramic tiles, mainly, green ones, Colégio Salesianos Porto (sight of the Douro),  Bonfim and Se' parishes over the Douro, Escada dos Guindais, Funicular dos Guindais, Ponte Luis I, Praça da Ribeira and Cais da Ribeira, Cais Estiva, Casa do Infante.

Start: Campanhã Metro station.

End   : Praça da Ribeira or Cais da Ribeira.

Orientation: Half a day along the Douro river. Stunning view from the north (Porto) bank of the river. Second, only, to the views from the Crystal Palace Gardens. You go along narrow roads in quite poor sections of Porto (Bonfim and Se'), with the morning sun in your back, perfectly lighting the mighty river downstairs and... being the sole tourist here.

Distance: 5-6 km.

The itinerary: From Campanhã Metro station turn right (west) to Rua Pinto Bessa. On the second cross-way turn left to Rua Padre António Vieira. Note, on your right, house # 179 (nice Azulejos). In the end of the road - Igreja do Bonfim. Turn right to Rua do Heroísmo and walk along the whole road (west) until its end. When you pass, on your right, Rua António Granjo (almost the end of Rua do Heroísmo) - you see on your left the Museu Militar do Porto, Rua do Heroísmo 329. This building in the Rua do Heroísmo, was a base of the former secret police PIDE/DGS used to be located between the 1940s up to 1974. The military museum in the city of Porto dates back to the late 19th century, when a portuense painter, Joaquim Vitorino Ribeiro, started collecting pieces and documents related to military history. This collection was then the base of an exposition inaugurated in August 24, 1920, by President António José de Almeida, marking the centenary of the Liberal Revolution of 1820. The exposition resulted in an interest by the City Council in creating a permanent military museum in the city. The collection has been transferred to this building during the years 1977 - 1980. The collection of miniature figures, displaying the evolution of soldiers since pre-history times till nowadays, is the museum's main attraction. This collection is represented by around 16,000 miniatures. The museum collection also includes several artillery pieces and combat vehicles, from the 15th to the 20th centuries, located in museum's courtyard.
British soldiers figurines:

Samurais Ronin:

Statue of D. Alfonso Henrique:

Pavilion of Armies:

What brought me to this tiny museum was the unbelievable story of Anibal Augusto Milhais. The story resides in my head for many years. Milhais was a farmer, born on July 9, 1895.] On July 30, 1915, he was drafted into the Infantry of Bragança. In 1917 he was mobilized to join the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps. He arrived in France in the same year. The Portuguese soldiers often volunteered to infiltrate enemy lines and raid trenches, even if the casualties on both sides were extremely high. The participation of Portugal in World War I took place mostly in Flanders, which is in Belgium. On 9 April 1918. During "Operation Georgette", when the German Army attacked his division, Milhais stood up with his Lewis machine gun and defeated, almost single handedly, two German assaults by laying down intense fire, leaving hundreds of Germans dead. He managed to cover the retreat of Portuguese and Scots alike despite coming under heavy attack himself. He fired in all directions and stayed at his post until he ran out of ammunition. His bravery under severe circumstances managed to convince the Germans that they were up against a fortified unit rather than just a single Portuguese soldier with a machine gun.Finally, the Germans decided to go around and Milhais found himself alone in the rear of the enemy lines where he stayed for three days almost without eating or drinking. On the third day, Milhais, still carrying his Lewis machine gun, rescued a Scottish major from a swamp and the two reached Allied lines. Milhais was warmly welcomed, but being a modest man he did not say anything about his experiences. It was through the officer he had helped reporting the story to the British HQ and several other testimonies that his deeds become known. A few months later, Milhais again held back the Germans, standing alone with his Lewis gun and allowing a Belgian unit to retreat safely to a secondary trench without casualties. Both the British observers present in the scene and the Belgian commander included his action in their reports. Milhais was awarded the highest distinction of the Portuguese: the Order of the Sword and Tower and with the French Légion d'Honneur delivered on the battlefield before 15,000 allied soldiers. The bravery of Milhais in the battle of La Lys earned him the 4th Class of the Order of Tower and Sword of Value, Loyalty and Merit, the highest Portuguese decoration. The degree of "Knight of the Order of Military Tower and Sword" was created by Afonso V, later annulled, and later restored by King John VI, to reward "the value, the Loyalty and Merit". This person deserves far more than one picture in Europe museums ! Even in the Portuguese museum - the picture is displayed with no further information !

We leave the Military Museum and continue direst west to Avenida Rodrigues de Freitas.  On the first cross-way turn LEFT to and walk down along Rua Duque Saldanha. A lot of houses with ceramic tiles, mainly, green ones:

In the end of this street you'll see the Colégio Salesianos Porto and a parking lot full with garbage and construction waste. Ignore the run-down sight around, walk forward (south) a few steps to get a marvelous sight of the Douro river with a couple of bridges: Maria Pia Ponte and Ponte de São João:

With your face south to the river - turn RIGHT (WEST) to the cobbled narrow road of Rua Gomes Freire. Here, starts a wonderful section of walking from east to west above the Douro river. I guess you will be the only tourist here. Pave your way forward among the pictorial houses:

Here and there you get a breathtaking glimpse, on your left, of the Douro river:

The criss-crossed fence will, partially, block your camera snaps - all along  Rua Gomes Freire and, later (turn left), Alameda das Fontaínhas:

The Douro river from Alameda das Fontaínhas. The Metro line from Campanha to Sao Beneto pass downstairs:

Now, we arrive to the better section of Alameda das Fontaínhas without screening fences and with perfect sights of the Douro, Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia - to the east and the west:

Ponte do Infante and the slums along the river:

We are still heading west along Alameda das Fontaínhas, now, approaching  Ponte do Infante and walking underneath the bridge:

Here, Alameda das Fontaínhas changes to Passeio Fontaínhas. The run-down houses (now, it is the Se' parish of Porto) on our right and the wonderful Douro down, on our left:

Along Passeio Fontaínhas, in the Se' parish - you see more improved and elegant houses with red-bricked roofs. The wonderful Douro down, still on our left. The following photos are the sights you'll see, on your left, along Calçada das Carquejeiras - step by step:

In the middle of Passeio Fontaínhas, you see, on your left (south) stairs - Calçada das Carquejeiras - leading to a lower level near the river - to
Avenida de Gustavo Eiffel. DO NOT TAKE THESE STAIRS. Continue staying on a higher level over the Douro. Continue to Rua Sol:

Turn left to Rua Duque Loulé. Then continue to an empty space Largo Actor Dias (chemical WC). Here, you see the Ponte Luis I. The more you advance west along these roads the bridge becomes more impressive:

From Largo Actor Dias continue down along Rua Miradouro: pastoral, quaint and pictorial:

House # 61 in Rua Miradouro:

Along Rua Miradouro - you'll see the old walls of Porto:

Continue going down with the stairs - Escada dos Guindais. Raise your head to see what is waiting for you downstairs. The stairs Guindais  border the Ribeira quarter and the area of the square of Batalha:

But the houses along Escada dos Guindais are nonetheless interesting with many hitoric houses around:

... and old fountains:

In the end of Escada dos Guindais - you arrive to the Funicular dos Guindais (on your right) which takes you from Ribeira (Av. Gustavo Eiffel) to Praca Batalha. One way - 2 euros. Open: 08.00 - 24.00. On your left is Ponte Luis I:

We walk a short distance in Avenida de Gustavo, pass under Ponte Luis I to Rua da Lada (one level over Rua de Cima do Muro). Look backward, again, to Cais da Ribeira, the house along the pier and Ponte Luis I:

Under the walls, on your right, there is a long stretch of large-scale Azulejos:

Walk until the end of Rua da Lada. On your right Rua dos Mercadores, BUT you continue direct in Rua Clube Fluvial Portuense, turn left to Rua São João - to arrive to Praça da Ribeira and Cais da Ribeira.

The Ribeira Square is the most picturesque spot in the city and the place everyone loves. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site. With photogenic traditional boats floating at the quayside overlooked by colorful ancient houses - you cannot resist the sight. In the center of the square is a bronze cube sculpture by José Rodrigues (nicknamed the Cubo da Ribeira) surrounded by café tables. The square is located in the historical district of Ribeira (riverside in Portuguese), part of the São Nicolau parish. 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 ground floors. 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 medieval walls (Muralhas Fernandinas) of Porto. These walls were torned down in 1821, opening the square to the river:

The Cais da Ribeira is a romantic spot that comes alive as the sun sets, when the numerous cafés, bars and restaurants help bring up the nightlife in Cais Ribeira Porto area. Couples can be seen walking arm in arm along the water, enjoying the rhythm of the music coming from the bars and cafes and taking in the breeze coming off the waters. If you are lucky enough to be there for Saint John’s Day in June, you will be entertained by a must see fireworks display and a huge street party:

Further west is Cais Estiva:

Head west on Cais Estiva toward Largo do Terreiro. Turn right onto Largo do Terreiro. Turn left onto R. Alfândega. Just around the corner on Rua da Alfândega is "Casa do Infante" (or "House of the Prince"), where Prince Henry the Navigator was born in 1394. Over the years the building also served as the city's customs house, and now contains the city archives, including the document of Prince Henry's baptism, and other articles and manuscripts related to the history of Porto:

You can return, from here, to your hotel with a bus or walk 15-20 minutes to Sao Beneto Metro station. I recommend continuing, from here, the 1/2 day route of  Matosinhos.

Porto - from Casa da Musica to Torre dos Clerigos

Ariel Shafir


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, visitasguiadas@casadamusica.com.

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.

Porto - from Moistero Serra do Pilar to Praça da Batalha

Ariel Shafir


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. http://balcaovirtual.cm-porto.pt/PT/cultura/patrimoniocultural/bancodemateriais/catalogosemateriais/Paginas/catalogosemateriais.aspx

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.

Historic Centre of Porto - World Heritage Site

Ariel Shafir


Centro Histórico do Porto:

Attractions: Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis), Museu da Venerável Ordem Terceira de São Francisco do Porto, Palacio de Bolsa, Praca Infante D. Henrique, Rua São Miguel, Miradouro da Viroia, Centro Português de Fotografia, Fonte da Porta do Olival, Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos Tower), Igreja dos Clérigos, Jardim das Oliveiras, Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Carmo das Carmelitas + Igreja do Carmo, Praça de Gomes Teixeira, Praça / Jardim de Carlos Alberto.

Start: Sao Beneto Metro station (the yellow line).

End: Praca de Carlos Alberto.

Orientation: Our day is in the historic centre of Porto, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Other sites in the historic centre are explored also in other itineraries of Porto.

Duration: 1  day.

Note: The itineraries " Around Porto Cathedral" and  "From Moistero Serra do Pillar to Praca da Batalha" include, other sites of Porto Centro Storico. The itinerary of "From Moistero Serra do Pillar to Praca da Batalha" passes through several sites of this blog (Torre dos Clerigos, Praca de Carlos Alberto) but covers attractions not mentioned in this one (like Livraria Lello). Do not underestimate "From Moistero Serra do Pillar to Praca da Batalha" route: it "covers" several outstanding sites like:  Ponte Luis I, Rua de Santa Catarina and Livraria Lello.

From Sao Beneto station head north on Av. Dom Afonso Henriques toward R. Corpo da Guarda, 20 m. Turn left onto R. Mouzinho da Silveira
550 m. Turn right onto Rua do Infante D. Henrique and the Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis) will be on the right.

From the outside, this 13th century Gothic construction looks rather plain and lacking in architectural grandeur. But, step into the church and you’ll be gobsmacked by its extravagant and opulent interior. The church of São Francisco's Gothic exterior reflects the modest, earthy mentality of the Franciscan order, while the extreme wealth of the patrons influenced the interior's gilded styling. Certainly, this is the most extraordinary church interior in Porto and all of Portugal.

Climb the stairs and look backward to see the Douro river behind:

The Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis) is the most famous  and prominent Gothic monument in Porto. It is well noted for its outstanding Baroque inner decoration. The Franciscan Order was established in Porto around 1223. They began building the convent and a first, small church dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi around 1244. In 1383, under the patronage of King Ferdinand I, the Franciscans began to build a more spacious church. This new structure was finished around 1425 and followed a relatively plain Gothic design. The general structure of the church has not been extensively altered, making São Francisco the best example of Gothic architecture in Porto. During the 15th and 16th centuries, prominent Porto families chose the Franciscan for their pantheon. The Chapel of St John the Baptist is a notable example, built in the 1530s for the Carneiro family in Manueline style, the Portuguese late Gothic. In the first half of the 18th century, most of the surfaces of the interior of the church, including walls, pillars, side chapels and roof, were covered with Portuguese gilt wood work (talha dourada) in Baroque style. Particularly notable are the many Baroque altarpieces of the apse chapels and the nave, which are among the best in Portugal. A fire, caused by the siege of Porto in 1832, destroyed the old cloisters. In its place, the Commercial Association of the city built the Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa), a magnificent example of 19th century Neoclassical architecture. 3.50 euros, fee includes catacombs and museum. No photos allowed - but visitors ignore the instructions...

Open: Nov-Feb 09.00 - 18.00, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Oct 09.00 - 19.00, Jul, Aug, Sep 09.00 - 20.00, Closed: 25 Dec.

The main façade of the Franciscan church has a large, elaborate rose window in Gothic style. This is the only original decoration of the main façade. The West portal is now a typical Baroque work, organised in two tiers, with solomonic columns and a statue of St Francis:

The South portal, facing the river, is still Gothic. The portal is stepped forward from the facade and has a triangular gable decorated with a pentagram. The opening is composed of a series of Gothic archivolts; the inner moulding is decorated with an arcade relief of Mudéjar (Islamic influenced) design:

Today, the church interior bedecked with luxurious gilded carvings and they are probably the most impressive and stunning in all of Portugal. On entering the church a statue of St. Francis of Assisi stands in an alcove on the right.

Whilst the Tree of Jesse is the main and the most important sightseeing attraction in São Francisco, there are many other interesting altars and chapels that should not be missed. The wood carvings inside the church are phenomenal !!! There is gold on the ceilings, alters, posts, statues, and just about everywhere but the floor. It is quite a dark church and a real treat on a hot day as it is cool inside..:

The most famous altarpiece of the Church of São Francisco is the “Tree of Jesse”, from 1718. The piece represented all generations of Jesse and king David to Jesus Christ. São Francisco’s Tree of Jesse was carved between 1718 and 1721. A popular Bible teaching during that time was Christ’s genealogy, in particular, showing his descent from the Kings of Judah and Israel. Before literacy was common amongst people, these teachings were very often expressed as biblical events in stained-glass windows or elaborate carvings such as the Tree of Jesse. The Tree of Jesse is believed to have been adapted from an earlier piece of work. Carved in multi-colored wood, it shows the figures of the twelve Kings of Judah connected by the branches of the tree which sprouts from a reclining Jesse of Bethlehem. At the top of the tree is Jesus Christ with the Virgin Mary and Joseph. This polychromed woodwork was carved by Filipe da Silva and Antonio Gomes:

On the third leg of the church, an altarpiece carved white and gold invocation to St. Louis King of France on the Epistle side and St. Margaret Cortona on the Gospel side:

Accessed the side doors of the nave - the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows:

Downstairs you can visit the crypt the tombs of local citizens, mostly from 19th century. Below the church's three interior chapels, catacombs hold tombs for members of the Franciscan order as they await judgment day. Discreetly tucked in a corner of the crypt, in front of an hellish door to nowhere lies a glass, grated window in the floor allowing visitors to view the piles of human bones below their feet.

Museu da Venerável Ordem Terceira de São Francisco do Porto:

House of Dispatch (Casa do Despacho) - Sessions room with wooden ceiling:

The Saint Mother - Portuguese School , 16-17th century:

Exit San Francisco church to Rua do Infante Dom Henrique and turn left (north) to Rua Ferreira Borges passing through Palacio de Bolsa on your left and Praca Infante D. Henrique on your right (browsed at the "Ribeira (Porto Riverfront): From Rua da Bainharia to Praca da Ribeira" blog / itinerary):

We climb the whole road of Rua Ferreira Borges. Note at No. 57 an interesting ceramics shop:

At the end we turn left to Rua de Belmonte. From here we practice a few steep climbs. On your left Teatro de Marionetas do Porto, Rua das Flores 22. Opening hours: Monday - Saturday: 11.00 - 13.00, 14.00 - 18.00. 3 euros. See current events at: http://marionetasdoporto.pt/ .

In the next intersection we choose the right "leg" of the steep climbing Rua das Taipas. Turn left to Rua São Miguel. The street of San Miguel was one of the main streets of the Jewish Quarter created in 1386 by order of king Joao I. This was the fourth, the last and most famous Jewish quarter of Porto and has existed for 111 years, between 1386 and 1496. Situated within the perimeter walls of the  in the Muralhas Fernandinas (medieval, outer walls of Porto) in the space of the Vitoria quarter. By command of King Manuel I in 1496, the Portuguese Jews were forced,  within a year, to convert to Christianity or leave the country. This resulted in the fact that the area of the former Jewish quarter was almost deserted. At the top end of Rua São Miguel stands Paroquia De Nostra Senhora da Vitoria:

Before you enter the church look, on your left, at house No. 4 to see the beautiful ceramic tiles. During the Siege of Porto, to avoid vandalism and looting that has undergone the Monastery of São Bento da Vitória, were removed some tiles that represent episodes from the life of Our Lady and of everyday life in general, and placed in front of the House in the Street São Miguel, in the n. ° 4, classified as a Public Interest:

At the end of Rua São Miguel turn right to Miradouro da Viroia to have a wonderful lookout over the Se' - Cathedral of Porto:

over Ponte Luis I:

Over Vila Nova de Gaia:

Bend slightly LEFT and continue climbing along Rua São Bento da Vitória. Pass Travessa São Bento on your left. Further, you pass Centro Português de Fotografia (CDF) on your left. Free entrance to the exhibitions centre. TUE - FRI 10.00 - 12.30 / 14.00 - 18.00. SAT and SUN and holidays: 15.00 - 19.00. The house was, originally, a prison (ceased being used as a prison in the 1970s) and is very impressive. Huge walls and enormous fences. There are also some wonderful views of Porto from the upper floors (albeit through windows with the old prison bars). The inner courtyard is used, Sundays summer mornings, for singing birds market (!). An excellent collection of old cameras. Temporary exhibitions changing every several weeks.

Nearby (in the square) is the Fonte da Porta do Olival. This fountain is located near one of the most iconic landmarks of Porto: Torre dos Clérigos:

Continue walking up along Rua São Bento da Vitória. Pass Rua dos Caldeireiros and Rua de Trás on your right, and TURN RIGHT to the narrow Rua da Assunção to face Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos Tower), Rua Senhor Filipe de Nery. This great structure has become the symbol of the city. The Clérigos Church  (Church of the Clergymen) is a Baroque church. The Clérigos Church was one of the first baroque churches in Portugal to adopt a typical baroque elliptic floorplan. The altarpiece of the main chapel, made of polychromed marble, was executed by Manuel dos Santos Porto. Construction of the church began in 1732 and was finished around 1750, while the monumental divided stairway in front of the church was completed in the 1750s. The main façade of the church is heavily decorated with Baroque motifs and was based on an early 17th-century Roman scheme. The central frieze above the windows present symbols of worship and an incense boat. The lateral façades reveal the almost elliptic floor plan of the church nave. The church was built for the Brotherhood of the Clérigos (Clergy) by Nicolau Nasoni, an Italian architect and painter who left an extensive work in the north of Portugal during the 18th century. In Porto, Nicolau Nasoni was also responsible for the construction of the Misericórida Church, the Archbishop's Palace and the lateral loggia of Porto Cathedral. He entered the Clérigos Brotherhood and was buried, at his request, in the crypt of the Clérigos Church, with the exact place remaining unknown.

The monumental tower of the church, located at the back of the building, was only built between 1754 and 1763. The tower is 75.6 metres high, dominating the city. There are 240 steps to be climbed to reach the top of its six floors.

If you want to see the beauty of Porto  - you must climb to the top of "Torre dos Clérigos". It is one of the main attractions of Porto and it is beautiful. The climb is quite demanding. There is  a 360º view of the city itself and the building is ancient and awesome inside and outside. Ticket: 3 euros.

See the sub-ordinate Tip about "Climbing the Torre dos Clerigos".

Walk down further a few steps along Rua Senhor Filipe de Nery to look at the Igreja dos Clérigos:

Return west along Rua Senhor Filipe de Nery back to Praca de Lisboa. With your back to the tower - on your right (north-west to the tower) is the Jardim das Oliveiras with the statue of the Bishop of Porto:

Cross from south to north the sophisticated Rua do Doutor Ferreira da Silva - lined with cafe's, boutiques and souvenirs stalls.  Turn back to take another photo of the Torre dos Clerigos:

Walk along the Praça de Gomes Teixeira square from east to west (heading LEFT). Opposite you stands Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Carmo das Carmelitas glued with the adjacent Carmo church (Igreja do Carmo). with wonderful exterior ceramic tiles (Azulejos). With the face to both of them - the Carmelitas church is on the left (west) and the Carmo church is on the right (east). Its construction began in 1616 and was completed in 1628. The interior decoration had been completed only in 1650. The church belonged to the Carmelites convent. It was classified as a National Monument in 2013  and now occupied by the National Guard. The facade of granite ashlar, has three entries with round arches, surmounted by an equal number of niches with images of St. Joseph, St. Teresa of Jesus and Our Lady of Mount Carmel to the center. It has a bell tower on the left, clad in monochrome tiles of blue color, topped by a dome-shaped bulb.

The interior of the Church of the Carmelites is a Latin cross plan with a single nave with six side chapels and a narthex at the entrance. The sun coming from the south highlights the great gilded, Baroque and Rrococo style side-chapels and the altar. The design of the main altarpiece is the work of Joaquim Teixeira Guimarães and the execution of José Teixeira Guimarães.

The Carmo Church or Church of the Venerable Third Order of Our Lady of MountCarmel is closer is with Baroque / Rococo style and was built in the second half of the eighteenth century, between 1756 and 1768. It was designed by the architect José Figueiredo Seixas. This church is twinned with the Church of the Carmelites, the east side, forming one volume, though differing the two churches. It was also classified as a National Monument in 2013, in conjunction with the Church of the Carmelites.

The square with the fountain adjacent to the twin churches is Praça de Gomes Teixeira - popularly known as the Lions Square. It was called "Carmo Square" until 1835, the year that, by city council resolution, happened to be called "Square of volunteers Queen" and later changed to "University Square". In 1936 Porto Council adopted its current name in honor of Francisco Gomes Teixeira, an eminent mathematician and university professor. However, because of the Fountain of Lions, the broad square is commonly known as "Square of Lions".

Building of the University of Porto Rectory (Edifício Histórico da Universidade do Porto) in the square:

With your back to the Carmo and Carmelitas churches turn twice left. Coming from Praça de Gomes Teixeira turn RIGHT (north) to Rua Carlos Alberto. In the end of this road is Praça de Carlos Alberto and Jardim de Carlos Alberto. The name of the square is attributed to Charles Albert, King of Piedmont and Sardinia, which, thrown from his throne in 1849, sought refuge in the city of Porto. In the twentieth century, in year 1928, was inaugurated  in the Praca de Carlos Alberto the Monument to the deads of the Great War (WW I), designed by Henrique Moreira - succeeding an earlier statue that did not match the taste of the Portuenses.

On May 14, 1958, about 200,000 people waited General Humberto Delgado, candidate for the presidency of the republic, on the Sao Bento train station, and accompanied him In a parade to Carlos Alberto Square, above the Luso Café. Therein, in his speech, said: "My heart will be at  Porto". It was the biggest flood of people ever seen in this square. Monument in honor of General Humberto Delgado, by the sculptor José Rodrigues, inaugurated on May 14, 2008:

In 2006, the "Quarter of Carlos Alberto" was selected by Porto Vivo project and the Urban Rehabilitation Society as its first urban unit to be restored rehabilitated in an effort to engage more people and commerce to downtown Porto. Every Saturday the Praca / Jardim de Carlos Alberto functions as an hub for Mercado Porto Belo (MPB): vintage, antiques, handicrafts, second-hand items, old books and newspapers, art and bio-food.  Open: Saturdays 12.00 - 19.00.

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

Ariel Shafir


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

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

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

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

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

Distance: 15 km.

Duration: 1 day.

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

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

Ponte Luis I and Ribeira:

Vila Nova de Gaia and Telefrico Vila Nova de Gaia:

Boats and barrels of wine - Vila Nova de Gaia:

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

Upper and lower bridges - Ponte Luis I:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We cross Rua da Barroca on our left

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary of cruises companies:

BARCADUORO (sightseeing by boat)

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

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

Schedule: non-stop

Duration: 55 minutes

Starting: Vila Nova de Gaia

VIA D'OURO (sightseeing by boat)

Tickets: 10 EUR/adult, free for children

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

Schedule: 10:00-18:30

Starting: Estiva Wharf

DUOROAZUL (sightseeing by boat)


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

Schedule: March-December

Starting: Vila Nova de Gaia

Fullday tours:

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

Porto Pinhao - Porto: 65-69 EUR/person

Along our walk west you meet also boats builders:

and fishermen working along Vila Nova de Gaia quays:

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

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

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

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

A rustic quay before arriving to Ponte da Arrabida:

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

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

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

On the bridge:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further, eastward - Escadas do Recanto :

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

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

Opposite, in Rua Ferreira Borges - another fresco:

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