Porto - Foz do Douro and Matosinhos.

JUL 27,2014 - JUL 27,2014 (1 DAYS)

Citywalk

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:

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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:

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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:
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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:

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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:

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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:

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

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A few steps further - Praia do Molhe:

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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:

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The next beach is Praia Castelo do Queijo.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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):

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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.

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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.

Food

Restaurante Popular da Foz, Rua Senhora da Luz, 150, Foz do Douro:

Price range: 8 - 20 euros/person. Traditional Portuguese cuisine with Mediterranean flavors. Homey food and service. David is very polite and empathic. Tasty. Affordable prices.

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Portugal

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