JUL 22,2014 - JUL 22,2014 (1 DAYS)
Ribeira (Porto Riverfront): from Rua da Bainharia to Praca da Ribeira:
Start: Tourist Information Office in the Se' - Cathedral square.
End: Praca da Ribeira.
Orientation: The city is quite varied architecturally, with medieval as well as modern living side by side. Porto's geography is hard on the feet, but pleasant to the eye. The city is extremely hilly, with many buildings built into a cliff face that overlooks the river. Stairs cut into the stone run up and down the cliff face and offer a laborious but rewarding walking tour. With photogenic traditional boats floating at the quayside overlooked by colorful ancient houses, this is the most picturesque area in the city and the place everyone loves -- UNESCO did too, and declared it a World Heritage Site. While the main streets are busy with tourists, the backstreets are quiet and often completely empty. Yet, it's here where you can discover the most picturesque everyday scenes. I particularly liked the backstreets behind the overcrowded Praca da Ribeira and Cais da Ribeira. There are lots of nice places - hidden plazas, colorful houses in narrow alleys, stairs leading up to other squares. One of the reasons why Porto is such a pretty town is very much because it has Cais da Ribeira facing the river.
Distance: 6-7 km.
With your face to the Tourist Information Office in the Se' - Cathedral square, turn RIGHT and descend the stairs (Escadas da Sé) northward to Rua Escura. Turn your head backward to catch one more glimpse of Porto Se' Cathedral:
In the end of Rua Escura turn LEFT to Rua da Bainharia. The designation of the street Bainharia has medieval origin and owes its name to the high concentration of this concourse Bainheiros, craftsmen who dedicated themselves to the manufacture of sheaths for melee weapons, including swords. Walk along Rua da Bainharia and find your way into the small streets. Just look for narrow roads, colorful walls and lots of houses !
On the first turn, turn LEFT to Rua de Santana and you arrive to Largo da Colegio. Small square with exceptional view of houses steeply hung over the square. Here you see the rear of the buildings of the street Aldas:
In the square you find unusual, poorly visited gem: Igreja dos Grilos. Built by the Jesuits in 1577. It is a Mannerist-Baroque-style, funded by donations from the faithful, as well as Frei Luís Álvaro de Távora, who is buried here. The Church and Convent of São Lourenço were built enduring strong opposition from both the Municipal Chamber and the population. However, the followers of St. Ignatius of Loyola finally got the much coveted school which provided free classes - this quickly resulted in a remarkable success. With the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1759, by order of the Marquis of Pombal, the church was donated to the University of Coimbra until its purchase by the Discalced Friars of the Order of Saint Augustine that were there from 1780 to 1832. These friars came from Spain in 1663, settling initially in Lisbon, at the "site of Cricket" (lugar do Grilo), where they quickly gained the sympathy of the village, earning the name "brothers-crickets" (irmãos-grilos) and thus the name of the church where they fixed residence in Porto. During the Siege of Porto, the brothers were forced to leave the convent, which later was occupied by the liberal troops of Dom Pedro. The Academic Battalion, integrating Almeida Garrett, settled there. Today the premises belong to the Seminário Maior do Porto, to which they have belonged since 1834. Its interior is unique, with a magnificent light...and so peaceful ! The interior is monumental, magnificent and monochrome. You can appreciate the weight of history and the building tradition, enhanced by magnificent altars and colorful ornaments. A MUST in Porto !!!
Crucified Christ, polychromatic wood, 18th Century:
Ceramic tile (Azulejo) in the church:
South to the Largo de Colegio and Igreja dos Grilos - there is viewpoint terrace over the Douro river and downtown Porto houses:
Return, via Rua de Santana, to Rua da Bainharia. Walk west to its end.
There, turn left to the bustling Rua São João. Walk down south along Rua São João and turn (in the 1st intersection) RIGHT to Rua do Infante Dom Henrique. On your right Feitoria Inglesa - a historic building built by a British consulate in 1785. An excellent testimony to the Portuguese-British alliance and the weight of the British community in the city of Porto, largely engaged in trade of Port wine. The earliest English factory in the North of the country, dating from the sixteenth century, was located in Viana do Castelo. The first regulation of the Factory House of Oporto came in 1727. The house was built between 1785 and 1790, according to a draft of the English consul John Whitehead. The factory house is inspired by the English Palladian style:
After passing Rua Mouzinho da Silveira, on your right, you arrive to Praca do Infante Dom Henrique and the old, historical houses around it. This square, right in the historic center of Porto, honors the Infante D. Henrique - the most important figure of the early Portuguese discoveries - who, according to tradition, to had been born nearby at the so-called House of Prince, in 1394. This square gets its name from the monument that is in the same center, dedicated to Prince Henry, called "Explorer Prince" or "THe navigator Prince". Made by Tomás Costa, the statue was erected in 1894. The statue comprises several sculptured sets. At the top, there is the prince's statue, standing next to a globe of the Earth. The top part is joined to the pedestal by a neo-gothic phytomorphic stylisation. At the base, there are two allegorical sets: one Victory leading two steeds and two tritons, representing the triumph of the Portuguese sea voyages; a feminine shape symbolising the Faith in the Discoveries. The statue also has low reliefs by the pedestal, representing the conquest of Ceuta and the Prince in the Sagres promontory:
Mercado Ferreira Borges in Praça and Statue de Infante Dom Henrique: The name honors Jose Ferreira Borges market, a jurisconsult and Porto politician who was at the genesis of the implementation of the liberal regime in Portugal. Built in 1885 to replace the now old Ribeira Market, despite never having fulfilled the functions for which it was originally intended, due to the reluctance of dealers to leave the previous market, the Mercado Ferreira Borges is now used for exhibitions and fairs cultural context:
Palacio da Bolsa: Palacio de Bolsa, or Palace of the Commercial Association of Porto was constructed in October 1842, due to the end of the House of the Stock Exchange, which temporarily forced the traders to relocate fully outdoors. With a mixture of architectural styles in the building - it presents all its splendor with traces of neoclassical nineteenth century, Tuscan architecture, as well as English neo-Paladian. As headquarters of the Commercial Association of Porto, it,now, serves for the most diverse cultural, social and political events of Porto city. The Arab Hall holds the biggest highlight of all the rooms of the palace because, as the name implies, the nineteenth century stucco captioned Gold with Arabic characters that fill the walls and ceiling of the room. It is in this hall that takes place tributes to the heads of state who visit the city. In the Portrait Room there is one of the famous engraver José Zeferino Pinto tables. The Palácio da Bolsa is open for tourist visits, being one of the most popular heritage buildings in the city of Porto. Opening hours: April - Octobre: 09.00 – 18.30 (everyday). Novembre - March: 09.00 – 12.30, 14.00 – 17.30 (everyday). Individual ticket: €7,00, student/senior: €4,00. Children < 12 years - free.
Pátio das Nações:
There is Mercado - a restaurant/ Cervejaria in the red market building:
Igreja de S. Nicolau: This church is located almost opposite the Church of San Francisco, and practically opposite to the emblematic Palacio da Bolsa, in the Praça Infante D. Henrique. It is an old medieval church, which had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1758, and therefore presents a mix of classic and Baroque styles. It was named by the bishop of Porto, Nicholas Miller, who had built it. It's small, but what stands out most is the main façade, decorated with tiles and large windows, with a monumental entrance, flanked by pillars on which is the coat of arms of the bishop:
We continue down (south-west) along Rua do Infante Dom Henrique. Before this street changes its name to Rua Nova Alfândega, on your left - you see a red house with CESAP.PT sign. I have no idea what is this building and I suspect it belongs to the School of Arts of the University of Porto:
adjacent to the red house is a new hotel: 1872 River House with colored-glass windows (opposite: chemical WC). The 1872 hotel (opened at April 2014) is located at the Ribeira, right where the Muro dos Bacalhoeiros is, and right in front of the Douro. It has eight rooms, some facing the city, some facing the river:
From here look back to see, again, the Se' Cathedral of Porto. This is the view seen by the hotel's rear rooms visitors:
The more expensive rooms are overlooking magnificent views of the Douro river:
Opposite the hotel, on your right, up on a low hill - Igreja (church) de San Francisco. This famous church and other, nearby, religious and cultural sites (Museu da Venerável Ordem Terceira de São Francisco do Porto, Casa da Horta - Associação Cultural) - are reported in another blog/itinerary devoted, more in-depth to the Centro Storico of Porto city.
Turn left to Rua da Reboleira and zig-zag down to the Douro river. I recommend walking, first, to the EAST (right) arriving to Muro dos Bacalhoeiros densely packed with restaurants, outdoor tables and cafe's. In this area of Porto lived one of the most charismatic figures of the city, called the Duke of Ribeira, known for saving several people drown:
Here is also the famous restaurant Vinhas d'Alho: Not cheap, but, good food and fantastic scenery around. A lot of passers-by. Limited space for outdoor tables:
from Muro dos Bacalhoeiros you get a wonderful view over: Ponte (bridge) Luis I, Cais (pier) Estiva, cais Ribeira and Cais Guindais:
Keep walking along the river eastward and arrive to Largo do Terreiro. Here, you hit the ODE Porto Wine House. The ODE Porto Wine House is very nice restaurant, small, cosy and romantic. Their dishes are based on high quality organic food from local products.
Largo do Terreiro - grandiose views to : Ponte Luis I, Villa Nova de Gaia and Praca de Ribeira;
2-3 minutes later, eastward - and you arrive to Praca da Ribeira, Ribeira Square. The square is located in the historical district of Ribeira (riverside in Portuguese). The Ribeira district spreads alongside the Douro river and used to be a centre of intense commercial and manufacturing activity since the Middle Ages. Also since that time the Ribeira Square was the site of many shops that sold fish, bread, meat and other goods. In 1491 the buildings around the square were destroyed in a fire, and the houses were rebuilt with arcades in their groundfloors. During this rebuilding campaign the square also gained a pavement made of stone slabs. In the mid-18th century the city needed new urban improvements to provide for the swift flow of goods and people between the Ribeira neighbourhood and other areas of Porto. In this context, governor João de Almada e Melo opened a new street, the São João Street, that connected the Ribeira Square and the upper town, and promoted the reurbanisation of the square itself. The project, executed between 1776 and 1782, is credited to John Whitehead, English consul in Porto. The square was to become enclosed on its north, west and east sides by buildings with arcades, while the south side of the square, facing the Douro, was enclosed by the mediaeval walls (Muralhas Fernandinas) of Porto. These walls were torned down in 1821, opening the square to the river. The northern part of the square has a monumental fountain, three storeys high, built in the 1780s and decorated with the coat-of-arms of Portugal. The niche of the fountain is occupied by a modern statue of St John the Baptist by sculptor João Cutileiro. The square also has a modern cubic sculpture by José Rodrigues (nicknamed the Cubo da Ribeira) over the remains of a 17th-century fountain. Nowadays the Ribeira Square is a favourite spot for tourists. The small cafes encircle the square, with tables and chairs crammed into the cave like premises. Tables and chairs spill over into the square, with the chance to enjoy a drink or meal, overlooking the river. The Ribeira quarter , lines the banks of the River Douro, from the foot of the Ponte D. Luis, along towards the Praca da Ribeira. This historical (UNESCO protected) area of Porto is well worth a visit, whether just to stroll along the riverside, enjoying the atmosphere, or to linger for a cool drink or meal at one of the many cafes and restaurants. On a blue skied and sunny warm day afternoon, it is very pleasant to choose a table at one of the pavement cafes and enjoy a leisurely drink, and watch the boats gliding up and down the Douro, be entertained by the musicians and singers, and people watch. At the height of summer it's quite crowded and probably not so relaxing. At night time the area changes its character completely, with the thick sea mist swirling around, and the streets leading off Ribeira, being quite dimly lit and narrow:
São João Batista de Cutileiro: