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Porto is synonymous with great food, world known winery, and authentic charm. Even though it can be considered a small city, it doesn’t go unnoticed, as those who visit it are almost always more than willing to return for a second or third time – be it for the food, the views, or the cheerful people.
Take a tour with us through Portugal‘s second largest city and get to know the narrow streets, the magnificent architecture, the traditions and culture of the city.
This a custom-made tour so you may choose your starting time.
Genuine baroque work by Nicolau Nasoni, an ex-libris monument of the city of Porto.
The Church of Clérigos (Ecclesiastics) is a genuine baroque masterpiece dating from the mid-18th century. It was designed by Nicolau Nasoni, an architect of Italian origin. He stamped his mark on many monuments around Oporto and the north of Portugal. Nasoni, on his request, was buried here in a small chapel with its gateway at the same level as the top of the double bolster stairway.
The front of the church shows off its highly interesting and beautiful baroque finishing with its contours, domes and spires worthy of closer inspection. The interior has but a single nave in granite and marble and covered in baroque carvings again demonstrating the skill of the architect. In the main chapel, attention is drawn to the polychromatic altarpiece by Manuel Porto.
However, what sets this construction apart is the Tower; constructed in granite protruding out of the top of the western side of the church. This is the highly distinctive landmark of Oporto. The tower extends upwards through 75 metres of elegance forming rhythmic stages before rising to its crowning glory, the spherical clock house. The baroque decoration is thoroughly delicate and off a wonderful lightness.
In 1917, the Tower of Clérigos was successfully climbed by two Spanish acrobats, the Puertullanos, a father and son team, in front of an enormous crowd. This is a feat that, on looking up at the Tower, would seem impossible.
An inner staircase (240 degrees) enables access to the top. For those wishing to avoid the feats of the Puertullanos this is the best means to gain access to one of the most beautiful panoramic views over all of Oporto.
Duration: 30 minutes
Tickets only available on site with a price of 5€ per adult.
The Romantic Gardens of Palácio de Cristal occupy an area of 8 hectares in Porto’s centre and they were designed in the 19th century by the German landscape architect Émille David, in the context of constructing the building of Palácio de Cristal (Crystal Palace). Currently, the following still remain preserved in accordance with the original project: Jardim Émille David at the main entrance, Avenida das Tílias, the forest and the balconies’ design over the river Douro. We can also contemplate magnificent panoramic views over the river and the city that the viewpoints in strategic places offer to us. It is to be noted that these gardens, making a good use of the botanic heritage and of the ludic-cultural dynamics, is home to an Environmental Education Centre.
Duration: 30 minutes
This area was the centre of the city’s commercial life in the middle ages, thanks for the connection to the Douro River, and over the years has undergone transformations. However, the medieval constructions remain today. In the fifteenth century, this area was hit by a devastating fire, but quickly regained the image that defines it. In the 80s, archaeological works discovered a fountain of the seventeenth century (1601-1700), which is at the center of the square.
Duration: 1 hour
The Church of São Francisco was built in the 14th century, during the reign of King D. Fernando, on the site of a modest church pertaining to the order of Franciscan Friars who had established a presence in the city of Oporto in 1223.
The layout of the Church follows the rules of the mendicant Gothic style – with three naves, a prominent transept and a tripartite top section, with a main chapel inside. Several innovative elements were introduced, such as the decoration of balls in the window slits of the main chapel.
In the 16th century, João de Castilho designed the chapel of São João Baptista, but it was only in the 18th-century that the main works were carried out, resulting in this magnificent Baroque church that has been preserved to the present day, and which appears to be covered in gold, due to the abundance of gilt-edged woodcarvings.
The woodcarvings inside the church include the notable altarpiece of the main chapel, dedicated to the Tree of Jessé, reformulated between 1718 and 1721 by Filipe da Silva and António Gomes.
Duration: 30 minutes
Tickets only available on site with a price of 3,5€ per adult.
The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange) is one of the most important historic monuments in Porto and one of the sights that must definitely be on the list of all visitors to the city.
It was built in the second half of the 19th century in the neoclassical style and was destined to become the headquarters of the Porto Commercial Association, which reflects the importance of this activity in the city’s history. The building began to be used as the Stock Exchange at the orders of the queen Dona Maria II in 1841, although it was handed back to the Association in 1911.
Designed by the Porto architect Joaquim da Costa Lima Júnior, the building is quite remarkable in architectural terms, making unmistakable references to English Palladianism and other buildings in the city, such as the Hospital de Santo António designed by John Carr, the Academia da Marinha e Comércio (Naval Academy) by Carlos Amarante (the present-day Science Faculty) and the Feitoria Inglesa (Factory House) by John Whitehead.
Inside, it is worth visiting the Pátio das Nações (the main courtyard) and the magnificent Salão Árabe (Arabian Hall). Neo-Moorish in style, this is a unique space of great decorative wealth created by Gonçalves e Sousa in 1862. It was here that the most important official ceremonies in the city were once held, with receptions being organised for many of the world’s leading statesmen. It is now used for cultural events.
Duration 1 hour and 30 minutes
Porto Cathedral, like the first band of city walls, was born in the 12th century by initiative of its first bishop, D. Hugo. The temple is also known as the church of Santa Maria do Porto, de Nossa Senhora do Porto da Eterna Salvação or Nossa Senhora da Vandoma – which attests to the importance the Marian cult has.
The building reached its present dimensions in the 13th century, and the following century the cloister was added on, built in Gothic style, as was the tomb of the Knight João Gordo in the chapel of St. John the Evangelist.
Kings D. João I and D. Filipa de Lencastre were married in Porto Cathedral, also in the 14th century, on February 14, 1387. The people of Porto dressed in their finery and the city was covered with flowers and fragrant herbs for the celebration feast.
Later, in the 17th and 18th centuries, the exterior and interior look of the cathedral was changed by baroque taste. The transformation of the portal (which still conserves the medieval rose window), the north facade and several other sites, such as the main chapel and the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, which has since housed a large silver altarpiece, executed by goldsmiths from Porto, stem from this period.
Various altarpieces and chapels show the Marian cult under different titles, such Nossa Senhora do Presépio, Nossa Senhora da Silva, Nossa Senhora da Piedade, Nossa Senhora da Esperança, Nossa Senhora da Expectação, Nossa Senhora da Conceição and Nossa Senhora da Vandoma – with this latter being the most important, as the patron of the city and included in the municipal coat of arms since the 16th century.
Also part of this architectural trove is the grandiose building of the Episcopal Palace, whose construction dates back to the 12th century.
Duration: 30 min
Tickets only available on site with a price of 3€ per adult.