Porto is a city in Portugal with fascinating geography and history. According to legend, the city was founded by Cale, a Greek Argonaut, but historians say it was built by the Romans – who named it Portus Cale – in the 2nd century BC.
Today, Porto is a young and lively destination with a bustling nightlife and plenty of restaurants. Lovers of culture will be drawn to the city’s thriving arts scene. Here are eight facts that will inspire you to visit this incredible city.
Historic Center of Porto
It is the oldest area of the city and classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. It is an outstanding urban landscape and is built along the hills overlooking the mouth of the Douro River.
The Stock Exchange Palace of 1834, its Arab lounge and its neo-Renaissance audience hall are well worth visiting, since the 19th century neo-Baroque Town Hall and the equestrian statue of King Pedro IV are found there.
Also, there are also many museums, such as Soares des Reis, which is the oldest public museum in Porto and Guerra Junqueiro, a house museum located in the neighborhood Cathedral and that belonged to the Portuguese writer and poet Guerra Junqueiro.
Finally, you will find there the Crystal Palace gardens, the most beautiful gardens in the city of Porto.
The Porto Cathedral
Porto is an old Catholic country; the old town is covered with religious buildings and monuments. The Cathedral, built in the 12th century, was restored in a Baroque style in the 18th century by Nazini and resembles a fortress.
The Cathedral is located on a square in the old town with a central column, where Porto criminals were once hanged.
Church of Saint Francis
It was declared a National Monument of Portugal because it is an authentic marvel. Its outer part is Gothic, but the whole interior is Baroque. The most significant Baroque feature is the high altar, built between 1718 and 1721 by Filipe da Silva and António Gomes, dedicated to the Tree of Jesse.
It is located in Rua do Infante, in the historic center of the city.
The Clérigos Church
You can find it in the historic center of Porto, in Rua de São Filipe de Nery.
Arguably the main monument of Porto, the “Torre dos Clérigos” is 76 meters high and the tallest building in the city. Together with the entire portuguese historic center, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When the tower was built in the 18th century, it was also the tallest building in the country, still holding the title of the tallest bell tower in Portugal.
The Café Majestic
The Majestic is in a historic building located in the pedestrian zone in Porto, at Rua de Santa Catarina and it is always bustling, especially on weekends, because it is one of main Porto’s must-see venues.
It has richly decorated furniture with wood paneling, marble tables, mirrors, and even a grand piano. It was once frequented by many artists and intellectuals.
The Dom Luís I Bridge
The Dom Luís bridge appears on all the postcards of the region. You absolutely cannot miss this discovery during a stay in the country’s second city. It is the most majestic and the most beautiful of bridges.
The construction of this work began in 1881 and was completed in 1886. It was built on two floors. The upper part is reserved for pedestrians and a metro line; the lower one is devoted to road traffic with pedestrian walkways on the side.
The Dom Luís I Bridge is found between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
Where to stay in Porto
If you cannot wait to experience the city, the good news is that there are also numerous hotels in Porto to suit all budgets. The Catalonia Porto Hotel, for example, is a boutique-four-star hotel conveniently located in the heart of the city, in a prestigious area of beautiful listed 18th-century buildings. However, the rooms are modern and decorated with local motifs.
The hotel sits next to the cosmopolitan Batalha Square, one of Porto’s main leisure and shopping areas and many other tourist attractions. The São Bento Railway Station is only a short distance, and the hotel offers all you need in terms of amenities to make the most of your stay in Porto. The Catalonia Hotel in Porto also has a pool and jacuzzi in a landscaped courtyard, allowing you to relax after a day’s sightseeing.
When it comes to touristic landmarks, the hotel is just five minutes walking distance from the Ribeira district, which has been declared a World Heritage Site. Also, it is near the banks of the Douro, near Dom Luís I Bridge.
The amazing sights, rich culture, and the plentiful sunshine makes Porto one of the best destinations for a European city break. Book a trip to the city and have the time of your life.