Situated only a short walk from the Ribeira and in Porto's historic centre this is by far the finest church. The Igreja de São Francisco (Church of St Francis) dates back to the 14th century when it was built as an enlargement to an existing church connected to the Franciscan convent. Constructed in the Gothic style the exterior is fairly modest compared to some of the Manueline excess of this period seen elsewhere. However, all this restraint is thrown to the wind when it comes to the interior.
The double-decker Dom Luis I bridge is an icon of the city of Porto. It spans the River Douro linking the Port wine houses of Vila Nova de Gaia with the bustling downtown Ribeira district of Porto. Construction took place between 1881 and 1886 with the bridge being built adjacent to an existing bridge which it replaced. The granite pillars of the original bridge are still in place, standing on the Ribeira like a pair of gate posts.
It is probably no coincidence that the bridge passes more than a fleeting resemblance of its neighbouring bridge, the...
The fairly austere and imposing cathedral in Porto (Sé do Porto) was mostly built during the 12th and 13th centuries in the Romanesque style. However, it didn't really reach completion until the 16th century and even after this it was considerably remodelled and extended in the Baroque style.
Occupying the high ground to the east of the city, the cathedral looks westwards over the historic centre. From its commanding position the church does have something of a feel of a fortress about it - particularly the crenelations which run around the building, somewhat reflecting the...
The Franciscan monastery in Porto dates back to the 13th century and although the monks are long gone and the site much diminished there is still plenty to see. Topping most people's list is a visit to the Igreja de São Francisco with its exuberant Baroque interior of gold and carved wood. However, a ticket to see the church also covers entry to one of Porto's most unusual and macabre visitor "attractions".
The catacombs of the "Third Order of St. Francis" lie in the basement of the Casa do Despacho (Dispatch House) which lies...
The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace) in Porto was built to impress. Whilst it is no longer the centre of trade in Porto it still doesn't fail to impress. When the palace was built in the 1840s Porto was a thriving city. In order to compete with other European cities the merchant's association of Porto decided to create a lavish building that would be the city's commercial hub.
Still standing tall on Porto's skyline is the iconic Baroque bell tower and church of Clerigos. Rising over 75 metres from its already elevated position this slender granite tower was the tallest building in Porto when it was built in 1763. In fact it was not until 1999 that this was surpassed with the construction of the Hotel Vila Galé Porto.
Avenida dos Aliados is generally regarded as Porto's city centre and is, as such, the most grandiose avenue. Flanked by ornate buildings in a range of architectural styles, from neoclassical to French Beaux-arts, this avenue was built to impress. As such it is home to some of the city's most prestigious hotels along with a number of banks. When I lived in Porto I was never quite convinced I was in an actual city until I wandered down to Aliados.
Founded in 1833 this was Portugal's first national museum. Set in the Carrancas Palace the National Museum Soares dos Reis features one of the finest collections of Portuguese art in existence. This includes many works by the sculptor António Soares dos Reis, after whom the museum is named. The collections feature painting, sculpture, furniture, metalwork and ceramics from many of Portugal's most revered artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Set on a hilltop in Porto's city centre are the Gardens of the Palácio de Cristal. An 8 hectare expanse of landscaped gardens offering panoramic views of the city and Douro River below.
Created towards the end of the 19th century the layout of the gardens is the work of eminent German landscape gardener Émille David. The park features a wonderful mixture of formal and semi-formal landscaped areas with terraces tumbling down the steep valley side towards the river.
Also known as the Alfândega Velha (Old Customs House), this is the house which, in 1394, Prince Henry the Navigator was born in (or Infante D. Henrique as he was known locally).
The restored interior is now home to a museum with a diverse range of exhibitions chronicling both the life of Prince Henry the Navigator and the Discoveries along with Porto's role in this era of Portuguese history. Other topics covered include the Roman occupation during the 4th-5th centuries and the buildings life as a customs house and mint.
Many of the...
The former residence of the bishops of Porto is built in a late baroque and rococo style and is believed to be the work of Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni
Miradouro is the Portuguese word for viewpoint, and the Miradouro da Vitória is perhaps the best known of these in Porto. The view over the Ribeira from here is a great way to take in some of the main sights of the city; the Dom Luis bridge, the Se and Bishop's Palace all stand out above the patchwork of terracotta roofs below.
What makes the Miradouro da Vitória particularly appealing is the fact it is free. There are other great views of Porto, for example from the top of the vertiginously tall Clerigos Tower, or across the river from the terrace of the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar...
Porto's Igreja de Santa Clara is a fine example of my favourite kind of historic Catholic church; these are the one that are fairly austere and humble on the outside, but when you pass through the doorway you are almost overwhelmed by the opulent decor.
The exterior of the church is largely 15th century in origin and built in the Gothic style. The exception is the main entrance which was remodeled in the Baroque style. Sitting in a courtyard, just off a leafy square, the church has a very peaceful feel to it. You wouldn't know you were only minutes from Porto's famed Ribeira and the...
The Igreja da Misericórdia do Porto is located on the historic Rua das Flores in downtown Porto. The church does not stand alone but is instead sandwiched between the offices and shops that line this typical Porto street.
Originally built in the 16th century the church's facade was redesigned by Northern Portugal's favourite Baroque architect, the Italian Nicolau Nasoni. He was responsible for designing a number of buildings in the city including the Clerigos tower and church, and the...
Also known as the National Museum of Modern Art, the Fundação de Serralves has an impressive permanent collection and regular exhibitions. The museum is set in the beautiful gardens of the Serralves park