The second most important city in Portugal boasts an old town that was declared a UNESCO Word Heritage site, as well as the renowned Port wine, making it a city well worth visiting. Situated on the Douro river estuary, where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, this industrial town combines the wistful and majestic characteristics of Portugal with a vibrant dynamic, due to its modernisation in the last decades.
Porto’s main monuments include the Stock Exchange Palace (an impressive Neoclassical building), the Porto Cathedral and the Clerigos Church and Tower. The cathedral, located on the highest part of the city, was first erected in the 11th century, and is a spectacular mixture of Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque styles. The 18th century Baroque Clerigos Church is one of the city’s emblems, and its 76 metre tall tower is the tallest in Portugal, offering the most stunning views of Porto.
If you enjoy wandering around charming little shops, head for Bolhao market and the Lello and Irmao bookshop. The enormous, decadent market has been the place to buy meat, fish, fruit and flowers for a century, and is one of the city’s most lively places where visitors go to soak up its vibrant atmosphere. The Lello and Irmao bookshop, located in a stunning 1906 Neo-gothic building, is considered the most beautiful in Europe. A visit here is a magical experience, so much so that several Harry Potter scenes were filmed here. Take a trip back to the start of the last century at the famous Cafe Majestic, which, just like its name, is a majestic cafe built in 1921, and was declared a National Heritage site by the Portuguese state.
Feel the rhythm of modern Porto at the House of Music, a concert hall located in a spectacular, minimalist building, designed by visionary architect Rem Koolhas. It is considered to have the best acoustics in the world, and is emblematic of modern-day Porto. Get a feel for the older Porto by wandering through the Ribeira neighbourhood, on the banks of the Douro. Its brightly coloured houses, narrow alleyways and stunning views of the Luis I Bridge and neighbouring town of Villa Nova da Gaia across the river, make it the perfect place to sample some of the local dishes on one of its numerous outdoor restaurant terraces.
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