The city of Oporto, is situated in the right margin of the Douro River and is the 2nd city of Portugal. Oporto origins starts in the Pre-Roman period. Its original name in Pre-Roman and Roman times was Cale or Portus Cale, and it is said to it has originated the name for Portugal.
The city dates back to the year 417.
It was inside the walls of the city, that the weeding of King D. João I and the English princess D. Filipa Lencastre took place. This event originated the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, being the oldest alliance in the world.
The city of Porto is also the proud birthplace of Infante D Henrique (the Navigator). Nowadays his story is still remembered by the locals, for the military conquest of Ceuta, which started the Portuguese expansion period. Infante D Henrique asked the population of Oporto for all types of food supplies, all the meat that the city had was cleaned, dried, salted, and layered in the ships setting sail to conquer Ceuta. Meanwhile the population was left only with the insides of the animals (Tripas) for food giving the name of "Tripeiros" to the habitants of Oporto. Today this dish "Tripas à moda do Porto" is still a typical meal representing Oporto, you can find it today in just about every restaurant in town.
In the XVII century English merchants discovered Port wine by mixing cognac with Douro wine so that they could better transport it. By doing so they discovered that the strongest and sweetest the wine the better. The grapes which are unique to the region are cultivated along the margins of the higher Douro region all the way to Spain. The methods of maturation and mixing became increasingly more sophisticated and are still used by the port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. With the increase in commerce, the English came exercising a big influence upon the city and its economy.
Oporto played a crucial role in defense of Liberalist ideals in the XIXth Century Portuguese Civil war. The courage of the Oporto locals defending the city in face of the invaders was admired by Queen D.Maria II who conferred to its people the title of "unvanquished" (Invicta).
The Baroque influence of Nassoni can be seen in many monuments in the city as marks of prosperity. One of the characteristics of his style is the resource polychrome and the exuberance of the shapes, draped in gold and its famous azulejo (portuguese ceramic tile work) creating ambients of rare beauty.
Another period of the urban history of Oporto happened in the XIX century with the industrial revolution. Factories were built, and were working class and bourgeoisie class neighborhoods and avenues were opened, in 1855 was inaugurated public street lights and the cemetery of Agramonte. In 1865 the Crystal Palace was built.
Oporto became industrialized and commerce grew being its focus in Massarelos, with its iron castings and mills. Nowadays the textile, food, beverages, graphic arts , editorials, publications and chemistry dominates the economy.
The development of a city implies transportation and in Oporto that was a hard task, because of the Douro River, in the XIX century improvements were due to the building of bridges. The first bridge built was das Barcas (1806), then Bridge Pensil (1842), Bridge D.Maria (1877) can still be seen, as designed by Gustave Eiffel, it serves the train lines from Vila Nova de Gaia to Oporto. In 1886 Bridge of D. Luis was opened, projected by Téophile Seyrig. In 1963 Bridge Arrábida was opened to traffic, and in 1992 the construction of the bridge S.João was finished (designed by Edgar Cardoso) in order to substitute bridge D.Maria for traffic.
In the beginning of XX century a Maritime Port was established in Leixões, Matosinhos determining the end of the Fluvial Port at the historic part of town of Porto (Ribeira).
With the Republic (1910), Oporto renewed itself with the opening of the Aliados Avenue and the city hall.
Then came the Democratic Revolution which brought conciseness in the need of a harmonious urban planing, with it the city is being transformed day by day. Becoming a more pleasant place to live and visit.
The nomination of world patrimony opened perspectives for a renovation of the old town. With the make over of the airport came the low cost airlines and the metro. The old lines of the tram became the tourists rides to experience the old Porto with its monuments and museums. Not to be missed its Port wine cellars and its gastronomic achievements which can be tasted all over town. At night the city transforms with its small meandering streets, filled with bars in the Ribeira and Galerias de Paris streets.
Presently Oporto city has 327 268 habitants, and the metropolitan has 999 267 inhabitants.
Points of interest
Torre dos Clérigos
In 2013 this monument celebrates 250 years of existence. With 75 meters high, 240 steps it allows access to a panoramic view of downtown Oporto. Built between 1757 and 1763 is one of the most important Baroque representations in Oporto.
Address: Rua de São Filipe de Nery
São Bento Train Station
Was considered the 10th most beautiful train station in the world by the American magazine “Travel+Leisure”. The architecture is mansard style roof, stone skin with its 20,000 azulejos (tiles) which the artist Jorge Colaço took 11 years to complete.
Livraria Lello (Lello’s bookstore)
Is a centenary bookstore on a building designed in a neo-gothic style.
It was twice considered the third more beautiful bookstore in the world (The Guardian, 2008; Lonely Planet, 2011) and this year received an Excellency Certificate by TripAdviser.
Address: Rua das Carmelitas, 144.
Majestic Café is presented as a place where you can feel the splendor of the Belle Époque, surrounded by an Art Nouveau decoration. It has received some notoriety and recognition.
Address: Rua Santa Catarina, 112
Gardens of Cristal Palace
The gardens of Cristal Palace (Palácio de Cristal) were designed in the nineteenth century and they were named after the Crystal Palace which was built here in the 1860's.
In 1956, it was substituted by the Rosa Mota Pavilion according to a project by the architect Carlos Loureiro.
The gardens espouse exotic plants and rare large trees, rose gardens, fountains, a pond with many birds and animals and a children's playground.
Nearby, in the Quinta Tait you can enjoy of a marvelous view of the river Douro and sea.
Address: Rua Dom Manuel II
Riverside Zone (Ribeira)
A walk at dust in the riverside zone gives a glimpse of the romantic and bohemian side of Oporto. It is considered an illustrated postcard of the city. You can enjoy the overview of the river Douro and find a lot of restaurants and bars.
Port wine is produced in the Demarcated Region of the Douro, a wine region that has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2001. The peculiar conditions in which its production, stemming from natural and human factors, make Port wine a unique product, as it is not possible to be grown in other soils.
There is no consensus as to the historic origin of Port wine. If, on one hand, there are some references to its discovery by English merchants in the 17th century, on the other hand, there are records that already during the Age of Discoveries dos (15th and 16th century) there were storing facilities for this wine to be consumed during trips to India and Americas.
The diversity of Port wines has its origins in the different conditions to which the vineyards are exposed to, since the locations for growing the grapes vary, according to the region specific geography.
Port Wine stands out from ordinary wines due to its unique characteristics: an enormous variety of types that surprise us with the wealth and intensity of their incomparable aromas, a highly persistent aroma and flavour, a high alcohol content (usually between 19 and 22% vol.), a vast range of degrees of sweetness and a assortment of colours. The winemaking procedures, based on traditional methods, include stopping the fermentation of the must by adding grape brandy, making up lots of wine and ageing the wine.
In the universe of Port Wine families, there are two major groups: the wines without harvest date (Ruby, Tawny, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, and over 40 years) and the wines with harvest date (Vintage, LBV and Colheita).