City of Oporto

Oporto, Portugal: Visiting the City of Wonders

Oporto, or simply Porto, is Portugal’s second largest city and is world-renowned for exporting port wine, a fortified dessert red wine produced from grapes. But much more to being an avenue of pilgrimage for wine lovers, Oporto, Portugal is also recognized as one of the oldest European centers and a world heritage site mainly for its huge number of historical and well-preserved buildings, monuments, castles, parks and gardens, and many other structures.

This historic city is home to magnificent monuments that symbolize the country’s fascinating history. What probably is the most remarkable one is the Clerigos Tower, or Torre dos Clerigos, known as Portugal’s tallest structure. Towering at 76 meters, Clerigos Tower provides a breathtaking view of the city. Designed by the Italian architect Nasoni, this baroque-style tower was completed in 1763 and has become an architectural icon since then.

Another historic and prominent structure in Oporto is the Porto Cathedral, or Se do Porto. One of the oldest monuments in the country, Porto Cathedral was erected during the 12th century. Although it has gone through a lot of renovations, it managed to preserve its Romanesque style, particularly the features of its façade.

Fascinating churches are also among the favorite destinations of many travelers in Oporto. One of them is the impressive and extraordinarily lavish church of Sao Francisco. Sao Francisco Church, or Igreja de S Francisco, features 17th- and 18th-century baroque decoration and houses catacombs with various artifacts from the monastery period. Church services, however, are no longer held in Sao Francisco. It, instead, has become a venue for various classical music concerts.

A trip to Porto Portugal region is not complete without a visit to its magnificent museums that house significant historical artifacts of the country. Among the best museums to visit in Porto are Museu de Serralves, or Serralves Museum, a world-class museum of contemporary art that has also featured art exhibitions by Andy Warhol; and the Museu Soares dos Reis or the National Museum Soares dos Reis, which showcases artworks from monasteries and convents as well as paintings and jewelry. Established in 1833, the Museu Soares dos Reis is the very first national museum in Portugal and displays a fine collection of Portuguese art.

The many interesting spots and attractions of Oporto have made the city a favorite vacation destination for tourists from around the world. Shopping, sightseeing, strolling around the city’s beautiful parks, gardens and squares, and partying in bars and nightclubs are among the many activities that tourists can get busy with.

The port wine cellars are among the must-visit and sought-after attractions in the historic city of Oporto, Portugal. Tourists can choose to visit the port wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia or Duoro Valley. Aside from exploring the wonderful world of port wine, they can also get to taste the famous wine.

Other popular attractions in the city include Casa da Musica or the House of Music, which is made up of 12 storeys and is a venue for various musical concerts and performances; and the Livraria Lello or the Lello Bookshop, which is known not just for featuring a huge number of books for sale but also for its stunning architecture and interior design, stained glass ceiling, and a red stairway.

Meanwhile, for travelers who simply want to stroll around the city and do some sightseeing, Avenida Dos Aliados is a great place to go to. This central promenade, which is located at the heart of the city, is lined with beautiful buildings and is close to many other tourist spots that include the Liberty Square as well as fine restaurants and cozy cafés. Cais da Ribeira area is also an enticing place to visit in Oporto. It boasts of medieval narrow streets, old buildings and houses, cafes, nightclubs, and restaurants. A huge celebration in June, the Saint John’s Day, is also celebrated in this famous city center where firework displays and street parties are witnessed. The Crystal Palace and Gardens, or Palacio de Cristal, is Portugal’s version of the famous Crystal Palace in London. This steel and glass structure is a famous venue for various concerts and sporting events. It features a beautiful garden of exotic plants as well as ponds and statues.

Shopaholics are also sure to enjoy the city of Oporto. There are several malls where they can shop at. These include the shopping street of Rua de Santa Catarina and the Via Catarina shopping center which are in walking distance to each other. These shopping malls, aside from selling local products and products from foreign retailers like Zara, are also a great place to stroll, eat, and just do some sightseeing.

Oporto is also bursting with bars and nightclubs that people can go to when the sun goes down. Among those that are swarmed with partygoers at night include those in Cais da Ribeira and Cais de Gaia in Vila Nova de Gaia, which is another famous city in Portugal.

When done exploring the main tourist attractions of Oporto, Portugal, tourists can also take a short visit to Douro Valley, home of the port wine; or head up north to explore the beautiful city of Guimaraes.

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