Idea #720 – Taking it easy on the banks of the Douro in Porto
The Historic Center of Porto, the Luiz I Bridge and the Monastery of Serra do Pilar, built along the hills overlooking the mouth of the Douro River in northern Portugal, is an exceptional urban landscape, which bears witness to a bimillenary history. The Romans gave it in the 1st century BC the name of Portus or port. Military, commercial, agricultural and demographic interests converged there. Its continuous growth, linked to maritime activity, can be seen in the profusion of monuments that rub shoulders there, from the cathedral to the Romanesque choir to the neoclassical Stock Exchange, passing by the Santa Clara church in Manueline style, typical of Portugal . The urban fabric of the historic center of Porto and its many historic buildings constitute a remarkable testimony to the development over the last millennium of a European city which turns to the sea to enrich its cultural and commercial links.
Archaeological excavations have revealed that there was a human settlement at the mouth of the Douro River as early as the 8th century BC, where there was a Phoenician trading post. By the 5th century, the city had become a very important administrative and commercial center. During the following centuries, it was subjected to attacks and looting by successive groups, such as the Suèves, the Visigoths, the Normans and the Moors. However, at the beginning of the 11th century, the city was clearly defined as an integral part of the kingdom of Castile. The expansion came in the 14th century with the construction of massive stone perimeter walls, intended to protect its two urban cores: the original medieval city and the port area located until then outside the city walls. The historic center of Porto is located within the walls of the Fernandine walls (so named after Dom Fernando, under whose reign they were completed in 1376), as well as smaller areas that have retained their medieval characteristics. . This area largely retains the plan and urban fabric of the medieval city of Porto, with some subsequent insertions of monuments, as well as the two sections of Fernandine walls still in place.
This area includes many important ecclesiastical buildings such as the cathedral – whose Romanesque nucleus dates from the 12th century – and beautiful churches of various styles. The historic center also includes many exceptional public buildings, such as the São João Theater (1796-1798; 1911-1918) and the former prison “Cadeia da Relação” (1765-1796). Among the most important later constructions are the Palácio da Bolsa (1842-1910) and the São Bento station (1900-1916). This rich and varied architecture eloquently translates the cultural values of successive periods – Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, neoclassical and modern. The social and institutional fabric of the city guarantees its survival as a historic center. This property also includes the Luiz I bridge and the Serra do Pilar monastery.
Where is it ?