Castles play a vital role in Portuguese history. Take a stroll alongside the castle walls that surround the city. Muralhas Fernandinas translates to, "castle walls from D. Fernando,” a 14th Century King. The castle was destroyed in the 18th and 19th Century and all that remains are these walls.
Historical Trams of Porto
If walking isn't an option, explore Porto by tram. I prefer walking. It's the best way to see Porto. But, I suggest taking the trolly to Porto's seaside community known as "Foz do Douro." Constructed in 1895, the vintage trams have been restored, and the squeaks and squawks are loud but worth the experience and the 2.50 euros ticket.
Pergola de Foz
If Porto isn't laid back enough, wait until you explore the relaxing vibes of Foz do Duoro. The tram terminates next to the seaside and from here, walk a few kilometers toward Pergola, past murky waters crashing on top of shoreline boulders. Inspired by Nice's Promenade de Anglais, the mayor's wife was so enchanted by Nice's walkway that she motivated the contraction in the 1930's. Known as the "Praia dos Ingleses," symbolizes the close relationship Portugal has with the British.
This is one of Porto's oldest bookstores and described as the "third best bookstore in the world." The artistic design is steeped with history, seeming as if this shop is something that comes straight out of a fairy tale. Constructed in 1895, under the name Livraria Internacional de Ernesto Chardron, later turned to Lello after Jose Lello purchased the store. Some 120,000 books patiently wait for buyers and a coffee shop is on the second floor. Get there early, the lines are long! Inside photography is not allowed.
The Carmo and Carmelitas are two churches separated by one of the world's most narrow houses, a place to separate the nuns and the monks. The classical facade looks traditional, but what makes this church unique is the blue and white Portuguese tile on the Carmo side of the building. Constructed in the 18th Century with baroque architecture, the church was used as barracks during the French invasion between 1808-1814.
Originally the Goldsmith Alliance building, this cafe and jewelry shop is a blast from the past. Beautiful, elegant and lovely, enjoy an array of homemade pastries and handcrafted teas while dining in luxury. Founded in 1909, this building is one of Porto's artistic and historic landmarks situated on one of the oldest streets in the city, Rua de Flores. In fact, the street dates back several centuries as King Manuel ordered the opening of this street to connect S. Domingos Square to the convent of Santo Elói in 1518.
São Bento Railway Station
This monumental train station is a must-see even if you don't plan to use the station. The first train arrived in 1896, but officially inaugurated in 1916. On the walls are "azulejos," or Portuguese tiles, depicting various scenes from the country's history. Since 1916, around 20,000 tiles lay on the walls thanks to the artistic creation of Jorge Colaço.
Once a dining spot to elites in the 1920's, is now serves every body amidst it's luxurious walls. It's no wonder why poets, writers, artists and thinkers congregated to Majestic, the interior is as inspiring as a Hemingway novel. The backyard terrace is the perfect place for a glass of port wine, a shot of espresso r possibly a glass of absinthe. The menu is a mix of Americanized, Italian, Portuguese food. Besides the atmosphere, I don't think the cuisine is that authentic (like everywhere else that becomes a tourist trap).
From the exterior, what looks like an ordinary church is home to something extraordinary once you walk inside the 13th Century church. Construction began in 1244, and throughout the years of reconstruction architects integrated Gothic and Baroque designs. Covered in gold, this maybe one of the most precious churches in all of Europe. The museum housed in the catacombs features ancient remains of past monasteries.
Porto itself is historic. It's hard to see everything in one trip as the entire city is steeped with history.
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