Portugal – picturesque nature and home to the best port in the world.

Porto is the city of bridges and the birthplace of Port wine. Portugal

Porto is a city like an ethnographic museum. It gave its name not only to the entire country, but also to the famous fortified wine Port Wine.

Porto is a city in northern Portugal,

At the mouth of the Douro River,

not far from the Atlantic Ocean.

In size and importance it is ranked second after Lisbon.

The architecture of the old center was shaped by several centuries and is fully preserved. The city can rival the capital in the number of attractions and beauty.

Modern Porto is a developed industrial center. The city of about 240,000 inhabitants has had a metro since 2002. Six unique bridges are built across the Douro. The harbor Leixoes is an important cargo port in the country. Porto has the largest university in Portugal.

The history of the city began with a Roman settlement, in the 5th century. On the left bank of the Douro River lived Portus tribe, on the right – Calais, so the territory was called – Portucale. In the 8th century the Moors took over the settlement. In the X century the Muslims were expelled, a new Christian county arose – the possession of Henry of Burgundy (father of Afonso Henriques).

Henry of Burgundy receives investiture to the county of Portugal, in 1096, from King Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile.

During the era of the Great Discoveries, Porto experienced its heyday. The 13th and 14th centuries were a time of cooperation between Portugal, England, and the other countries of the Hanseatic League. Porto was a commercial, bourgeois and industrial city.

It always sought autonomy from the central government and opposed Lisbon. In the 15th century it became a shipbuilding center. The local people have always been rebellious. More than once revolts have broken out here.

It was in Porto that the first Portuguese Constitution was adopted.

The Ribeira neighborhood

Its narrow streets with colorful facades of houses are tangled like a maze, some houses still standing on Roman foundations.

Many of the buildings are beautifully decorated with “azulejo”, traditional ceramic tiles in white and blue tones. There’s always a buzz – numerous restaurants, cafes, and colorful tavernas stay open late into the night.

Cais da Ribeira is a colourful promenade along the Douro River.

Here you can see fragments of an ancient fortress wall

And old cargo ships that used to carry port and now “serve” as pleasure craft. On the waterfront you’ll take great photos and buy souvenirs.

The Luís I Bridge (Ponte de D. Luís) (1886) is one of Porto’s calling cards. It is a two-level bridge built on the site of the old stone bridge. The architect was a pupil and companion of Gustave Eiffel, Theophile Sayrig.

The lower level is for cars and connects the Ribeira district with the cellars and wine warehouses of the satellite town of Vila Nova de Gaia. The upper one is for the subway, it connects the area of São Bento train station, with the upper part of Vila Nova de Gaia.

Pedestrians can walk on both levels. The Luís I Bridge is one of the best viewpoints in Porto. Not far from the bridge there is a funicular and the remains of the Fernandina fortress wall (14th century).

Porto Cathedral (Sé Catedral do Porto) is a temple,

rebuilt from a Romanesque fortress in the 12th century.

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The massive crenellated walls and two imposing towers

even today give the cathedral the features of a defensive citadel.

In one of the chapels of the temple is a unique altar,

made of 800 kilograms of silver.

In 1809 the defenders of the city saved it

This two-story Romanesque building of the XII century,

reconstructed in the Baroque style

but it was not used for municipal purposes until 1957.

The six-storey granite monumental building has a basement, two courtyards,

The monumental granite building has a basement, two courtyards, and a clock tower 70m high which can be reached by climbing 180 stairs.

Inside there are solemnly decorated halls. The interior of the building is made of marble and granite.

Freedom Square (Praça da Liberdade) is an architectural complex of the 19th and 20th centuries in the southern part of Porto. There is a monument to King Pedro IV, who granted the Constitution to Portugal, and the Cardosas Palace. The Central Station (Estação São Bento) adjoins the square. The square itself is surrounded by banks, hotels, restaurants and numerous offices.

The Estação São Bento Central Station (1916) is a hymn to the beauty of Portugal.

a hymn to the beauty of Portuguese azulejo.

The blue and white tiles are used to decorate the walls with splendid panels on

of some of the most striking episodes of Portuguese history.

Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis

National Museum, opened in 1833, it occupies the neoclassical building of the Palácio das Carrancas.

The collection is based on the works of the sculptor Soares dos Reis.

Besides the sculptures, there is a rich collection of Portuguese painting from the 19th and 20th centuries, a collection of 17th and 18th century paintings, silverware, ceramics, furnishings, textiles and glass from Portugal and the East.

For connoisseurs of art and history, Porto has a wide variety of museums. The most interesting ones are:

Port Wine Museum (Museu do Vinho do Porto).

Majestic Café –

The most famous establishment in the city has been open since 1921.

It has pompous Art Deco interiors, an extensive menu and a great variety of coffee and desserts. It is said that it was in the cafe Majestic that British writer Joan Rowling began writing about Harry Potter.

Portugal is the birthplace of port (Vinho do Porto), everyone knows that. It was Porto that was the main center of production and transportation of the “national treasure” since the XII century. The name of the wine is protected by its origin: only liqueur wines from grapes grown in the Douro Valley and sold in Porto can be called “Porto”.

The authenticity and quality of Portuguese port wines are protected by the state. The provenance of the drink is proven by the guarantee stamp issued by the Portuguese Wine Institute. There are many big and small winemaking companies operating in the city. The most famous brand of port wine is produced by the family winery Calem. The firm even founded its own museum, Porto Calem.

Porto loves fun and entertainment. Carnivals, processions, costume balls are held here on any occasion. There are fireworks, plenty of food and musical entertainment.

On the night of June 24 the locals jump over a bonfire and set off fireworks as part of the Catholic festival of the birth of St. John (São João do Porto).

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In September, the city hosts the International Festival of Puppet Theaters – audiences come from all over Europe.

A large-scale House of Music is built in the city; two of its halls have transparent walls.

The nightlife in Porto is also intense. There are many nightclubs in the city where you can have fun and relax. Most are on the Ribeira promenade and in the suburb of Matosinhos.

Nature lovers and leisurely strollers will love the Botanical Gardens, the oldest in Portugal.

Winter in Porto is warm and mild, the temperature is about +14 °. Summers are quite hot and humid, the air heats up to +25 ° C. The largest amount of precipitation falls in winter. August is considered a comfortable and warm month. The average temperature of water in summer is +17 °.

The Portuguese cuisine is simple and nourishing. Fish, seafood and meat are used, and the side dish is usually rice with vegetables. You must try beef giblets, feijoada (a dish of meat, rice, and red beans), mashed potato soup with cabbage, stewed cod with peas, baked trout, and olive caviar. Of exotics: monkfish, wolfsbill, goat cheese with a thick crust.

Sweet dishes are almost all made with the addition of almonds and cinnamon. Desserts include a variety of cakes and pastries, mousses and puddings, crispy cookies and fruit salads.


Gifts and souvenirs for family and friends are better to buy in the stores on Santa Katarine Street. This is where there are many souvenir shops, street bazaars and antique stores.

The most popular gift from Porto is a bottle of Portuguese port wine. It is worth paying attention to ceramics, cork oak bark products, cockerel figurines, shoes and textiles.

There are three subway lines to any of the city’s attractions within the city limits. This is the best transport for tourists in Pora.

You can also move around the city by bus and streetcar. Night transport works. An alternative to public transport is a cab.

But what must do in Porto is a ride on the old streetcar 1930 and see the Atlantic Ocean from his window. The streetcar interior is clad in wood and the driver drives the car standing up, as there are no seats.

Vila Nova de Gaia is an ancient city and neighbor of Porto on the opposite bank of the Douro. Here opened “Porto Calem” – the famous port museum, founded by the family company of the same name. It is worth a visit to the Sandeman Cellars. Take bus 901 or 906 to the Sandeman Cellars terminus at Largo Miguel Bombarda 3. A visit to the museum and a tasting is available every day. The classic tour will cost €6.


Vladimir Dergachev’s illustrated magazine Landscapes of Life

Landscapes of Life.

Portugal. Porto. Alto-Doro. The homeland of the port that gave the country its name dergachev_va September 14, 2019


Vladimir Dergachev https://xn--10-9lcuz0b5d.xn--j1amh/photos/portugal-porto-seafront.jpg

Porto – the second largest (after Lisbon) city in Portugal, the center of the district and municipality of the same name. It is the center of a large urban agglomeration of Greater Porto. The municipality has a population of 240 thousand people, while the agglomeration has 2.1 million people (2011). Porto is located 320 km north of Lisbon on the banks of the Douro River, a few kilometers from where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The city center has been declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

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*** The Romans conquered the area in about 136 B.C., and named the settlement Portus Cale, transformed into Portucale. From it came the name of the county Condado Portucalense, which later gave its name to the whole country – Portugal.

In 540 the Visigoths founded a bishop’s residence in the city and built a fortress. Since 711, Porto fell under the control of the Moors during their invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. In 868 the city was temporarily liberated, but from 997 to 1050 again under the control of the Moors. After being finally liberated in 1092 during the Reconquista, it became part of the Kingdom of Leon, under the Countship of Portucale, which was inherited by Henry of Burgundy, with whom the history of independent Portugal began in 1096.

In 1387, Porto hosted the marriage of Philippa of Lancaster of the Lancaster dynasty and King João I of Portugal. This marriage was the foundation of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance, the longest in diplomatic history. After the Treaty of Methuen in 1703 there was an era of prosperity for Porto, associated with the growth of port exports to England. From 1717 numerous English trading offices opened their branches in Porto; by the middle of the 18th century up to 15% of the city’s population were Englishmen. In 1809 during the Napoleonic Wars Porto is occupied by French troops, but the British under the command of the Duke of Wellington succeeded in liberating the city.


Porto is the most industrialized city in Portugal. It was the first city in the region to embody many of the engineering innovations of its time. So, Porto was the first city in the Iberian Peninsula, which was organized by the streetcar traffic (1872). Some bridges are unique for their time technological solutions. For example, the Ponti di Dona Maria Pia railway bridge, built in 1876 and designed by Gustave Eiffel, was one of the first projects that brought the author world fame. Later the same technological solutions were used by Eiffel in the construction of the Statue of Liberty (1884-1886) and the Eiffel Tower (1889). Another unique building of the city was the two-level metallic Ponti di Don Luigi I bridge, built in 1881-1886 by Theophile Seyrig, Eiffel’s student and companion. It was named in honor of King Luis I, who ruled at the time. https://media.ayder.com.tr/images/tours/2553_porto–lizbon/porto–lizbon_161213163345.jpg

The bridge has a length of 385 meters and weighs 3045 tons, the length of the arch span is 172 m, and its height is 44.6 m. The lower level connects the Ribeira district of Porto with the cellars and wine cellars of Vila Nova di Gaia. The upper level is designed to connect the upper area of Porto, next to the train station of San Bento, with the upper part of Vila Nova di Gaia. Since 2003 the upper part of the bridge is closed to cars and is used by the Metropolitan Porto tramway and pedestrians. The bridge is a kind of symbol of the city of Porto. Its image can be found on the labels of local port wine.

In the historic center of the city there is a monumental cathedral Se, the highest in the country baroque Clerigos Tower (76 meters or 225 steps), which was erected by 1763.

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Porto attracts tourists with wineries, port and streetcar museums. The Livraria Lello bookstore is especially popular with fans of the Harry Potter books. Joan Rowling worked for a time in Porto as an English teacher and her frequently visited store may have served as the prototype for the magical bookstore.

The city has the University of Porto and a branch of the Douro and Porto Wine Institute. In 2001, Porto was chosen as the European Capital of Culture.


The street of floating umbrellas . It was first decorated with umbrellas during one of the city’s festivals, the installations were so liked by locals and tourists that they decided to make them an annual tradition. To stroll along one of the most amazing streets in the world, it is worth visiting Porto in July, when a lot of interesting cultural events take place in the city as part of the festival. http://www.orangesmile.com/extreme/img/main/soaring-umbrellas-street_1.jpg


*** Porto fortified wine (port wine) is the calling card of the Portuguese wine industry. The famous wine region is located in the Douro River valley just above the city of Porto, hence the name Altu Douro which means “upper Douro”. One of the largest rivers of the Iberian Peninsula is the Douro, which begins in Spain and flows into the Atlantic Ocean near Porto (total length – 897 km). Here the traditional methods of wine production are more than two thousand years old. Today many varieties of wines are produced, from light ones like Bordeaux to rich ones like Burgundy and fortified wines. The main product of Altu-Doru is rightly considered a port, which became world famous in the XVIII century. Photo by Galina Govorina


Photo by Galina Govorina

The first mention of port wine dates back to 1675. In 1703 in Lisbon between England and Portugal was signed the Treaty of Methuen (1703), concluded at the height of the War for Spanish Succession. It was named after Lord Methuen, the English envoy to Portugal. England received the right to import duty-free wool products into Portugal, which previously had not been allowed to other states. In exchange, Portugal received the right to import its wines into England on favorable terms (a 1/3 discount in duties compared with those levied on French wines). The benefits granted to England allowed the latter in a short time to seize almost all the Portuguese trade and at the same time to suppress the development of local industry, which led to the economic and then the political dependence of Portugal on England, which lasted until the world wars, despite the fact that in 1836 the Treaty of Methuen was formally abolished.

In order to establish control over the production and trade of quality wine, the Portuguese king issued a decree in 1756 defining lands for the production of port wine. Thus, Alto-Doro became the world’s first wine-producing region with legally defined boundaries. In the 19th century the Altu-Doro vineyard was affected by several contagious diseases: in 1852 it was attacked by the mildew fungus and in 1863 by the phylloxera pest.

In the mid-twentieth century it began to produce table wine for export as well. In 2001, the wine region was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its “cultural landscape of outstanding beauty, which reflects the technological, social and economic evolution” of the region.

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The region is protected from Atlantic winds by mountains and is characterized by continental climatic conditions with hot summers and cold winters. Vineyards are mainly cultivated using the terracing method. For the production of port, the culture is planted on slate soil, for table wines it is planted on soil with a granite base.

The main grape varieties grown in Altu-Doru are bastarda, tinta amarela, tinta baroca, toriga francesa and toriga nacional (dark varieties), donzelinho branco, malvasia, rabigata and others.

Port wine (vinho do Porto) is produced exclusively from grapes from the Douro region, about 100 kilometers east of Porto. Although this alcoholic drink is made with grapes from the Douro and kept in the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, it became known as “Port wine” because since the second half of the 17th century it has been exported from Porto around the world. As the Portuguese say, Vila Nova de Gaia is the place with the highest concentration of alcohol per square meter in the world.

The “discovery” of port wine is controversial. The English version says the wine’s origin dates back to the 17th century, when British merchants added brandy to the Douro wine to prevent it from deoxidizing during long transport by sea. Port is a naturally sweet wine (because the natural sugar of the grape does not completely turn into alcohol ) and is stronger than other wines (between 19 and 22 degrees of alcohol).

According to the international marketing law, only beverages produced in the designated region of the Douro Valley according to the established technology have the right to carry the name of “port”. To guarantee and confirm its authenticity, a special mark is affixed to the neck of each bottle of port wine, designed by the Douro and Porto Wine Institute. Although according to the international standards only the corresponding fortified wine from Portugal could be called a port, in the USSR alcoholic drinks with such name were also produced and common people often called it any fortified wine. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the CIS countries the production of alcoholic beverages with such names continued.

Till 1985 in the Soviet Union not less than 2 billion liters of ordinary port wine was annually produced (while all other types of wine (including Champagne, dry, vintage, liqueur, etc) constituted only 1.5 billion liters). More than 60 varieties of “port” drinks were produced, including 15 high-quality vintage wines with their individual names (“Aygeshat”, “Akstafa”, “Kizlyar”, etc.). Thanks to the favorable characteristics of climate and soil in the local vineyards, the production of port has developed on the southern coast of Crimea. Great fame in the Soviet Union and a certain recognition abroad were port wine National Industrial and Agricultural Association “Massandra” (white port Yuzhnoberezhny, red port Yuzhnoberezhny, red port Crimean, etc.). A number of vintage wines are produced by the National Institute of Grapes and Wines “Magarach” (white and red port “Magarach”), “Inkerman vintage wines” (red and white Krymsky port). The alcohol volume fraction of the majority of the Crimean port wines – 17,5%, sugar – 9,5%. During Soviet times, cheap kinds of Port were treated as bourmons, such as Port 777, produced in a surrogate way – with cheap wine material and ethanol.

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