We enjoyed an adventurous half day guided tour in Porto, which gave us a comprehensive overview of the whole city. The first thing we noticed was how colorful, quaint, and pretty both the buildings and the roads were, regardless of where landed.
Porto is extremely walkable and most likely the best way to explore the city. On this day, we did have both a driver and a guide, so we were able to cover a lot of ground, but a good part of the time, we arrived at our next destination and proceeded to head out on foot. Note below how not all of the streets are level and flat. There are a number of steep roads, especially as you make your way down toward the river area.
One of our stops lead us down the narrow vibrant streets below.
At the end of this street, we were rewarded with fantastic views of the whole city.
And then we caught a glimpse of Torre dos Clerigo or the Clerigo Tower, a baroque almost 250 foot tall bell tower of the Clerigo Church.
We also had a chance to visit the Church of St. Frances (São Francisco), located very close to the banks of the Douro River. The red building you see below was at the first thing that caught my eye as we neared the church entrance. I had to laugh when I realized it was a McDonald’s! I have to say, Lisbon and Porto both have the most beautiful McDonalds or Starbucks buildings ever!
The photo above on the right is the Church of St. Frances. It’s gorgeous and has a combined Baroque and Gothic style to it. The interior was extraordinarily ornate, with thick, intricate carved wood and gold leaf.
The one thing that really captured my attention was the “Tree of Jesse” (the genealogical tree belonging to Jesus Christ). We were not technically allowed to take photos of the interior of the church, as to not hinder worship, but my guide obtained permission. Not wanting to cause any disruptions or be a distraction, I snapped a few quick shots. While not the best, they will give you a good idea of what it looked like.
If you enlarge the photos, you will see Jesus, Mary, and Joseph represented at the very top. This is truly a unique work of art.
As we left the church, we were also treated to pleasant views of the city and the Douro River. We then moved on to the more political side of Porto.
The Palacio de Bolsa (the Stock Exchange Building), no longer serving as the Stock Exchange, but rather the property of the Chamber of Commerce, is absolutely gorgeous and not to be missed.
The gallery surrounding the courtyard, which used to be open air but is now covered by a massive octagonal glass roof. The flooring is covered with intricate tiled patterns; every part of it holds some type of significance or meaning.
Above is the Sala do Tribunal (Tribunal Room) where the French Renaissance style highlights the motto “Law and Justice.” A hard work ethic was highly valued, and this is reflected throughout in the tiled pattens, the art work, everything.
There were many more rooms and features (see above). Intricate carvings, plaster rooms that were created to look like wood, Venetian glass chandeliers, an Arab room inspired by the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, a gorgeous split Grand Stairway made of marble and granite. Truly, this was an incredible place to visit. I not only loved the external beauty, but admired the values and ethics so highly prized! I hope you enjoyed this small clip into what was for us a wonderful day in Porto!