As Portugal’s second largest city, Porto (Oporto in English) is the birthplace of the county’s name and home to acclaimed Vinho do Porto – port wine. Still aged in the lodges (long, narrow warehouses) of the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the Douro River, it can be tasted there or at the wineries in the Douro River Valley (about a 2-hour drive uphill, to the east) of the numerous producers of port wine (many of whom also produce still wines – both red and white wines). Porto has wound its narrow streets up the hillsides since the fifth century, imbuing the city center with charm.
Ponte Dom Luis I (Dom Luis I Bridge) is an iconic, two-tier metal arch bridge that spans the Douro River, connecting Porto (Oporto) with Vila Nova de Gaia. Designed by Teofilo Seyrig, the bridge (spanning 1,264 feet / 385 meters) opened in 1886 and was regarded at the time as having the world’s longest iron arch. Currently the city’s metro trains run along the bridge’s upper level and cars use the lower level, which also has narrow pedestrian walkways.
Catedral Sé do Porto (Oporto Cathedral), the fortress-like, Romanesque hilltop cathedral is generally recognized as the site of Infante Dom Henrique of Portugal, Duke of Viseu (Prince Henry the Navigator)’s baptism and the nuptials of King John I and English Princess Philippa of Lancaster in the 14th century. “The current Cathedral of Porto underwent construction around 1110 under the patronage of Bishop Hugo and was completed in the 13th century, but there is evidence that the city has been a bishopric seat since the Suevi domination in the 5th-6th centuries. The cathedral is flanked by two square towers, each supported with two buttresses and crowned with a cupola. The façade lacks decoration and is rather architecturally heterogeneous. It shows a Baroque porch and a beautiful Romanesque rose window under a crenellated arch, giving the impression of a fortified church.” – Wikipedia
Infante Dom Henrique of Portugal, Duke of Viseu (Prince Henry the Navigator) was an important figure in 15th-century Portuguese politics and in the early days of the Portuguese Empire. Through his administrative direction, he is regarded as the main initiator of what would be known as the Age of Discoveries. [See our recent previous post on Lisboa (Lisbon) Landmarks, featuring the statue of Henry the Navigator at the front of Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries).]