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Porto Travel Guide  

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The conquest of Portucale in 868 by Vímara Peres, a warrior of king Afonso III, from Leon, is duly considered here as an event of the most ancient history of Porto. Ever since the second half of the 6th century, since the days of the Suevians, the population of Portucale in Castro novo was the head office of the Portugalense Diocese. However, as of 868 its importance increased: it became the centre of the movement of re-conquest and gathering of the surrounding land, which, because of this, became the portugalensis province in the middle of the 10th century.
The inhabitants of this area became known as the portugalenses and among them the first and vague national feeling demonstrations began to emerge. Portucale was, thus, in fact what named and gave birth to the Portuguese Nation! In 1120, the Queen D. T Tareja, the widow of the Count D. Henrique, donated the Bishop D. Hugo and his successors the little borough of Porto and a posted land.
In 1123 the Bishop granted the latter a code of laws and later, D. Afonso Henriques confirmed and enlarged the limits of the land. In 1147 the Nordic Crusaders that belonged to the Second Crusade to the Holy Land entered the Douro. Upon this invasion, it was the Bishop of Porto, D. Pedro Pitões, who eloquently lectured them at the Crasto de Portucale, on top of the hill, in front of the Sé (Cathedral). The purpose of this lecture was to encourage them to join D. Afonso Henriques in the conquest of Lisbon. Afterwards, the Portugalense Bishop accompanied the armada and took part in the military adventure.
Porto began to develop rapidly when the Princess of the Tejo fell into the hands of the Christians. The population began to grow and so did the city’s economic importance. The bourgeois got involved in quarrels and clashes with its Bishops, to whom the borough owed so much, but yet from whose temporal subordination the rebellious ones wanted to free themselves. The King was often the peacemaker of the revolted parties and it was D. João I, who, after two centuries, ended these quarrels, allowing himself the purchase of the right to temporal jurisdiction of the borough and the respective posted land from the Bishops, which these claimed to have.
During the crisis of 1383-1385, Porto served the Mestre de Avis, who presented himself as the Portugal Governor and Defender against the people of Castile, in such a way that the monarch granted it the title of MUI NOBRE E SEMPRE LEAL CIDADE (very noble and always loyal city). The time of the Cycle of Conquests and the Ultramarine Discoveries followed. In the same manner that the north of the country had been the cradle of the warriors who conquered the south from the moors, it was also from the north, place of birth of the Porto Infante D. Henrique and many sailors, that a decisive impulse towards great maritime navigations emerged. In the 15th century, Porto was one of Spain’s cities where most boats were made and from where most sailors came. However, concerning the interests of the bourgeois in Porto, there was more to it than trade and navigation. Among these people, there were also great many people related to culture in the fields of the Fine Arts who honoured national culture.
These went from, according to their reputation, Vasco de Lobeira, Amadis de Gaula, to the poets of the Cancioneiro of Garcia de Resende, such as Diogo Brandão and Fernão Brandão, or even the celebrated Pero Vaz de Caminha, distinguished author of the Carta do Achamento do Brasil (Letter of the Discovery of Brazil), worldwide known and admired. After having been under the realm of the king Philip of Spain, Portugal recovers its independence. At this point Porto enthusiastically takes on a role of distinction in the quarrels of Restoration and holds at its own expense a third of troupes. In the name of the fatherland, Porto releases a rebellious group in 1808 against Junot and suffers severely from the invasion of Soult in 1809, and its tragic consequences.
Nevertheless, not everything is related to war in the history of Porto. On the second half of the 18th century, the city, which had become extraordinarily rich, grew, became a monument and modernised itself thanks to the Almadas; and in the 19th century, Porto presented the Nation with poets like Garrett and created sculptors as great as Soares dos Reis. Obviously, at the groundwork of all collective actions of a people is the people itself: the dark people, whose names didn’t remain in history, but who worked, suffered and sacrificed themselves, gave their properties, their strength and their lives for their fatherlands to become glorious and great. Guilherme Camarinha bore that in mind in the tapestry of the Câmara Municipal do Porto (Porto City Council), as he placed at the base of its amazing work the farmers, the craftsmen, the carpenters, the ships carpenter, the butchers, working for the preparation of the armada, which left from the Ribeira do Douro in 1415 to Ceuta, under the command of the Infante D. Henrique.
The people of Porto, amid whose qualities underlies a deep civic pride, contributed with everything they had for the equipment and supply of those ships. They generously and patriotically gave in all the meat from their cattle, leaving for themselves nothing but the entrails of those animals, which granted them a designation that is their utmost legitimate pride title: that of the tripeiros (which literally means tripe eaters).

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Robert Bale
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Overall Guide : Terreiro da SéConstructed in the 12th century in the Romanesque style, it shows influences of the Limousin region of France and the Coimbra school. The vestry, the cloisters, and the chapel of João Gordo - with the... more notable tomb of the founder - date from the gothic period. On the outside wall of the northern tower, a bas-relief depicts a 14th-century vessel, showing the importance of the city's maritime vocation. On one of the buttresses of the southern tower two measures can be seen, cut into the stone, the sole remaining vestiges of the medieval fair, which used to take place in front of the Cathedral. Rua de S. SebastiãoThe tower of the Town-Hall, built in the 14th and 15th centuries, was one of the most important buildings in the upper side of the city. The town meetings were held here until the mid-fifteen hundreds. Then, the building began to decay due to having been built on top of the wooden foundations of the old medieval wall. House in Beco dos RedemoinhosThis is one of the most perfect examples of the civil architecture from the early 14th century. The façade, half-hidden behind the chancel of the Cathedral, formerly overlooked a lively square of the borough and is now limited to the west by the missing niche of the Cathedral. Largo de VandomaOnly a few fragments remain of the first wall girdling the Morro da Sé and these are partly hidden by a group of houses. The Primitive Wall was probably built during the Roman Empire and rebuilt during the 12th century. The main entrance into the borough - the "Porta de Vandoma" - was on the north side between the present Sé Terrace and Rua Chã. One of the most significant signs of the wall is still visible at the top of Avenida Afonso Henriques. On the still existing fortifications there used to be a gothic house whose southern wall is presently part of the structure that houses the regional offices of the Associação dos Arquitectos Portugueses (Portuguese Architects Association). Archaeological ruins of the primitive settlement were discovered on this site and were subsequently preserved. Largo 1º de DezembroThe construction of the convent of Santa Clara dates from the first half of the 15th century. It underwent several changes in the Modern Age, when the beautiful Renaissance portal was built. The church still maintains its original gothic structure while its interior is covered with gilt carvings. Ferdinand Wall: Guindais sectionThe second city wall was started around 1336 and concluded in 1376. It had a length of 3000 paces and an average height of 30 feet. The wall had many doors that were defended by several towers. The Santa Clara cloth, restored in the 1920s, clearly depicts the daring of its execution. Barredo TowerNumber 5, Rua de Baixo represents the oldest surviving example of the medieval civil architecture in the Barredo block. Its construction dates back to the 13th century. Cais da EstivaThe only surviving gate of the 14th-century wall linked the Estiva quay to Rua da Fonte Taurina. The steps that led to the higher part of the wall can be seen on the inside. There used to be an inscription alluding to the mooring of the boats. Today, it is kept in a museum. Rua da AlfândegaThis is the building where, according to legend, Henry the Navigator was born. Built in 1325 for the Royal Customs and the accommodation of its officials, it was annexed to the Mint at the end of the 14th century. It underwent large transformations in 1677 and it served as Customhouse until the 19th century, when the new Customhouse was built. Rua do Infante D. HenriqueNumbers 47 to 53 on Rua Infante D. Henrique display on their façade the coat of arms of D. João I. In 1402 the King yielded this building to the merchants and the first traders exchange of the city was founded. A passage was opened leading from the ground floor to the Mint. The medieval structure can still be seen on the inside. House in Rua da ReboleiraBuilding number 59 on Rua da Reboleira was probably built in the 14th century and has kept almost intact its original tower house structure. The interiors of neighbouring buildings show traces of other medieval dwellings. Rua do Infante D. HenriqueThe presence of the Mendicant Orders in the city dates from the first half of the 12th century, when the construction of the monasteries of São Francisco and, later, São Domingos was begun. The walls of these convents enclosed the whole area comprised between the Praça do Infante, the Mercado Ferreira Borges, and the Rua do Comércio do Porto. Of the old convents, only one building remains, the Church of the Franciscan Friars with its three naves. Crypts belonging to members of some important medieval families can be found inside. Also worthy of notice is the mural of Nossa Senhora da Rosa. The church is also known for its remarkable baroque carvings. Ferdinand Wall: Caminho Novo sectionOne of the most monumental sections of the 14th-century wall runs the length of the stairs of the Caminho Novo. It extends between rows of houses, along Rua Francisco da Rocha Soares, where one of the "cubelos" or covered sheds can still be seen over the roofs. The wall only surfaces again next to Cordoaria gardens on the inside of a café where signs of the tower and the gate of Olival can be seen. Confraria do Espírito Santo HospitalMiragaia was an old centre for fishermen and sailors and in medieval times the main suburb of Porto. The most important shipyards of the city were located on its shores, where the new Customhouse was later built. The church of São Pedro de Miragaia dates from the Middle Ages but it no longer retains its medieval structure. Above and behind the church, the Chapel of the Brotherhood of Mariners, whose north wall is made up of parts of the old Espírito Santo Hospital, can be seen. The Museum of the Brotherhood (Museu da Confraria) is worth visiting. A triptych frothe 16th century and one of the reliquaries of São Pantaleão can be seen there. Rua da Boa NovaMentioned in documents from the 15th century, the tower belonged to Pedro Sem, chancellor of King Afonso IV. It became the property of the Brandão family, who later sold it to the Porto's Mitre. Largo do PrioradoLocated on the outskirts of the borough, it gave rise to a hamlet that, in the 19th century, became integrated in the city. The origins of the temple are ancient, probably dating back to the Visigothic period. It was rebuilt in the Romanesque style and its chancel was consecrated in 1087. The work continued into the 12th century. Worthy of notice is the Agnus Dei on the tympanum of the northern portal. Made of granite, baroque, romantic, reflected in the river... this is Porto. But, for whoever wants to discover it, Porto holds many surprises. Alongside its hospitable nature which preserves tradition, there is a contemporary, creative city.The signs of this “savoir faire” are found in streets, literature, architecture, monuments, arts, restaurants, and in commercial and leisure areas.Find out for yourself how tradition and modernity can live in harmony.Come and savour the culture and charm of this vintage Port, wandering through this ancient city that looks forward to the future.
Overall rating 9
Overall Guide : Visit the old city in the neighbourhood of the Ribeira área and don't loose the night life. Don't miss the Lello library maybe the most beautiful of the world. The Port wine cellars are also a place to not loose.Th... more ebridges between Porto and Gais are just amazing mainly the oldest ones D. Luís Bridge and D. MAria Bridge this one designed by Gustav Eiffel.
Not to be missed Ponte D. Luís I , Livraria Lello , Torre dos Clerigos
Overall rating 10
Overall Guide : Wonderful! Magnificient! Just WoW !
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