Of course, there can’t be only 7 reasons to visit and photograph Porto. There are so many and so good reasons that it was not possible here and now to list them all. It is, therefore, that we suggest “only” these 7 that already justify a visit that is a delight not only for photographers as for all people. But (even here there’s a “but”), you may like it so much that you risk being in the mood to come here to live. It would not be the first !!!
1 – The People
Portugal has long been recognized as a country that enjoys receiving visitors, but Porto, even more! The writer Manuel de Sousa in his book Porto D’Honra said: “… the strong neighborhood and the unserpassed hospitality.” Photographing Porto’s people are portraits for life.
2 – The Douro River
Born in lands of Spain, it enters in Portugal through the province of Trás-os-Montes and leaves its mark on the way to the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean. He brings with him many stories of achievements and it is to looking at him that Porto was born and lives every day. It is on the banks of the Douro that extends the most characteristic and the most beautiful area of Porto, the Ribeira. Photographing the Douro River is a stream of inspiration.
3 – The Bridges
There are six bridges that cross the Douro River and connect the banks of the two neighboring cities, Porto and Gaia.
Starting at the oldest, the D. Maria Pia railway bridge, designed by Eng. Gustave Eiffel (the same of the Paris tower), inaugurated in 1877, now deactivated and replaced by the S. João bridge in 1991, passing through the modern bridges of Freixo and Infante, by the fantastic and imposing bridge of the Arrábida and ending in the iconic and singular bridge Luis I with its double-deck metal arch. It is a feast for any photographer whose most difficult task is to have the courage to stop taking pictures.
4 – The Arquitecture
There are buildings whose architecture crosses much of the city history, from the Tower of Rua do Baixo of the thirteenth century, in Ribeira, passing through the innumerable projects by the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni, the most emblematic without a doubt the Church and Tower of Clérigos, the S. João National Theater built at the beginning of the 20th century and designed by the Portuguese architect Marques da Silva, to the modernist House of Music, designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, as part of the European Capital of Culture event in 2001, and the headquarters of Vodafone, designed by the architects José António Barbosa and Pedro Guimarães, in the top 20 of the most spectacular creative offices in the world, is a journey that enchants and unveils the rich history. Making a photographic itinerary with architectural motifs is for it self a great story.
Vodafome headquarters building
5 – Parks and Gardens
The “Parque da Cidade”, Portugal’s largest urban park, stretches out to the sea and consists of a sophisticated landscape of lakes, varied flora and fauna, the Palacio de Cristal gardens with multiple viewpoints of the city and river, the magnificent gardens of the House and Museum of Serralves, the romantic gardens of Cordoaria and Botânico, and many others that can not be listed here. They are all pearls to be photographed.
6 – The Monuments
This city of Porto is also rich in monuments such as the ex-libris Torre dos Clérigos with its 75 meters of height that we can rise by its 240 steps and where you can see splendorous views of the city, the several stretches of medieval walls where there are still some of the old city gates, the imposing cathedral that dominates the city, the luxuriant S. Francisco church, the magnificent church of S. Clara, the almost unknown but fantastic church and museum of S. Pedro de Miragaia, the Palace of the Stock Exchange with its miraculous Arabic Salon, S. Bento Railway Station with its interior covered with more than 20.000 magnificent tiles that depict important episodes of Portugal’s history as well, excerpts from the 19th Century life in Portugal, and so many others that only a leisurely visit to the city will allow to know. Any of them is an attraction for any photographer who wants to add his story to the Porto´s history.
Porto’s Cathedral at night
7 – The Viewpoints
It is for many people, the most beautiful city in Europe and one of the most wonderful in the world. One of the reasons that contribute to this conviction has to do with its multiple viewpoints of the city. From the Serra do Pilar, on the south bank already in Gaia city, the perspective that is enjoyed there is splendorous, perhaps one of the most impressive images about a city that can be had. From the Vitória viewpoint you can see the all historical center, the Luis I bridge and the Serra do Pilar, and from the Virtudes Promenade, the sunset over the sea is unforgettable. And they are just some of the many who wait for you there. You may say that the beauty is so great that the cameras do not need the photographer.
Porto, Can’t Miss It!
Photos & text:
José Manuel Santos
Pictury Photo Tours is crossing borders in the company of my friends Ugo Cei from Italy and Ralph Velasco from the USA, great photographers and Photo Tour international leaders who have been kind enough to interview me recently.
You can listen below and follow us at www.picturyphototours.com
So says Sérgio Godinho’s song, singer-songwriter of Porto that I admire. Music is part of our lives, has an extraordinary effect on the awakening of emotions and the words sung in Portuguese are blessed.
Today I write with a peace and a feeling that from now everything will go well. It feels so good …
Yesterday we officially inaugurated Pictury Photo Tours, joining a group of friends for a small photo tour through Porto, that city of cobbled, narrow and old alleyways that is always there for us and we feel how much it likes to be shared. We start at Virtudes Garden, always different in each visit, but where we feel always free.
Next stop, the Church of S. Pedro de Miragaia, with its magnificent altarpiece, beautiful! We were greeted by D Zulmira, whom I thank for the generosity and sympathy with which she made known to us the whole filling of this church that is well worth the visit.
Now let’s all be (when I say everyone is really everyone, because me and our children did not know what was going to happen, everything was prepared by my husband) surprised (always liked to surprise and did not lose the way …) by our guide. We have a 5D movie session about Porto that I highly recommend. It’s a different and fun way to see Porto.
The ride is almost over. We are going to walk along a narrow street that ends in a staircase leading to a small square where there are only 3 doors, we have to go back. Very curious and unusual.
A wonderful dinner is waiting for us at Espiga, which is a really nice space with a concern to promote cultural initiatives that for me are important to the city and where we eat well.
We finished the day with the presentation of a beautiful video (I know I’m suspicious, but I really like it) with compliments from renowed international photographers who know about my husband’s work. Thank you all.
Finally, I want to thank all those who were present and those that can’t but are “cheering” for us since the beginning
I still want to say that, despite giving a lot of work, it has been a pleasure for me to collaborate in this project that, even though it is not mine, has all my love. I will always be willing to welcome you with my biggest smile.
Maria José Dias
Oporto’s Winter Sun
From the narrow balcony
I feel the sun invade me.
With eyes closed
I see this beautiful city.
The tower, of Teixeira de Pascoaes, arises proudly:
“Oporto squeezed up”.
We descend the precious staircase lined with stained glass that leads to the street. Let’s start our crusade of accidental tourists.
First visit, the house of the photo in front of the garden with the “my” trees that, although ill, grew and became gorgeous. We enjoy, with eyes wide open, all the exposed images, because they are worth it. We continue our walk along the steep streets, winding and full of history of this city towards the viewpoint that is of the virtues, it will be, perhaps, by the stunning view. But for me, what most fills my soul is the wonderful sculpture of the master José Rodrigues (I miss him…), horses and men from / to iron that so well symbolize the beauty and strength of these people (tripeiros).
Must stop at the tavern Sto. Antonio of Mr. Vitor whose sympathy is so captivating that makes you eat or drink even without hunger or thirst. The tour is not over yet, some old, worn stairs that end up right next to the S. Domingos square are waiting for us and where there is a guy so typical that he gives me a humorous phrase: “It’s good that there is no lift.” Separation of group, I continue with the youngers, street of flowers above and another unmissable stop in what is perhaps the most charming and precious tea room, as the name indicates, the goldsmithing Alliance. What a pleasant and surprising conversation!
We are almost at the end of this journey, but we are still going up the street of Clérigos, that of the tower that I spoke at the beginning and from which one can not look away, although we have to do it in order not to lose all the balconies of twisted iron, a masterpiece. So good! I finally love this city, which, being not mine, I feel, breathe and live as if it were.
Maria José Dias
Pictury Photo Tours
The choice of the winning city never has been so unanimous among travellers from all other the world. It is with the votes of worldwide travellers from 174 countries that Porto wins this European title again for the third time (2012, 2014, 2017). Travellers from the USA, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, South-Africa, South Korea, Ireland and Canada, among others,… voted Porto in the first place in this competition.
Porto is exceptional in more ways than one and the “Cidade Invicta” (unvanquished city) is history, is architecture, culture, gastronomy, trade, encounters and discoveries, will seduce you.
Porto has all the charm of towns which happily cohabit with their river. You can stroll along the River Douro (river of gold) in Cais da Ribeira, fly over it by helicopter or discover Porto’s architecture, its amazing landscapes and magnificent bridges by taking a cruise on this majestic river. Porto is also a sea city and in the briefest of time a tram will bring you to Foz do Douro’s gentle beaches face to face with the Atlantic.
Enter the sumptuously cool Palacio da Bolsa, and walk through history with Portuguese adventurers, follow the country’s trade routes and be stunned by the treasures which they brought back. Remarkable buildings such as the Sé Catédral and its terraces offer superb viewpoints over a bustle of markets, grocery stores, bars, restaurants…