History, culture and wine in Oporto Portugal

Posted by North South Travel Blogger · May 28 · in Porto, Portugal · about Culture & History

The city of Oporto overlooks the Douro River in an urban landscape that has a 2,000 year history. The city has been in existence from the time of Romans (it was known as Portus). Its uninterrupted growth has been linked to the sea and has many varied monuments such as the Romanesque cathedral, the neoclassical Stock Exchange and the Portuguese Manueline Church of Santa Clara.

The town’s historic center is of high aesthetic value. Its urban evidence showcases development from Roman, Medieval and Almadas eras. It is home to rich and varied architectural marvels that feature Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Modern styles of architecture in that order.

The social and institutional fabric of the town has ensured survival of the history as a military, agricultural and commercial urban center. The town is a collection of masterful works by various architects from different periods of time. Oporto has a scenic character defined by complexity of landforms and their harmonious articulation of roads. It represents a successful interaction of social and geographical environments.


Since the 8th century, the area on the banks of Douro River has been occupied. It got some Roman embellishment under the name ‘Portus’. In the 5th century, the barbarians arrived and the town quickly became their administrative and trading center. By 11th century, the city was firmly in the Castilian realm. In 1374, the town started expanding with the construction of a new town wall to encompass 2 urban areas, the old town and the extramural harbor.

By supporting the expeditions of Henry the Navigator, Oporto put itself on a pedestal position in welcoming English entrepreneurs who invested in vineyards located in the Douro valley. Within no time, Oporto had become the port of export for wines. With the money from these exports, the town inhabitant started building the Baroque buildings – some of which remain to date.

Oporto was where the Liberal Revolution if the 1820 started. It led to the seminal adoption of the Constitution by the monarchy in 1822. In the 19th century, the development of the town gradually moved from the banks of Douro River to Praca da Liberdade. In 1875, Gustave Eiffel built a bridge across the river and this ushered a new era of architectural development.

Points of Interest in the City

  • The 14th-century Fernandine walls
  • Gothic churches such as São Francisco, São Lourenço dos Grillos (Mannerist), Santa Clara (Gothic Manueline style), Nossa Senhora da Vitória (Renaissance), lgreja da Misericórdia (Baroque), and lgreja dos Clérigos of Niccolò Nazzoni
  • Public buildings – This includes the São João Theatre, the Palácio da Batalha, the Palácio das Sereias and the former Prison da Relação.
  • The neo-Palladian Hospital Sant'António
  • The Palace da Bolsa in neoclassical style
  • The Ferreira Borges Market
  • The São Bento railway station
  • The Paços do Concelho

Frankly, there is no better tourist destination in Portugal than Oporto. From the football clubs to ancient buildings to exotic wines, you will not regret that you chose this ancient city as your holiday destination.

For more information on accommodation in Porto or Flights to Portugal, please contact one of the Travel Specialists at North South Travel today

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