Top Historic Sights in Porto, Portugal

Explore the historic highlights of Porto

Dom Luís I Bridge

The Dom Luís I Bridge is a double-deck metal arch bridge that spans the River Douro between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal. At its construction, its 172 metres span was the longest of its type in the world. Construction took place between 1881 and 1886 with the bridge being built adjacent to an existing bridge which it replaced. The granite pillars of the original bridge are still i ...
Founded: 1881-1886 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Livraria Lello

The Lello Bookstore (Livraria Lello) is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal and frequently rated among the top bookstores in the world. It originally dates from 1869, but Lello brothers built a new bookstore on the current location in 1906. It was designed by engineer Francisco Xavier Esteves. The building"s exterior has a mixed architectural suggesting Neo-Gothic, and Art Nouveau elements, and in the in ...
Founded: 1906 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Sacred Art and Archaeology Museum

The Museum of Sacared Art and Archaeology, part of Porto"s Seminário Maior de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, is housed in a 17th Century wing of the former Jesuit College. The museum"s remarkable, rich and varied treasures are accommodated in a dynamic and artistically vibrant space that is open to the community and engaged in conserving and communicating the collection. What was once known as the "corridor ...
Founded: 1958 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Porto Cathedral

The Porto Cathedral one of the city's oldest monuments and one of the most important local Romanesque monuments. Unlike what's often written, the current Cathedral of Porto was not built under the patronage of Bishop Hugo since the pre-Romanesque church is still mentioned in the De Expugnatione Lyxbonensias still extant in 1147. This means the present building was only started in the second half of the century and it ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Porto, Portugal

Historic Centre of Porto

The city of Porto (Oporto), built along the hillsides overlooking the mouth of the Douro river, is an outstanding urban landscape with a 2,000-year history. Its continuous growth, linked to the sea (the Romans gave it the name Portus, or port), can be seen in the many and varied monuments, from the cathedral with its Romanesque choir, to the neoclassical Stock Exchange and the typically Portuguese Manueline-style Church o ...
Founded: 5th century AD | Location: Porto, Portugal

Clérigos Church

The Clérigos Church ('Church of the Clergymen') is a Baroque church in Porto. Its tall bell tower, the Torre dos Clérigos, can be seen from various points of the city and is one of its most characteristic symbols. The church was built for the Brotherhood of the Clérigos (Clergy) by Nicolau Nasoni, an Italian architect and painter who left an extense work in the north of Portugal during the 18th cent ...
Founded: 1732-1750 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Church of São Francisco

The Church of Saint Francis (Igreja de São Francisco) is the most prominent Gothic monument in Porto, being also noted for its outstanding Baroque inner decoration. The Franciscan Order was established in Porto around 1223. They began building the convent and a first, small church dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi around 1244. In 1383, under the patronage of King Ferdinand I, the Franciscans began to bui ...
Founded: 1383 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Palácio da Bolsa

The Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa) palace was built in the 19th century by the city"s Commercial Association in Neoclassical style. The Palácio da Bolsa is located beside the St Francis Church of Porto, which was once part of the St Francis Convent, founded in the 13th century. In 1832, during the Liberal Wars, a fire destroyed the cloisters of the convent, sparing the church. In 1841, Queen Mary ...
Founded: 1842 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Porto City Hall

Porto City Hall with a monumental tower is one of Porto’s landmarks. Even though the construction started in 1920, it was not finished until 1957. The building consists of six floors. The clock tower, 70 meters high, is accessible by a staircase of 180 steps. The interior, made of marble and granite, is richly decorated.
Founded: 1920-1957 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Serra do Pilar Monastery

The Monastery of Serra do Pilar has been a Cultural Heritage of Humanity site since 1996 and provides an unequalled view of the city of Porto. Its construction began in 1538 and it was completed in 1670. It housed the Augustinian Friars of the Monastery of Grijo until it became occupied by the Liberal army during the Civil War of 1832-1834, during which it was damaged. The Royal Brotherhood of Nossa Senhora do Pilar, esta ...
Founded: 1538 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Soares dos Reis National Museum

Soares dos Reis National Museum is the first Portuguese national museum exhibiting collections of Portuguese art, including a collection by Portuguese sculptor António Soares dos Reis, from which the museum derives its name. The museum was founded in 1833 as Museum Portuense by King Peter IV. Initially it was housed in the Convent of Santo António (in the centre of Porto), exhibiting religious art confiscated from ...
Founded: 1833 | Location: Porto, Portugal

João Baptista da Foz Fortress

The Fortress San João Baptista da Foz do Douro was built in the late sixteenth century to better protect the coast and the mouth of the Douro River. The monument is occupied today by the Regional Delegation of the Institute of National Defense. It is a fine example of military architecture. The original basic structure was enhanced with more recent bulwarks. The Lawn Tennis Club da Foz is located at the foot of the Fort. ...
Founded: 1570 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Luxembourg Palace

The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.

The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.

In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.

During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.

Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.

The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.

During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.