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

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.