Porto Historic Center Guide
Vibrant and irreverent. With soul. With an accent. With color. With people. This city that gave its name to Portugal, had its Historic Center classified as Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1996. The area extends between the oldest parishes of Porto and Gaia is a testemonial to the medieval origins of the city, being a unique example of urban landscape endowed with identity, character and aesthetics. It's here that monuments of undeniable historical emerge, in an act of stubbornness and resistance.
This is where the pulse of life in Porto takes place, in a city that is both history and future.
We have createted a brief tour through the Porto Historic Center, so that you can fall in love with the Invicta City as much as we do…
Just a few steps from the Moon & Sun Hotel Porto, you will find Square Carlos Alberto – one of the city's ex-libris. The square owes its name to the homonymous Italian king, who, dethroned from the throne in 1849, chose Porto to live, precisely in the Palacete de Viscondes de Balsemão, in the heart of Carlos Alberto Square. Currently, Carlos Alberto is surrounded by several cafes, restaurants and shops, being the ideal place to gain energy for the adventure ahead.
Head towards Gomes Teixeira Square and here you will find the fantastic building of the University of Porto Rectorate, which is also part of the Natural History Museum. The neoclassical building was designed by Carlos Amarante and is from 1807. Amazing, right?
This staircase doesn’t trick anyone: classified as a monument of Public Interest – and on the way to becoming a National Monument – Livraria Lello is one of the oldest bookstores in Porto.
The neo-Gothic façade, the emblematic stained glass window and the shelves full of books have attracted thousands of visitors. It's worth the visit!
Keep on track and head towards Clérigos Tower. If your energies are fully charged and have enough breath, climb the steps and marvel at the panoramic view of Porto. The perspective is slightly different from the Moon & Sun Rooftop view, so we think it's worth a try.
If you don't want or can't go up, a multisensory perception post has been installed in the ground level. It simulates the ascent experience, being accessible and available to all visitors.
Follow Rua dos Clérigos towards Avenida dos Aliados and take a moment to appreciate the architectural beauty of Praça da Liberdade.
Considered by many to be the heart of the city, this is where you will find the Porto City Council building, the Bank of Portugal delegation, the Equestrian Statue of D. Pedro IV and the famous sculpture “Ardina”, by Manuel Dias.
The square also has several restaurants and luxury stores. If you want to buy a special gift, you can do so here.
Arrivals and departures: São Bento Railway Station has established itself as one of the main monuments in Porto, being especially acclaimed for its tile panels. French-influenced, the railway station was designed by the Porto architect José Marques da Silva and was officially opened on October 5, 1916. A visit to its interior is a must!
Follow to one of the most beautiful pedestrian streets in the historic center: Rua das Flores. Parallel to the equally beautiful Mouzinho Silveira street, the renovated Rua das Flores has a very diverse commerce - bars, restaurants and traditional shops. Here you will also find several street artists – musicians, painters or even photographers – so we advise you to enjoy the best that this area has to offer.
A must stop: even before reaching Ribeira, you will find Palácio da Bolsa – National Monument, designed in 1842 so that the city's businessmen would have a place to meet. The famous Salão Árabe and the Pátio das Nações are authentic pieces of art and worth a visit. Absolutely magnificent!
If you still have enough energy, visit the Church of S. Francisco and the Ferreira Borges Market (Hard Club) – they are historical monuments and also amazing.
We are almost at the end of our tour, but we still need to cross D. Luís bridge. Shall we follow?
This magnificent metal bridge connects Porto and Gaia cities, was built between 1881 and 1886, and aimed to replace the old suspension bridge that existed in the same place. It was designed by the Belgian engineer Théophile Sevring, who had previously collaborated with Gustave Eiffel, in the construction of the D. Maria Pia Bridge.
Both platforms allow pedestrian crossing, so the path to Jardim do Morro is your choice…what we guarantee is that both views are wonderful.
Now, we have reached the end of our tour. Rest, sit on the grass of Jardim do Morro and enjoy this breathtaking view to confirm what we said at the beginning of this journey: the historic center of Porto has an unrivaled urban landscape full of character and identity.
Jardim do Morro is located at Serra do Pilar, next to the upper platform of D. Luís bridge. It has a lake, a bandstand and a wide variety of plant species. An oasis with an unparallel view of the magnificent city of Porto.