Overlooking the Douro River, Porto is one of the most ancient European cities; it was born and developed from the northern bank of this river during the Middle Ages. One of the most significant aspects of Porto and its historical centre is its landscape, combining harmony with the urban structure and presenting a frame of rare beauty.
Port Wine is a sweet fortified wine, exclusively produced in the Douro designated region, named after the city of Porto, where it is aged and bottled. Its unmistakable bouquet, body and flavour are due to the high quality of the grapes, as well as to the region's soil and climatic conditions.
The city was classified as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1996.
When discovering Porto, you will find many surprises. Besides its welcoming and conservative environment, Porto is also contemporany and artistic. This is shown not only in the streets, architecture, monuments and museums but also in the terraces, restaurants and leisure and shopping areas.
On the legend of its coat of arms, Porto is defined as "ancient, most noble, always loyal, invincible city". The city's symbols are the "Rabelo" boat, which can still be found docked on the banks of the river, the baroque Clérigos Tower (built by the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni) and the century-old iron bridges, one of them designed by Gustave Eiffel. Besides these emblematic buildings, Porto has a rich variety of monumental and artistic heritage. Being one of the oldest cities on the Iberian Peninsula, its strategic location at the mouth of the Douro guaranteed a tremendous ease in its dealings with other regions, and was a determining factor towards its development.
The Porto natives are proud of their history, of having actively taken part in fighting for the independence of the "Portucalense" County, which, just like the name of Portugal, originated from the fusion of the toponym "Portus" (Porto) and "Cale". These were Roman designations with reference to an anchorage located on the riverbank and a settlement on the site where the Sé Cathedral now stands. The cultural life of Porto is found not only in its historic buildings that link the past to the future, but also in institutions such as the São João Theatre, the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Romantic Museum, as well as in the permanent exhibitions and long running shows they host. Porto is also at the heart of a knowledge and business intensive region, offering several universities and research institutes, which stimulate a strong connection with industry, the service sector and IT enterprises.
More than a giant museum where a structured inheritance is concentrated, Porto offers the discovery of a magnificent repository of scenic, urban, architectural and artistic values where references to a city with memory persists.
Photos and text quotations: © Tourism Department of the Porto City Council