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Around Porto (cont.)

The second set of pictures from my February visit to Porto covers a number of key sights in the historic center of town, most of which are named in the WH inscription. You will probably find a bit of overlap between these pictures and the ones found in my first Porto retrospective, but this time I certainly stepped inside quite a few more places.

Starting with the church of Santa Clara, the 15th-century masterpiece that sports an interior so dazzling in its gold-plated design that individual details become kind of blurred. The overall impression is rather spectacular.
Porto
Porto
Porto
Porto
Porto
Porto
Porto
The cathedral of Porto contrastingly feels relatively muted when you first enter.
Porto
That is until you step closer to the apse.
Porto
Porto
But the main highlight here is the lovely tiled cloister.
Porto
Porto
Porto
Porto
Porto
More azulejos are found on the upper level.
Porto
Porto
The complex also includes an impressive chapter house with yet more tiles and a remarkable coffered ceiling.
Porto
Porto
Porto
And, of course, there are elevated views. This is the westward perspective, looking over the cathedral plaza towards Igreja de São Lourenço and Palácio da Bolsa beyond.
Porto
The tower in the upper right corner of the shot above belongs to the Church of Our Lady of Victory (and behind it, you can just discern Ponte da Arrábida in the distance, which we saw much closer in the previous set). Changing the angle a bit shifts them to the left side and brings into view the highest point in all of Porto – already well familiar to us Torre dos Clérigos.
Porto
And if we look south, the landscape is dominated by the Monastery of Serra do Pilar above Ponte Luís I.
Porto
A closer view towards Igreja da Misericórdia in the middle and Our Lady of Victory in the upper left corner…
Porto
… and the Old Prison and Court of Appeals building that nowadays houses the excellent Portuguese Centre of Photography.
Porto
The Episcopal Palace stands next to the cathedral and is of limited interest. Its grand staircase is the most impressive feature, complemented by a number of furnished rooms.
Porto
Porto
Porto
Porto
The not exactly hidden but also not exactly on the well-trodden path Largo da Pena Ventosa is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque corners of the cathedral precincts.
Porto
Porto
Porto
This view is from the viewpoint of Rua das Aldas, dominated by the impressive façade of the Saint Lawrence church. Palácio da Bolsa is seen here again, on the right of the frame. We will not go to the 19th-century landmark on this trip (we explored it pretty well during the first visit to Porto in 2019) but will have several panoramic views that include it in perspective.
Porto
St Lawrence offers a surprisingly restrained – compared to the majority of Portuguese churches – interior, even more so than the cathedral but lighter and airier, and not without eye-catching features.
Porto
Porto
Porto
As with a number of other churches in Porto (for instance, Carmo or Santo Ildefonso), there is a museum of religious art at St Lawrence, which prompts a nominal fee required to enter the church. Unusually for a place of worship, there is also a small archaeological museum situated around this pleasant courtyard.
Porto
From the towers of St Lawrence, the best view of the cathedral.
Porto
And another perspective of the river and the Bolsa Palace which is not too dissimilar to what we observed from cathedral towers, only a bit closer.
Porto
The tower bells combine rather well with perspectives of other landmarks, such as Clérigos or Serra do Pilar.
Porto
Porto
We are now at another excellent scenic overlook – Victoria, by the church that we noticed from the cathedral tower. It is midday, and that terrace looks significantly more crowded than in the early morning.
Porto
The wider angle takes in the places we’ve been to today: the cathedral, the episcopal palace, and the church of Saint Lawrence.
Porto
Somewhere in that cluster of buildings below the cathedral is Largo da Pena Ventosa.

You should surely be able to recognize the monastery of Serra do Pilar by now, another of a handful of prominent features of Porto that are seen from more or less every elevated viewpoint.
Porto
Muralha Fernandina, the remaining section of the medieval fortifications of Porto, marks the boundary of the historic town center that is inscribed on the WH list.
Porto
The waterfront district – its name, Ribeira, is directly translated as “riverside” – is among the most colorful in all of Porto, anchored by the eponymous plaza.
Porto
As we established during our first visit, Ribeira is best photographed from Vila Nova de Gaia on the opposite river bank. Both promenades are excellent vantage points to photograph the Bridge of Luis I. From this side of the river, Serra do Pilar appears in every angle.
Porto
Porto
Porto
Any respectable town has to have a dedicated place for love locks. In Porto, that is on the Gaia side by the Luis Bridge.
Porto
Porto
You may be tired of Serra do Pilar by now, but I will include another perspective: as seen from the cabin of Teleférico de Gaia.
Porto
And here are a few wide shots of the central Porto taken from the cable car. You should recognize the most prominent landmarks by this juncture without me mentioning them again.
Porto
Porto
Porto
A closeup of Ribeira waterfront.
Porto
And now we reached the high terrace of the monastery. The Fernandine walls, the bridge of Luis I, the cathedral, the episcopal palace, the tower of Clérigos, and a few other landmarks all come together in one perspective.
Porto
Porto
Clérigos looks deceptively close to the palace due to lens compression. On direct line, it is twice the distance.

The top level of the bridge of Luis I allows only light-rail and pedestrian traffic.
Porto
The wide angle over the river Douro, with part of the Gaia promenade seen in the lower left corner, part of Ribeira seen on the right, and both the Bolsa Palace and the bridge of Arrábida making additional appearances.
Porto
With a slightly longer focal distance, Ponte da Arrábida can make a better appearance complementing Bolsa and Ribeira view.
Porto
The round green roof in the upper right corner is the Pavilhão Rosa Mota, aka Super Bock Arena, the indoor venue in the middle of Jardins do Palácio de Cristal which was mentioned but not photographed in the previous installment.

A closer look at another colorful precinct sitting under the medieval walls.
Porto
The final picture in this set is the interior of the Chapel of Souls whose tiled exterior we glimpsed at in the aforementioned previous installment.
Porto
There was a mass in progress when I stopped by the chapel the first time. I came back another day to check whether the interior matched the exterior in splendor.

As I said on several occasions, Porto is awfully pretty and photogenic. If not for my general lack of enthusiasm for taking pictures with my phone, I would probably have another couple of sets from my additional days in town, when I continued to walk all through the picturesque locations but no longer carried my big camera with me. But that, I suspect, was just the right balance for me between being a coverage-obsessed tourist and an easygoing wanderer. I can’t help being the former but I feel that I more and more enjoy attempting to be the latter.

2 Comments

  1. Carolyn

    Spectacular! It’s interesting how the huddled buildings of the humanity that followed crowd the land around these miracles of architecture. We can only gape in amazement at the ancient accomplishments, somehow calling ourselves the “advanced” civilization… (I don’t think so!) Loved this entry from your journeying. 🙂

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