One reason I love to travel in Europe is discovering the various cultures of each place. No two are really alike. There’s the sophistication of Paris, the multi-culturalism of London, the history of Rome — and the appreciation of its past shown in every city by the care and protection given to its old structures. Like many European cities I have visited, Porto Portugal displays its history on its streets — the centuries when the city was rich and and the ones that were not. Here’s a quick archaeological tour that displays Porto across many centuries.
I saw no visible signs of Roman Porto, nor did I read of any I might have missed seeing. The romanesque cathedral, shown above, is said to be the oldest building in the city. It was begun in the year 1110.
Markets are my favorite places to visit in European cities. Except for a few places in America (Philadelphia and Seattle come immediately to mind) we don’t have the traditional large markets that are found in Europe. Porto’s marketplace is unlike any other I’ve visited. It is a covered (indoor) market, a city block long and three stories high.
As in many markets, shoppers can find a wide variety of produce and goods in the marketplace. The photos below give you a good example of what’s on offer there.
One of the most interesting sights I found there yesterday and again today was a man playing an old organ-grinder’s instrument. He was accompanied by his young daughter who sits beside him patiently biding time. Look closely at these photos to see the three birds they bring with them including what I believe is an albino chicken.
The produce in this market looked especially appealing. I suppose that has something to do with the time of year it is now. It made me wish for a kitchen.
Porto is a town with a reputation for being lively and fun and that it is. It’s also very historic, filled with beautiful buildings that are centuries old. People have lived in Portugal since before history began. The Porto cathedral was begun in the year 1110 AD but there may have been a bishop here since the 6th century.
Porto lies on the river Douro a few miles inland from the Atlantic, in the northern part of Portugal. Port wine is made up-river and Porto has been its trading port for hundreds of years, making it sometimes a very rich town. But not always.
The 20th century wasn’t so good here, it seems. Many — perhaps a majority — of the old homes and business buildings are derelict and abandoned. There are workmen and cranes to be seen everywhere, but I think for every old beauty being brought to life again there are many who are still neglected and empty.
There’s a wide variety of ways to spend time in Porto. I’ve been walking all day, every day, seeing all I can. Many people spend the day at the nearby beaches and the evenings in the city. It’s a very affordable place to visit. I’ve been paying just €1.50 for a glass of wine and no more than €10 for dinner in a nice restaurant.
I’m staying in one of the best AirBnB rentals I’ve had, located just off a main avenue about a mile from the river. Yesterday was my birthday (one of those terrible ones for an age ending in zero!) and my lovely “landlady” brought me a box full of delicious Portuguese pastries. That was so nice.