A step back in time during a day visit to Porto in northern Portugal. With its wide central boulevard, old historical buildings, trams, azulejo adorned churches and the famed book store featured as Harry Potter’s library; it is a place full of charm!
Livraria Lello & Irmao Historic Book Store
This picturesque bookstore dates back to the late 19th century and is at the Rue de Carmelitas 144. Two local brothers bought it as an existing bookstore and by 1906 they had transformed the interior into what we see today. It has an exquisite interior with a central iconic red stairway that has featured in Harry Potter movies. Entrance tickets are bought a couple of doors away for a few euros per person. Backpacks and other bulky items can be stored in the secure lockers located close by the ticket counter. The bookstore is a popular place, so arriving early will give you a bit more elbow room!
Clerigos Church and Cleric Tower
This Baroque styled church is a distinctive landmark visible from many parts of the city. Finished in 1750, it wasn’t until 1763 that the accompanying ‘Clerics Tower’, at a height of 75m, was rendered complete. Trams run right by both the church and the nearby businesses .
Praça da Liberdade (Liberty Square)
This square, bounded by old 18th century buildings, was once the economic, political and social centre of Porto. It is a popular boulevard with plenty to see: Statues of King Peter IV riding a horse holding the constitution he fought to protect; Almedia Garrett, a great local figure of Portuguese Romanticism; the Porto City Hall; are all within a few minutes walk.
Igreja do Carmo
This Baroque themed church, built in the mid 18th century for the Carmelite order, displays a side façade of a typical azulejo (blue and white tiles) styled scene depicting the foundation of the order. To feast your eyes on this church, head to the intersection of Rua de Carlos Alberto and Praca de Gomes Teixeira.
Igreja de Santa Clara
This Catholic church is found on the Rua de Santa Clara and dates back to the 15th century. Now classified as a historic monument, it is under state care. In the church grounds stands a statue of Count Vimara Peres, the First Count of Portugal. Walking to the edge of the church grounds will give you some great views overlooking the river and the surrounding city dwellings.
Jardim da Cordoaria
This park, close by the Clerics Church, is located on Rua Doutor Antonio Sousa Macedo. It gives you the opportunity to get amongst a bit of greenery and is within a short walk of all the sights. In addition, from here you can watch the vintage trams rattle by, and feed the birds. A great place to sit for a while and take in your surroundings.
Capela de Santa Catarina (Church of Souls)
With its 360 square metres and nearly 16,000 tiles, this small church on the Rua de Sanata Catarine, is an amazing example of azulejo or the decorative blue /white tiles. Re-tiled in 1929, the building depicts scenes of the life of St Francis of Assisi and St Catherine.
Igreja do Santo Ildefonso Church
This 18th century Baroque-styled granite church shows off its typical azulejo facades on the building and bell towers. It displays around 11,000 tiles which depicts the life of Saint Ildefonso. The church is just off the Praca da Batalha.
Porto is a charming town which resonates with a distinctive vibe of both the old and new worlds. It should make every traveller’s ‘visit list’, when planning a trip to Portugal.
Considering a visit to Portugal or have already visited? Do you have any recommendations on some ‘not to be missed’ places? We would love to hear back from you.
Being an Australian boy brought up in the country, I learnt at an early age to enjoy the freedom and beauty of nature. Leaving Australia at the age of 20, although I didn’t know it then, would be the beginning of a life of adventure. So join me here on our travels and see the world through my eyes.