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Porto ( ), also known as Oporto in English, is Portugalmarker's second city and the capital of Norte region. It is, along with Lisbonmarker, one of Portugal's two global cities. The city is located in the estuary of the Douro rivermarker in northern Portugal. Being the largest city in the region, it is considered the economic and cultural heart of the entire region. With an estimated population of about 220,000 (est.2008), it lies at the centre of the political Greater Metropolitan Area of Porto, with a population of slightly more than 1.7 million (est. 2008), and is the main agglomeration of northern Portugal.

The city of Porto comprises 15 civil parishes. The historic centre of Porto was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCOmarker in 1996. One of Portugal's most internationally famous products, Port wine, is named after the city because it is produced in, and shipped from the area or, more precisely, from Vila Nova de Gaia, a city just across the river which belongs to the same conurbation. The country was also named after the Latin name of Porto, Portus Cale.


Early history

Historic references to the city go back to the 4th century and to Roman times, although Celt and Proto-Celtic remnants of ancient Citadels were found in the heart of where Porto now lies. In the Roman period the city developed its importance as a commercial port, primarily in the trade between Olissipona (Lisbon) and Bracara Augusta (nowadays Braga), but would fall under the Moorish Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsulamarker in 711. In 868, Vímara Peres, a Christian warlord from Gallaecia and a vassal of the King of Asturias, Léon and Galicia, Alfonso III, was sent to reconquer and secure from the Moors the area from the Minho River to the Douro Rivermarker, including the city of Portus Cale, later Porto and Gaia, from where the name and political entity of Portugalmarker emerged (see Portucale). In 868 Count Vímara Peres established the First County of Portugal ( ), after the reconquest of the region north of the Douromarker river.

In 1387, this city was the scene for the marriage of João I and Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, symbolizing the long-standing military alliance between Portugal and England, the world's oldest military alliance, which still holds via NATOmarker.

In the 14th and the 15th centuries, the shipyards of Porto contributed to the development of the Portuguesemarker fleet. In 1415, Henry the Navigator, son of João I, left from Porto to conquest the Muslim port of Ceutamarker in northern Moroccomarker. This expedition led to the exploratory voyages that he later sent down the coast of Africa. Portuenses are referred to this day as "tripeiros", in reference to the fact that higher quality meat would be loaded onto ships to feed sailors, while off-cuts and by-products such as tripe would be left behind and eaten by the citizens of Porto. Tripe remains a culturally important dish in modern day Porto.

18th century

Avenida dos Aliados
Sculpture of Ângelo de Sousa at Avenida da Boavista, a services avenue
View from the Clerics Tower
Wine, produced in the Douro valley, was already in the 13th century transported to Porto in barcos rabelos (flat sailing vessels). In 1703 the Methuen Treaty established the trade relations between Portugal and England. In 1717, a first English trading post was established in Porto. The production of port wine then gradually passed into the hands of a few English firms. To counter this English dominance, Prime Minister Marquis of Pombal established a Portuguese firm receiving the monopoly of the wines from the Douro valley. He demarcated the region for production of port, to ensure the wine's quality; this was the first attempt to control wine quality and production in Europe. The small winegrowers revolted against his strict policies on Shrove Tuesday, burning down the buildings of this firm. The revolt was called Revolta dos Borrachos (revolt of the drunks) and became a symbol of the freedom spirit of the inhabitants of Porto.

Between 1732 and 1763, Italianmarker architect Nicolau Nasoni designed a baroque church with a tower that would become its icon: the Torre dos Clérigosmarker (English: Clerics Tower).During the 18th and 19th centuries the city became an important industrial centre and saw its size and population increase.

19th century

The invasion of the Napoleonic troops in Portugal under Marshal Soult is still vividly remembered in Porto. On 29 March 1809, as the population fled from the advancing troops and tried to cross the river Douro over the Ponte das Barcas (a pontoon bridge), the bridge collapsed under the weight. This event is still remembered by a plate at the Ponte D.marker Luis Imarker. The French army was rooted out of Porto by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, when his troops crossed the Douro river from the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar (a former convent) in a brilliant daylight coup de main.In August 1820, Porto rebelled against the English presence, resulting in a civil war in Portugal. In 1822, a liberal constitution was accepted, partly through the efforts of the liberal assembly of Porto (Junta do Porto). When Miguel of Portugal took the Portuguesemarker throne in 1828, he rejected this constitution and reigned as an absolutist monarch. Porto rebelled again and had to undergo a siege of eighteen months between 1832 and 1833 by the absolutist army. Porto is also called "Cidade Invicta" (English: Unvanquished City) after resisting the Miguelist siege. After the abdication of king Miguel the liberal constitution was re-established.

Known as the city of bridges, the first permanent bridge – the Ponte das Barcas (a pontoon bridge) – was built in 1806, but three years later, sabotaged. It was replaced by the Ponte D. Maria II popularized under the name Ponte Pênsil (suspended bridge) and built between 1841-43 and of which only the supporting pylons remain.

The Ponte D.marker Mariamarker, a railway bridge inaugurated the 4th of November of that same year, considered by then to be a feat of wrought iron engineering and designed by no other than Gustave Eiffel himself. But this bridge is not to be mistaken for the later Ponte Dom Luís Imarker, which was in turn to substitute the aforementioned Ponte Pênsil. This last bridge was made by Teophile Seyrig, a former partner of Eiffel, and its project won a governmental competition that took place in 1879. Building began in 1881 and it was opened to the public the 31st October 1886.

Unrest by republicans led to a revolt in Porto on 31 January 1891. This would result ultimately in the creation of the Portuguese Republicmarker in 1910.

A higher learning institution in nautical sciences (Aula de Náutica, 1762) and a stock exchange (Bolsa do Porto, 1834) were established in the city but would be discontinued later.

20th century

In 1958 and 1960, Porto's streets hosted the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix.

The historic centre of Porto was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. The World Heritage site is defined in two concentric zones; the "Protected area", and within it the "Classified area". The Classified area comprises the medieval borough located inside the 14th-century Romanesque wall.


In recent years, UNESCOmarker recognised its historic centre as a World Heritage Site. Among the architectural highlights of the city, Oporto Cathedralmarker is the oldest surviving structure, together with the small romanesque Church of Cedofeitamarker, the gothic Igreja de São Franciscomarker (Church of Saint Francis), the remnants of the city walls and a few 15th-century houses. The baroque style is well represented in the city in the elaborate gilt work interior decoration of the churches of St. Francis and St. Claire (Santa Clara), the churches of Mercy (Misericórida) and of the Clerics (Igreja dos Clérigosmarker), the Episcopal Palace of Porto, and others. The neoclassicism and romanticism of the 19th and 20th centuries also added interesting monuments to the landscape of the city, like the magnificent Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsamarker), the Hospital of Saint Anthony, the Municipality, the buildings in the Liberdade Square and the Avenida dos Aliados, the tile-adorned São Bento Train Stationmarker and the gardens of the Crystal Palace (Palácio de Cristal). A guided visit to the Palácio da Bolsamarker, and in particular the Arab Room, is a major tourist attraction.

In 2001, Porto shared the designation European Culture Capital. In the scope of these events, the construction of the major concert hall space Casa da Músicamarker, designed by the Dutchmarker architect Rem Koolhaas, was initiated and finished in 2005.

Many of the city's oldest houses are at risk of collapsing. The population in Porto municipality dropped by nearly 100,000 since the 1980s, but the number of permanent residents in the outskirts and satellite towns has grown strongly.

Porto is ranked number 3 in the Portuguesemarker most livable cities survey of living conditions published yearly by Expresso.


Porto city centre
A typical street in Porto.

The first Portuguese moving pictures were taken in Porto by Aurélio da Paz dos Reis and shown there on 12 November 1896 in Teatro do Príncipe Real do Porto, less than a year after the first public presentation by Auguste and Louis Lumière. The country's first movie studios Invicta Filmes was also erected in Porto in 1917 and was open from 1918 to 1927 in the area of Carvalhido. Manoel de Oliveira, a Portuguese film director and the oldest director in the world who is still active, is from Porto. Fantasporto is an international film festival organized in Porto every year.Many renowned Portuguese music artists and cult bands such as GNR, Rui Veloso, Sérgio Godinho, Clã, Pluto and Ornatos Violeta are from the city or its metropolitan area.Porto has several museums, concert halls, theaters, cinemas, art galleries, libraries and book shops. The best-known museums of Oporto are the National Museum Soares dos Reismarker (Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis), which is dedicated especially to the Portuguese artistic movements from the 16th to the 20th century, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Serralves Foundationmarker (Museu de Arte Contemporânea).The city has concert halls of a rare beauty and elegance such as the Coliseu do Portomarker by the Portuguese architect Cassiano Branco; an exquisite example of the Portuguese decorative arts. Other notable venues include the historical São João National Theatremarker, the Rivoli theatre, the Batalha cinemamarker and the recent Casa da Músicamarker. The city has a magnificent, and beautiful bookshop, "Lello", that was featured in third place in The Guardian's list of world's top bookshops. From the three top bookshops, Lello was the only one that was originally built to be a bookshop, as the other ones were, repectively, a church and a theatre.


Porto's most popular event is St. John (São João Festival ) on the night of 23 to 24 of June. In this season it's a tradition to have a vase with bush basil decorated with a small poem. During the dinner of the great day people usually eat sardines and boiled potatoes together with red wine.

Another major event is Queima das Fitas, that starts in the first Sunday of May and ends in the second Sunday of the month. Basically, before the beginning of the study period preceding the school year’s last exams, academia tries to have as much fun as possible. The week comprehends 12 events, starting with the Monumental Serenata on Sunday, reaching its peak with the Cortejo Académico on Tuesday, when about 50,000 students of the city's higher education institutions march through the downtown streets till they reach the city hall. During every night of the week a series of concerts takes place on the Queimódromo, next to the city’s park; here it’s also a tradition for the students in the second last year to erect small tents where alcoholic beverages are sold in order to finance the trip that takes place during the last year of their course; an average of 50 000 students attend these shows.


In 2005, the municipality funded a public sculpture to be built in the Waterfront Plaza of Matosinhos. The resulting sculpture is entitled She Changes by American artist, Janet Echelman, and spans the height of 50 × 150 × 150 meters.


Port wine is what the city is best known for.

Porto is home to a number of dishes from traditional Portuguese cuisine.

A typical dish from this city is Tripas à Moda do Porto (Tripes Porto style), which still can be found everywhere in the city today.

Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá (Gomes de Sá Bacalhau) is another typical codfish dish born in Porto and popular in Portugal.

The Francesinha (literally Frenchy) is the most famous popular native snack food in Porto. It is a kind of sandwich with several meats covered with cheese and a special sauce made with beer and other ingredients.

Port wine, an internationally renowned wine, is widely accepted as the city's dessert wine, especially being that the wine is made along the Douromarker River which runs through the city.


Roads and bridges

Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport.
The Metro do Porto.

The road system capacity is augmented by the Via de Cintura Interna or A20, an internal highway connected to several motorways and city exits, complementing the Circunvalação 4-lane peripheric road, which borders the north of the city and connects the eastern side of the city to the Atlantic shore. The city is connected to Valença by highway A28, to Estarreja by the A29, to Lisbon by the A1, to Amarante by the A4 and to Braga by the A3. There is also an outer-ring road the A41 that connects all the main cities around Porto, linking the city to other major metropolitan highways such as the A7, A11, A42, A43 and A44. In the future a new highway, the A32, is to connect the city to São João da Madeiramarker.

During the 20th century, major bridges were built: Arrábida Bridgemarker, which at its opening had the biggest concrete supporting arch in the world, and connects north and south shores of the Douro on the west side of the city, S. João, to replace D. Maria Pia and Freixo, a highway bridge on the east side of the city. The newest bridge is Ponte do Infante, finished in 2003. Two more bridges are said to be under designing stages and due to be built in the next 10 years, one on the Campo Alegre area, nearby the Faculty of Humanities and the Arts, and another one in the area known as the Massarelos valley.

Nowadays, Porto is often known as Cidade das Pontes (City of Bridges), "Cidade Invicta" (Invincible City) and "Capital do Norte" (The Capital of the North).


Porto is served by Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airportmarker which is located in Pedras Rubras, Moreira civil parish of the neighbouring Municipality of Maia, some 15 km to the north-west of the city centre. The airport is a state-of-the-art facility, having undergone a massive programme of refurbishment due to the Euro 2004 football championships being partly hosted in the city.

Public transport


Porto's main railway station is situated in Campanhãmarker, located in the eastern part of the city (connecting to the lines of Douro (Peso da Régua/Tua/Pocinho), Minho (Barcelos/Viana do Castelo/Valença) and Norte (on the main line to Aveiro, Coimbra and Lisbonmarker). From here, both light rail and suburban rail services connect to the city centre. The main central station is São Bento Stationmarker, which is itself a notable landmark located in the heart of Porto.

Subway/Light rail

Currently the major project is the Porto Metro system. Consequently, the Infante bridge was built for urban traffic, replacing the Dom Luís I, which was dedicated to the subway on the second and higher of the bridge's two levels. Five lines are open: lines A (blue), B (red), C (green) and E (purple) all begin at Estádio do Dragãomarker (home to FC Porto) and terminate at Senhor do Matosinhos, Póvoa de Varzimmarker (via Vila do Condemarker), ISMAI (via Maia) and Francisco Sá Carneiro airport respectively. Line D (yellow) currently runs from Hospital S. João in the north to D. João II on the southern side of the Douro river. The lines intersect at the central Trindade station. Currently the whole network spans 60 km (37 miles) using 68 stations, thus being the biggest metro system in the country.


The city has an extensive bus network run by the STCP (Sociedade dos Transportes Colectivos do Porto, or Porto Public Transport Society) which also operates lines in the neighbouring cities of Gaia, Maia and Gondomarmarker. Other smaller companies connect such towns as Paços de Ferreira and Santo Tirsomarker to the town center. In the past the city also had trolleybuses.


A tram network, of which only a tourist line on the shores of the Douro remain, saw its construction begin in 12 September 1895, therefore being the first in the Iberian Peninsulamarker.

Porto Light Rail opened in January 2003.



Porto has a cool-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb) with substantial winter rainfall. As a result, its climate shares many characteristics with the coastal south: warm, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Unlike the south, however, cool and rainy interludes can interrupt the dry season and the season's average length is usually shorter.

Summers are typically sunny with average temperatures between 15°C and 27°C but can rise to as high as 40°C during occasional heat waves. During such heat waves the humidity remains quite low, but nearby forest fires can add haze and ash to the air making breathing somewhat uncomfortable, especially at night. Nearby beaches are often windy and usually cooler than the urban areas. In contrast, occasional summer rainy periods may last a few days and are characterized by showers and cool temperatures of around 22°C in the afternoon.

Winter temperatures typically range between 5°C during morning and 14°C during afternoon but rarely drop below 0°C at night. The weather is often rainy for long stretches although prolonged sunny periods do occur.


has always rivaled Lisbonmarker in economic power. As the most important city in the heavily industrialised northwest, many of the largest Portuguese corporations from diverse economic sectors, like Altri, Ambar, Amorim, Bial, Cerealis, BPI, CIN, EFACEC, Frulact, Lactogal, Millennium bcp, Porto Editora, Grupo RAR, Sonae, Sonae Indústria, and Unicer, are headquartered in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Porto, most notably, in the core municipalities of Maia, Matosinhos, Porto, and Vila Nova de Gaia.

The country's biggest exporter (Petrogal) has one of its two refineries near the city, in Leça da Palmeiramarker (13 km) and the second biggest (Qimonda, now bankrupt) has its only factory also near the city in Mindelo (26 km).

The city's former stock exchange (Bolsa do Porto) was transformed into the largest derivatives exchange of Portugal, and merged with Lisbon Stock Exchange to create the Bolsa de Valores de Lisboa e Porto, which eventually merged with Euronext, together with Amsterdam, Brussels, LIFFE and Paris stock and futures exchanges. The building formerly hosting the stock exchange is currently one of the city's touristic attractions, the Salão Árabe (Arab Room in English) being its major highlight.

Porto hosts a popular Portuguese newspaper, Jornal de Notícias. The building where its offices are located (which has the same name as the newspaper) was up to recently one of the tallest in the city (it has been superseded by a number of modern buildings which have been built since the 1990s).

Porto Editora, one of the biggest Portuguese publishers, is also in Porto. Its dictionaries are among the most popular references used in the country, and the translations are very popular as well.

The economic relations between the city of Porto and the Upper Douro Rivermarker have been documented since the Middle Ages. However, they were greatly deepened in the modern ages. Indeed, sumach, dry fruits and nut and the Douro olive oils sustained prosperous exchanges between the region and Porto. From the riverside quays at the river mouth, these products were exported to other markets of the Old and New World. But the greatest lever to interregional trade relations resulted from the commercial dynamics of the Port wine (Vinho do Porto) agro industry. It decidedly bolstered the complementary relationship between the large coastal urban centre, endowed with open doors to the sea, and a region with significant agricultural potential, especially in terms of the production of extremely high quality fortified wines, today known by the world-famous label Port. The development of Porto was also closely connected with the left margin of River Douro in Vila Nova de Gaia, where is located the amphitheatre-shaped slope with the Port wine cellars.

In a study concerning competitiveness of the 18 Portuguese district capitals, Porto was the worst-ranked. The study was made by Minho Universitymarker economics researchers and was published in Público newspaper on 30 September 2006. The best-ranked cities in the study were Évora, Lisbonmarker and Coimbra. Nevertheless, the validity of this study was questioned by some Porto's notable figures (such as local politicians and businesspersons) who argued that the city proper does not function independently but in conurbation with other municipalities. A new ranking, published in the newspaper Expresso in 2007 which can be translated to "The Best Cities to Live in Portugal" ranked Porto in third place (tied with Évora) below Guimarães and Lisbonmarker. The two studies are not directly comparable as they use different dependent measures.


The city has a large number of public and private basic and secondary schools, as well as kindergartens and nurseries. Due to the depopulation of the city's interior, however, the number of students has dropped substantially in the last decade, forcing a closure of some institutions. The largest and oldest international school located in Porto is the Oporto British School established in 1894.

Porto has several institutions of higher education, the larger one being the state-managed University of Porto (Universidade do Porto), which is the largest Portuguese university with approximately 28,000 students. There are also a state-managed polytechnic institute, the Instituto Politécnico do Porto (a group of technical colleges), and privately-owned institutions like the Universidade Fernando Pessoamarker (UFP), the Porto's Higher Education School of Arts (ESAP- Escola Superior Artística do Porto) and a Vatican statemarker university, the Portuguese Catholic University at Porto (Universidade Católica Portuguesa - Porto) and the Portucalense University at Porto (Universidade Portucalense - Infante D. Henrique). Due to the recognition, potential for employment and higher revenue, there are many students from the entire country and particularly from the north of Portugal, attending a college or university in Porto.

For foreigners wishing to study Portuguese in the city, there are a number of options. As the most popular city in Portugal for ERASMUS students, most universities have facilities to assist foreigners in learning the language. There are also several private learning institutions in the city, such as the Fast Forward Language Institute

Public health

Porto district has the highest rate of tuberculosis positive cases in Portugal. Porto tuberculosis rates are at Third World proportions (comparatively, Londonmarker faces a similar phenomenon ). The incidence of positive cases was 23/100 000 nationwide in 1994, with a rate of 24/100 000 in Lisbon and 37/100 000 in Porto. Porto area represented the worst epidemiological situation in the country, with very high rates in some city boroughs and in some poor fishing and declining industrial communities. Epidemiological analysis indicated the existence of undisclosed sources of infection in these communities, responsible for continuing transmission despite a cure rate of 83% in the district. In 2002, the situation was not better with 34/100 000 nationwide and 64/100 000 in Porto district. In 2004 the situation improved to 53/100 000.


Like most Portuguese cities, football is the most important sport in the city. There are three main teams in Porto. the First one is Top division champion F.C. Porto. The second one is Boavista F.C. which was once a team from the top division , but due to problems it went from the top to the lowest division. The last one is S.C. Salgueiros, it was one of the most regular first division clubs during the 1980s and 1990s , but they felt into heavy debts and now they play in the regionals. The major ground on the city is the Estádio do Dragãomarker , while Estádio do Bessamarker, which was also a major ground was taken off from Boavista F.C. Both of them were stadiums used for some Euro 2004 games which took place in the city. Salgueiros, who sold their Vidal Pinheiro ground to the Porto Metro company planned to build a new one in the Arca d'Água zone, few hundred meters away from the old grounds, but due to a large underground water pocket, it is impossible to build there, and so they moved to the Estádio do Mar in Matosinhos, owned by Leixões S.C.. There are other football grounds, with sand or dirt surfaces, owned by clubs in the amateur league, with the exception of FC Porto's old stadium, the Campo da Constituição, which is now a footballing school.FC Porto won the UEFA Champions League in 1987 (then known as the European Cup) and in 2004. Their long time president, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, is one a major figure in Portuguese football. He managed to establish FC Porto as one of the most powerful European football clubs and reduce the influence of the Lisbon clubs. José Mourinho coached Porto to a victory in the 2003 UEFA Cup (beating Celtic in the final in the Estadio Olímpico de Sevillamarker) and their 2004 Champions League win which was clinched with a victory over Monaco. FC Porto also won the Intercontinental Cup (also known as the Toyota Cup) in 1987 and once again in 2004.

There are other sports arenas in Porto, notably the city-owned Pavilhão Rosa Motamarker (now unused due to a bad relationship between the mayor and the FC Porto board), swimming pools in the Constituição area, between the Marquês and Boavista, and other minor arenas, such as the Pavilhão do Académico.

Porto is also home to the North of Portugal's only cricket club, the Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club. Every year, for more than 100 years, a match, the Kendall Cup, has been played between the Oporto Club and the Casuals Club of Lisbonmarker, as well as various games against touring teams, mainly from Englandmarker. The Club and pitch are located off Rua Campo Alegre.

In 1958 and 1960, Porto's streets hosted the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix on the Boavista street circuitmarker. Now every year , they do reenactments of the races. Circuito da Boavista also hosts a race of WTCC.

In Athletics competitions, every year in October is the Porto Marathon in the streets of the town.


International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Porto is twinned with:

Partner towns

Within the context of development cooperation, Porto is also linked to:

Famous inhabitants


External links

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