Porto, Portugal

We’ve just come back from a whistle-stop visit to Porto and Lisbon. Here are our highlights from the Porto visit. Some top places to visit, some great architecture and the best places to chill out.

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This church was the first thing we saw when we emerged from the metro station in Porto and we were excited to explore more…

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Porto is known for its range of Azulejo tiles. Colourful ceramic tiles that line the streets and cover the facades of many of the buildings. This style of tile was influenced by the Moors and are typically Mediterranean colours.

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São Bento Train station built in 1916 is one of the most beautifully decorated train stations. Covered from floor to ceiling with over 20 thousand tiles that portray the history of Portugal. These magnificent scenes were painted by Jorge Colaço.

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As well as the more traditional artwork of the tiles Porto is full of modern art in the form of graffiti. From large scale portraits to little quotes of inspiration you can find bright new art surrounded by old and crumbling architecture. Showing Porto’s seamless link with keeping the old and embracing the new.

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Left – Alvaro Siza’s faculty of architecture, Porto. Right – Alvaro Siza’s Leça swimming pool, Leça de Palmeira. The architecture of the swimming pool fits perfectly with the landscape of the sea front in Leça de Palmeira. The building leading you to the open pools offer some great lines and perspectives. The pools slot within the rocks and make it seem as though you could swim all the way out to sea and the pools are tidal – so really do embrace the space around them.

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  Casa Da Musica, Rem Koolhaas, 2005. This music hall is an iconic building in Porto. With its main architectural focus on the sound proofing of the main music hall it is acoustically excellent. It also boasts a range of side rooms that allow you to view the main hall, but also hold classes and practices.

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The angles of the exterior of the building are mimicked within the building and its furnishings. It offers colour themed rooms with different uses and even a roof top terrace with a vast view of Porto.

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We managed to have a tour of the building whilst the Portuguese symphony orchestra were practicing and went back the next day to see them play. A definite must see when in Porto!

Of course there were a lot more things we did whilst there. Visiting the old town of Guimaraes was another highlight, the perfect place to sit in the sun in a square with a glass of wine.

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