Historic Center of Oporto (1996)

Back to index

The city of Oporto (also known as Porto) built along the hillsides overlooking the mouth of the Douro river, is an outstanding urban landscape with a 1,000-year history. Its continuous growth, linked to the sea (the Romans gave it the name Portus, or port), can be seen in the many and varied monuments, from the cathedral with its Romanesque choir, to the neoclassical Stock Exchange and the typically Portuguese Manueline-style Church of Santa Clara. 

Cale, a pre-Roman settlement on the southern bank of the Douro River, was occupied by the Romans and became known as Portus Cale. 

The Visigoths held the city from around 540 until 716, when the Moors gained control. 

  • Portugal 1988.  Muralha Fernandina in Oporto.  The old city-wall in Oporto with fortifications. 

Portugal 1988. Muralha Fernandina in Oporto.

Portugal 1997. World Cultural Heritage. Souvenir sheet showing graphic design of Oporto.

The Moors relinquished Porto in the late 11th century. The city developed as an exporting center of port wine in the late 17th century. The construction in 1890 of an artificial harbor at Porto de Leixões contributed to Porto's later growth. 

  • Portugal 1997.  Souvenir sheet showing a graphic design of Oporto, issued in honour of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Oporto is Portugal's next-largest city, and most important industrial center. Not only has Oporto given name to the famous port-wine, but to the whole country. Being the center of the country's manufacture of foot-ware and textile industry, the city is extremely commercial, which is well expressed by the inhabitants saying that "In Coimbra they sing, in Braga they pray, in Lisbon they are intellectuals, but in Porto we work". 

Portugal 1970. Production of Portuguese port-wine. Stamp #1 of four. Portugal 1970. Production of Portuguese port-wine. Stamp #2 of four. Portugal 1970. Production of Portuguese port-wine. Stamp #3 of four. Portugal 1970. Production of Portuguese port-wine. Stamp #4 of four.

The Douro River is crossed by three bridges, one of which is the railway bridge Maria Pia, constructed in 1877 by the French engineer Auguste Eiffel (he who did the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the Suez Canal in Egypt), who has done a lot of constructions in Portugal. 

Auguste Eiffel has also done the steel frame works for the Statue of Liberty in New York

  • Portugal 1977.  The 100th anniversary of the Pia Maria Bridge, crossing the Douro River. 

Portugal 1977. Pia Maria Bridge, crossing the Douro River.

Another of his famous works is the Santa Juste Lift in Lisbon, a public means of transportation between the lower and upper parts of Lisbon, and built in a charming style like a "clumsy Eiffel Tower" (a stamp was issued in 1989, Michel 1789 - not shown here). 

Portugal 1972. Torre dos Clerigos, Oporto.

Among the points of interest of the city are the old quarter, with narrow, cobbled streets; the cathedral (12th-18th century); and the 18th-century Torre dos Clérigos (Tower of the Clerics), a granite structure 75 m (246 ft) high. 

Also here are the University of Porto (1911), the Higher School of Fine Arts (1836), and the National Museum of Soares dos Reis, containing a collection of paintings and antiquities. 

  • Portugal 1972.  Torre dos Clérigos. 
Beautiful fountains are found everywhere in Portugal; this one is from the Roman era, and is called "Fonte das Virtudes" [Fountain of the Virtues].  It is found on the Praça da Liberdade, one of the most lively places in Oporto. 
  • Portugal 2003.  Fonte das Virtudes, Oporto. 

Portugal 2003. Fonte das Virtudes. Oporto.

Other World Heritage Sites in Portugal and Areas (on this website). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Portugal-section, for further information about the individual properties. 

Back to index

Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
All Rights Reserved