Porto (sometimes referred to as Oporto in English) is the second-largest city of Portugal and is located more to the north of the country. It’s build near the Douro river estuary and it is one of Europe’s oldest cities.
Porto dates back many centuries, first traces of civilization were found many even before the birth of Christ. During Roman occupation the city become an important commercial port but become later in occupied by the Moors in the 9th century. Later Porto was recaptured and a military alliance with England was set up. In the 14th and 15th century Porto contributed to the development of Portuguese shipbuilding. Building these ships the age of Portuguese discovery began. During the 18th century the first English trading posts for port wine was established, it was also during this century that Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni designed the beautiful baroque Clérigos tower. It was during the 18th and 19 the century that Porto become an important industrial center and also its population grew a lot. In the 19th century Napoleon captured the city but it was later on recaptured by the 1st Duke of Wellington. It was also then when the first bridges across the Douro river were build (for example the Ponte D. Maria which was designed by Gustave Eiffel) and when the marvelous stock exchange (Bolsa do Porto) was build. During the 20th century Porto was the capital of Monarchy of the North, a 1 month during kingdom in the year 1919, but it is Lisbon which has been the capital of Portugal since the middle ages. In recent years UNESCO recognized the historical Porto center as a World Heritage Site.
As for me, when I first arrived here I found the city kind of dirty, degenerated, neglected compared to Gent, the city where I used to study in Belgium. Many buildings are painted over with ugly graffiti while others collapsed on the inside or are about to collapse anywhere soon. For sure all the many rain and the lack of money for repairing leaks must have something to do with it. But living the everyday live I really started to appreciate Oporto, as there are still many nice places to be at or to visit. The city has much potential to become even prettier, if all classic buildings were to be returned to their original state Porto would for sure be one of the nicest cities in the world that you would love from day 1. At night one should really visit the riverside at Ribeira or the big avenue Aliados in the city centre. During the day one could visit many of Oporto’s churches and historical buildings in the old city center, or go to the ‘Nuovo Ville de Gaia ‘ at the other side of the Douro river to try the port wine in the many port houses. On sunny days the beach is always an option as by bus it takes less than half an hour to get to the Praia do Matishinhos, or you can walk there alongside the Douro river which is also very nice to do. The airport is only half an hour by metro, at the other side of the city there is the big football stadium of football club FC Porto which may sometimes play in the Uefa Champions League and near the city center the is also the ultramodern opera house ‘Casa Da Musica’ which I will visit next week when attending a Buraka Som Sistema performance. I also like the many ‘confeitarias’ where you can get ‘um café e um pastel de nata’ for very cheap prices, and off course there is also the bruising nightlife where I always tend to end up in. I might have more pictures soon, I really got to know the analog camera by now, I only have to scan some of the pictures I took last few weeks…
So as you can see, I’m very happy to have chosen Porto for my Erasmus, até logo!