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Travel Photos...Spain and Portugal


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Welcome to Porto, Portugal. In this photo we are looking North towards the centre of the Old Town. The two towers on the skyline in the distance belong to the Cathedral of Porto.

The bridge on the right of this photo is the Dom Luis I Bridge. It is a double decker structure.

This bridge is sometimes confused with the Maria Pia Bridge which is located about a kilometre to the East.

The Maria Pia Bridge is only for railway traffic and it was designed by Gustav Eiffel, the French engineer who built the Eiffel Tower in Paris. While the Dom Luis I Bridge was built by a Belgian firm, the engineer in charge was a Theophile Seyrig, who was a disciple of Eiffel, which may explain the close resemblance between the two bridges.

The waterway below this bridge is the Duoro RIver, which enters the Atlantic Ocean just a few kilometres to the West.

The top deck of the Dom Luis I Bridge is reserved for Metro trams and pedestrians. Porto has an extensive Metro system and the trams run both above and below ground.
Looking West from half way across the bridge.
Porto is famous for its Port Wine, made from grapes grown all along the Duoro River to the East. In this photo we are lookiing down from the Dom Luis I Bridge onto a Rabelo Boat.

Wikipedia says:

"The Rabelo boat is a traditional Portuguese wooden cargo boat that was used for centuries to transport people and goods along the Douro River. It is flat-bottomed, with a shallow draught, which was necessary to navigate the often shallow fast-flowing waters of the upper Douro prior to the construction of dams and locks from 1968 onwards.

Native to the Douro region, it does not exist in any other place in the world. Its history is closely linked to the production and trade of port wine. Before the arrival of the railway, the rabelo was the fastest and the most efficient means of transport between the Douro Valley, where port wine is produced, and the city of Porto, where it was traded and exported worldwide.

The name rabelo means 'little tail', on account of the long timber projection from the rear of the boat which is used to steer the vessel. Although not in commercial use anymore, these vessels may still be seen, belonging to port wine companies, along the river in Porto and Gaia."

The North Bank of Porto.
Looking East from the Dom Luis I Bridge.
An interesting collection of residential buildings built on the rocky face of the North Bank, just to the East of the Dom Luis I Bridge.
Halfway across the Dom Luis I Bridge, we can see several other bridges in the East. The metal bridge is the one designed by Gustav Eiffel.
On the North Bank of Porto, we can see the last remnants of the old City Walls. And to the right there is a funicular to transport people up the hill from the riverbank.
Looking South towards the Duoro River from the Old Town.
The building in the background is the Cathedral of Porto.

The equestrian statue is of Vimara Perez, a 9th Century nobleman who became the first ruler of the County of Portugal.

Wikipedia states:

"Vímara was a vassal of the King of Asturias, Alfonso III, and was sent to reconquer and secure from the Moors (Arabs and Berbers who had invaded Visigothic Hispania), in the west coastal fringe of Gallaecia, the area from the Minho River to the Douro River, including the city of Portus Cale, later Porto and Gaia, from where the name of Portugal emerged.

The Kingdom of Asturias was divided internally into several counties or royal provinces. Portus Cale was one of these asturian counties. In 868, Vímara Peres was named Count of Portugal by King Alfonso III after the reconquest of the region north of the Douro river. Later Portuguese historians viewed this event as the earliest milestone in the history of the state of Portugal, although Portugal did not achieve independence until the 12th century."

The facade of Porto Cathedral retains its Romanesque features, although the interior was extensively altered during the Baroque era.
We can see past the simple Romanesque pillars of the Nave of the Cathedral towards the Baroque altar.
A close up shot of the Altar of the Cathedral of Porto.
This is the Majestic Cafe in the Rua Santa Catarina. It has become a Shrine for Harry Potter Pilgrims from throughout the World. Legend has it that J.K.Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book here.

The Rua Santa Catarina is now a very chic pedestrian-only street close to the heart of Porto's Old Town.

Another secular shrine is the lovely Sao Bento Railway Station which is famous for its tiled murals.
Here is a close up of one of the murals at the Station.

I stayed in a boutique hotel just around the corner from this station. It has a Metro station attached which makes it easy to get about in Porto.

This is the Church known as the Igreja Dos Clerigos. Behind the Church is the Tower of Clerigos whixh was the tallest building in Porto when it was first built.

If you look carefully at the white curved walls at the side of the Church you can then appreciate that the main feature of this building is the oval shape of its Nave.

The Oval Nave of the Church of Clerigos.
The unusual main Altarpiece of the Clerigos Church.
A detail from a side altar in the Clerigos Church.
This is the Jardim do Palacio Cristal. It was designed for the International Show in 1865 by Emilio David. The original Glasshouse was destroyed in the 1950s and was replaced by a circular domed complex used for sport.
A number of peacocks stroll regally through the gardens.
A local family enjoying the gardens.
The Crystal Palace Gardens are perched on a bluff overlooking the Duoro River.
When I walked down to the Duoro River from the Jardins do Palacio de Cristal, I looked Westward to the Bridge called the Ponte da Arrabida. In the distance we can see the Atlantic Ocean.
I caught the Number 1 Tram to the Foz do Duoro, a suburb of Porto which faces the Atlantic.
The Lighthouse is called the Farol de Felgueiras. It sits on the Northern flank of the breakwater which protects the mouth of the Duoro River.
This is the Fortaleza de Sao Joao da Foz.
Back in the centre of the Old Town of Porto, we find the statue of Dom Pedro IV near the Praca da Liberdade. He was regarded as the King who broke with Absolutism and promoted the Liberal ideas of the Enlightenment. He also played a major role in the independence of Brazil from Portugal.
Even the pigeons of Porto admire Dom Pedro.
A WW1 War Memorial in a square close to the centre of the Old Town.
On my last day in Porto, I took a train and ferry tour of the Duoro River. We took the train to Regua and then caught a ferry (like the one in the photo above) back to Porto. It was a full day's excursion and it was a delightful trip.

The ship's crew served a delicious lunch with a lot of local wine, which I am sure helped to make the trip most enjoyable.

Much of the trip passed through wine making country.
I suspect that the terraces we passed had been carved out of the hillsides a few centuries ago.
For centuries, the Duoro River had lots of rapids which must have made trips by the traditiona, flat-bottomedl Rabela boats very exciting.

The Carrapatelo Dam was the first to be built on the Duoro, between 1964 and 1971, and the difference in water level in the lock there is 35 metre.

Today there are five dams in the river.

We left Porto by train from the Sao Bento Station in the early morning, and we arrived back by ferry well into the evening. A most enjoyable adventure.
The next day I travelled by bus back towards Spain, to the Pilgrim's destination of Santiago de Compostela.
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