The city of Porto has been acclaimed as one of the best cities for tourism several times in the past few years. Awards such as The most interesting city in Europe to visit, and The second most interesting city in the world to visit by Culture Trip, or the Best European Destination, for several years, by European Best Destinations are already a regular occurrence for this wonderful city, full of beautiful places and green parks to wander around.
In the past 15 years, Porto has undergone substantial urban regeneration works, with architectural improvements, infrastructure overhaul, and the renovation of buildings. All these interventions were designed and executed to create a better quality of life for all Porto residents and visitors, as well as to encourage tourist trips that bring new cultures, different people and interested tourists to Porto every year.
However, there is a part of Porto where time has stood still, suspended between what it once was and what it was never entitled to. There is a part of Porto that is the present of what has always existed and what always will exist: the living authenticity of what it is to be a Porto-born person.
There are old parts that still retain the scent of those who have passed through as if it were yesterday, and old houses where people descended from the families who once lived in them still live. There are streets and alleyways with broken pavements and walls painted with graffiti and drawings, where every look is always new, clearer every time, where the message of what is read is the image of what has been seen.
These places are spread across Porto and are part of its very essence. They have never been given a facelift or improved, but have been kept in the originality of the daily life of those who live there, or work there, or just walk around there. If you are visiting Porto, we suggest that you put on some very comfortable trainers and go through this list of places in the reality of the city: street after street, you will sense the aromas, smells, wishes and even the accent of a city that has never wanted to die.
This velodrome was opened in 1894, more than 120 years ago and is no longer in operation. However, you can book in advance with the Soares dos Reis Museum and pay a visit to this wonderful and really splendid place When it was first opened, bicycle races and tennis matches were held, and there was a vegetable garden the people could walk around. Today, it’s only possible to revisit memories.
This chapel was built in 1877 on Rua Cabo Simão, at the foot of the Serra do Pilar escarpment in Vila Nova de Gaia. It is the successor to a sixteenth-century Carmelite Hospice. Although it has been abandoned, inside, we can still see some remains of the altars, images and decorations of the time.
On Rua da Bandeirinha, right next to the House of the Mermaids, we can find a pyramid turret of granite and wrought iron, on which the flag of health was raised. This flag was raised at the time of the plague to warn boats arriving on the Douro River that they had to undergo a health inspection.. In addition to the historical interest, it’s worth visiting for the phenomenal view over Porto.
As well as these three places, we strongly recommend a stroll through the city streets without any planned itinerary. You are bound to find buildings to photograph, unique and colourful houses, or very small and traditional houses. You may trip on a step that still resists innovation, or stop for a while and sit on a wall gazing at the sight of a stunning sunset. Take a chance and get to know a Porto with lots of love, but one not so well-loved!