Portugal > Porto
About 320km north of the capital Lisbon lies Portugal’s second largest city, Porto. Located on the Douro river estuary, it was founded by the Romans in the 4th century BC. Being a Roman outpost, it carried the name ‘Portus Cale’ which is said to be the origin of the name ‘Portugal’. The Muslim Moors invaded it in 711, but were chased away by armies of King Alfonso III in 868. Porto was the northernmost point in Portugal the Moors’ empire extended to.
Porto, meaning ‘port’ in Portuguese, became a key port in the 14th-15th century, and thanks to Prince Henry the Navigator, the Portuguese ‘Age of Discovery’ was initiated from here. Prince Henry himself was thought to have been born in Porto, based on the fact that he was baptised here.
Porto is also the home of the famous port-wine, produced in the fertile Douro valley located upstream of the river.
In this short visit to Porto, I take a stroll from the modern port-wine Gaia area of Porto and cross the Douro river, via the Luis I Bridge. This brings me to Ribeira, the old quarter of Porto, with buildings from the 15th century, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here facades covered with azulejos tiles (introduced by the Moors in the 8th century) look spectacular in late afternoon light. Looking a bit decrepit, but notable nevertheless.
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