Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and at the last census, taken in 2011, the population was recorded as 2.4 million.
The longest standing (recorded) military alliance, The Treaty of Windsor, came about when John the 1st of Portugal married Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, in Porto in 1387.
Porto is divided into 7 freguesias:
It is said that the countries name Portugal is derived from Porto’s Latin name ‘Portus Cale’ after going through transliteration and oral evolution. The English often refer to Porto as Oporto, adding on the Portuguese definite article (O) at the beginning of the word. This was in fact a misinterpretation of the spoken word, but has been used in both modern literature and by many speakers.
The city of Porto is situated around the river Douro. There are organised cruises available so you can take in the city views from the riverside. The Serra do Pilar viewpoint offers amazing hilltop views of the river and city, especially at sunset.
Other things to see in Porto include:
- The Igreja do Carmo (Church of the Carmo) is a classified national monument and hosts a number of ornate gold carvings and oil paintings.
- Palacio da Bolsa which was built on the ruins of the Saint Francis Convent and offers guided tours in several languages.
- Clerigos Tower was opened in 1763 and at 75 metres tall, is the tallest bell tower in Portugal, offering fantastic 360 degree views over Porto.
- Caves Calem give guided tours of the caves and has an interactive museum showing how Port is made, followed by the essential part of tasting the Port wines.
- Quinta do Covelo is a park in the middle of Porto, offering a peaceful haven for walks and picnics. There is also a children’s play area, cafe and outside exercise equipment.
- Zoo da Maia is only a 20 minute drive from Porto city.
- On the Western seafront of Porto, you’ll find Sea Life Porto, with over 5,600 creatures.
- As you would expect from a large city, there are also cinemas, banks, lawyers, large and small shopping outlets, a wide array of restaurants and cafes, art galleries and more unusual activities such as paintballing.Porto has it’s own international airport: Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport. It is situated 15 kilometres north-west Porto city.
Porto has a mainline train station and a metro service. It’s worth visiting the train station at Porto São Bento if only to see the great hall blue and white tiled artwork.
Buses operate throughout the city and connect from smaller towns and villages in the surrounding areas.
In the centre of Porto there are 3 tram lines still in operation. The service only uses vintage tramcars and has become a heritage tramway.
There are a number of private and public schools in Porto, offering education from 6 years to 18 years old. There are also kindergartens and crèches for younger children.
The largest and, having been established in 1894, the oldest international school in Porto is the Oporto British School.
For those studying in further education, Porto offers several establishments to choose from, including the state-managed University of Porto (Universidade do Porto), which is the second largest university in Portugal.