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Map showing Porto district in Portugal

A modern view of the ancient city of Porto, the city that gave the name to the country.
A modern view of the ancient city of Porto, the city that gave the name to the country.

Porto (in English also Oporto), population 263,000 in 15 parishes, with 1,551,950 in the metropolitan area, is Portugal's second city and district seat. It is situated in the north of the country, on the northern bank of the Douro River, just in from the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The country and the Port Wine (Portuguese: Vinho do Porto) owe their names to the city of Porto.

One of Portugal's most internationally appreciated products is Port Wine. Its name comes from the fact that it ages in cellars in Porto's sister city Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river.



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Porto's Coat of Arms
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Porto's Flag
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Porto's Seal

Historic references the city go back to the 5th century and Roman times. In the period before the foundation of Portugal, it was named Portus Cale - Harbour of Cale in English. The surrounding county was thus named Condado Portucalense. This county later became the independent kingdom called Portugal, which eventually expanded to its current frontiers.

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This city was the scene for the marriage of João I and Philippa of Lancaster, symbolising the long-standing military alliance between Portugal and England. This alliance was at times respected and at other times not.

An anecdote from the times of Portugal's expansion overseas tells of the citizens of Porto providing meat for the sailors and retaining only tripes (tripas in Portuguese) for themselves. The Portans thus acquired the nickname tripeiros, which is still in use today. From the same episode a typical dish from this city was created, Tripas à Moda do Porto (Tripes à la Porto in English), which still can be found everywhere in the city today.

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Torre dos Clérigos

In 1754, the Italian architect Nasoni designed a tower that was built in one of the central zones of the city and became its icon: Torre dos Clérigos.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the city became an important industrial centre and saw its size and population increase. A two-level iron bridge - Luís I - and a railway bridge - Maria Pia -, both designed by Gustave Eiffel were constructed, as well as the central railway station (São Bento, considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe). A university (Aula de Náutica, 1762) and stock exchange (Bolsa do Porto, 1834) were established in the city.

A tram network spanning the city was also built, but nowadays only one line remains, going through the river and sea marginals and is mainly used by tourists.


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Ponte Da Arrábida, view from the West at ground level (East view)

During the 20th century, other bridges were built: Arrábida, which, at its opening, had the biggest concrete supporting arch in the world, for high speed traffic in the West side of the city. Then came S. João, to replace Maria Pia. And Freixo for high speed traffic in the East side of the city. The newest bridge ist Ponte do Infante, finished in 2003.

Currently the major project in development is the Porto Metro system. It is the most expensive public construction project currently in progress in Europe, mainly due to the city's soil, which is extremely complex from a technical perspective and very expensive to dig. Consequently, the Infante bridge was built, for urban traffic, replacing Luís I, which will be dedicated to the subway.

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Porto and the Douro river at night


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Avenida dos Aliados

In 2001, Porto shared the designation European Culture Capital (together with the Dutch city of Rotterdam). In the scope of these events, the construction of the major concert hall space Casa da Música, designed by the Dutch arquitect Rem Koolhaas, was initiated.

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Casa da Musica on opening day

In recent years, UNESCO recognised the historic centre (which dates back to the middle ages and Roman Empire) as a World heritage site.

The Fantasporto International Film Festival is also a great cultural event of the city, attracting many national and foreign film commentators to the city.


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Edifício do Jornal de Noticias, view from the west

Porto has always rivaled Lisbon in economic power despite its much smaller size. As the most important city in the heavily industrialised north, many of the largest Portuguese corporations are headquartered in this city.

The city's stock exchange (Bolsa do Porto) merged with Lisbon's, originating Bolsa de Valores de Lisboa, which later merged with Euronext, together with Amsterdam, Brussels, LIFFE and Paris.

Porto hosts the most popular Portuguese newspaper, Jornal de Notícias. The building where its offices are located (which has the same name as the newspaper) was up to recently one of the tallest in the city (it has been superseded by a number of modern buildings which have been built in the last 10 years).

Porto Editora, the most important Portuguese publisher is also in Porto. Its dictionaries are considered the standard reference works for Portuguese.


The city has a large number of public and private basic and secondary schools, as well as kindergartens and nurseries. Due to the desertification of the city's interior, however, the number of students has dropped substantially in the last decade, forcing a closure of some institutions.

For graduate and post-graduate education, Porto has several universities, the larger one being the state-managed University of Porto. There are also state-managed Institutes (Technical Colleges) and privately-owned institutions. Due to the recognition, potential for employment and higher revenue, there are many students from the entire country and Portuguese-speaking African countries, although particularly from the north of Portugal, attending College or University in Porto.


The football clubs FC Porto and Boavista FC, playing in the highest Portuguese division, are both from Porto. SC Salgueiros, also from Porto, used to play in the highest division until 2 years ago, now playing in the Segunda Divisao B.

In 1958 and 1960, Porto's streets hosted the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix on the Boavista street circuit. Between 8 to 10 July 2005 a reenactment of the races is scheduled to take place.


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Map of Porto's 15 neighbourhoods (freguesias). Source: Câmara Municipal do Porto (http://www.cm-porto.pt/)
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Porto and Douro river
Torre dos Clérigos
Torre dos Clérigos
  • Aldoar
  • Bonfim
  • Campanhã
  • Cedofeita
  • Foz do Douro
  • Lordelo do Ouro
  • Massarelos
  • Miragaia
  • Nevogilde
  • Paranhos
  • Ramalde
  • São Nicolau
  • Santo Ildefonso
  • Vitória

External links

ca:Porto de:Porto es:Oporto fr:Porto ka:Porto hu:Porto nl:Porto (Portugal) ja:ポルト pl:Porto (miasto) pt:Porto ro:Porto fi:Porto sv:Porto


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