Northern Portugal is rich in historical monuments of great heritage, which allow you to lose yourself among spectacular paintings, stunning façades with distinct architectural details, and unique stained glass windows.
In addition to the beauty of the monuments found in the north, their importance to the history of Portugal is tremendous. In Porto, there are three incredibly beautiful palaces that make past eras come alive, side by side with the city’s more cosmopolitan character. Shall we discover Porto’s palaces?
It is no coincidence that the Palácio da Bolsa is the most visited monument in all of Porto. Building began in 1861 but it was not until 18th September 1865 that it was inaugurated by King Luís I. These days, it is the headquarters of the Porto Commercial Association, while at the same time hosting a wide range of cultural, social and political events. Its “ex libris” is the Arabian Hall, where you will find 19th century stucco decorated in Arabic script in dazzling gold which fill the walls and ceiling. The Nations’ Courtyard is covered by fascinating glazed metallic structures, while its marble and granite staircase is a wonder to behold.
Palácio do Freixo is located on the edge of the city in Campanhã and is one of the best examples of Portuguese baroque. The residency, with its face turned towards the River Douro, was created by the Italian architect, Nicolau Nasoni. The Palácio do Freixo once housed a mill but has since been remodelled and refurbished by the architect, Fernando Távora. The works took place between 2000 and 2003 and since then the palace has staged countless important events for the city of Porto.
A few years ago, the palace was leased by the Porto Municipal Government to the Pestana Hotel Group who since have created the Pousada do Freixo. Not sure where to stay in Porto? This is our suggestion!
There is little left of the Palácio de Cristal. In fact, the only thing that remains is the name and the site itself. The Palácio de Cristal stood in the city of Porto on the old field of Torre da Marca in Massarelos. It was inaugurated in 1865 and demolished in 1951. Today, the Pavilhão dos Desportos stands in its place, a building recently named the “Pavilhão Rosa Mota” in homage to the Portuguese athlete. Nevertheless, the gardens designed by the German landscape architect Émile David do remain and were originally built to encircle the majestic Palácio de Cristal, a building that was 150 meters wide, 72 meters long and divided into three naves.
The Palácio de Cristal Gardens offer a pleasant green space to pass the time, regardless of the season. Throughout the year, camellias, tilias, horse-chestnuts, pines and gingkoes can be found among the fountains, statues and thematic gardens.
When you are in Porto do not miss the chance to visit these palaces, not just for their unquestionable architectural beauty, but also because they are places that allow you to take a break and escape the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Porto’s city center.
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