THE PRITZKER PRIZE ARCHITECTURE
A district where Archicture, Music and Art are around every corner. And, being Porto now also a shopping mecca, in this district you’ll find some if the most important shops and designers.
Resembling a jagged white meteorite, the futuristic Casa da Música, is both Porto’s architectural masterpiece and music mecca. Daily tours in English (7,50 euros) take visitors through the whorls of the angular 17-sided building, designed by the Dutch star architect Rem Koolhaas and opened in 2005. Treats include the VIP Room, an angled salon covered with blue ceramic tiles, and the so-called Orange Room, whose floor gives off wild sounds — bird chirps, percussion — as you step on it. But the highlight is the main hall, decorated with gold tiger-stripe designs. Be sure to check the roster of concerts and monthly D.J. parties.
Don’t let Porto’s architecture fool you. Its slender buildings appear to house little more than pokey apartments or hole-in-the-wall cafés, but many doors are rabbit holes leading to spacious living gardens or modern dining spots harbouring chilled-out terraces. The Casinha Boutique Café is conveniently located a five-minute walk from Casa da Música. At first glance it looks like a small deli with limited seating, but head down the corridor past the counter and you’ll find another room leading to a leafy garden. Beat the summer heat by plonking yourself under a tree with an açai bowl or cone of homemade ice-cream.
This was the first Baptist church in the country. The temple was built between 1913 and 1916, but Porto’s Baptist community had already been officially organized since 1908. Until the inauguration of the Temple, the members – many of which were British, used to gather at a place located at Francos. Its usually open and free to get in. At Marta Ortigão Sampaio Museum, a remarkable figure of the Porto society, daughter of Vasco Ortigão Sampaio, an art collector and patron, and niece of the painters Aurélia de Souza and Sofia de Souza. Opened to the public in 1996, it features permanent exhibitions of paintings, jewellery, furniture and other decorative arts, evoking a “bourgeois” environment from the first half of the 20th century. The painting collection features naturalism works and the jewellery collection displays items dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
Gaze at the stars at the Planetário do Porto. Recently modernised, Porto’s Planetarium, hosts regular sessions, exhibitions and activities for the little ones. And right next to the Planetarium it’s the Campo Alegre Theater, along with the Rivoli Theater it’s one of the main theaters of the city. If you are a fan of Modern Architecture, you can’t miss to see the University of Architecture. Designed by the famous Architect Siza Vieira.
Lose yourself in the Jardim Botânico do Porto (Porto’s Botanic Garden). From the famous Camellias, to succulents, it’s the ideal place to relax and fall in love again. An area of greenhouses with tropical plants, lakes and several century-old trees, will give you a strange feeling of serenity.
At Rua Guerra Junqueiro, is the largests Synagogue in the Iberian Peninsula. The Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue has guided visits available, and aside from the buildings history, visitors can learn more from the Judaism and the local Jewish community, whose leading founder was army captain and self-taught historian Artur Barros Basto. And, while you are in the neighbourhood, take a look at Casa das Artes. Designed by the architect Souto Moura – one of the many Pritzer winners of Porto’s architecture – the House of the Arts was built in the gardens of the Casa Allen, a private mansion in the Campo Alegre area. The house has a cinema, auditorium and exbihibitions rooms. And if you are lucky you might catch one of the Sunset events with free live music.
In the area, there are also all sorts of food for the best foodies to try out. Be healthy at Berry, a vegetarian restaurant with a daily menu of soup, salads, toasts and wraps. Or, try out the traditional Bôlas de Lamego at Casa das Bôlas, famous meat bread from Lamego. Although the fillings can be cooked or cured ham, chicken, codfish or sardines. Or go to the Mercado do Bom Sucesso, a traditional market transformed into a gastronomic plaza, market and hotel. Here you can try all sorts of food, from Eclairs at Leitaria Quinta do Paço, the piglet from O Forno do Zé Leitão, or the traditional Jesuitas and Limonetes from Pastelaria Moura.
The Boavista district is also synonym of fashion, art and lifestyle, but most essentially is synonym for luxury. Fashion stores like Wrong Weather, Nuno Baltazar, Fashion Clinic, David Rosas or Katty Xiomara.
The Serralves Foundation and the Serralves Museum are the highlight of the Boavista.
The Serralves Foundation park expands over 18 hectares in an “Art Deco” style, with herb, rose and aquatic gardens, as well as lakes, forests and farmland with sheep, donkey and bulls. The Museum of Modern Art, from the Portuguese Architec Siza Vieira, is beautifully integrated into the nature of the foundation. In the middle of the garden, the House of Serralves, an astonishing unique example of Art Deco architecture, built in the 1930s, is listed as a building of public interest. While visiting the gardens, take a moment to relax in the The Tea House, an almost impossible little cafe to find, that has a delicious terrace under a thick wisteria tree that serves both savoury and sweet snacks.