Porto

7 min read by Justino Lourenço. Published in Essays, Stories.

Vila Nova de Gaia is my umbilical cord. Porto is my mistress, my love.”


To write from the depths of a heart — is a challenge. This text may have been hindered from the beginning. Still, I’ll assume the risk and leave you with my words and photographs.

Porto, a beautiful city with friendly people. Alive and well in northern Portugal.

The city captivates its creative inhabitants, with no exceptions. Poet Pedro Homem de Mello wrote, “Porto – the exact word, never deceives.” Rui Reininho sings with Porto pronunciation in the “Rock in Rio Douro LP” album.

Álvaro Siza Vieira and Souto de Moura complemented the cityscape of Porto with their blueprints, growing into beautiful constructions all around. Manoel de Oliveira let his city’s influence affect many movies throughout his long career as a film director. Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen let the city’s sentiments sip into her writing. Rosa Mota ran all over the world representing her hometown; Sara Sampaio still walks around the fashion world’s catwalks, being as beautiful as the city.

A coffee chat in Aliados. Olympus OM-10, Zuiko 50mm.

Bridges.

The city of Porto and Vila Nova Gaia lie on the opposite sides of the Douro river, both shoring at the Atlantic Ocean on the west side. The towns share several bridges across the waterway. Each bridge represents an era testimonial of the city.

Rio Douro. Holga 120.

Ponte das Barcas. At first, visitors from Nova Gaia had to use boats and rafts to cross the Duro river. Finally, in 1369, a walkway supported by barges was built. An iron chain held the wood in place on each short. Unfortunately, the structure wasn’t stable, often unsafe.

Ponte das Barcas became a more sophisticated piece of engineering in the 1800s. With the support of 33 barges, all connected by steel cables, it had two openings, which enabled the boats to cross mid-stream. This structure was the only bridge that connected the cities between 1806 and 1829 until the unfortunate event on March 29th. Thousands of Porto citizens overloaded the bridge as they fled the military lead by General Soult caused the structure to collapse.

Ponte Pênsil, officially D. Maria II, was open in 1842 and demolished in 1887. The bridge was conceived by the engineers Bigot and Mellet. The construction took two years to complete; to be eventually torn down to make way for another bridge: Ponte D. Luís I.

Ponte Maria Pia, engineered by Gustavo Eiffel, was a train bridge that laid a rail connection between Gaia and Porto in 1876. The bridge is sported a huge arc that supports a railway spanning 354 meters, towering 61 meters above the water. Gustavo managed to have it constructed in less than two years.

Ponte D. Luís I. Olympus OM-10, 50mm.

The postcard-perfect Ponte D. Luís I had its groundbreaking held in 1881, dawning the twentieth century. Both cities were thrilled to have a new bridge erected to get more bandwidth for their ever-increasing traffic.

Société de Willebroeck designed Ponte D. Luiís I, which took five years to complete on a relatively tight budget of just over 1670€. Since then, the bridge has been carrying vehicle and pedestrian traffic for more than a century. A favourite tourist spot, it held the record of the largest bridge arc for a long time, spanning 395 meters. Only to have recently lost the status to a new Chinese construction project.

By the hand of the Portuguese Engineer Edgar Cardoso, Ponte da Arrábida appeared on the horizon in 1963. Its beautiful concrete structure basks in the rays of daily sunsets, should the weather permit. Along with Ponte do Freixo, built in 1995, both bridges are considered to be the most important traffic gateways to the city of Porto.

Ponte D. Luís I. Holga 120.
Ponte da Arrábida. Lomo Sprocket.
Ponte da Arrábida. Lomo Fisheye 2.
Douto Margin near Ponte da Arrábida. Olympus OM-10, 50mm, Redscale film.

Porto tiles.

The city of Porto is filled with distinctive tile designs. Mostly blue and white, they can be spotted in several places around the city. The concept was first brought by King D. Manuel from Sevilha, Spain. Porto did not have a method of making them domestically up until the 16th century.

Initially, the tiles were documenting catholic stories. They kept following several artistic currents, chasing the art story evolution.

The city of Porto lives via its friendly people, historical monuments, and beautiful tiles.

Igreja do Carmo — Tiles. Holga 120, Double Exposure.

Visiting Porto.

Watch in Station São Bento. Rollei 35 SE, 25mm.

There are a lot of things to see in Porto. I recommend you start with the west beaches, Foz. And immediately after: Boavista, Jardim Botânico, Casa da Música, Torre dos, Casa da Musica, Clérigos, Praça da Batalha, Rua de Sá da Bandeira, Rua de Cedofeita, Rua de Miguel Bombarda, Ribeira, Teatro de São João, Teatro Rivoli, Café Majestic, Livraria Lello, Praça dos Aliados, Câmara Municipal, Estádio do Dragão, Igreja do Marquês, Igreja do Carmo, Igreja de São Francisco de Assis, Ponte da Arrábida, Ponte D.Luis, Wine Cellars (in V.N. Gaia). I am confident you will love it all.

Alados. Holga 120.
Streetcar in Downtown. Rollei 35 SE.