Portugal, Porto – (Not Just) the Center of Wine – VIDEO
Everybody knows port wine. Perhaps you also link Porto the a high steel bridge and its majestic arch crossing the Douro river. Perhaps you would think of wooden boats carrying wine barrels from the inland wineyards. Porto is, however, a diverse city. There is great history, culture, cuisine, and beaches along the Atlantic coast. Every year, an increasing number of visitors visit this city.
Porto like many cities in Portugal is located on hilly area. Brace your feet! However, you won't regret going there for there are many beautiful nooks. Moreover, you can take frequent brakes with on splendid viewpoints, or at many of its great cafes and restaurants.
Porto is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Its historical center is on UNESCO's world heritage list. Locals are proud of their home. Let's start with landmarks, though. Igreja dos Clérigos is a baroque church which belongs to the most famous landmarks in the city. Its belfry raises high above other buildings and is visible from great distance. The church sits close to local university and Jardim da Cordoaria, a popular park near São Bento subway stop. You can go down historical streets towards the river from here.
Make sure to visit Sé do Porto cathedral. A view will open up over the Duoro riverbank, the Ponte Luis I. and the opposite river bank where Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar cloister and Vila Nova de Gaia district are situated. You can either go down the stairs to the riverbank or you can make a stop on the upper part of the bridge first. There are "subwaytram" rails. However, there are paths for pedestrians on both sides of the bridge. If you don't want to go down on foot then return aournd Igreja de Santa Clara church, city walls, and use local cable car.
There are many restuarants, wine cellars, typical wooden boats, and historical houses of expressive colors down on the riverbank. And, indeed, there is lot of good wine. Also, you can go to Igreja Monumento de São Francisco church and Bolsa palace.
Well, now the time has come to cross the river – to wine cellars where unique wine is stored. Don't worry, you don't have to go uphill again. The bridge has two floors. The lower floor links the riverbanks.
Port wine originates in beautiful wine-growing region around the Douro river (about two hours of ride into the inland). In Porto, the wine is only stored, ripens, and is exported into the world. It is made through the process called fortification. It means that about 70% of wine spirit is added at the moment when the fermentation process must be stoped. Unlike common wines, this has increased level of residual sugar and alcohol as well – usually between 18 to 22%.
„Majority of the world has the knowledge of only the classic red port wine. Maybe someone has heard of luxurious golden port wine which emerges after long years of fermentation in wooden barrels," our guide explained. "Only few know that we make also white port wine. Therefore, we have invested in its propagation over the last couple of years. For instance, we began to mix it with tonic. The new drink is ideal beverage to refreshe oneself during the summer heat." And its taste is amazing. We recommend you to try it.
Porto is known not only for wine but great cuisine has emerged recently. We dare to say that it is even better than in Lisbon. However, the prices are still affordable – oscilating between 10 to 15 euros for main course. Great culural life has been also developing. Every evening, there is something interesting going on.
In case you wan to go to a beach, take a historical tram on the right river bank and ride toward Farol de Felgueiras lighthouse. Another option is to take a train to the south full of many great beaches.
Simply put, Porto is almost an ideal holiday resort. It would be also a great place to start trips in Portugal. Porto airport makes it easy to reach the city by cheap direct flights from all over Europe.
Fátima - Mecca of all Catholics, and one of the most visited pilgrimage sites around the world. It is located in central Portugal, about 120 km from Lisbon. There is a place, where the Virgin Mary appeared to three children, and prophesied many later events.
Not far from Portimão on the south coast of Portugal lies the small town of Carvoeiro. At the same time, it offers beautiful scenery and small beaches protected by majestic cliffs, where you can enjoy some peace and privacy even in the greatest season.
There is a lot to see at the westernmost tip of southern Portugal. Among other things, a large national park, which protects the best preserved part of the coast, as well as the important fortress of Santo António de Belix in Sagres, to which we will now go.
There is another lighthouse near Sagres. Its current appearance dates back to 1908 and its optical devices are among the 10 largest in the world. The lighthouse can be reached around beautiful cliffs in probably Portugal's most scenic area.
We have already presented the Algarve region in our series in great detail. We end it with the city of Lagos, which is one of the most popular tourist and serves as a perfect base for exploring. Thanks to the surfers, it also maintained a very relaxing atmosphere.
Incredibly, it is still possible to travel. One of the European countries that can be easily reached without tests from Prague, but also very cheaply from Vienna, is Portugal. Low-cost airlines fly from Vienna to the Portuguese city of Faro, which lies in the beautiful Algarve region. The sandy beaches are lined with beautiful cliffs, the water is crystal clear. From Fara, the train leads to the city of Lagos, which is one of the most beautiful in the Algarve. Then you can continue by bus to the very southern tip to the picturesque town of Sagres.
Fatima is undoubtedly one of the most famous Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world, but it does not mean anything to most Czechs. The Virgin Mary appeared to three children here, and so millions of people come here every year to ask for a miracle.
Isle of the Eternal Spring? In the middle of the Atlantic? This is the Azores archipelago. Nine notable volcanic islands protruding into the Atlantic Ocean. Towards the west is the island of Flores and the island of Corvo, in the middle of the islands of Graciosa, Terceira, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial and east of Sao Miguel, Santa Maria and Formigas. All islands except Santa Maria are volcanic. It is on three lithospheric plates: Eurasian, African and North American.
"The birthplace of Portuguese nation" is how this city is dubbed or as "the cradle of Portugal". they believe that the first Portuguese king was born here. Close to here, a decisive battle on country's future was fought. Every Portuguese patriot must visit Guimarães. Yet what can a foreign visitor, e.g. from the Czech Republic, get from visiting this place?
The Portuguese trip to Santiga de Compostela became important as early as the 12th century, which is a significant century in the history of Portugal because it meant the country's independence. It is not as frequented as the Spanish routes, the more "pilgrimage" you will have.
Wine, coffee, cliffs, waves. The western-most country of continental Europe is of the sort everybody likes. It belongs to the top 20 most visited countries in the world. There are beautiful beaches including the best surf beaches of all Europe. Nature in the inland is magnificent as wel. Culture is rich and cities are lively and busy. Let's visit Portugal!
Lisboa is righteously one of the most visited cities in Europe. Yellow trams, hills, cable cars... You can easily get lost in its colorful streets for hours. Washed laundry waves in the wind, you can drink coffee with locals at one of many great cafes and taste local sweet pastry. You can also just set off to the grandiose Ponte 25 de Abril, a red bridge which looks like Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
It is an archipelago and also an island which is located in the Macaronesia region. Only two islands are inhabited as the whole archipelago is a natural reserve. These islands are Madeira and Porto Santo.
Travel to Madeira by plane only. There is probably no other way to travel almost 1000 kilometers from Portugal and 600 kilometers from North Africa. Moreover, sailing on a ship might not be comfortable for everybody.
Apart from famous Madeira wine (Japan is its largest importer), poncho (a liquor with lemon flavor) is another traditional beverage. You can replace lemon juice with orange or maracuja juice. It is served cold for refreshments. Or it is served also warm as prevention from getting cold. The wine festival takes place end August beginning September.
Another stop to the west of the island is Porto Moniz. From Sao Vincente you travel through tunnels. Make a stop at Ribeira da Janela town. It is a place of dark volcanic rock. The lovers’ rock rises from the sea there.
Today, we take a look at the eastern part of the island in the direction from Funchal to the easternmost part where are droughts. It seems as if it was not Madeira there. The landscape is vastly different and there grows almost no vegetation at all. It is only after rains when it gets bit of green there. No levada leads to this area. You can find them only in the mountains. The area is inhabited, however. Therefore, some vegetation is actually there.
A 5 thousand meters high massif of lava was created after huge explosion in the Atlantic. Today we can see only a glimpse of it and this glimpse is Madeira. The island is self-reliant. There are couple of power plants (water, wind), fertile soil and sea rich on fish.