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Porto, Best European Destination 2017! This gracious capital of the north is Portugal´s second largest city and a thriving industrial hub, successfully blending commercial efficiency with an hospitable atmosphere of unpretentious charm. Rich from centuries of trade, modern Oporto is as much a cosmopolitan centre as it is a city steeped in the historical events of the past. Magnificently situated on the great gorge of the River Douro, which spills into the Atlantic Ocean, the "granite city"is best known for its striking bridges and the much-celebrated Port wine, which is stored and savoured by wine lovers all over the world.
The Old Town of Porto was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in December 1996, the ancient Ribeira riverside district is where you will find Porto´s origins and soul through a warren of narrow, twisting streets and shadowy arches. The ongoing restoration of this lively quarter is attracting a growing number of restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Porto boasts several important attractions, including the 12th century Roman Catholic Sé Cathedral and the magnificent São Francisco Church with its striking gold encrusted interior. The neo-classical Palacio da Bolsa dominates the Infante D. Henrique Square and, if nothing else, visit the famous Arab room inspired by the Alhambra of Granada in Spain. Nearby, slow down, enter the Igreja de San Francisco, Saint Francis of Assisi´s golden church and feel refreshed.
Crossing the spectacular two tiered Dom Luís bridge a famous landmark dating from 1881 brings you to Vila Nova da Gaia, the true home of Port wine. Here, visitors can tour the world famous lodges, which bear such familiar household names as Taylor´s, Grahams, Cockburns and Sandeman. The highlight of the tour is the mandatory wine tasting session at the end.
In addition, Clérigos Church which dates back to 1750 with its tall bell tower, the Torre dos Clérigos, visible from various points of the city, is one of its most iconic sights. The Casa da Música (the House of Music) is a concert hall worth visiting as it houses the cultural institution Fundação Casa da Música, and three orchestras: Porto National Orchestra, Baroque Orchestra and Remix Ensemble. The São João National Theatre is also a popular theatre and concert venue which dates back to 1798.
Porto is also renowned for its food as well as its wines. Traditional dishes include tripe Porto style, salted cod and Francesinha, the most famous dish in Porto. It is a kind of sandwich with several meats covered with cheese and a special sauce made with beer and other ingredients. Porto is also popular stopping off place for pilgrims lying on the pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago which starts in Lisbon.
The fishing towns of Matosinhos and Leça da Palmeira to the north of Porto boast some of the best fish and seafood restaurants in Portugal. Travelling south and within easy reach of the city, visitors to Espinho are promised a relaxed beach side resort setting with hotels, discotheques and a first class casino.
Porto is also the gateway for exploring Northern Portugal with plenty of options for day trips to Braga,Guimarães, Vila do Conde,Esposende ,Viana do Castelo, Caminha , Vila Nova de Cerveira,Barcelos, Ponte de Lima, Valença do Minho and Peneda-Geres National Park.
Population: 216,405 (2015)
Area: 41.42 km²
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