Built from scratch or modified for a new purpose, there are cultural spaces in Porto that are relevant works of national and European architecture. They constantly changed the face of the city and gave it a new pulse. Then came the artists, who filled them with sounds, colours and movement. All About Portugal selected 10 of these "happy unions", today a part of the vast and rich heritage of Porto. With your head held high and your eyes wide open, come and visit this city of Art and Architecture.
Casa da Música
Architecture, engineering and design: Casa da Música is a true work of art at all levels. Designed by Dutchman Rem Koolhaas, it opened in 2005 and quickly became an icon of the city and country. It promotes guided tours, but if you can, choose a concert of classical music, jazz, rock or electronic, and let yourself be carried away by the magic... Of the music and all the surrounding scenery.
Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
Serralves is synonymous with art, first and foremost due to the modern lines of the building designed by Siza Vieira, unique example of Art Deco, with its opulent surrounding gardens. The programme is extensive and diverse, with permanent and temporary exhibitions by renowned artists. Its event "Serralves em Festa" is already their brand image.
National Museum Soares dos Reis
"O Desterrado", a major example of 19th century sculpture, is just one of the works of António Soares dos Reis, which can be seen among the more than 13,000 pieces of this museum, located in the heart of Porto. But be sure to enjoy the building that houses it, the magnificent Carrancas Palace. Built in 1795, it underwent numerous renovations, the last of which by the hand of architect Fernando Távora.
São João National Theatre
This Theatre has had many lives, and it is one of the most emblematic buildings of the city, a must visit. It was inaugurated in 1794, destroyed by a fire in 1908, rebuilt in 1920 and restored in 1992. Be sure to notice the ceiling painting of the main room, the details in gilt carving, and the four sculptures that embellish the frieze of the facade, which represent Goodness, Pain, Hate and Love.
Portuguese Centre of Photography
It functioned as a prison (Cadeia da Relação) until the Revolution of 1974, that put an end to 48 years of dictatorship. Subsequently renovated, this 19th century building is currently home to the Portuguese Centre of Photography. Between exhibitions, be sure to visit the cell of Camilo Castelo Branco, one of the most famous Portuguese writers, who was imprisoned there for a year, accused of the crime of adultery.
Stock Exchange Palace
It was still built in the first half of the 19th century to serve the businessmen of the city, and still does so, as the headquarters of the Commercial Association of Porto. But it was the unique blend of architectural styles, the artistic treasures it hosts and the events it promotes that have made this one of the buildings most sought after by tourists and locals. The Arab Hall and the Courtyard of Nations are definitely a charm.
Congress Centre Alfândega Porto
Rugged building with features that clearly denounce its original turntable functions, the Alfândega Porto is now a cultural centre of excellence. Restored and remodelled by the architect Souto Moura, it houses the Museum of Transport and Communications. Let yourself be enchanted by the panel "Ribeira Negra", by Júlio Resende, and discover more about the city's past.
Coliseum of Porto
When the Coliseum was inaugurated in 1941, it soon left its mark in the heart of Porto, mostly due to its Art Deco style and the avant-garde features of the building. It is, to this day, one of the main venues of Invicta and the country, with a vast and eclectic programme, ranging from music concerts to theatre, opera, ballet and even circus.
Crystal Palace of Porto
From several points of the city is possible to notice a huge green dome with small windows, surrounded by dense vegetation. It is a multi-purpose pavilion popularly known as Palácio de Cristal (Crystal Palace of Porto). Stage of several cultural events, it is part of a set that integrates the romantic gardens and the Almeida Garrett Municipal Library. The views over the river Douro are truly breathtaking.
Casa das Artes
First, there was the Allen House, exemplar of the city's bourgeoisie of the 1920s. Then, in 1991, Casa das Artes was built in the magnificent gardens of the mansion, a discreet project, perfectly integrated into the surrounding landscape, signed by Eduardo Souto Moura. There, one can attend cinema sessions, music and theatre performances, as well as exhibitions.