Cidade Invicta, the “Unvanquished Victor”
Porto, Gaia and Foz de Douro
Porto A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, Porto covers the hills flanking the Douro River and enchants the visitor with its old-world red-tiled roofs, beautiful tile work and Baroque architecture, with interiors dripping with gold. The medieval-looking Ribeira section of Porto, a UNESCO site, is flat and full of riverside cafés and restaurants, and faces Vila Nova de Gaia across the river. Gaia, as it is called, is home to the many port wine cellars where traditionally the port was aged before being shipped abroad. Porto is referred to as Cidade Invicta (“Unvanquished Victor”) by its inhabitants, which means a city that was never conquered by others.
Vila Nova de Gaia Gaia, home to the historic Port lodges and the hub of the Portugal’s port wine industry, faces Porto from across the Douro River. Here, you’ll be able to take a ride on the Teleférico de Gaia, the cable car that opened in 2011 and runs from the upper station at the Serra do Pilar Monastery, the white circular church on the Gaia side of the Dom Luis bridge, down to Avenida Ramos Pinto, at the river’s edge. The 5-minute ride across the tops of the Port lodges will offer you the opportunity for some spectacular photos of Porto and Gaia. One-way tickets are 6€. Rides begin at 10:00 year around.
Foz do Douro This prosperous suburb, the city’s wealthiest neighborhood, lies 5 kilometers west of the city center, on the north bank of the Douro River. It is where city dwellers flock to walk on the promenades or lounge on its expansive beaches, especially Praia dos Ingleses. At the confluence of the river and the ocean you’ll see the somewhat squat Forte de São João Baptista da Foz, the Castle of Sâo Joâo, the “cheese castle”. Beyond stretches several kilometers of beaches and coves with numerous cafes and bars and shops along Avenida do Brasil, the hub of Porto’s summer nightlife. The colorful streets of Old Foz behind the beachfront are quite atmospheric for wandering and contain a mixture of the Porto School contemporary architecture and old fishermen’s homes covered with colorful tiles, azulejos.