The northern capital, as seen by architect Ana Alves Costa.
Ana Alves Costa got her PhD at the Faculty of Architecture, in her hometown of Porto, where she also teaches. She was at the Department of Urban Renewal during Porto 2001 European Capital of Culture and currently works with Atelier 15. The city she shows us, while offering memorable contemporary building, is primarily packed with historical urban constructions and solutions, closely connected to the Douro River.
Do outro lado
Start on the opposite bank of the Douro River, in Gaia, at the Serra do Pilar Monastery. Enter the church to discover “cloisters that are special because of their rare circular configuration, constructed in 16th century”. Leaving for the viewpoint, Ana contemplates the “fabulous view of Porto” and highlights the Fernandina Wall, Sé Cathedral, Torre dos Clérigos, and the Igreja dos Grilos church, as well as the bridges and their engineers, from Eiffel to Edgar Cardoso and Adão da Fonseca.
The next step is crossing the D. Luís Bridge on foot and heading to Praça da Ribeira. The view from the opposite side offers the port cellars in Gaia and, from here, it’s off to Igreja de São Francisco church to see “the refined gold carving inside and the houses in Miragaia (pictured) nearby, as well as the Alfândega (customs) building and, further ahead, Cais das Pedras and the Massarelos neighbourhood”
Back on the other side again, catch a boat to Afurada. Ana suggests “visiting this old, recently renovated fishing area and discover its history by stopping off at the Centro Interpretativo do Património da Afurada, which has given new life to old fishing warehouses”. On the Porto side, walk to Foz and see the river run into the sea. Keep an eye out for old lighthouses, like São Miguel-o-Anjo, built in the 16th century in Cantareira. And, “on your way to Jardim do Passeio Alegre, stroll around the piers and get to know the area that makes up Foz do Douro”.
More than a museum
Ana says that 24 horas isn’t enough to understand an architect’s Porto, but “starting off by visiting the gardens and the old Casa de Serralves is a good idea”. In the same universe, Álvaro Siza’s Serralves Museum is “a key milestone of the city’s modern architecture and the result of a diverse process that’s worth studying”. Visiting the art and architecture bookshop, having lunch at the museum restaurant and enjoying the exhibitions in the various galleries, as well as the lovely library overlooking the gardens are all must-dos.
The fascinating Siza
Talking about Siza is unavoidable and implies “a visit to two of his fantastic early projects, in Leça da Palmeira [on the coast, a few kilometres north of Porto]: the Piscina das Marés swimming pool and the Casa de Chá da Boa Nova”. Casa da Arquitetura, in Matosinhos, organises visits to these and other important buildings.
by Augusto Freitas de Sousa
web design & development 262media.com