Take one step inside, and you may’t assist however stand still, as if stopped by an invisible hand. Picturesque multi-colored houses climbing the hills of centuries-old Porto on the banks of the majestic Douro River have been the primary attraction for countless guests by way of the ages. But no traveler ought to miss visiting one of probably the most lovely railway stations on the planet. Porto’s São Bento Railway Station, a symmetrical, three-story granite construction in the historic middle, is a wonderful instance of the Beaux-Arts architectural fashion. It also harbors an sudden treasure. Almost each area of the grand corridor is roofed by panels of azulejos depicting scenes of Portuguese history and the every day actions of the Portuguese individuals. To provide an concept of the size, in his masterpiece, the renowned artist Jorge Colaço used some 20,000 tiles, each measuring 15 x 15 cm (5.9 x 5.9 inches).
Historical past of the Azulejos
The Moors introduced azulejos – square, painted and glazed ceramic tiles – after their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century. The word ‘azulejo’ is just not derived from the Spanish word ‘azul’ (blue, as one may assume) but originates from the Arabic ‘al zulaycha’ or ‘az-zulayj,’ which means polished stone. Impressed by the Alhambra in Granada during his go to to Spain in the early 16th century, the Portuguese King Manuel I decided to have his palace in Sintra adorned with the same tiles. The first ones have been imported from Seville, and, true to Islamic regulation, portrayed no human figures, only geometric patterns.
Azulejos quick turned an intrinsic half of Portuguese culture. Nowadays, they are actually in all places, not only in the traditional blue and white mixture however in a myriad of colors and kooky designs. Azulejos beautify the outside and inside partitions of buildings, church façades, fountains, benches, home items, tourism souvenirs, ornaments, even jewelry. A feast for the eyes, the tiles are an art that each educate and inspire and make the bizarre look cheerful and delightful.
The Station Panels
Exquisitely detailed, the white tiles painted in blue, range from the palest to the darkest tone. Some exceptional ones are:
– Portugal’s King João I and Philippa of Lancaster Arriving in Porto
Trumpet-playing soldiers herald their arrival. Dressed in hand-embroidered royal regalia, they experience aspect by aspect on elegant Arabian stallions, adorned with elaborate tack and caparisons. Women-in-waiting stroll behind them followed by knights on horses bearing flags and lances. Individuals stand close together on tall buildings, making an attempt to get a glimpse of the entourage. Philippa was born in Leicester, England, the eldest youngster of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. Her marriage to King João I in 1387 was arranged to cement the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance towards France-Castile.
– The Battle of Valdevez at Arcos de Valdevez
This battle between the Kingdom of Leon and the Kingdom of Portugal occurred in the summertime of 1140 or 41. Soldiers from each bands clash, spears in the air, their horses’ bulging eyes reflecting their worry.
– The Conquest of Ceuta in 1415
King João I led his sons and the armed forces on an assault of this Moroccan stronghold. A serious northern trade middle of the Islamic world was now in possession of Portugal.
One panel details a pastoral scene of farmers harvesting and loading hay on carts. One other exhibits three ladies crossing a river by boat: one mature and holding an oar scans the horizon with the opposite two young ladies sit in front of her, one cradling a child.
Framed in blue and gold stylized flowers alongside the top of the hall is a slender band of tiles in vivid colors displaying numerous battle scenes: a soldier driving a horse draped in inexperienced, blue, and pink material and blowing a horn is followed by lavishly clad soldiers and horses pulling extravagant wagons. Clearly, theirs was a rich commander.
Architect, José Marques da Silva
José Marques da Silva designed the São Bento Railway Station, built on the location of a former convent. A Porto native born in 1869, he initially started his studies there then went to Paris to review at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. He earned the title of Graduate Architect and returned to Porto in 1896, starting work on the station in 1900 and completing it in 1916. He was chargeable for designing numerous essential buildings that modified the form of the town and left an unforgettable legacy on the architectural panorama. The José Marques da Silva Foundation Institute (FIMS) is devoted to the preservation of his inventive heritage and is within the architect’s personal Residence-Atelier subsequent to the Lopes Martins’ family mansion. It accommodates the literary, inventive, architectural and town planning assortment.
World-renowned Painter Jorge Colaço
Jorge Colaço, son of a Portuguese diplomat, was born in Tangier, Morocco, in 1868. A caricaturist and painter, he turned well-known for his azulejo paintings adorning giant surfaces. He favored to depict vital events of Portuguese history, but in addition created ethnographic and panorama scenes. The artist launched a number of innovations in processes and methods, particularly the tactic of making use of display printing to tiles. He did this by transferring a painting to fired colorless glaze, and then submitting it to a second firing. Some of Colaço’s dazzling works embrace the panels masking the façade of Porto’s Santo Ildefonso Church, the place some 11,000 azulejo tiles have been used. Nicely-known internationally, some of his works are displayed in Windsor Citadel, England, and at the World Trade Group in Geneva. But definitely no venue was better suited to show his work than the monumental hall of the São Bento Railway Station.
The country code for Portugal is 351.
São Bento Railway Station:
Praça Almeida Garrett
+ 351 70 721 0220
The place to Stay:
Pestana Classic Porto – 5-star lodge alongside historic Ribeira Square and a few steps from the Douro River with splendid views of the Dom Luís I Bridge and Vila Nova de Gaia throughout the river. It’s the right location to catch a river cruise or a water taxi. Praça da Ribeira #1, + 351 22 340 2300; www.pestanaporto.com
InterContinental Porto – Set in an 18th-century palace, this 5-star lodge boasts a bar, restaurant and spa. Lodging vary from basic to government rooms to two-story suites. The lodge overlooks Liberdade Sq. and is just some minutes’ walk from São Bento Railway Station. Palacio das Cardosas, Praça da Liberdade # 25, + 351-22-0035600; www.ihg.com/intercontinental/inns
The PortoBay Lodge Teatro – A Four-star lodge in Porto’s Theater District built on the location of the former Baquet Theatre, which opened in 1859. The PortoBay Lodge’s heat interior colors and spacious rooms convey a refined, bohemian environment. Rua de Sá da Bandeira #84, + 351 22 040 9620; www.portobay.com
The place to Eat:
The Yeatman – Awarded two Michelin Stars in 2017, The Yeatman presents conventional flavors with modern flair. It gives a big choice of seafood, recent produce, and regional specialties. Dinner here is a gastronomic adventure with a panoramic view of the Douro River.
Rua do Choupelo, Vila Nova de Gaia, + 351 22 013 3100; www.the-yeatman-hotel.com
Traça – It’s straightforward to overlook the slender pink door of this excellent restaurant. Once a drugstore, the constructing’s unique shutters have been retained along with some vintage furniture and lamps. Their motto is: “Come and travel back in time.” Specialties embrace delicious recreation creations like wild boar and venison together with goat, steak, veal and seafood. Largo São Domingos 88, + 351 22 208 1065; www.restaurantetraca.com
Vinhas D´alho – An extended slender eating room with an eclectic menu of seafood, beef, pork, and hen. On the bank of the Douro River, it’s greatest within the night to listen to world-famous Fado music.
Muro dos Bacalhoeiros #139/140, + 351 22 201 2874; www.vinhasdalho.com
*There are two iconic dishes served throughout Porto that have to be tried:
Francesinha – an entire meal disguised as a classy sandwich: slices of bread full of meat, ham, sausage, and cheese, topped with melted cheese and an egg, and served in a savory tomato-beer sauce. The Portuguese solely drink beer with francesinhas.
Pastéis de Nata – a small puff pastry tart full of a candy, creamy egg custard flavored with cinnamon and vanilla and baked to a light-weight golden brown.
What to Do:
Port Wine Cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia – A water taxi from Cais de Ribeira by Ribeira Square is the quickest approach across the river from Porto. It’s a bit of a steep climb (taxis are an choice), however Taylor’s Cellars is value a go to. After a self-guided tour previous rows and rows of barrels in the large dimly lit cellar, head outdoors to pattern numerous ports at one of the small tables surrounding a aromatic rose backyard. Rua do Choupelo # 250, Vila Nova de Gaia, + 351 223 772 973; www.taylor.pt
Take a 50 Minute Cruise on the Douro River – Sail underneath six bridges, from the double-deck metallic arched Dom Luís I Bridge to the Maria Pia Bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel. Benefit from the passing scenery of colourful previous Porto, together with a view of the Serra do Pilar Monastery with its spherical church & cloister sitting high above the town. Tickets can be found on the vacationer sales space on Ribeira Square.
Hear Fado Music – Granted it’s not for everybody but spend a night listening to this traditional melancholic genre. Lyrics tell stories of love and loss, pain and hope, tragedy and happiness. Convey a tissue!