AskDefine | Define Porto

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Porto n : port city in northwest Portugal; noted for port wine [syn: Oporto]

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see porto


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Extensive Definition

Porto (Portuguese pron. ) is a city in northern Portugal and is the second largest city in Portugal, with a 2005 estimated population of 238,465 in the 15 parishes of Porto municipality, 1.6 million in the 14 Greater Metropolitan Area of Porto municipalities, which is an administrative and political entity, and 2.99 million people in the broader agglomeration of Northern Littoral Urban-Metropolitan Region (includes cities ranging from Braga to Oliveira de Azeméis). Porto's municipality is the core of a large northern Atlantic conurbation, and Porto district is one of the most industrialized districts in Portugal.
One of Portugal's most internationally famous products, Port wine, was named after the city because it was originally shipped from the area or, more precisely, from Vila Nova de Gaia, a city just across the river which belongs to the same conurbation. The country was also named after the Latin name of this city, Portus Cale.
Porto is the cultural and administrative center of the Greater Metropolitan Area of Porto (Área Metropolitana do Grande Porto) metropolitan area, and Greater Porto NUTS III subregion capital (1,300,000 inhabitants), in Norte region. Porto is well known for its enterprising spirit, characteristic culture, people, and local cuisine. The city proper is sometimes referred to as Capital do Norte, or Capital of the North. In fact the city is today the capital of Norte, a NUTS II region which covers entire northern Portugal.
Ribeira, the historic Centre of Porto, has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (1996).


Historic references to the city go back to the 4th century and to Roman times, although Celtic and Proto-Celtic remnants of ancient Citadels were found in the heart of where Porto now lies. In the Roman period the city developed its importance as a commercial port, primarily in the trade between Olissipona (Lisbon) and Bracara Augusta (nowadays Braga), but would fall under the Moorish Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 711. In 868, Vímara Peres, a Christian warlord from Gallaecia and a vassal of the King of Asturias, Léon and Galicia, Alfonso III, was sent to reconquer and secure from the Moors the area from the Minho River to the Douro River, including the city of Portus Cale, later Porto and Gaia, from were the name and political entity of Portugal emerged (see Portucale). In 868 Count Vímara Peres established the First County of Portugal (lang-pt Condado de Portucale), after the reconquest of the region north of the Douro river.
In 1095, Teresa of León, illegitimate daughter of king Alfonso VI of Castile, married Henry of Burgundy, bringing the County of Portugal as dowry. This Condado Portucalense became the focus of the Reconquista and later became the independent Kingdom of Portugal, after eventually expanding to its current frontiers into the south as it reconquered territory back from the invading Moors under the reign of King Dom Afonso Henriques, o Conquistador in the beginning of the 1st millennium.
In 1387, this city was the scene for the marriage of João I and Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, symbolizing the long-standing military alliance between Portugal and England, the world's oldest military alliance, which still holds via NATO. At the time of his marriage the king stayed at the Church of St. Francis as a proof of his esteem for the Franciscans.
In the 14th and the 15th centuries, the shipyards of Porto contributed to the development of the Portuguese}} fleet. In [[1415 Henry the Navigator, son of João I, left from Porto to conquest the Muslim port of Ceuta in northern Morocco. This expedition led to the exploratory voyages that he later sent down the coast of Africa. Portuenses are referred to this day as "tripeiros", in reference to the fact that higher quality meat would be loaded onto ships to feed sailors, while off-cuts and by-products such as tripe would be left behind and eaten by the citizens of Porto. Tripe remains a culturally important dish in modern day Porto.
Wine, produced in the Douro valley, was already in the 13th century transported to Porto in barcos rabelos (flat sailing vessels). In 1703 the Methuen Treaty established the trade relations between Portugal and England. It allowed English woolen cloth to be admitted into Portugal free of duty. In return, Portuguese wines imported into England would be subject to a third less duty in contrast to French imported wines. This was particularly important with regards to the Port industry. As England was at war with France it became increasingly difficult to acquire wine and so port started to become a popular replacement. In 1717 a first English trading post was established in Porto. The production of port wine then gradually passed into the hands of a few English firms. To counter this English dominance, prime minister Marquis of Pombal established a Portuguese firm receiving the monopoly of the wines from the Douro valley. He demarcated the region for production of port, to ensure the wine's quality; his was the first attempt to control wine quality and production in Europe. The small winegrowers revolted against his strict policies on Shrove Tuesday, burning down the buildings of this firm. The revolt was called Revolta dos Borrachos (revolt of the drunks) and became a symbol of the freedom spirit of the inhabitants of Porto.
Between 1732 and 1763, Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni designed a baroque church with a tower that would become its icon: the Torre dos Clérigos (English: Clerics Tower). During the 18th and 19th centuries the city became an important industrial centre and saw its size and population increase. The invasion of the Napoleonic troops in Portugal under Marshal Soult is still vividly remembered in Porto. On 29 March 1809, as the population fled for the advancing troops and tried to cross the river Douro over the Ponte das Barcas (a pontoon bridge), the bridge collapsed under the weight. Possibly 6,000 people drowned in the disaster. This event is still remembered by a plate at the Ponte D. Luis I. The French army was rooted out of Porto by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, when his troops crossed the Douro river from the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar (a former convent) in a brilliant daylight coup de main. Porto is also called "Cidade Invicta" (English: Unvanquished City) after its resistance to the Napoleonic Imperial army.
In August 1820 Porto rebelled against the English presence, resulting in a civil war in Portugal. In 1822 a liberal constitution was accepted, partly through the efforts of the liberal assembly of Porto (Junta do Porto). When Miguel of Portugal took the Portuguese throne in 1828, he rejected this constitution and reigned as an absolutist monarch. Porto rebelled again and had to undergo a siege of eighteen months between 1832 and 1833 by the Portuguese army. After the abdication of king Miguel the liberal constitution was re-established.
Unrest by republicans led to a revolt in Porto on 31 January 1891. This would result ultimately in the creation of the Portuguese republic in 1910.
A two-level iron bridge - Dom Luís I (designed by the Belgian engineer Téophile Seyrig, a student of Gustave Eiffel), and a railway bridge - Maria Pia, designed by Eiffel in association with Seyrig, were constructed, as well as the central railway station (São Bento, considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe, ornamented with lavish painted tiles). A higher learning institution in nautical sciences (Aula de Náutica, 1762) and a stock exchange (Bolsa do Porto, 1834) were established in the city but would be discontinued later.
For having resisted a military invasion in the 19th century by the Imperial Napoleonic Armies, the city is now known as The Unvanquished City (A Cidade Invicta).


In recent years, UNESCO recognised its historic centre as a World Heritage Site. Among the architectural highlights of the city, the Oporto Cathedral is the oldest surviving structure, together with the small Romanesque Church of Cedofeita, the Gothic Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis), the remnants of the city walls and a few 15th-century houses. The baroque style is well represented in the city in the elaborate gilt work interior decoration of the churches of St. Francis and St. Claire (Santa Clara), the churches of Mercy (Misericórida) and of the Clerics (Igreja dos Clérigos), the Palace of the Archbishop, and others. The neoclassicism and romanticism of the 19th and 20th centuries also added interesting monuments to the landscape of the city, like the magnificent Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa), the Hospital of Saint Anthony, the Municipality, the buildings in the Avenida dos Aliados, the tile-adorned Sao Bento Train Station and the gardens of the Crystal Palace (Palácio de Cristal). A guided visit to the Palácio da Bolsa, and in particular the Arab Room, is a major tourist attraction.
In 2001, Porto shared the designation European Culture Capital. In the scope of these events, the construction of the major concert hall space Casa da Música, designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, was initiated and finished in 2005.
The Fantasporto International Film Festival is a great cultural event of the city, attracting many national and foreign film commentators to the city.
Many of the city's oldest houses are at risk of collapsing. The population in Porto municipality dropped by nearly 100,000 since the 1980s, but the number of permanent residents in the outskirts and satellite towns has grown strongly.
Porto is ranked number 3 in the Portuguese most livable cities survey of living conditions published yearly by Expresso.


The first Portuguese moving pictures were taken in Porto by Aurélio da Paz dos Reis and shown there on 12 November 1896 in Teatro do Príncipe Real do Porto, less than a year after the first public presentation by Auguste and Louis Lumière. The country's first movie studios Invicta Filmes was also erected in Porto in 1917 and was open from 1918 to 1927 in the area of Carvalhido. Manoel de Oliveira, a well-known Portuguese film director and the oldest director in the world who is still active, is from Porto. Fantasporto is a remarkable international film festival organized in Porto every year. Many renowned Portuguese music artists and cult bands such as GNR, Rui Veloso, Sérgio Godinho, Clã, and Pluto are from the city or its metropolitan area. Porto has several museums, concert halls, theaters, cinemas, art galleries, libraries and book shops. The best-known museums of Oporto are the Soares dos Reis National Museum (Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis), which is dedicated especially to the Portuguese artistic movements from the 16th to the 20th century, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Serralves Foundation (Museu de Arte Contemporânea). The city has concert halls of a rare beauty and elegance such as the Coliseu do Porto by the Portuguese architect Cassiano Branco; an exquisite example of the Portuguese decorative arts, it is seen by many as one of the best and most elegant concert halls in Europe. Other notable venues include the Rivoli theatre, the Batalha cinema and the recent Casa da Música. The Guardian elaborated a list of world's top bookshops, featuring Lello in third .


Oporto's most popular event is St. John on the night of 23 to 24 of June. In this season it's a tradition to have a vase with bush basil decorated with a small poem. During the dinner of the great day people usually eat sardines and boiled potatoes together with red wine.
In the evening everybody gathers in downtown and hit each other with plastic hammers and leeks. There are also fires lit on the streets that are jumped over. At midnight there's a big fireworks show next to the river.
One other major event is Queima das Fitas, on the second week of May. Basically, before the beginning of the study period preceding the school year’s last exams, academia tries to have as much fun as possible. The week comprehends 12 events, starting with the Monumental Serenata on Sunday, reaching its peak with the Cortejo Académico on Tuesday, when about 50,000 higher education students of the city march through the downtown streets till they reach the city hall. During every night of the week a series of concerts takes place on the Queimódromo, next to the city’s park; here it’s also a tradition for the students in the second last year to erect small tents where alcoholic beverages are sold in order to finance the trip that takes place during the last year of their course; an average of 50 000 students attend these shows.


Porto is home to a number of dishes from traditional Portuguese cuisine. A typical dish from this city is Tripas à Moda do Porto (Tripes à la Porto in English), which still can be found everywhere in the city today. Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá (Codfish à la Gomes de Sá) is other typical dish born in Porto and popular in Portugal. The Francesinha (Frenchie) is the most famous popular native snack food in Porto. It is a kind of sandwich with several meats covered with cheese and a special sauce made with beer and other ingredients. Port wine, an internationally renowned wine, is widely accepted as the city's dessert wine.


Known as the city of bridges, the first permanent bridge – the Ponte das Barcas (a pontoon bridge) – was built in 1806, but three years later, sabotaged - as tradition has it but this hasn't been fully proven - to prevent the invasion led by the French General Marshal Soult during the Peninsular War with Napoleonic troops, who were by then believed to be coming from the south. However, as the story goes, they appeared from the north, and the population, unaware of the situation and caught between the fire, tried to flee across it en masse, causing the death of around 4000 locals. It was replaced by the |Ponte D. Maria II popularized under the name Ponte Pênsil (suspended bridge) and built between 1841-43 and of which only the supporting pylons remain.
A New bridge would be built nearby, between January 1876 and October 1877: The Ponte D. Maria, a railway bridge inaugurated the 4th of November of that same year, considered by then to be a feat of wrought iron engineering and designed by no other than Gustave Eiffel himself. But this bridge is not to be mistaken for the later |Ponte Dom Luís I, which was in turn to substitute the aforementioned Ponte Pênsil. This last bridge was made by Teophile Seyrig, a former partner of Eiffel, and its project won a governmental competition that took place in 1879. Building began in 1881 and it was opened to the public the 31st October 1886.
During the 20th century, other bridges were built: Arrabida Bridge, which at its opening had the biggest concrete supporting arch in the world, and connects north and south shores of the Douro on the west side of the city, S. João, to replace D. Maria Pia and Freixo, a highway bridge on the east side of the city. The newest bridge is Ponte do Infante, finished in 2003. Two more bridges are said to be under designing stages and due to be built in the next 10 years, one on the Campo Alegre area, nearby the Faculty of Humanities and the Arts, and another one in the area known as the Massarelos valley. Nowadays Porto is often known as "Cidade das Pontes"(City of Bridges),"Cidade Invicta"(Invencible City) and "Capital do Norte"(The Capital of Northern Region of Portugal). Porto (Oporto) is served by Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (IATA: OPO) which is located in Pedras Rubras(Moreira),Municipality of Maia,some 15km to the north-west of the city centre. The airport is a state-of-the-art facility, having undergone a massive program of refurbishment due to the Euro 2004 football championships being partly hosted in the city. Direct flights to a growing number of major cities in Europe and the Americas are available; from these, of special interest are low cost connections to London, Frankfurt, Liverpool, Dublin and Paris. It is currently the 3rd best airport in Europe and the 3rd best in the world in the category of under five million passengers.
Porto's main railway station is situated in Campanhã,located in the eastern part of the city of Oporto (connecting to lines of Douro (Peso da Regua/Tua/Pocinho), Minho (Barcelos/Viana do Castelo/Valença) and Linha do Norte (on the main line to Aveiro , Coimbra and Lisbon). From here, both metro and suburban rail services go to the city centre. The main central station is at São Bento, which is itself a notable attraction,and located in the heart of Oporto, direct and connections to Braga, Linhas do Minho and Douro.
Currently the major project is the Porto Metro system. It is the most expensive public construction project currently in progress in Europe, mainly due to the city's soil, which is extremely complex from a technical perspective and very expensive to dig. Consequently, the Infante bridge was built for urban traffic, replacing the Dom Luís I, which was dedicated to the subway on the second and higher of the bridge's two levels. Five lines are open: lines A (blue), B (red), C (green) and E (purple) all begin at Estádio do Dragão (home to FC Porto) and terminate at Senhor do Matosinhos, Póvoa de Varzim (via Vila do Conde), ISMAI (via Maia) and Francisco Sá Carneiro airport respectively. Line D (yellow) currently runs from Hospital S. João in the north to João de Deus on the southern side of the Douro river. The lines intersect at the central Trindade station. Currently the whole network spans 60 km (37 miles) using 68 stations, thus being the biggest in the country.
The city has an extensive bus network run by the STCP (Sociedade dos Transportes Colectivos do Porto, or Porto Public Transport Society) which also operates lines in the neighbouring cities of Gaia, Maia and Gondomar. Other smaller companies connect such towns as Paços de Ferreira and Santo Tirso to the town center. In the past the city also had trolley-buses. A tram network, of which only a tourist line on the shores of the Douro remain, saw its construction begin in 12 September 1895, therefore being the first in the Iberian Peninsula. Taxicabs are available throughout the city and are recognizable as either cream sedans or black with green top cars (usually Mercedes-Benz models).
The road system capacity is augmented by the Via de Cintura Interna, an internal highway connected to several national highways and city exits, complementing the Circunvalação 4-way road, which borders the north of the city and connects the eastern side of the city to the Atlantic shore.


Porto lies just to the north of a coastal Mediterranean climate zone that encompasses most of central and southern Portugal. As a result, its climate shares many characteristics with the coastal south: temperate dry summers, and mild rainy winters. Unlike the south, however, cool and rainy interludes can interrupt the summer dry season and the season's average length is considerably shorter. Also, the city's more northern position and coastal location off the Atlantic often results in notably cooler weather in Porto than to its south, especially during summer.
Summers are typically sunny with temperatures between 17°C and 28°C but can rise to as high as 40°C during occasional heat waves, which typically last between 5 and 10 days. During such heat waves, the humidity remains quite low, but during dry years nearby forest fires can add haze and ash to the air making breathing somewhat uncomfortable, especially at night. Nearby beaches are often windy and usually cooler than the urban areas. In contrast, occasional summer rainy periods usually last a few days and are characterized by frequent showers, wind, and cool temperatures around 22°C in the afternoon.
Winter temperatures typically range between 6°C during morning and 14°C during afternoon, but can occasionally drop below 0°C at night. The weather is often rainy for long stretches, although prolonged sunny periods do occur.
Spring and Fall are smooth transitions between the neighboring seasons. Rain increases in frequency between late September and late October, and becomes less common in mid April or early May. Heat waves are extremely rare outside the months of June, July, and August; yet, most residents classify the months of July, August, and September as summer months. September is in fact slightly warmer on average than June, although heat waves are usually absent.


Porto has always rivaled Lisbon in economic power. As the most important city in the heavily industrialised northwest, many of the largest Portuguese corporations from diverse economic sectors, like Altri, Amorim, Bial, Cerealis, BPI, CIN, EFACEC, Frulact, Lactogal, Millennium bcp, Porto Editora, Sonae, and Unicer, are headquartered in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Porto, most notably, in the core municipalities of Maia, Matosinhos, Porto, and Vila Nova de Gaia.
The city's former stock exchange (Bolsa do Porto) was transformed into the largest derivatives exchange of Portugal, and merged with Lisbon Stock Exchange to create the Bolsa de Valores de Lisboa e Porto, which eventually merged with Euronext, together with Amsterdam, Brussels, LIFFE and Paris stock and futures exchanges. The building formerly hosting the stock exchange is currently one of the city's touristic attractions, the Salão Árabe (Arab Room in English) being its major highlight.
Porto hosts a popular Portuguese newspaper, Jornal de Notícias. The building where its offices are located (which has the same name as the newspaper) was up to recently one of the tallest in the city (it has been superseded by a number of modern buildings which have been built in the last 10 years).
Porto Editora, one of the biggest Portuguese publishers, is also in Porto. Its dictionaries are among the most popular references used in the country, and the translations are very popular as well.
The economic relations between the city of Porto and the Upper Douro River have been documented since the Middle Ages. However, they were greatly deepened in the modern ages. Indeed, sumach, dry fruits and nuts and the Douro olive oils sustained prosperous exchanges between the region and Porto. From the riverside quays at the river mouth, these products were exported to other markets of the Old and New World. But the greatest lever to interregional trade relations resulted from the commercial dynamics of the Port wine (Vinho do Porto) agro industry. It decidedly bolstered the complementary relationship between the large coastal urban centre, endowed with open doors to the sea, and a region with significant agricultural potential, especially in terms of the production of extremely high quality fortified wines, today known by the world-famous label Port. The development of Porto was also closely connected with the left margin of River Douro in Vila Nova de Gaia, where is located the amphitheatre-shaped slope with the Port wine cellars.
In a study concerning competitiveness of the 18 Portuguese district capitals, Porto was the worst-ranked. The study was made by Minho University economics researchers and was published in Público newspaper on 30th September 2006. The best-ranked cities in the study were Évora, Lisbon and Coimbra. Although, the validity of this study was questioned by some Porto's notable figures (such as local politicians and businesspersons) who argued that the city proper does not function independently but in conurbation with other municipalities. This point of view cannot harm the research study by itself, which was made in accordance with the criteriously selected World Economic Forum methodology, because the same situation is what exactly happens with other higher ranked cities, like Lisbon, which were similarly considered alone without its satellite cities or towns.


The city has a large number of public and private basic and secondary schools, as well as kindergartens and nurseries. Due to the depopulation of the city's interior, however, the number of students has dropped substantially in the last decade, forcing a closure of some institutions. The largest and oldest international school located in Porto is the Oporto British School established in 1894.
Porto has several institutions of higher education, the larger one being the state-managed University of Porto (Universidade do Porto), which is the largest Portuguese university with approximately 28,000 students. There are also a state-managed polytechnic institute, the Instituto Politécnico do Porto (a group of technical colleges), and privately-owned institutions like the Portuguese Catholic University at Porto (Universidade Católica Portuguesa - Porto) and the Porto's Higher Education School of Arts (ESAP- Escola Superior Artística do Porto). Due to the recognition, potential for employment and higher revenue, there are many students from the entire country and particularly from the north of Portugal, attending a college or university in Porto. In 2007, a Higher Education Evaluation & Accreditation Council of Taiwan's ranking, placed the University of Porto in 459. It was the only Portuguese university in the top 500 according to the Taiwanese ranking.

Public health

Porto district has the highest rate of tuberculosis positive cases in Portugal. Porto tuberculosis rates are at Third World proportions (comparatively, London faces a similar phenomenon The incidence of positive cases was 23/100 000 nationwide in 1994, with a rate of 24/100 000 in Lisbon and 37/100 000 in Porto. Porto area represented the worst epidemiological situation in the country, with very high rates in some city boroughs and in some poor fishing and declining industrial communities. Epidemiological analysis indicated the existence of undisclosed sources of infection in these communities, responsible for continuing transmission despite a cure rate of 83% in the district. In 2002 the situation was not better with 34/100 000 nationwide and 64/100 000 in Porto district. In 2004 the situation improved to 53/100 000.


As in most Portuguese cities, football is the most important sport in the city. Top division champions F.C. Porto and Boavista F.C. are both from Porto, while S.C. Salgueiros, a third club, has fallen into heavy debts and now plays in the third division after being one of the most regular first division clubs during the 1980s and 1990s. There are two major grounds, the Estádio do Dragão and the Estádio do Bessa, owned by the two Portuguese Liga clubs and present in the Euro 2004. Salgueiros, who sold their Vidal Pinheiro ground to the Porto Metro company planned to build a new one in the Arca d'Água zone, few hundred meters away from the old grounds, but due to a large underground water pocket, it is impossible to build there, and so they moved to the Estádio do Mar in Matosinhos, owned by Leixões S.C. As there isn't a multi-purpose city-owned stadium, the only one with an athletics track is the Estádio Universitário, where the rugby team of the CDUP (Porto University Sports Team) plays. There are other football grounds, with sand or dirt surfaces, owned by clubs in the amateur league, featured in a cult show on NTV named N*Amadores, the station was renamed RTP N and the show Liga dos Últimos, the exception being FC Porto's second stadium, the Campo da Constituição, now a footballing school. FC Porto won the UEFA Champions League in 1987 (then known as the European Cup) and in 2004. Their long time president, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, is one of the most charismatic figures in Portuguese football. He managed to establish FC Porto as one of the most powerful European football clubs and reduce the influence of the Lisbon clubs. Pinto da Costa is not the only charismatic figure in the recent history of FC Porto: José Mourinho coached Porto to a victory in the 2003 UEFA Cup (beating Celtic in the final in the Estadio Olímpico de Sevilla) and their 2004 Champions League win which was clinched with a victory over Monaco. FC Porto also won the Intercontinental Cup (also known as the Toyota Cup) in 1987 and once again in 2004.
There are other sports arenas in Porto, notably the city-owned Pavilhão Rosa Mota (now unused due to a bad relationship between the mayor and the FC Porto board), swimming pools in the Constituição area, between the Marquês and Boavista, and other minor arenas, such as the Pavilhão do Académico.
Porto is also home to the North of Portugal's only cricket club, the Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club. Every year, for more than 100 years, a match, the Kendall Cup, has been played between the Oporto Club and the Casuals Club of Lisbon, as well as various games against touring teams, mainly from England. The Club and pitch are located off Rua Campo Alegre.
In 1958 and 1960, Porto's streets hosted the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix on the Boavista street circuit. A reenactment of the races was held from 8 July to 10 July, 2005.
In Athletics competitions, every year in October is the Porto Marathon in the streets of the town.

Sister cities

The following places are sister cities to Oporto:
Within the context of development cooperation, Oporto is also linked to:

Famous inhabitants


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