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Porto, located on the banks of the river Douro, is one of the oldest cities in Europe. With a population of about 300.000, it is the country's second most important city in terms of economic output and cultural influence. Porto made its name over two centuries ago because of its connection with the Porto wine industry. It was elected as "Porto 2001: European Capital of Culture" and recently designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage City, a fitting recognition not only for its granite sculpted beauty, but also for the unforgettable panorama of its historic centre with narrow streets and typical houses arrayed like a cascade right down to the river, and for its passionate history which determined the country's destiny. The city's symbols are the "Rabelo" boat, which can still be found docked on the banks of the river, the baroque Clérigos Tower (built by the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni) and the century-old iron bridges, one of them designed by Gustave Eiffel. Porto is also at the heart of a knowledge and business intensive region, offering several universities and research institutes, which stimulate a strong connection with industry, the service sector and IT enterprises.

How to reach Porto

The city of Porto is easily accessible from abroad. Several airlines offer direct service to Francisco Sá Carneiro International Airport, located about 20 Km from the City Centre.

From the Airport to the City:

By Metro:

This is the most interesting way for reaching the conference, because it is a surface-metro. Line E (Violet) connects Airport Station to Estádio do Dragão Station, and, naturally, to all metro’s network. See a map for help here .

By bus:

STCP operates bus lines between Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport and different parts of the city. AeroBus is a relatively fast connection between the Airport and downtown Porto, including the city's leading Hotels, every 30 minutes, from 07h45m till 19h15m.

The Euro 1 and 3 days tickets are the best way to travel when in Oporto. One ticket is the key to all transport modes: STCP urban buses, metro and 12 urban train stations accept Euro tickets. Historic trams, funicular and AeroBus are other services available with Euro 1 or 3 days.

The price Euro 1 day costs 4 euros, and Euro 3 days costs 9 euros.

On sale aboard buses and STCP, TIP (Metro) and CP/USGP (suburban trains) and tourism offices.

 By taxi:

The average fare between the Airport and the city centre is around €20.00. Within the city, the rates charged are those shown in the meter at the end of the ride. For other areas the fare is calculated at €0.35 per Km after leaving the city limits. Any tolls (round trip) are paid by the client. On Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays, and Monday to Friday between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., a 20% rate applies to normal fares.

The city

(from Portugal Virtual)


The origins of the urban centre date back to the Late Bronze Age, 8th century BC approximately. From the beginning, the pre-historic settlement had important commercial links with the Mediterranean Basin. During the Roman occupation, the city was already provided with impressive buildings and controlled an important road network between Lisbon and Braga.

The city was formerly called Cale and later Portucale, from which the name Portugal was derived

The wall of Oporto was built in the Roman period. The original layout was reconstructed in the 12th century, when the borough was donated to Bishop D. Hugo who issued the first charter. The second layout of the wall dates back to the 14th century; it encloses the hills of Sé and Vitória and descends towards the river where the mooring quay and the Royal Customs House were located.

Sé Hill

S. Francisco Church

Between the 13th and 15th century, the maritime and commercial activities underwent great development, and the links with important European ports were strengthened, such as Barcelona, Valencia, La Rochelle, Rouen, London, Ypres, Antwerp, etc. In this period, the shipyards of Oporto and Vila Nova de Gaia were the most important ones in the country.

One of the negotiators of 1352 treaty between England and Portugal was born in Oporto. His name was Afonso Martins Alho, and his surname ('alho' is Portuguese for 'garlic') has been perpetuated in a popular expression used to refer to someone clever: "fino que nem um Alho".

In 1394, the Infante D. Henrique was born in this city. He was the "navigator" prince, who launched the era of the Portuguese discoveries overseas.

Ribeira area

Infante's house, Vitória and Clérigos Tower

The inhabitants of Oporto are known as tripeiros (literally, "tripe eaters"), due to their sacrifice in order to help the army that conquered Ceuta in 1415. It is said that they offered all the good meat to the expeditionary forces and only kept the tripe for themselves. That is why one of the city's most traditional dishes is "tripas à moda do Porto".

The author of the well-known Carta da Descoberta do Brasil (1500) was the Oporto-born Pero Vaz de Caminha, former servant of the Mint, who was requested by the King to follow the expedition of Pedro Álvares Cabral and write the official report of the journey.

Quay Terrace

British Factory

The Spanish occupation (1580-1640) was a period of great urban and administrative development. Significant artistic changes began in this period and reached their peak in the 18th century. It is worth mentioning the Baroque style, the best exponent of which was the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni (1725-1773), as well as several portuguese masters, such as António Pereira and Miguel Francisco da Silva. Another important change was the urban reform carried out by João de Almada e Melo (1757-1786) and the beautiful Neo-classic buildings influenced by the English colony in the city. It was also the golden age for the Port wine.

Oporto has always been known as a liberal and progressive city, with a long-standing tradition of defence of civil rights. Its population withstood a long military siege by the royalist forces between 1832 and 1833. The victory of the liberal cause was partly due to the sacrifice of the people, who fought to support the Constitutional Chart. As a result of this heroic action, King Pedro IV described it as the "very noble, undefeated and ever loyal" city of Oporto.

Ribeira area

Clérigos Chruch and Tower

After the establishment of the Republic, the city underwent a new renovation process, among which it is to be noted the construction of the Aliados Avenue. The project was begun in 1915 by the English Barry Parker and contined under the influence of the French school, due to architect Marques da Silva, who had studied in Paris. This harmonious and beautiful avenue is the northern limit to the protection area of the historic centre.

Oporto is also known as the "city of work", due to the traditional dynamism of the city's bourgeoisie, as well as to their honesty and straightforwardness. On the other hand, Oporto's intense social and cultural life has very special characteristics.

Bishop's Palace and Cathedral

For more information on Porto, the region and their touristic attractions please see:


Tourism of Porto City Council


Porto City Council (in portuguese)



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Last updated: 2008-07-31.