Porto, Portugal – Part Three – Photography and Travel Tips
This is part three of what to see in Porto, Portugal!
When visiting Porto last summer I dragged my mom, who is often my travel-mate, to the main churches with azulejos – blue and white decorative tiles. Azulejo is both a Spanish and Portuguese painted ceramic tile work. These tiles are a main part of Portuguese architecture and used for exterior and interior decoration on churches and houses.
* Interesting fact – azulejos have been produced in Portugal for five centuries and still going! To read more about the history of azulejos click here.
To see some of the best examples of the azulejos make sure to see the following sites and the Saint Benedict train station as mentioned in Part Two of Porto, Portugal.
1 – Carmo Church and Carmelitas Church – These churches are situated right next to each other and in fact look like one church from the outside. Carmo Church was built in the 18th century and one outer wall is a mural of blue and white tiles. These churches also site on the edge of a pleasant square and just cattycorner to the Livraria Lello bookshop (mentioned in part two).
2 – Santo Ildefonson Church – This 18th century church almost stands alone at the top of a hill in Porto and the façade and the sides show the blue and white tiles. It is a charming church, however I was unable to go inside, as it was not open when I went, but the outside is worth seeing anyway.
* This church is not far from the Majestic Café, which is a tourist attraction but of course for a reason. I would try to eat at the café if you can as it is a beautiful setting and the food is good and not expensive. I recommend sitting inside and if you go for an early dinner you are guaranteed a table and fast service (early meaning 7 or 7:30 as this is the time typically for drinks in Portugal).
3 – Capela das Almas – This church is probably one of the most photogenic in Porto although with the mobs of tourists it makes it a bit difficult. Nevertheless make sure to see this church as the azulejos are gorgeous and the interior is equally beautiful with more blue and white tiles!
*Not far from this church is a traditional market, Mercado do Bolhao, which I recommend popping into. As a side note – if you are squeamish be warned that you will see whole fish, an array of seafood, live rabbit and chickens for sale, and more meat produce that does not hide the source of that food. But local markets are always fascinating and they show you a lot about a culture. So tour the market, many tourists do, and if you buy anything just make sure you wash or cook it before you eat it!
Overall Porto is an interesting city with a lot to see. I was there almost three days and I didn’t see everything. I do recommend taking the city tour bus – there are many routes some of which include going to castles outside of the city and driving along the shore.
Porto might not be the typical tourist stop but it has its charms and it does grow on you as you explore it. Hopefully this three part series encourages you to visit Porto, Portugal!