If José Marques da Silva (1869-1947) shaped the physiognomy of the city in the beginning of the 20th century and transformed its landscape way beyond his own works, and Arménio Losa (1908-1988) and Cassiano Barbosa (1911-1998) renewed and transformed architecture in the north of Portugal, the architecture of Álvaro Siza Vieira (1933) and Eduardo Souto de Moura (1952), master and disciple, introduced the “school of Porto” to the world.
A short stay won’t be enough for you to learn about the vast and extremely interesting work of these and other Portuguese architects, but the emblematic projects we have selected in this itinerary will offer you an overall picture of the rich architectural heritage of this city.
These are a starting point to get to know Porto’s architecture; something you will want to tell others when you go home and that will motivate you to return to this city in the north of Portugal.
Start with the city’s “guest room”, Avenida dos Aliados, whose current design (2005) is by Siza Vieira and Souto de Moura, winners of the Pritzker prize in 1992 and 2011, respectively. Besides the requalification signed by both these architects from Porto, it is worth dedicating a few minutes to the buildings Companhia Seguros A Nacional, Building Joaquim Emílio Pinto Leite and Jornal de Notícias (1919, 1922 and 1925, Marques da Silva).
Proceed to the lively Rua de Santa Catarina. Just a few metres from the tourist Café Majestic, you can see the old Grandes Armazéns Nascimento (1914), a building where currently is a FNAC megastore. This work was designed by José Marques da Silva.
At one end of this street, where traditional commerce lives side-by-side with major brands, in Praça da Batalha, is the Teatro Nacional de São João, a project from 1909, also by Marques da Silva, which was restored in the early 1990s.
The buildings designed by Marques da Silva, who studied in Porto and then in Paris where he was a pupil of Victor Laloux, reveal an academic culture aiming to intersect classical tradition and reason, originating functional compositions which take modern life into account, despite its formal and impressive appearance.
If you go through Santa Catarina in the opposite direction, in a few minutes you will have reached one of the city’s best known works by Arménio Losa and Cassiano Barbosa. A building of commerce, services and collective housing (1946-51) in Rua Sá da Bandeira, 633/673, and Rua Guedes de Azevedo, 117, 121. The two architects, formed in Porto’s School of Fine Arts, initiated in 1939 a renovation and transformation of architecture in the northern region, confirmed by the quality and quantity of projects and accomplished works.
Return to Aliados and to Praça da Liberdade. Enter São Bento’s train station, a symbolic building designed by the same architect and built between 1896 and 1916. Without hasting, contemplate the panels painted by artist Jorge Colaço who, in the beginning of the last century, painted scenes alluding to the history of Portugal and the development of transport.
From here, you can go down towards the river to discover the city’s historical centre, classified as world heritage by UNESCO in 1996, the Alfândega and the Museum of Transport and Communications, whose recovery (1993-2002) is signed by the awarded architect Souto de Moura, or explore the renewed downtown area. In the streets surrounding the Torre dos Clérigos, several modern businesses have opened in the last few years: concert halls, bars and clubs, restaurants with signature cuisines, studios and boutiques…
Walk up the Rua das Carmelitas. On number 100, observe the Edifício das Quatro Estações (1905). On the corner of this street with the streets Conde de Vizela and Cândido dos Reis, take a look at the Palácio do Conde de Vizela (1917-1923). In Rua do Rosário, very close to the Quarteirão das Artes – thus called for concentrating numerous art galleries – pay attention to the design of the Building António Enes Bagana (1919). All these buildings were designed by architect Marques da Silva.
Nearby, at Campo Mártires da Liberdade, you can see how the old Cadeia da Relação was transformed into the Portuguese Centre of Photography (1997-2011). The architect responsible for this conversion is Souto de Moura.
Arménio Losa and Cassiano Barbosa, who reinvented and adapted Porto’s reality to the new architecture internationally announced by Le Corbusier, signed another building of services (1947-49) in Rua dos Bragas (numbers 53/61), in the Cedofeita area. In Rua de Ceuta (numbers 141 and 141-A) and Praça D. Filipa de Lencastre (number 16), right in the middle of the liveliest area in Porto at night, there is another building of services and collective housing (1950-53).
You can enjoy this area at the end of the day, when it really comes alive. Have dinner downtown and stay for a glass of Port and a little bit of dancing.
Back to the area of the Aliados and Praça da Liberdade, take the metro in São Bento’s station – designed by Siza Vieira, in 2005. The yellow line will take you to Praça Marquês de Pombal, where you can visit the house-studio of the architect Marques da Silva. In the 1909 building, on number 44, is the current Fundação Instituto Arquitecto José Marques da Silva (FIMS), aiming to announce the architectural legacy of the designer and the architecture and urbanism of Porto and Portugal.
This Foundation holds the family’s historical collection, including the architect’s professional archive, but also his daughter’s and son-in-law’s, the architects Maria José Marques da Silva and David Moreira da Silva.
Speaking of Metro do Porto, did you know that this network was designed by Souto de Moura? The architect, famous for the rigour and accuracy of his works, is responsible for the projects of the stations Trindade, Aliados, Faria Guimarães, Marquês, Combatentes, Salgueiros, Heroísmo, Campo 24 de Agosto, Bolhão, Lapa, Carolina Michaëlis and Casa da Música.
The Boavista area
The Boavista area has more to see than Casa da Música, a cultural facility suggesting a diamond in the rough, designed by the Dutch Rem Koolhaas.
In the middle of Praça Mouzinho de Albuquerque, better known as Rotunda da Boavista, is the work Heróis das Guerras Peninsulares (1909), by architect Marques da Silva and sculptor Alves de Sousa. The rehabilitation of the garden surrounding the monument was designed by Siza Vieira, in 2004.
Go down Avenida da Boavista towards Serralves and, along the way, pay attention to the Burgo construction (1991-2007), an office and commerce building designed by Souto de Moura. It is located on number 1837.
On numbers 2450/2460 is the work Quatro Casas, by Arménio Losa.
The building of the Contemporary Art Museum in Serralves (1991-99), the most modern and where the Fundação Serralves is based, was designed by Siza Vieira. The Casa de Serralves (1925-1943) was designed by Marques da Silva, together with Jacques Émile Ruhlmann, Charles Siclis and Alfred Porteneuve. The architect also signed the design of the Gardens (1932), with Jacques Gréber.
Very close to Serralves, in Avenida Marechal Gomes da Costa, look for the house-studio of the artist Armanda Passos (2002-06), also designed by Siza Vieira.
Return to the centre of the city by the university campus of Campo Alegre and visit the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto (1986-93), in Via Panorâmica. This is yet another work designed by Siza Vieira.
In the same area, on number 606 of Rua do Campo Alegre, you can see yet another building of commerce and collective housing (1959-63), by Arménio Losa and Cassiano Barbosa.
Outside the city
In Matosinhos, it is worth going to Leça da Palmeira, where Siza Vieira signed the Casa de Chá da Boa Nova (1958-63; in co-authorship with Adalberto Neves, António Meneres, Botelho Dias and Joaquim Sampio), the Piscina das Marés (1961-66) and the Marginal project (2002-07).
A few minutes from the beach area, the architect also designed the swimming pool in Quinta da Conceição, next to Porto de Leixões.
Stay at Pousada do Porto. Installed in Palácio do Freixo, the architecture of this hotel unit is majestic. Designed by architect Nicolau Nasoni, this building from the 18th century is one of the most remarkable monuments of Portuguese civil Baroque and is classified as national monument.
There are flights from Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Munich, Dortmund, Zurich, Liverpool, London, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Dole, La Rochelle, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Paris, Rodez, St. Etienne Toulouse, Tours, Barcelona, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Bologna, Milan, Pisa, Rome, Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and New York.
The best way to go from the International Airport Francisco Sá Carneiro to the city centre is to take the underground metro. The trip takes about 30 minutes.