This photo-essay is about the city Porto, Portugal. The text and photos in the gallery go together. You can click through the photos as your read through the text.
In June 2012, I attended the annual International Association of Impact Assessment conference, held in Porto, Portugal - the second largest city on Portugal. Porto has many old buildings, and the older central part is listed by UNESCO as World Heritage (the Ribeira district of Porto). Porto is both an old port city, with many old building around the River Douro (photos 1-3), and a coastal city and an active port (Slides 4-6) - surfing is popular too - photo 6. The old river port part of Porto dates back probably as far as 300 BC but the oldest in-tact buildings date back to the 4th century when it was part of the Roman empire. Part of the original fort wall is still in that (photos 7 & 8). The land adjacent to Douro River in Porto is a very steep incised rocky valley, and there are many steep streets and buildings constructed on steep slopes overlooking the river (Photos 9-11). There are also several large and tall bridges that cross the river (photo 12).
The World Heritage listing for Porto has come at some cost as there are many derelict buildings that are yet to be restored. Conservation of the built form is central to the requirements of being World Heritage listed, which can be very expensive to do. Whilst there are some building being restored (Photo 13) there are many buildings that are in a poor state of repair (photos 14 and 15). Photo 16 shows a row of town houses some restored and others is various states of disrepair. Interestedly, this has created a significant supply of affordable housing (photos 17 and 18). As a result, most Porto residents live in new apartments that fringe the World Heritage part of the city (photo 19) and in the new suburbs near the coast. The central old port area is showing signs of revival (mostly around Ribeira square) with cafes and markets (photos 20-22).
Open space in Porto is limited to historic town squares (photo 23) and smaller manicured parks (photo 24) that favour passive activities. Children have to find temporary spaces for more active pursuits (photo 25).
The main city centre is uphill away from the old port and River Douro where there are many significant heritage buildings (photos 26-29), including, surprisingly, some Art Deco buildings (27). Tiling, both for exterior decorating (photo 28) and internal, is an obvious part of the architecture of Porto, including in the central trains station (photos 29 and 30)
Porto has a modern and well used light rail system (Photos 31).
The coast is a mix of rocky outcrops and cliffs with beaches of coarse sand in between (photos 32 and 33). There are several restaurants on these sandy beaches (photo 34), and the road parallel to the beach is also showing revitalisation, with apartments and cafes (photo 35). There is a section of the coast area that contains many mansions, many of which are old dating back to the Portuguese empire days in various states of repair/disrepair (photos 36-37).
The central cathedral is located on one of the highest points of the city (Photo 38) and also dates back to the Portuguese empire days. Next to this is a small chapel used primarily by the rich and powerful during these times - Church of St Francis. The interiors of both buildings have been restored, although the large gold plated walls have been replaced with copper ones (photo 39). These remain powerful symbols of the brutality of the Portuguese empire towards the native Americans in South America.
Porto is still an active fishing port and there is a substantial fishing facility on the south bank just to the west of the main part of old Porto (Photos 39-41), with each fisher having their own little hutch in the harbour (photo 42) . There is also a modern marina here too (photo 43).
Finally, Porto markets itself as a cultural centre (as well as being famous for its port), and it was a nice touch to have a two piece string orchestra playing in the departure lounge of the airport as I was leaving (photo 44)!