Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 73, Porto, Portugal

We are now flying over Portugal….. since Amit wants to spend a fair bit of time in Paris...we wont stop over in Portugal.......

At the mouth of the Rio Douro, the hilly city of Porto presents a jumble of styles, eras and attitudes: narrow medieval alleyways, extravagant baroque churches, prim little squares, and wide boulevards lined with stately beaux-arts edifices.

Oh, look, there is the Dom Luís 1st Bridge, an arch bridge that spans the Douro River between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
At the time of construction its span of 172 m was the longest of its type in the world.
The Government held a competition for the construction of a metallic bridge on the Douro River on a site that was adjacent to an existing bridge and would replace it.

The construction was begun in 1881 and the bridge opened on 1886-10-31.

Total length 385.25 m
Weight 3045 tons
The arch measures 172 m in length and 44.6 m in height

Porto’s historic centre is the Ribeira district, a Unesco World Heritage zone of winding lanes, zigzagging staircases and tiled churches peering around every corner. Old traditions live on as tripeiros (Porto residents) mingle before old storefronts, on village-style plazas and in the old houses of commerce where Roman ruins lurk beneath the foundations. On the downside, here and in other parts of the city centre stand many dilapidated early-20th-century town houses, left to crumble as the young flee to the sprawling suburbs by the sea.

Porto put the ‘Portu’ in Portugal . The name dates from Roman times, when Lusitanian settlements straddled both sides of the Douro’s banks. The area was briefly in the hands of Moors but was reconquered by AD 1000 and reorganised as the county of Portucale, with Porto as its capital. British-born Henri of Burgundy was granted the land in 1095, and it was from here that Henri’s son and Portuguese hero Afonso Henriques launched the Reconquista (Christian reconquest), ultimately winning Portugal its status as an independent kingdom.

Today, the city remains the economic capital of northern Portugal and is surpassed only by much-larger Lisbon in terms of economic and social clout.

OK, Amit , at long last....our next destination.........Paris, France!

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