At the Rio Douro


The boats at the Rio Douro is one of my favourite pictures of 2014. It is a view onto the Dom Louis I bridge between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia (Portugal) (see map).


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The construction of this 385 m long bridge begun in 1881. The upper deck was opened on 31 October 1886; the lower deck opened in 1887. The Dom Louis bridge is one of five bridges linking the high and rocky banks of Rio Douro (>>>). To see them all we took o tourist boat – a service that is offered for tourists on the regular basis.

The banks of the Rio Douro are densely inhabited. Some of the older houses seem to be constructed one above the other gradually. If seen from a boat the panorama is quite picturesque.


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Lately, I was talking to a professional photographer who just came back from Portugal. He prefers BW or soft colours.  But his pictures of Porto’s Douro (the river) banks were … colourful. He told me it was not possible to make them otherwise. Somehow I agree, although – regrettably – my only equipment in Porto was a cell phone.


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Estação de São Bento


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Estação de São Bento is a small but tremendously decorated railway station in the centre of Porto (Portugal). The internal walls of the main hall are fully covered with traditional Portuguese tile work (called azulejos) depicting scenes of the Portuguese history. The pictures had been compiled of more than 20,000 single tiles in the early XIX century. The station is located quite close to the Liberdade Square in a one minute distance from the monument of Dom Pedro the IVth and less than a ten-minutes walk from the Dom Luis the Ist bridge. The place is definitely on the must-see list while visiting Porto.


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Azulejos is painted tin-glazed ceramic tile work widespread in Portugal and Spain. In Portugal, you will find them outdoors and indoors on walls in private and public buildings. (For somebody, who is used to tiles only as decoration in bathrooms or on floors as in many other European countries, it is a bit unusual). The variety of azulejos reaches from simple reproduced white-blue tiles to big detailed pictures that are indeed real pieces of art (like those at Sao Bento station). Similar kind of tile work has been traditionally produced in some other European countries (like Italy and Netherlands). As this kind of tile work origins from Moorish culture, it was indeed first applied on the Iberian peninsula.

If you want to know more about azulejos and during your Portugal journey, visit the National Tile Museum (>>>) in Lisbon. The museum is located in the former Convent of Madre Deus. As convents were banished from Portugal some time ago, it is a state museum. Following the visiting route you will see how the art of azulejos and its techniques developed with time.


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Bridges of Porto


Porto (see map) is one of the main cities in Portugal. The agglomeration is located around banks of the Rio Douro. The banks are rocky and high. There are five high bridges crossing the river. Two of them were designed the same style as the Eiffel tour in Paris – one by the Gustave Eiffel himself together with Théophile Seyrig (Maria Pia Bridge, 1877), the other one by his colleague Théophile Seyrig (Luís I Bridge, 1886). To see all the bridges as well as colourful banks of the Douro river, we took a ride on a tourist boat – a service that is regularly offered there.



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