Still a bit gray out today as we set out to explore more of Porto. Our guide yesterday, Andre, had described Porto as "rainy, windy and foggy," kind of like San Francisco, complete with the steep hills and cable cars. And much like the California city, even those cloudy days are often interspersed with brief bursts of sunshine.
We started out walking from our hotel and toured much of the old historic section.
Along the way we stopped to have an up close inspection of the Dom Luis I Bridge, the major downtown bridge and the one we had seen yesterday on the boat ride. It was constructed in 1886 by a partner of Gustave Eiffel. The two-level arched bridge was used for both trolleys and vehicles on top (now just the metro) and vehicles and pedestrians on the lower level.
On to the Cathedral Se, a 12th century Romanesque cathedral which has a very austere inside but enhanced with a beautiful 18th century Baroque alter.
From here we went to the São Bento Train Station for another look at the tiles.
Our last two sights on the tour were actually connected, but today are very different.
First the Stock Exchange. In 1832, the monastery to the church burned down and Queen Mary II offered the ruins to the Commercial Association. Taking great pride in the skill of local tradesmen, the merchants crafted a building that showcased the talents of the community.
We toured a number of rooms which were all beautifully decorated with complex patterned floors using Brazilian and African woods from Portugal's colonies, tiles and architectural details. One of the rooms was the Central Courtyard,
Another room was kind of like a "court" where they would mediate disagreements between merchants.
From here we went to the St. Francis Church, completed in 1425, making it the best example of Gothic architecture in Porto. We were not allowed to take photos inside, but much of it reflected the later Manueline and Baroque styles with their ornate designs. I was taken aback by the large paintings of Franciscans being crucified by the Japanese and beheaded by Moors. Kind of scary images.
From here we had the afternoon free for lunch and sightseeing. We were right next to the Ribeira (waterfront) so I walked along the street checking out the restaurants and the shops.
Tonight we said our farewells.First we gathered at the hotel for a champagne toast and gave Robert postcards from each of us telling him how much we appreciated him as our guide. Then we had dinner at Restaurante Escondidinho, which was just down the street.