The upscale Boavista district in Porto is mainly known as a residential area. However, it is also home to some remarkable cultural sites such as the Casa da Música, which is housed in a modern and distinctive building.
The Fundação Serralves, a modern art museum in a villa surrounded by a lush green park, is also located in the Boavista district and is well worth a visit.
1. Casa da Música
The Casa da Música in Porto is undoubtedly one of the city’s most impressive cultural venues. The modern building is not only an architectural masterpiece, but also an important venue for musicians and music lovers from all over the world.
The building was designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his colleague Ellen van Loon and opened in 2005. The polygonal structure made of white exposed concrete is located on the “Rotunda da Boavista” square. The ground around the concert hall rises up almost like waves in the sea. Skateboarders can often be seen riding up and down the slopes. We entered the building via a staircase with a large heart.
The interior is dominated by concrete, aluminum and glass. The Casa da Música is an example of contemporary architecture and has won numerous awards for its exceptional design. I think the entrance hall has a very interesting design. The room looks so clean and not plush and ornate, as is often the case in opera houses.
A highlight of the Casa da Música is undoubtedly the main hall, which is considered one of the best concert halls in Europe. The room seats 1,300 people and is renowned for its excellent acoustics. It is no wonder that many renowned orchestras and musicians regularly perform here.
In addition, the Casa da Música has several smaller halls and studios that regularly host various music events. From jazz and chamber music concerts to experimental music shows, there is something for every musical taste.
However, the Casa da Música is not just a venue for concerts and performances. The building also houses a music school and offers an extensive educational program for pupils and students. Here, young musicians have the opportunity to learn from renowned musicians and music teachers and improve their skills.
In addition to music, the Casa da Música also offers a wide range of cultural activities, such as exhibitions and lectures. The events are mostly free of charge or available at a very reasonable price to make culture accessible to everyone.
Those who wish can take part in guided tours of the house or just visit the café, which has a beautiful terrace.
2. Monumento aos Heróis da Guerra Peninsular
The Monumento aos Heróis da Guerra Peninsular is located in a well-kept green area in the Rotunda da Boavista in Porto. It forms the heart of this large square. It is worth walking around the monument. From each side, we could see different figures and scenes that tell us a lot about the history of Portugal.
The Monument to the Heroes of the War of the Iberian Peninsula was erected to commemorate the events and heroes of the Guerra Peninsular.
The monument was designed by the famous Portuguese architect Marques de Silva in 1908, almost one hundred years after the invasion of Portugal by Napoleon’s troops. The monument can be visually divided into three sections: the sculpture at the top of the column, the relief at the bottom of the column and the figures at the foot of the monument.
It is around 42 meters high and 20 meters wide. The base is unevenly stepped towards the top and battle scenes are recreated around the base of the monument. The oversized human sculptures depict both the suffering and heroism of war. The main figures are civilians fighting against the Napoleonic soldiers. You can see a helpless woman on a capsized boat holding her naked and frightened-looking baby in her arms and with her other hand she is trying to save a man who is falling into the water.
Four officers can be seen on the relief. The figures stand at an equal distance from each other and hold a sword in their hands. They appear very rigid and expressionless.
The column on the pedestal is decorated with a relief and at the top of the column a mighty lion is enthroned above the monument. Its claws have sunk deep into the bird lying beneath it.
3. Mercado Bom Sucesso
Porto, the city on the Douro, is known for its picturesque landscapes, historic buildings and, of course, its world-famous port wine. But there is another place that makes the heart of every gourmet beat faster: the Mercado Bom Sucesso. It is located just a few meters from the large Rotunda da Boavista square.
The Mercado Bom Sucesso was opened in 1952 and is an impressive example of the modern architecture of the time. Originally conceived as a traditional market, it has evolved over the years into a true melting pot of Portuguese gastronomy. After extensive renovations in 2013, the Mercado Bom Sucesso reopened its doors and now offers a diverse range of fresh produce, gourmet stalls and trendy restaurants.
If you like good food, you should definitely make a stop here on your tour of Boavista. From fish, meat and cheese to traditional Portuguese specialties such as pastéis de nata, bifanas and francesinhas, wine and beer – there is a great selection here that we enjoyed more than once.
4. Serralves Gärten and Museu de Arte Contemporânea: Art and nature in Porto
One of the most beautiful places in the Boavista district are the Serralves Gardens and the Museu de Arte Contemporânea located there.
Opened in 1999, the museum is the most important museum of contemporary art in Portugal. With a permanent collection and changing exhibitions presenting works by national and international artists, the museum offers its visitors an impressive variety of artistic forms of expression.
However, we were drawn to the Serralves Gardens. They are a masterpiece of garden art and harmonize perfectly with the surrounding nature. The extensive gardens contain various themed areas such as the rose garden, the cottage garden and a small treetop path. Visitors will also find impressive sculptures on the grounds, such as the fascinating work “Sky Mirror”.
This park of tranquillity and creativity is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take an inspiring journey through contemporary art and the beauty of nature. We took quite a long walk there and discovered some beautiful places.