The city of Matosinhos merges seamlessly into the city of Porto as you walk along the coast, there is no city boundary to be seen and no signs to indicate this.
From an urban planning point of view, however, it is quite clear when you look at the map: Matosinhos and Porto are separated from each other by the Praça da Cidade do Salvador and the adjoining main road.
We took the metro towards the Matosinhos coast. We got off at Matosinhos Mercardo station. Here we wanted to visit the Mercado, one of the biggest fish markets in the region.
Fish Hall – Matosinhos Mercado
The market hall is a retro-looking building that was inaugurated in 1952. However, the building design is older, dating from 1939, and was one of the most modern buildings in the region at the time.
It is worth taking a look at the north façade with the ceramic tiles by Américo Soares Braga before entering the building. There, a large open hall opens up to you, which has a second level on one side.
The colourful market hustle and bustle starts quite early here and when we arrived, some market operators were already busy cleaning up. Nevertheless, there was plenty to see: On the lower level, one fish stall followed the next. Everywhere the freshly caught goods were on ice. On the upper level there were stalls with vegetables, plants and I also saw live chickens.
The market is mainly used by the local population. Tourists also come there, of course. Since they often do not buy the fresh fish because they cannot prepare it in the hotel, an interesting sales concept has developed. You buy your fish at one of the stalls and have it brought to one of the restaurants in the market hall. The chef then prepares the fish and you can eat it in the restaurant. Of course, this is not cheap. In addition to the purchase price for the fish, you also pay a flat fee at the restaurant. If you go to a restaurant a few streets away, the meal is certainly cheaper. But will the fish be as fresh then? In any case, I think this is a great idea.
Monday: 7-14 h
Tuesday – Friday: 6:30 -18 h
Saturday: 6:30 – 16 h
Ponte móvel de Leça – the bridge over the harbour
Every now and then, however, the traffic comes to a standstill. Then the mobile bridge opens and a ship passes under it. Thanks to the hydraulic opening and closing system and a deepening of the shipping channel to over 77 metres, it is now possible for larger ships to unload their goods in the port. This makes the port more competitive and attractive for shipping companies.
While we were crossing the bridge, there were some bigger ships in the harbour, but unfortunately no ship was passing through the bridge. I would have liked to see how it opens and closes.
After reaching the other side of the harbour basin, we strolled through small alleys towards the beach.
End of November, the sun is shining, beach time…
Arriving at the beach, I was really surprised. What a wide and beautiful sandy beach, great waves and some small buildings with open restaurants awaited us.
We sat down on the terrace of a restaurant right on the beach and drank coffee. What a dreamlike view of the sea. I could have spent hours watching the waves and the dogs playing on the beach. At a warmer time of year, it’s certainly good to lie on the beach and swim in the sea here.
Forte de Nossa Senhora das Neves
Not far from the beach, on our way back to the Ponte móvel de Leça, we passed a fort or castelo. The building is known as Nossa Senhora das Neves, Forte de Leça da Palmeira or Castelo de Matosinhos.
Construction of the Castelo began around 1638 to defend the city’s harbour from the threat of pirates and corsairs. The construction work dragged on. Documents have been found which still speak of an unfinished complex in 1701. At that time it was armed with four guns and guarded by eight soldiers under the command of a lieutenant. It is said to have been completed only around 1720.
The result was a sea fortress of the bulwark type, with a ground plan in the shape of a four-pointed star polygon with watchtowers and corresponding domes in the vertices. It is protected from the outside by sloping curtains. A mighty structure that today lies somewhat behind the shoreline. The harbour is barely visible from here; warehouses and harbour buildings have been built, obstructing direct access.
On the way to Praça da Cidade do Salvador
Our way led us further back over the bridge and along the harbour towards the Praça da Cidade do Salvador. Here, directly at the harbour, there is one fish restaurant next to the next. Everywhere it smelled temptingly of fried fish and the seats in front of the restaurants were almost all occupied.
Right after the harbour facilities, we were drawn to a small green area, the Jardin do Senhor do Padrao.
Zimbório do Senhor do Padrao
There you will find the monument of a sanctuary that today lies rather inconspicuously at the edge of the green area. The monument, also known as “Senhor do Espinheiro” or “Senhor da Areia”, stood directly on the beach in the middle of the 20th century and was visible from the water for many kilometres. It marks the place where, according to legend, the image of Bom Jesus de Bouças, later known as Senhor de Matosinhos, appeared.
Even during our visit, the reverence of the place was quite recognisable. There were candles and flowers on a bench. It’s just a pity that the beautiful building has to be protected by a fence. I would have loved to have had a closer look.
Just a few steps further, we reached Praia de Matosinhos. Before we could walk a little along the shore, we came to a very impressive monument.
Tragédia no Mar
On 2 December 1947, a heavy storm raged off the coast of Portugal. On this day, one of the biggest shipwrecks on the Portuguese coast occurred. Four trawlers sank off the city and the sea swept 152 fishermen to their deaths. Only six men survived the disaster. Numerous corpses washed ashore, some kept forever. 71 women became widows and 152 children were orphaned.
The larger-than-life bronze figures standing here represent women and children crying out their distress, fear and pain to the sea. You can almost feel their pain when you look closely at the figures. A painter from Matosinhos drew this scene and the artist José João de Brito created the impressive sculpture from this image.
Walking along the waterfront, we watched the surfers in the waves, children playing ball and the street vendors with their chestnuts. Then we reached the end point of the walk in Matosinhos.
Rotunda da Anémona – She Changes
On the Praça da Cidade do Salvador stands one of the most impressive works of art I have seen in public space for a long time.
A huge 20-tonne steel ring hangs from three steel masts that are 25-50 metres high. The ring rises at an angle due to the different heights of the steel masts. At the lowest point it is about 13.5 metres and at the highest point about 27 metres above the ground. A steel net is suspended in this ring. The net, which weighs a good one tonne, consists of several mesh sections with different densities.
I found an exciting video that shows the hanging of the net in fast motion.
The artwork reminds me of a fishing net, which for me symbolises fishing and its tradition in the city. Other observers associate the red.white striped steel poles with the red and white chimneys of the factories that stood here in the past.
I find it fascinating how the steel net moves in the wind and always offers new visual impressions.
At this large square, which forms the “border” to Porto, there are numerous bus lines that take you to the metro or directly to Porto. For us, this is the ideal destination for the walk.