A traditional neighborhood in Porto
Miragaia is one of the tourist neighborhoods of Porto, located near the Ribeira, along the Douro River. However, in ancient times it was situated outside the city walls, being an area of sailors and merchants passing through.
One of the theories about the origin of its name states that it is so called because it is facing Gaia, with the river in the middle. So, it is an old neighborhood of Porto that “looks at Gaia”
Because of the many floods suffered throughout its history, the area was endowed in the 17th century by the arches that still support its houses and buildings, giving the neighborhood a distinctive personality. The lower part of the district however, is still susceptible to flooding when the river rises.
What to see in Miragaia
The picturesque traditional buildings
Miragaia’s buildings are tall, narrow and colorful, with the typical scenery of clothes drying in the open air and plants on their balconies.
You can walk through the stone arches and visit the fountains between them. If you happen to be in town on June 23rd, the eve of St. John, (Porto’s patron saint) this area is where the festivity is celebrated with more joy. Therefore, try to visit it on that day.
If you keep walking downstream past Miragaia, you will reach the mouth of the Douro River and the area of Foz (be aware it is a 3 mile walk).
Crystal Palace Gardens
Going up Rua de Miragaia or Rua dos Armazens, we arrive at Rua da Restauração, where we will find the “Palacio de Cristal”. This park with romantic gardens, and beautiful views of the Freixo Bridge, is highly appreciated among locals. You can’t miss it, especially if you come to Porto with children.
In the surroundings of this park we find two museums. One is the Romantic Museum, where you can see a very well preserved 19th century bourgeoisie house. The other is the National Museum of Soares dos Reis, which contains much of the Portuguese pictorial and sculptural art from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century.
World of Discoveries Museum
The World of Discoveries in Porto is an interactive museum and theme park inspired by the voyages of Portuguese navigators.
It is another of our recommendations in case you visit Porto with children.
Despite dealing with a controversial topic, that can give rise to long debates, in this museum about the Age of Discovery and the Portuguese colonies, children have a great time and adults learn with them about history, culture and geography.
Alfândega do Porto
The neoclassical building of the Alfândega do Porto (customs in Portuguese) or Alfândega Nova is a venue that hosts several annual events and exhibitions.
In this building, locals attend some of the biggest art and photography exhibitions and events held in large sites. Since it is always open, you can check the agenda of the dates you will be in town.
The building also houses permanently Porto’s Museum of Transportation and communications.
Right in front of the Alfândega building is this space where you can buy antiques, sit on the terrace to sunbathe and drink a chilled “vinho verde” (a DOC wine produced in the north of Portugal). Second hand markets are also held occasionally.