Travel can reveal some unexpected treasures and pleasures, as The Editor discovered on a recent trip to Porto, Portugal’s second biggest city which sits majestically on the epic Douro river.

The cityscape of Porto is rich with spectacular viewpoints and vistas, ripe for capturing on film. From the 12th century Romanesque cathedral, to the 21st century Casa de Musica, and not forgetting of course the iconic Dom Luis I iron bridge stretching high above the mighty Douro river. Curiously enough though, it was not any of those that caught my imagination as I wandered around town on a wet Sunday autumnal afternoon… but something rather more modest: the humble Porto doorway.

It might seem to strange to say it but they were everywhere. Even the narrowest building seemed to have at least three front portals (one for each member of the family?), and moreover each seemed to have something visually fascinating about them. Some were licked by perfect new paint jobs, with cute ironwork flourishes guarding the window panes, others were surrounded by Portugal’s characteristic ceramic tiles, whilst many more displayed a tatty grandeur as paintwork peeled and split, doorbells gathered dust and the metal trims of letterboxes had been stripped away. Some had been bricked over entirely, and I discovered one such defunct doorway displaying the slogan “PEOPLE COULD LIVE HERE” (in Spanish, rather strangely [correction: see comments!]).

In the end I took well over 100 photos just of Porto’s doors (check out our Facebook page for more!) in just a couple of hours of wandering around. Now, if I was the kind of pretentious travel blogger who liked to imbue his posts with an undue sense of significance then I’d be tempted to say that these doors were much more than functional entrances; but rather they acted as a gateway between the local Porto people and the streets of the their city…a threshold where we can catch a glimpse of them in the shadowy inbetween world of private and public lives, and yet at the same time which prevents us, the casual tourist, from making more than a superficial impression on the city. But I just thought they looked cool…

Duncan Rhodes travelled to Porto, Portugal, as part of the Douro 2012 wine/travel bloggers press trip, organised by Catavino wine blog and the IVDP (#Douro12 on Twitter). So yes, you can expect some wine-related UTB content soon…

5 thoughts on “Photo Story: The Portals of Porto

  1. Thanks Brad… you’re right! Actually Spanish infinitive for “to live” would be “vivir”. Still I didn’t know Portuguese could be so similar! Now I don’t know if I should correct it or not… because then this conversation will look really weird;)

  2. My Town!!!!
    “aqui podia viver gent”e means “Here could live someone”
    Not so similar to spanish as you may think, but some worlds you can understand.
    Nice pics.

  3. Portuguese isn’t that much similar to spanish as everyone may think ahah
    “Aqui podia viver gente” means “there could be people living in here” which is basically criticizing the fact that there are a lot of abandoned houses all over Portugal that could be fixed so people could live there.
    However, this is a great blog and you should definitly visit some other cities here in Portugal like Coimbra and Viseu. Definitly worth.
    Cheers from Portugal 😀

    1. Thanks Luis for the clarification. Re: your suggestions, I heard Coimbra is beautiful and will do some research on Viseu. I would love to come back to Portugal soon!

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