After showing you curious facts and favorite places in some of Porto’s greatest downtown streets, we will tell you a little bit about the biggest square of the city – well, actually it’s not a square, it’s a roundabout!
It’s a plaza popularly known as Rotunda da Boavista:
The roundabout is officially named Praça Mouzinho da Silveira in 1903, in honor of one of the most brilliant military figures from the beginning of the 20th century. But its history goes back a long time ago when the São Miguel Fair was allocated there in 1876. The Rotunda was also where bullfights and bike races took place! In more recent times, this was the location for the city’s Book Fair and São João popular parties.
Surrounded by centenary trees there’s the Monument to the Heroes of the Peninsular War, designed by sculptor Alves de Sousa and famous architect Marques da Silva. This monument started being built in 1909 but it was only finished in 1951 – 42 years later! It’s the centerpiece of the square and you should take a few moments to appreciate the history that it tells us: at the top of the 45 meters high column we can see a lion defeating an eagle – it symbolizes the victory of the Portuguese and English alliance over the French army that invaded the city during the Napoleonic wars.
At the bottom, we can see scenes of war and the affliction that affected the population. Even the tragedy of Ponte das Barcas (translated as the bridge of boats) is portrayed there – but we will tell you more about this subject some other time!
The Rotunda da Boavista was originally designed by Jerónimo Monteiro da Costa but was refurbished in the early 2000’s, during the construction of Casa da Música and the city’s subway line. Siza Vieira and Souto de Moura, the most famous Portuguese architects, were responsible for that work.
When visiting the Rotunda, there are a few points of interests nearby that you shouldn’t miss! Here are our tips:
– Make a visit to Casa da Música, the greatest concert hall in the city and work of the famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. To learn more about this great architectural work and its secrets, take a guided tour! The one-hour visit costs 7,50 € per person and happens two times a day (11 am and 4 pm). Also, check their program and watch a concert there, it’s a unique experience!
– If you’re feeling hungry, go to Mercado do Bom Sucesso and try some gourmet versions of typical Portuguese food. Our suggestions are especially focused on desserts: try the Jesuítas, a delicious sugar-bomb very typical in Portuguese pastry; the famous éclair from Leitaria da Quinta do Paço and the traditional biscuits and cakes from Paupério, a company running since 1874!