Unless you are a cruiser, most travellers in North America would not be familiar with the second largest city in Portugal, the quaint town of Porto, or Oporto as most English speaking folks say, on the Portuguese coast. This Mediterranean looking city is located on the Douro River on the northwest coast of Portugal. It is on the itinerary of many discriminating ocean cruise lines and is the starting point for the ever-increasing popular vacation choice, river cruising, for this country.
Porto grew up on both sides of the river and on its hillsides. Founded by the Romans in the fourth century, it became the site of many important events over the years adding to its historical significance and lending itself to the interest of today’s history buff. The world’s oldest historical alliance between Portugal and England started in Porto with the wedding of John I and John of Gaunt’s daughter. Prince Henry the Navigator was born in this place too, and so on. You can feel the past surround you as you stroll the narrow twisted alleyways between the tall, thin houses capped with brick-coloured tiles. Looking down from the Clerigos Church and Tower your view is a sea of reddish roofs as Porto spreads beneath this landmark bell tower built in the 18th century.