When one thinks of Porto architecture-wise, what first comes to their mind are colorful "azulejos" (ceramic tiles) like those at the São Bento train station, Romanesque monuments such as the city Cathedral, and decayed buildings by the River Douro. However, there are several stunning examples of contemporary architecture in the second biggest city of Portugal, some of which designed by internationally famous Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto de Moura, both winners of The Pritzker Architecture Prize. If you are interested in modern architecture, or just curious about it, here are some of the spots in Porto you should not miss.
The futurist diamond-looking building of cultural facility Casa da Música is the architectural icon of the city of Porto, designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas as a part of the European Capital of Culture year in 2001. Despite its dramatic features, the building looks inviting thanks to many windows that allow us checking on what is happening inside, feeding the curiosity when you pass. Casa da Música hosts all kinds of spectacles such as concerts, theatre, dance, and conferences; however, if you simply want to visit the interior, you can enter and freely walk around, and even witness a rehearsal of an orchestra if you are lucky.
Serralves is a must-visit spot in Porto. Besides the impressive contemporary art museum, there is also a huge, lush park providing a refuge from the city confusion. The first architectural plan for the building of Serralves Museum was presented in 1991 by the famous architect Alvaro Siza (Pritzker in 1992), featuring the impressive structure of concrete and steel, with granite exterior. Eight years later, the new building was inaugurated, fitting harmoniously both into the gardens of the Foundation and the urban area around it.
The dome-shaped building of this hipsterish market with both gourmet food court and fruit stalls was designed in 1949. The most impressive feature is its large glass skylights that allow plenty of light to get in. The Market was open to the public in 1952. As years passed, its building became somewhat outdated, and so in 2009, it was decided that it would be renewed and partly change its purpose. Instead of a simple municipal market, Mercado Bom Sucesso today also hosts a hotel, offices, cultural events and has got a food court with specialties from all over the world. As such, it was reopened in 2013. The work was done by Ferreira de Almeida Arquitetos.
Some say the glamorous Porto Cruise Terminal, opened in 2015 in Leixões near Matosinhos is the most spectacular one in the world and even compare it with Sydney Opera because of its position above water and unusual shape. With its mysterious, wavy white façade, it attracts a lot of attention from architecture lovers. From far away, it looks like an indefinite white spiral serpentine - some say it symbolizes the Atlantic coast near Porto, and only once you approach it, you can notice shiny hexagonal "azulejos" manufactured by Vista Alegre factory - nearly one million of them. The interior is equally breathtaking. In 2017, the Porto Cruise Terminal was voted "Building of the Year" by ArchDaily.
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