SANTA CATARINA STREET AND BATALHA SQUARE
Strolling in Porto is synonymous to see the windows of century-old shops, observe the distinctive architecture and enjoy the mild and pleasant weather. The main commercial street of downtown Porto is the Santa Catarina Street and it is impossible not to go on, when visiting the city. This is the main downtown commercial artery, and it is even sealed almost entirely to car traffic, inviting for a walk. So it is also usual to be full of street artists and street vendors. Here you can find the Shopping Via Catarina or the Café Majestic, for example, a contrast between modernity and tradition, between contemporary architecture and art nouveau. Highlight at this point for the Pearl of Bolhão, (Pérola do Bolhão) one of the most amazing shops in the city. It is a traditional grocery store that seems to have stopped in time, with a range of gourmet products, traditional Porto cuisine and the best prices. It is open since 1917 and is very close to the Majestic.
Also noteworthy, is the Latin Bookstore (Livraria Latina) and Reis & Filhos Jewellery, with their ornate facades, the Galerias Palladium, the historic tea hall Império, the prestigious (and one of the oldest) Grande Hotel do Porto and of course the Chapel Santa Catarina (also known as the chapel of Souls), coated with amazing tiles. In fact, the Santa Catarina Street gets the name from this chapel and its invocation of Catherine of Alexandria. And as a curiosity, it was precisely in this street that the first film in the history of Portuguese cinema was shot.
At the top of Santa Catarina Street, you will find the Batalha Square, the place where in older times, more precisely in the 10th century, there was a terrible battle between Saracens of Al-Mansur and the inhabitants of Porto, which led to the destruction of the city. Here you cannot miss the statue of Dom Pedro V, which stands in the center of the square, the Batalha Palace (nowadays a hotel) and of course the São João National Theatre and Cinema Batalha. Before you leave, visit the Church of São Ildefonso, with its impressive Jorge Colaço tiles. And if you follow the path of the São João National Theatre to Vila de Cima door you will find a section of the Fernandina Wall (Muralha Fernandina), the ancient medieval wall of Porto, which remains one of the best kept secrets of the city. Enjoy the square to relax and have a coffee or tea in its various terraces. It is also a great place to experience a Francesinha, if it is lunch time. And then take the Funicular dos Guindais, a small train line that goes to the Ribeira, near the Douro River.
- Location: Santa Catarina Street and Batalha Square.
- Opening hours: n.d.
- Prices: Free.
- How to get there: 5 min walk from Aliados Avenue.
Stroll, do some shopping and enjoy the details on the facades of the century-old shops.