Hi everyone :)
Today we will take a walk around the riverside area of Porto city, focusing on the famous bridge "Ponte LuiZ I" and one of the emblematic staircases that give access to the bridge's upper deck.
Among the 6 bridges that allow us to cross the Douro River, bridge LuiZ I is undoubtedly the most emblematic, whether for its history or location.
Its construction arose from the need to create conditions of growth for trade that was felt in the second half of the nineteenth century.
More and more people were moving between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia city towards Lisbon, and the old suspension bridge that existed at that time no longer allowed the growing flow.
This metallic colossus with 3045 Ton that joins Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia over the Douro River was built between 1881 and 1888. In 1879 the tender for the construction of the bridge was opened, to which competed companies such as Société de Braine Leconte, Société de Batignolles, G. Eiffel et Cie among many others.
Many got by the way because their projects did not included the construction of two trays as required by the tender, among them G. Eiffel et Cie by Gustave Eiffel. Many people think that the bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel due to its architectural resemblance to the Eiffel Tower.
Who actually won the contest and designed the work was the Belgian company Société de Willebroeck by the hand of Teófilo Seyrig, partner of Gustave Eiffel, who signs the work as sole responsible. According to an undocumented history, at the time of its inauguration in 1886, the name of the bridge would be D.Luiz I, named after King D.Luiz I, who missed the inauguration and of course, as the people of the North do not tolerate disrespect, decided to remove the D from the name as moral retaliation ...
But none of this is documented.
Right next door is the famous Cais da Ribeira, one of the oldest and most typical places in the city, with all its medieval marks.
Porto city was born facing the Douro River, in the days when the transport of goods was made by sea and river, there was one of the main entrances of the city, but today we will not go ahead to document this place, I will Leave this spot for a next post, instead, we will climb the famous staircase which is right in front of the bridge on Porto side.
In total there are 496 stairs leading from the stream to the upper deck of the bridge in the parish of Sé, also known as the Codeçal Stairs "Escadas do Codeçal".
The origin of this steep staircase is lost in time, having been, in medieval times, the round way of the Fernandina Wall, establishing the connection between the Santa Clara convent and the sand wall gate, already along the Douro River.
On the way up we can see marks of a very picturesque Porto, with urban art to the mix that give a special color to the granite, the modern in perfect harmony with the medieval... and as you go up, we can always stop to breathe and glimpse the landscape with the beautiful bridge LuiZ I in front of us!
With houses on both sides of the stairs, we can observe a series of typical details of the villas, with each stop having a unique and special view full of nooks and crannies.
Halfway up the stairs is the Parish of Nossa Senhora do Patrocínio, a building with baroque façade, where in the eighteenth century, was a shelter for prostitutes, abandoned women and poor widows, and in the end of the twentieth century, with the need to adapt to the new times, became the Social Center, an institution of social solidarity that supports the local community.
Along the staircase there are several alleys that branch and lead us to different parts of the city, which may seem like authentic mazes, so if you want to venture, be careful not to get lost.
The tip is: go up or down calmly, with eyes to see all the secrets.
After a few stops and up the 496 steps, instead of heading straight for the city center, we turn back and take a few photos from the top of the bridge.
From here you can see both banks and glimpse a unique landscape of the city and the Douro River.
That´s all for today ;)
All photos presented in this article are my own
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