Estação de São Bento (São Bento Railway Station)#7 in Best Things To Do in Porto
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Built on the former site of a Benedictine monastery, the São Bento Railway Station was inaugurated in 1916; today, trains pass through here carrying travelers between Porto and many of its northern suburbs. But you likely won't be visiting here to hop a train anywhere. What's notable about this landmark is its 20,000-some painted blue and white tile panels (known as azulejos) that highlight the history of Portugal. Portuguese artist Jorge Colaço is the mastermind behind this azulejo piece; its tiles were mounted over the course of a decade — from 1905 to 1916. Some of the most impressive scenes include King João I and Queen Philippa standing near the city's cathedral in 1387 and a depiction of the Battle of Arcos de Valdevez.
While it may seem unusual to see such detailed artwork in a train station, one TripAdvisor user goes as far to say a visit to Porto just isn't complete until you step inside. "The architecture and beautifully painted tiles speak to the heavy religious influences in Porto. Take your time and enjoy … the clock and the intricate steel structure once inside too."
You'll find the São Bento Railway Station just southeast of Avenida dos Aliados, so planning to visit these two sites together makes the most sense. (You should time your visit outside typical rush hour to avoid too many crowds.) The rail station is accessible via the São Bento metro stop on the D (yellow) line, and entry is free. Find more information on the São Bento Railway Station, including train schedules and tickets, by visiting its website.
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#1 Dom Luís I Bridge
This iconic arching iron bridge straddles the Douro River, connecting Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. Though Porto is known for having quite a few bridges, the Dom Luís I Bridge is especially renowned because it was designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel, the mastermind behind the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Plus, at the time of its completion in 1886, this bridge was the longest iron arch in the world. The bridge accommodates cars on its lower level and Porto's metro on its upper level; pedestrians can walk along the bridge on both levels. Stroll along the upper deck of the bridge and you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the edifices built into the hillside cliffs that line the river.
Admiring the bridge's composition and the views it offers is something all visitors to Porto must do, according to recent travelers. "This bridge has got to be one of the most amazing pieces of architecture," swooned one TripAdvisor user. "Be sure to walk both top and bottom levels if you can, views are excellent!" A visit here would pair well with a stop at some of Porto's nearby wineries across the bridge in Vila Nova de Gaia. Another option would be to hop on a Douro River cruise or boat tour, which would allow you to see all six bridges in one go.
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