Porto was the birthplace of Prince Henry the Navigator. Mentor of the Portuguese Discoveries, he was born in 1394. His parents King João I and Princess Philippa, sister of Henry IV of England, were married in the Cathedral. In the atrium of the São Bento railway station, a coloured tile panel depicts them first entering the city. A tablet on a house in Rua da Alfândega, near the river, marks the five hundredth anniversary of their marriage.
Take a seat on an esplanade in the Ribeira district, one of the most picturesque in Porto. It was from here that the first overseas expedition set out for Ceuta in North Africa in 1415. The people of Porto supplied all the meat to feed this armada, and were left with only animal intestines, which they had to eat in order to survive.
This is the origin of “tripas à moda do Porto” (“intestines Porto style”), one of the city’s traditional dishes.
In the Church of Misericórdia, you can discover the history of another famous king, Manuel I, and even see what he looked like. There’s a fine Flemish picture of the monarch, who continued Prince Henry’s work after his death.
Among the magnificent baroque gilded carving that covers the Church of São Francisco, admire the chapel of João Carneiro, built by a family closely linked to the Discoveries. Inside, you’ll find another oil painting from this important time in history, depicting Christ’s baptism. If you look carefully, you’ll see a reference to João Carneiro in the corner of the work.