April 29, 2013

0620 & 0621 PORTUGAL (Porto) - Historic Centre of Oporto (UNESCO WHS)

Located along the hillsides overlooking the Douro river estuary in northern Portugal, Porto is one of the oldest European centres, with a 2,000-year history. At the beginning an outpost of the Roman Empire, Portus Cale (considered to stand at the origin of the name "Portugal"), the town became, with the arrival of the barbarians, an important administrative and trading centre, and was established as part of the Castilian realm in the 11th century, after a short period of Moorish domination.

The first period of expansion came with the construction in 1374 of a new town wall protecting the two urban nuclei - the original medieval town and the extramural harbour area. In 1387 it was the site of the marriage of John I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, which has been concluded with a military alliance between Portugal and England, in effect even today (the world's oldest recorded military alliance). Between 15th and 17th centuries it played a crucial role in the Portuguese Age of Discovery. In 1996 Historic Centre of Oporto was designed an UNESCO World Heritage Site, because "is a townscape of high aesthetic value, with evidence of urban development from the Roman, medieval, and Almadas periods. The rich and varied civil architecture of the historic centre expresses the cultural values of succeeding periods - Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and modern."

Undoubtedly, all these are important, but probably that the city is known first for port, the fortified wine produced in the Douro Valley. In the 13th century it was already transported to Porto in flat sailing vessels named barcos rabelos (in the first postcard). Although not in use anymore, still today we can admire these graceful vessels belonging to the Port Wine Companies in the banks of the Douro river. Every year on June 24, St. John's Day, is held a race of Rabelo boats, an important and popular event of the festivities of Porto city.

In the second postcard is Pérola do Bolhão, a grocery store with a façade in style Art Nouveau, founded in 1917 by Antonio Rodrigues Reis, which has earned over the years the respect of the inhabitants of Porto and the admiration of tourists. There you can find from the mountain cheeses, until sausages selected, from nuts to bulk candy assortments, from wines to a selection of cookies.

About the stamps
On the first postcard
The stamp is one of the two (0.68 € and 3.00 €) from the series Erasmus - 25 years, issued on April 17, 2012. Erasmus is a student exchange programme, the most successful in the world.

On the second postcard
About the stamp, issued with the occasion of the anniversary of 50 years from the fondation of ICS / GIS, I wrote here.

Porto - Wikipedia
Historic Centre of Oporto - UNESCO official website
A Pérola do Bolhão - Minube

sender: Maria do Ceu Martins (direct swap)
sent from Vila Nova de Gaia (Portugal), on 01.06.2012
sender: Marius Vasilescu
sent from Porto (Porto / Portugal), on 23.11.2012
photo: Antonio Sa

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