I’m back with another series of photographs from my three week father/daughter trip to Portugal back in December 2022 – January 2023. And yes, I know we’re in late July so without further delay, I present you with a look inside the majestic Palácio da Bolsa.
When last we spoke, I had arrived in Portugal’s “Second City”, Porto (at the bottom of the page, you can see all the other places we visited before we got here). We checked into the lovely Se Catedral Hotel Porto located in the city’s historic center – proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. We then proceeded to visit several of Porto’s main attractions including the enchanting Livraria Lello. Now let’s get right to one of Portugal’s most important monuments.
The Palácio da Bolsa is a 19th century building owned by the Porto Commercial Association and located in Praça do Infante D. Henrique, the former economic and commercial heart of Porto. It is located in the historical center of Porto, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
We arrived at the palace in time for the last tour of the day (in English, no less) and had a wonderful tour guide…
Building work began in 1842, over the ruins of the former St. Francis convent which was burned in 1833 during the Civil War (a war between liberal constitutionalists and conservative absolutists in Portugal over royal succession that lasted from 1828 to 1834). In 1841, Queen Mary II donated the convent ruins to the merchants of the city with the new palace intended to be a stock exchange to accommodate the city’s growing financial needs.
Porto architect Joaquim da Costa Lima Júnio designed a Neoclassical palace of Palladian influence derived from the work of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580). Most of the palace was finished by 1850, but the decoration of the interior was only completed in 1910 and involved several different artists.
The palace no longer works as a stock exchange but remains the headquarters of the Association and is mainly used for major events, such as galas and official receptions. In 1957, Queen Elizabeth II was received in the palace in a lavish ceremony. In 1982, The Palácio da Bolsa was classified as a National Monument.
The highlight of the Palace is, however, the Arab Room, built between 1862 and 1880 by Gonçalves e Sousa. The hall was intended to replicate the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. It is decorated in the exotic Moorish Revival style, fashionable in the 19th century, and is used as reception hall for personalities and heads of state visiting Porto.
After visiting the Arabian Hall, it was back down to the lobby…
and back out to the street. This was the best I could do of the palace’s exterior with the little light I had. Good enough, I reckon.
Down the street from the Palácio da Bolsa stands the Igreja de São Francisco, the most prominent Gothic monument in Porto. The church is dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi and dates back to 1244. In 1832, a fire caused by the siege of Porto destroyed the church’s old cloisters. In its place, the Commercial Association of the city built the Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa). Alas, we were not able to make it inside the church – next time…