Sleeping with art
Of all the hotels in Oporto, the one most fused with art is Gallery Hostel in Miguel Bombarda, an art gallery and hotel in an off beat 1906 building, and regularly used for cultural events. In Rua do Rosario, Rosa et Al Townhouse holds vintage style exhibitions in a homelike settings.
The heart that first pumped modernity into this World Heritage city is in the Serralves Museum. This avant-garde museum, designed in the nineties by Pritzker award winner Alvaro Siza Vieira, has become the symbol of the country’s contemporary art. Sculptures proliferate in the 18 hectares of parkland around the art deco mansion. Other examples of stylish contemporary art that scandalize the outmoded Oporto are: the diamond shaped Casa da Musica by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, or the colourfully decorated houses in the Ribeira district. Another Pritzer prize winner, Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, restored the Alfandego do Porto that houses the Ministery of Transport and Communications and gives access to the modern part of the city. From there, in the streets that surround the Clerigos Church, modern businesses are mixed in with bars, clubs, cuisine d’auteur restaurants, cupcake shops, wineries offering Duero, Alentejo or Dao wines, and boutiques.
Joining in the mix are the small urban markets which, with patient searching, will finally yield a hand-crafted jewel. The Lello & Irmão bookstore, with its Neo-Gothic facade, stands out in Rua das Carmelitas. The Lello, one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores, has been serving the arts since 1946, and some 4,000 tourists visit there every day. Nearby is BASE, an open-air garden-bar inviting you to lie down and enjoy the Oporto sun.