008 – Top things to do in Gaia – PT – G. Eiffel, Wine-cellars and huge beaches

From the second most well-known city in Portugal (007 Porto) to the one just across the river. This is Vila Nova de Gaia and here they prepare, store and send away the famous Port Wine. Here is the city in 4 images.

GAIA card2020


008.I Ponte Luis I and the Serra do Pilar Monastery.

Now you know one of the most iconic views of Porto-Cale -> Ponte Luis I absorbing all the attention. It supposed to be built by Gustave Eiffel but his price was too high. Actually, he did a bridge in Porto (just half a kilometre upon Douro River) but this one is made by his apprentice and his firm. To the left of the image, we have Porto and many of it’s boats and to the right side of the bridge, we find Gaia with the Serra do Pilar Monastery and the much steeper hills (than Porto).


008.II Serra do Pila Monastery.

Serra do Pilar Monastery today’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, yesterday’s a military fortification point (a crucial place from where the Portuguese fought back the French and deliberated Porto) and the day before that it was a church that had its roots in the year 1538. So much history on top of this hill. All the relics of time can be still found in the monastery’s huge yard.


008.III One of the many cellars featuring the famous Port Wine.

On a more happy note, here is the source of the famous fortified Port Wine. Grown in the Douro Valleys (see 006) and shipped down the river in traditional boats ( today is by trucks) to the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia.


008.IV Aerial view of Vila Nova de Gaia.

I know that last article I sad that the best sunsets are here in Porto, but hey, they are also magnificent in Gaia! Here we see the many wine cellars lined up across the Douro riverside. Also while hard to spot there is one of the greatest ways to see the region -> the aerial way or in a cable-car.

Gaia existed since the Neolithic period, and during the Roman age, it was known as Cale.

After the Romans, came the Muslims who had their territory from the South, up to the Douro River.

Legend says that one day the “Portuguese” ruler that lived in the north side of the River Douro, had his wife stolen by the Muslim ruler. He went after him and her and killed all Muslims in the process and the foreign ruler. And if that was bloody, well, in the end, killed his wife too for she was feeling sorry for the death of the Muslim ruler.

So it happens that the new kingdom was called Porto-Cale or Portugal as know today.

Also, Gaia was renamed as Vila Nova de Gaia, as the old name had a bad history (but the city is most commonly known as Gaia). The military importance of Gaia will not stop in the past, as it served many civil wars in the modern era with Serra do Pila Monastery as a strategic position.

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I know there are not many pins, but from the beach to the inner Vila Nova de Gaia, your camera will be taking photos every few steps.


008.1 Traditional clothing on festivities. Colour is tradition, just like the blueΒ on buildings.

Gaia, just like Porto is blooming with colours, music, food and festivities especially on the weekends. In fact every weekend something happens on this side of the Iberian Peninsula. Go to visit a new location today and you miss something else in the place you just visited. Much like Ibiza, but less dB a bit quieter nights.


008.2 Azulejos can be mostly seen on churches and villas.

The main street to visit is Avenida Ramos Pinto and this is Capela de Nossa Senhora da Piedade. Upon the cables, we can see the Aerialway car that represent the No2 thing to do in Vila Nova de Gaia.


008.3 Wine Cellars.

Most cellars have visiting tours in several languages. Just knock on the door and find out which one is in your language when you want to go (or just wait if you prefer a certain Port Wine brand).


008.4 Inside Calem Cellar.

Personally, I did not like the tour of Calem Cellar. It was more about the Brand and the products than what is the Port Wine and history and wow stuff. Must of the tour they told me logical things that I saw just by looking around and what is not around you might have read them in the museum at the entrance (while you waited for the first group to finish). Maybe other cellars are different and the guides actually share more info and less publicity. But hey these are hard times… kids today drink Coke and not 15e wine/brandy.Β 


008.5 The old wall of Porto and orange trees. In the distance, melting with the wall we see Serra do Pila Monastery.

This picture was taken from the Porto side of Douro River, on top of the Ponte Luis I.


008.6 Serra do Pila Monastery in the night.

Like I said in the last article (007 Porto), Iberia has to be seen also at night, especially Northern Portugal.Β 


008.7 All about Porto-Cale in one picture.

From Vila Nova de Gaia (Cale) you can take the most beautiful shots of Douro/Porto no matter the hour or even how crowded it is. Just go down next to the river, on one of the huge stones and you don’t even need a camera for that, a phone should do it. For more pictures be sure to check back the 007-Porto article, because ironically the best pictures of Gaia can be done from Porto.πŸ˜‚Β 


008.8 The many bridges over the Douro.

You might think that all about Gaia is from the Ponte Luis I to the west to Atlantic. But actually no. just around the corner, hides Gustave Eiffel’s single arch bridge. (If his name rings no bells, then know that the most iconic symbol of Paris was designed by him, just like this metal frame bridge. Just look closer in the image and you will see it).Β 


008.9 Ponte da Arrabida.

We conclude this photo-journal with a sunset and a direction. To the left we see Gaia and to the right Porto. Continue to the left and you will find the biggest beach in this area. While Porto might be crowded (one beach and is just next to an international port) and has an Aquarium, trust me Gaia is most famous (today) for the beaches – the many and the biggest. Good timing to think for the fall-summer!Β 

Well, what to say more?

Gaia or Vila Nova de Gaia or Cale or the sister of Porto, both making Portu-Cale = Portugal. You cannot see one without the other one!

You cannot get great shots of the traditional Rabelo boats without going to Gaia.

The Airport remains on Porto’s side, as well as the train station + bus station + shipyard +… well surfers, swimmers actually go to Gaia and not Porto.

Those who want to see wine cellars also go to Gaia.

And those (like myself) who like the cinema, go to Gaia as well.

See you in two weeks on a more ancient location, older than humanity actually.


Gaia symbol


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