Ribeira do Porto, next to the Douro River, is one of the most typical places of the city of Porto and, integrating the Historic Zone, is part of the World Heritage designated by UNESCO. Nowadays it is a place of bars and restaurants much sought after, namely by the tourists.
Some of the strengths are Praça da Ribeira, also known as Plaza do Cubo, Rua da Taurina, one of the oldest in the city, the Muro dos Bacalhoeiros and Casa do Infante, where was born in 1394 the Infante D. Henrique.
Praça da Ribeira is of medieval origin, times when there was already a great economic activity due to the presence of a river port. In time it became a zone of intense commerce, with tents of sale and a lot.
In 1491, there was a great fire in the area, which was followed by a reconstruction process, with the option of houses with open columns over the river and the floor of the central plaza in slab. This new aspect of Ribeira do Porto is very close to what currently exists.
In March of 1809, a tragedy occurred in that place, that was known by Tragedy of the Bridge of the Barcas. The advance of Napoleon’s troops caused the population to rush en masse to the bridge, made of boats, which could not stand the weight of the crowd and eventually gave way, many people falling into the river. A bas-relief by Teixeira Lopes (father), placed on the Cais da Ribeira, alludes to the tragedy. Later, a suspension bridge was constructed, whose pillars in the north margin still exist today, right next to the Bridge of D. Luís I, inaugurated the 31 of December of 1886.
In the second half of the eighteenth century there were major renovations in the city of Porto and the Ribeira area was one of the beneficiaries. Thus, on the site were opened new streets and created terraces overlooking the river, works financed with the creation of a tax on wine trade.
Still in century XIX, was constructed an arcaria between Praça da Ribeira and the western zone, that stayed against part of the fernandina wall. This arcaria was inspired by the Adelphi, old warehouses of the port area of London.
In the 80’s of the twentieth century, there was a revitalization of Ribeira do Porto with the opening of innumerable night bars. It became the meeting point for nightlife. There was also the traditional Ribeira Market, in tents right by the river.
It was in this area of Porto that lived one of the most charismatic figures of the city, the so-called Duque da Ribeira, known for saving several drowned people from drowning. He was honored after his death, and was immortalized in the square next to the pillar of the Ponte Luis I, which received his name and where a tombstone was placed.
On June 24, 2000, a statue of St. John the Baptist was inaugurated in Ribeira Square, next to the Cube, by the sculptor João Cutileiro. The statue was inaugurated precisely on the night of Saint John, by the President of the Republic, Jorge Sampaio.
On the occasion of Porto 2001 – European Capital of Culture, Ribeira was re-qualified, according to an intervention designed by the architect Manuel Fernandes de Sá. The pavement and the urban furniture between the D. Luís Bridge and the Cais da Estiva were remodeled.