There are many places to which my heart yearns to return. Call it cliched if you will but it’s true. Palácio da Bolsa is one such place. I never imagined a palace like this to be found in the centre of Porto. And now I sit looking back at my photos from my travels in 2015, in utter awe of this palace and wondering when my next visit will be.
What’s so incredible about the neoclassical building of Palácio da Bolsa is that it was built in the 19th century by Porto’s Commercial Association and for many years it served as a Stock Exchange. A Stock Exchange in a palace, you may ask? Well, yes, and a glorious one at that! Today the palace no longer operates as a Stock Exchange. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum whereby visitors from all over the world flock to marvel at its glory.
Most of the palace was complete by 1850, but the interior was only finished in 1910 and involved several different artists. This creates a melange of artistic and architectural styles and influences. And as you progress from one room to the next you’ll be able to notice these significant differences and how they contribute to the overall uniqueness of the building.
For instance, light enters the Palácio da Bolsa in the most amazing of ways. The central courtyard room (called The Hall of Nations), is enclosed with a glass dome. This allows light to fall illuminating frescoes, coats-of-arms and sculptures alike.
However, for me, the most incredible room of the Palácio da Bolsa is the Arab Room which was built between 1862 and 1880. During the 19th century Moorish style interiors were in revival and were highly fashionable. From the onset you can see that the doors leading to the Arab Room are very detailed with stained glass features and intricate designs. But these doors are just the tip of the iceberg.
As one enters, craftsmanship, aesthetics and beauty are words that immediately spring to mind. The beauty of the room is overwhelming and the details and exquisite colours of the walls and columns make for a very regal setting.
Furthermore, the floor is made from the highest quality woods such as mahogany, rosewood and maple, as is most of the building. It is also equally as patterned and detailed as the walls.
Back in the day the Arab Room was used as a reception venue where government officials would gather. Today the Palácio da Bolsa is utilized for concerts and prestigious events requiring a magnificent setting.