These attractive gardens and cool shaded woodlands were the site of the Portuguese Crystal Palace exhibition that showed off the countries expertise in using cast iron and glass to create a huge conservatory that was all the rage in Victorian times. It was modeled on the Crystal Palace in London and the big glass houses in France.
Porto's Crystal Palace Park and Gardens domed sports arena that replaced the palace
Work started on the 3rd of September 1861 during the reign of King Peter V. In 1865 it was the location for the first Portuguese International Exposition housing over 3,000 national and international exhibitors. Unfortunately over the years the building was not maintained and it fell into a rusting dangerous structure that had been closed to visitors for some time. In December 1951 the Crystal Palace was demolished and replaced with a green domed sports pavilion.
It is high on the hills over looking the Douro River and the park consists of a number of wooded terraces with pick-nick areas, cafes and children's playgrounds. There are wild peacocks walking around the grounds. Lots of ornate will maintained flower beds surround ponds with statues and fountains. on the other side of the street from the Garden's main entrance is the Porto's City Art Gallery district. The road called Rua de Miguel Bombarda has the highest density of art galleries.
This is the flower garden by the entrance to the Crystal Palace Park and Gardens in Porto
The Jardim do Palacio de Cristal entrance can be found on the Rua de Manuel II. There are a number of city busses that pass the main gates including the number 3, 20, 35 and 37. Stupidly I was expecting to see the Crystal Palace still in situ like the one in Madrid, Spain. I did not read the guide book thoroughly enough. All I read were the headlines, Crystal Palace and Gardens and new that was the sort of thing my wife adores to visit. I was also left disappointed by the gardens. Having been used to the large gardens on display at most English country house owned by the National trust and the gardens in the public parks in central London I was underwhelmed. Apart from the flower beds near the main entrance the rest of the park could be described as a woodland.
If you want somewhere pleasant to eat a lunch time pick-nick or if you are on holiday with children that need to run off steam in a kids playground that the the Crystal Palace Gardens and parkland are worth a visit. Be warned there is NOT an exit at the bottom of the park. It is a long way down hill to find this fact out and an even longer walk back up a steep hillside to the main entrance.
One of the shady woodland terraces in the Jardim do Palacio de Cristal in Porto
Events are held in the park. In the summer music concerts are held as the sun sets behind the stage. Some of the concerts are free. Look out for the posters. Free Jazz in the park is very popular. Make sure you walk to the terraces that over look the River Douro and bring your camera. If it a hot summers day when you visit Porto there are lots of shade places to sit on a park bench and cool down.