This charming 18th Century pedestrian street runs down hill from Porto's San Bento Railway Station towards the Duro river. The name means the road of flowers. It was called this because of the lush flowers that filled the gardens of the houses that lined the street when it was first opened. Sadly those gardens have now all gone. Jewelers and goldsmiths have now taken the flower sellers place along with cafes, restaurants and boutique shops.
Rua das Flores in Porto
Near the bottom of the Rua das Flores you will find a church squeezed between two tall buildings. It is called the Igreja da Misericordia, the church of our Lady of Mercy. It has a Rococo stone sculptured facade. The church was designed by the Italian baroque architect Nicolau Nasoni. Unlike the buildings that surround it there are no blue and white tiles on its exterior. Once you go inside you find an interior adorned with beautiful hand crafted blue and white azulejos tiles. It is noted for its high quality Renaissance painting called the Fons Vitae, The Fountain of Life, that depicts the church's benefactor, Don Manuel I and his family around a fountain of blood from the crucified Christ. It is not the sort of subject matter I enjoy but you can appreciate its history, context and the craftsmanship.
Just to the left or the wrought Iron Church gates of Igreja da Misericordia is a small charming street cafe where you can sit and watch the world go by. Unlike some of the other cafes further up the Rua das Flores that are permanently in the cool shade of the towering buildings this cafe's seating is in the sun. This can be welcome if you are visiting Porto in the 'off' season when temperatures are a little bit cooler than the oppressive summer heat when a seat in the shade is more welcome.
If it is a sunny day during the winter, spring or autumn then these cafes in the Rua des Flores are ideal for watching the world walk by as their street tables are in the sun.
The street was opened between 1521-1525, at the end of the reign of Don Manuel, on land occupied by the Bishop's gardens. It was originally called the Rua de Santa Catarina das flores (the road of Saint Catrina's Flowers). When the new street was built it became a desirable location to live in and sort after by the nobility, rich merchants and city officials.
The richly decorated tiled exterior and the use of ornamental wrought Iron balcony's in the buildings upper floors that line the Rua das Flores hint at the wealth of the original owners. The bottom floor shops of these buildings were often leased to craftsmen, street merchants, barbers, surgeons, bleeders and lawyers.
At the southern most end of the road Rua das Flores you will find the attractive frontage of the chemist shop Farmacia Moreno. The building was constructed in 1804 and the frontage has been kept as it was at the turn of the century. The owners are proud of their heritage and have kept the shop facade in a good condition. During the early years pharmaceutical products were manufactured on the premises and exported around Europe.
The chemist shop Farmacia Moreno in the Rua das Flores in Porto has kept its 1900's store front.