Oporto: City, People and Traditions


c687The city that should lie at the horizons of our utopia is the one that represents a balance between historical continuity and receptiveness to change, and the one that manages to create a bridge between the traditions which provide it with its identity and the flexibility necessary for growth, in new ways representing the multiple facets of true development. At this crucial time in Oporto´s history, all of us who love the city and all of us who are proud to belong to it, should insist categorically that the quality of urban life depends on the survival of a large and carefully-selected part of its architectural heritage. And yet, because cities, like men, essentially need memories, it is also vital to preserve and celebrate whatever makes it different, rather than identical to every other city.

Celebrating difference, however, must inevitably mean adopting one essential principle from the history of urban progress, namely, that a city is a place which affirms the presence of its inhbitants. From this perspective, the character and identity of its environment is the result of different ways of living and being, and of thinking and building, according to the aspirations of each age, as lived by sucessive generations for whom the taunt of tripeiro (tripe-eater) has always been a source of undisguised pleasure, if not pride. Who we are and what we are is but a faint updated image of what we were in the past. And, if we apply this to our concept of a city, we can only conclude that ultimately it is a testimony to the traces we have left behind us in our passage through the space given to us to live in.  

Helder Pacheco

(…) From this accumulated and disordered gloom on gloom

a strange and immense city was then built,

a city that both inspires fear, and is,

if not the most beautiful, then the most picturesque in the world,

that I know of  (…)

Raul Brandão, Portugal Pequenino, 1930

Gailivro 2006