Crystal Palace Gardens
Set on a hilltop in Porto's city centre are the Gardens of the Palácio de Cristal. An 8 hectare expanse of landscaped gardens offering panoramic views of the city and Douro River below.
Created towards the end of the 19th century the layout of the gardens is the work of eminent German landscape gardener Émille David. The park features a wonderful mixture of formal and semi-formal landscaped areas with terraces tumbling down the steep valley side towards the river.
The gardens are an oasis of calm within Portugal's second city. Paths weave between the meticulously tended botanical gardens and lawns, and there are fountains and sculptures dotted around the park. The result is a patchwork of smaller gardens, each with its own ambience; the Rose Garden, the Garden of Aromatic Plants and the Garden of Feelings are just some examples.
The source of the gardens name has long since gone. Built in 1865, the Crystal Palace was inspired by its namesake in London and constructed to host the International Exhibition. It was an impressive structure of granite, iron and glass but sadly it fell into disrepair over the years that followed and was eventually demolished in 1951.
In the Crystal Palace's place a reinforced-concrete dome was put up to host events. Initially known as the UFO it was officially named the Rosa Mota pavilion in 1991. Since then it has become more commonly known as the Superbock Arena.
Set in the grounds of the Crystal Palace Gardens is a pretty little chapel. This actually predates the gardens and was built as a memorial to the "King of Sardinia", Carlos Alberto. After being defeated by the Austrian army at the Battle of Novara, Alberto went into exile in Porto. After his death his half sister had the chapel built in his memory.