Inaugurated in 1917, Avenida dos Aliados was dreamt by intellectuals to be a kind of boulevard of Oporto. After several decades of evolution - it was once the financial centre, the scene of revolutions, the home of the historic newspaper "Comércio do Porto" - the city's visiting room is now a concentrate of luxury apartment’s, five-star hotels and now also a commercial conglomerate of premium shops, which offer the most elegant and exclusive clothing, jewellery and design. You no longer have to leave Porto to get access to the top of the world.
Tod's, Burberry or David Rosas are just a few examples of this rise, which is largely the result of the tourist boom - the city has just been voted Best European Destination for a city break, which justifies the record of 2019: the North of Portugal received more than 10 million tourists - but also of the successive urban changes. The biggest change has the signature of the award-winning Portuguese architects Álvaro Siza Vieira and Souto Moura, both Pritzker, who in the mid-2000s replaced the garden and benches with a large square that radically changed the view and life of those who live or walk there. Although controversial, the work, which includes a fountain inspired by the Medicis model, existing in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, has finally borne its fruits, contaminating the whole environment.
Avenida de los Aliados and Praça da Liberdade, now the heart of the high street shops, are the most symbolic places in the city. Those who have a cradle in Porto will remember the commotion, in 1999, when a minute's silence was observed there in Timor. Or the first of May celebrated there after the dictatorship. Or, much more recently, the midnight of each end of the year which concentrates almost half a million people in celebration there. A stage of happiness and life, it is easy to understand that the best brands also wanted to be represented there. Many dreamed of reaching Porto, others dreamed of moving there.
The starting shot was taken by the five-star hotels. The first to arrive in 2011 was the Intercontinental, which occupied the beautiful Palácio das Cardosas, dating from the 18th century. It was followed by the Monumental Palace Hotel, of the Maison Albar, with beautiful interiors ranging from art nouveau to art déco. From there, it was just to add: the Vera Cruz and its magnificent rooftop, the Port Royal Bridges, with breathtaking views over the city, and so many others.
And finally, the luxury shops arrived, cherry on top of a cake that was already worth it. Tod's, known for its Italian handcrafted production and the world's most desired moccasins, the iconic British fashion house Burberry and Boutique dos Relógios Plus, which benefits from having a watchmaker on a permanent basis, occupy 1700 m2 of Allies 107, a 1930 building that underwent a thorough rehabilitation and which it is impossible not to look at. The Fashion Clinic has opted for the Palacio das Cardosas. Fátima Mendes installed its brands, from Valentino to Dolce & Gabbana, at Allied number 179. David Rosas chose the old Casa Navarro, a typical 18th century building, covered with yellow and white tiles, in Praça da Liberdade.
But there are more marks to lose your head in Porto. And, as we warned at the beginning, many cafés to which it is mandatory to go at least once. This is the case of Guarany, of Aliança. Inevitably, downtown Porto has also become the most coveted geography to buy a house, as attested by LUXIMOS Christie's International Real Estate. To make life easier for you, we leave here 10 luxury suggestions, with the respective addresses.
Boutique dos Relógios Plus
Dedicated to luxury watchmaking and jewellery, it offers brands such as Mont Blanc, Cartier or Bvlgari and is located at number 107 of Avenida dos Aliados, the same address where for many decades the newspaper "Comércio do Porto" operated. Contact: 808 100 010
Founded in 1984 in Porto, David Rosas represents four generations of dedication to original and exclusive jewellery. Representative of brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe, he has an address at number 50 of Praça da Liberdade. Contact: 227 662 740
It is Porto's flagship watch shop. Its slogan is "As always". Since 1926 it has represented brands such as Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger Lecoultre and Omega. It is at number 19 of Praça da Liberdade. Contact: 222 001 606
In a city that could well be known as the capital of the fashion industry, all that was missing was British Burberry, the mark of the irresistible square pattern, founded in 1856, which ranks among the 100 best brands in the world. It is located at number 107 of Avenida dos Aliados. Contact: 913 520 253
For over 40 years working with haute couture, Fátima Mendes bets on luxury brands such as Valentino, Céline or Dolce & Gabbana. Her shop exclusively dedicated to women occupies the number 179 of Avenida dos Aliados. Contact: 925 900 937
In number 39 of the Palácio das Cardosas, you will find this concept store focused exclusively on the female public and luxury. It bets on global brands such as Aquazzura, Balenciaga, Christian Louboutin, DKNY, Gucci, Miu Miu and Prada. Contact: 962 030 482
Founded in the 1940s, what used to be a small shoe factory is today a kingdom of doom for those who appreciate handmade leather goods, from moccasins to wallets. Who doesn't remember Lady Di's timeless D Bag? You can find it at number 107 of Avenida dos Aliados. Contact: 913 520 247
Zadig and Voltaire
A symbol of freedom, the French brand inspired by Voltaire which is defined by the refined Bohemian style, already has its address in Oporto. It is located next to the Allies, at number 21 of Largo Dos Lóios. Contact: 222 081 098
A world-class Italian brand, a reference in clothing, footwear and accessories in the line of irreverence, it chose to settle at number 151 of Passeio dos Clérigos, three minutes away from the Aliados. Contact: 222 033 150
Even Claudia Schiffer discovered the oldest porcelain factory on the Iberian Peninsula. And she fell so in love with the Portuguese brand that she has just launched the Cloudy Butterflies line for Vista Alegre. You can find it at the number 40 Rua das Carmelitas. Contact: 222 004 554
Located at number 22 of Rua das Flores, four minutes walk from the Allies, is this magnificent shop-museum dedicated to the first soap and fragrance factory in the Iberian Peninsula. It is called Claus and is the most fragrant place in the city. Contact: 914 290 35