It is no longer surprising, but still exciting. The city of Porto, in the North of Portugal, has been so often praised and honoured in recent years that if one day there is an award for the most prized city of the decade, perhaps the award will even end up with Porto - "the city that lives at its own pace", praises Monocle. It is precisely this international magazine that is responsible for the new trophy in the territory where they were born and where two Pritzker Álvaro Siza and Souto de Moura awards live: the one for the best small town to live in.
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The publication, which is essentially dedicated to business, design, culture, trends and lifestyle, publishes annually a list of the best medium-sized cities (with less than 250 thousand inhabitants). This year it refined the selection criteria and anticipated online the results of 2021. So in January, when the paper edition comes out, we will all know that Porto was elected the best city in the world "to be and breathe better". It is not a question, the magazine safeguards, of an escape to the countryside, of an option for a calm territory where nothing happens. On the contrary. It is a city where everything happens, where everything is possible, but with the almost miraculous advantages of not having the inconveniences of the big metropolises.
"It has always been the financial heart of Portugal, with many of the country's industries based within its perimeter. The Portuguese are known for being workers and for having a direct attitude". However, the report states that "business orientation here is not lived by sacrificing a sense of community nor by giving up enjoying a glass of wine with colleagues at lunch". Those who have already chosen to buy a house in the city know well what this means.
Monocle's list is made up of the 20 best small towns in the world, plus five honourable mentions. In this ranking, Porto, which was in 9th place last year, rose to 1st place in this new edition. This is therefore "a small city, but with ambitions of a metropolis", announces the article.
In this year's edition of the World Travel Awards, Porto also won the best urban escape in Europe (Europe's Leading City Break Destination). And the British edition of the National Geographic travel magazine added another distinction: in its Best of the World list, Porto is considered the best destination in the world in 2021, offering a "cultural experience not to be missed". Here, the main highlight is given to the Douro's vineyards and Port Wine cellars - "Historic wine in a bold new setting", ensures the publication - hence the suggestion to visit the World of Wine in Gaia a new and ambitious project inaugurated last summer, which is entirely dedicated to cultural entertainment around wine.
Strong political leadership and incredible quality of life
Monocle puts other virtues in evidence. First of all, the differences between Porto, with its 220,000 inhabitants, and Lisbon, Portugal's capital. "Both are charming historic port cities, with fast access to good beaches. But Porto lives at its own pace, and that is completely independent from the pace of Lisbon". Added to this is the "incredible quality of life" and, for the first time, political leadership is also highlighted. In a world that is becoming radical, Porto lives in peace and freedom.
Translated with www."Porto has a strong leadership", emphasizes the magazine about Rui Moreira, Mayor of Porto, an independent elected in 2013. "The mayor is greatly appreciated for the firm defence of the city. He is always quick to remind politicians that although the seat of government is in Lisbon, the northern region of Portugal is the main contributor to the country's economy". The latest data from the Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP) show that only the North Region eliminated half of the country's unemployment in 2019, as reported in the Jornal de Notícias.
But there's more: the article also indicates the existence of "a flourishing creative centre", supported by a vast amount of artists, international designers and manufacturers of clothing and furniture that choose the city to settle and produce their works, as well as the importance given to cultural offer and enjoyment. The vibrant arts quarter is highlighted, where a new condominium has just been built facing the Soares dos Reis National Museum and Miguel Bombarda's numerous galleries and shops.
Monocle has not escaped the hospitality of the Porteños, "the world's leading cuisine", the intense nightlife and the hundreds of air connections to the whole world, from an international airport (also awarded numerous prizes) that is only 20 minutes away from the city. In addition to safety, sunshine and connection to nature. Remember that Porto is on the list of 88 cities around the world considered to be environmental leaders. All this helps to explain, the magazine concludes, why more and more foreigners choose to live in this cosmopolitan, progressive and healthy Port.
The Monocle Top 10 of the best small cities to live in is completed by Leuven (Belgium), Itoshima (Japan), Lucerne (Switzerland), Victoria (Canada), Lausanne (Switzerland), Basel (Switzerland), Bolzano (Italy), Aalborg (Denmark) and Bergen (Norway).