Right next to Rua Infante Dom Henrique is the prominent Palácio da Bolsa (stock exchange), a Neo-Classical behemoth that’s home to Porto’s Chamber of Commerce. While the outside of the building blends in nicely with the surrounding area, it’s the interior that’s meant to impress. This ‘palace’ hosts visiting heads of state as well as other personages of importance.
The Palácio da Bolsa is a national monument. It was built on the site of a former monastery, the Convento de São Francisco. After the monastery was gutted by fire in 1832, Porto’s mercantile class constructed an opulent stock exchange to show off the city’s wealth and to enforce mercantile law. Craftsmen of the utmost skill laboured for years to complete this grandiloquent edifice, working under the watchful eye of several different architects. The major construction was finished in the mid 19th century, but the final decorations weren’t completed until the beginning of the 20th century.
More than 250,000 visitors a year visit the Palácio da Bolsa and for a small fee, you can take part in a guided tour too. This visitor’s hall overflows with lavishly tiled floors, linked together with fine wood imported from the colonies. Impressive frescoes, paintings and sculptures proliferate the halls and different rooms.
The Pátio das Nações (Hall of Nations) rests beneath a glass panelled dome. The Arabian Room, perhaps the Palácio’s most celebrated expanse, is a large hall used to ‘wow’ important guests and it’s adorned with a fantastic array of decorations, from zigzagging blue and gold arabesques flowing up the walls to stained glass doors surrounding the hall. There are plenty of rooms and staircases to examine whilst you visit. The mercantile class constructed the Palácio da Bolsa to astound, and that it does in spades.
At the end of your visit, be sure to go through the Stock Exchange (Palácio da Bolsa) shop, where you will find traditional souvenirs. At Palácio da Bolsa there is also a fine dining restaurant ‘O Comercial’, where the past and present intersect in the environment and in its flavors.
Opening hours of Palácio da Bolsa: From November to March: 9:00 to 12:30 and from 14:00 to 17:30. From April to October: 9:00 to 18:30.