Largo dos Lóios, in Porto, is sunny even when it’s raining. Everything there embodies Porto, emanate the most genuine essence Porto has to offer. Amid the hustle and bustle of Praça da Liberdade and Rua das Flores, one walks through a blend of contrasts, a blend of the traditional and the modern that only Porto knows how to carry off, with Northern expertise.
Over time, sidewalks have emerged, paving stones, garden benches, trees and gardens, dotting the narrow streets that stretch out, lined by old buildings, tall and narrow, harmoniously wedged together. Lacy iron balconies and designer balconies entice the pigeons to rest and bring life and movement to the tiles and stones that glorify the façades.
Strumming the tiles of the main façade, the cold of the ceramics that the winter days intensify contrasts with the many heated stories that we imagine taken place therein, in view of the impassivity of the buildings, over the years gone by. A warm feather coat hugs the body, topped off by a scarf that more than just protects from the cold that still persists in getting through, but frames the view with each slow step, in a scenario romanticised by the rain that is falling and that in Lóios, without our being able to explain why and unlike everywhere else, it doesn't trouble anything.
The keys of a centuries-old pipe organ play in Cais de Gaia, on the opposite bank of the Douro, in an old port wine warehouse, where you can now enjoy a delicious codfish cake with Serra cheese, played slowly, setting the soundtrack. Eyes gaze unhurriedly and silently on this side of the river.
In Lóios, all the senses are activated simultaneously. This is a place where you feel like spending time and where the contrasts are charming, to which the late-afternoon lights confer a special magic. Nightfall draws the eye to the overlapping light effect, and two landmarks stand out in this canvas: at the top of the street, the Clérigos tower, an imposing work of art of 18th century Baroque architecture. At 75 meters high, it offers an extraordinary 360º view over the city of Porto. And at number 1 in Largo dos Lóios, number 1 in the oceans: the Portuguese sardine, in its fantastic world of light and colour. Entering is an inevitable temptation that takes the imagination to the circus, attracted by a jingle of little bells and children's voices, evoking the sardines. And there we discover another contrast: the queen of all fish – the Portuguese sardine – is a fish that is both noble and popular, proving that sovereignty can also be humble and authentic.
When Pythagoras agreed that the universe is a harmony of contrasts, he was not anticipating what would become Largo dos Lóios’ most unique highlight, but time – always time! – came to prove him right.