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Palácio da Bolsa; the history
From the outside, you might not be overly impressed when you first see Palácio da Bolsa. And it might be a confusing sight also. Is it a palace? A government building? The answer is a little in between. The palace was built in 1842 by the Porto’s Commercial Association (Associação Comercial do Porto) on the ruins of the former St.Francis convent. The convent burned down in 1833 during the Civil War, but between 1833 and 1842, the area was used for trading. The stock exchange was born!
Joaquim da Costa Lima Júnior was the first architect of the palace and was responsible for the general structure of the building. The palace no longer functions as a stock exchange, but the Porto Commercial Association headquarters remain in Palácio da Bolsa. The place is located in the historic centre of Porto and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Inside Palácio da Bolsa
The Neoclassical palace has a lot of Palladian influence, and you’ll notice this as soon as you enter the building. You can buy your ticket with a time slot at the counter when you arrive. The Stock Exchange Palace gets very busy, though, and purchasing a ticket upfront will ensure you can visit the place during your stay in Porto. As the Commercial Association is still located here, Palácio da Bolsa is a fully operating building. Therefore, you can only visit the palace with a guide and at a specific time. Tickets are limited, so book online before you visit!
The Nations' Courtyard
Your guide will first bring you to the mesmerising entrance hall, Pátio das Nações. The architects Gustavo Adolfo Gonçalves e Sousa (Arab Room), Tomás Augusto Soler (metallic dome), and Joel da Silva Pereira (Tribunal Room) designed the other rooms in the building. The magnificent decor only finished in 1910. The Nations’ Courtyard has an enormous iron and glass dome, and 20 coats of arms surround it. You’ll notice a shield of Portugal and all other countries Portugal had commercial relations with during the 19th century. You’ll then make your way to the stairway from this impressive entrance hall.
The Noble Staircase
Gonçalves e Sousa designed the stairway in 1868. It leads you to the first floor, and it’s a jaw-opening experience. You’ll spot busts created by António Soares dos Reis and António Teixeira Lopes, and António Ramalho created the frescos.
The rooms at the Stock Exchange Palace
On the first floor, the tour continues to the Commercial Court Room, or the Sala do Tribunal in Portuguese. The room has outstanding woodwork, paintings, and frescos. The Golden Room thanks its name to the golden ceiling, which is decorated with golden leaves, and the Board of Directors uses the Golden Room for their monthly meetings. The floor in the President’s Room is equally mesmerising and is made from exotic woods of Brazilian and African origin.
The General Assembly Room was used for the general assembly of the city’s commercial association. Pay attention here to the woodwork in this room. If you look closely, you’ll notice it’s made from plaster and that it isn’t real wood. The Portrait Room hosts portraits of the last six kings of the Braganza family. It’s the last room before you’ll enter the Arab Room.
The Arab Room
Don’t be surprised if you hear a few “oooooh’s” and “aaaaaaah’s” when you enter the Arabian Room. Pictures simply don’t do it justice! It was built between 1862 and 1880 by Gonçalves e Sousa, and the room is absolutely stunning. The exotic Moorish Revival style was very popular at the time it was built, and the interior was inspired by the Alhambra in the Spanish city of Granada.
Every corner in this room is sparkling in gold! In fact, 18 kilos of gold were used to create the result. The floor contains woods such as mahogany, jacaranda, and rosewood. After visiting the Arab Room, the tour is over. You can have a look at the lovely shop on the ground floor, or enjoy an elegant and exquisite dinner in the restaurant.
Where can you find the Stock Exchange Palace
Palácio da Bolsa is located in the heart of Porto, on Rua Ferreira Borges at Praça do Infante D. Henrique. The closest metro station is São Bento. You can exit at the São Francisco stop if you come by tram. And the bus stop is called Infante Dom Henrique. The Porto Card is a super helpful tool if you use public transport in Porto during your stay. You can use public transport for free and receive a discount on many sights and museums in Porto.
Opening hours Palácio da Bolsa
The Stock Exchange Palace is open between 9:30 AM and 1 PM and again from 2 PM until 5:30 PM. Palácio da Bolsa is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day but opens all days the rest of the year.
Palácio da Bolsa tickets
Every day only a limited amount of people can visit Bolsa Palace. For that reason, it is highly recommended to book your tickets online! Slots fill up quickly, and if you book your ticket in the palace itself, you might have to come back later or even a day later. Tours are available in multiple languages, such as English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French.
Tickets for Palácio da Bolsa cost € 10.00 per person, and children under 12 can enter for free. The entrance price includes the guided tour. The tour lasts around 30 minutes.
Other sights in Porto
After visiting Palácio da Bolsa, there are plenty of other things to do in this beautiful Portuguese city. Maybe you fancy a boat tour along the famous six bridges on the Douro river? Or walk across the river to Vila Nova de Gaia and discover the Port houses and the cable cart. For a complete guide to Porto, please click here to read more.
Where to stay
Porto has many sights to see and depending on your schedule, it’s recommended to stay at least 2 to 3 nights. Add a night if you’d like to make a day trip to the Douro Valley to discover the fabulous wines. If you’re looking for a quiet hotel and have a bit more budget, the Exe Essenzia is a fantastic place to stay. If you travel on a budget and want to stay in the city centre, maybe The Poets Inn is perfect for you. Or pick your favourite place and see what’s available below! Have a lovely time in Porto!
Thanks for the informative write up. I’d love to visit some day!
The other sights in Porto, plus the daytrips you mention at the end also sound great! 👍
What a lovely guide – there are so many places in Portugal I have yet to visit. It’s truly such a magical country. Last time, I only managed to visit Lisbon and the southern coast. Adding this to my list!
I love the Arab room, and also the cute photo of the houses and water. I would love to visit Porto one day.
I am absolutely in love with that library! You could not help but to feel utterly inspired in that stunning setting. I absolutely love historic buildings and Palacio da Bolsa looks wonderful. I can’t wait to visit Lisbon and I will certainly be adding this to my list to visit when I do!
oh wow the history here and architecture is incredible! I’d love to get to Portugal, and this would most definitely be on the list. Saving for a future trip. Thank you!
We saw a lot in Porto but sadly we missed the Palácio da Bolsa. Good to know that it is best to purchase a ticket in advance for a tour. The inside architecture is stunning. The Arab Room would be my favourite spot to see. We know we will go back to Porto so I will put this at the two of the list.
So interesting that there’s a Stock Exchange Palace and that it’s now a World Heritage Site! Thanks for sharing this 🙂
Wow! I can’t believe I have been to Porto twice and have never been to Palácio da Bolsa. I love this type of place, and the Arab Room looks stunning. I will need to include it in my itinerary next time I’m there.