The Stock Exchange Palace or Palace of the Commercial Association of Porto (in Portuguese, Palácio da Bolsa or Palácio da Associação Comercial do Porto) is one of the most famous monuments in the city of Porto, receiving the visit of hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. In addition, as it’s located in the historic center of Porto, it has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1996!
Intended to serve as the headquarters of the Commercial Association of Porto, the Stock Exchange Palace began to be built in 1842, on the site of the former Convent of Saint Francis. And in architectural terms, the building mixes different styles, which include 19th-century neoclassical and English neo palladian!
So, do you want to know more about the Stock Exchange Palace: Best Tips For Visiting In 2023? Keep reading!
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- Brief History of the Stock Exchange Palace
- How to Get to the Stock Exchange Palace
- What to See at the Stock Exchange Palace
- More Posts about Portugal
- More Posts about Castles and Palaces
- More Posts about Museum Guides
- More Posts about World Heritage
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Brief History of the Stock Exchange Palace
As I mentioned in the introduction, the construction works of the Stock Exchange Palace started in 1842, more precisely on October 6th, 1842. The reason was the closing of the Stock Exchange House sometime before, which forced Portuguese traders to discuss business in the middle of the street!
The chosen location was the ruins of the former Convent of Saint Francis, which had been destroyed in a violent fire on the night of July 24th, 1832, during the infamous Siege of Porto. The project was in the charge of the architect Joaquim da Costa Lima, although it was only fully completed in 1909.
Did you know that the Stock Exchange Palace was part of Portugal’s fifth set of inscriptions on the UNESCO World Heritage List? This 20th session of the World Heritage Committee took place in Mérida (Mexico), between December 2nd and 7th, 1996.
Nowadays, Portugal is the ninth country in Europe and the eighteenth country in the world with the most UNESCO sites, tied with Poland. It has seventeen heritage assets (both cultural and natural) inscribed on the world list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
In the meantime, I’ve already had the opportunity to visit fourteen of them:
- Alto Douro Wine Region (2001)
- Convent of Christ in Tomar (1983)
- Cultural Landscape of Sintra (1995) – Chalet of the Countess of Edla, Convent of the Capuchos, Moorish Castle, National Palace of Pena, National Palace of Sintra, Palace of Monserrate, Quinta da Regaleira, Villa Sassetti
- Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (2012)
- Historic Center of Évora (1986)
- Historic Center of Guimarães (2001)
- Historic Center of Porto, Luiz I Bridge, and Monastery of Serra do Pilar (1996)
- Monastery of Alcobaça (1989)
- Monastery of Batalha (1983)
- Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon (1983)
- Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley (1998, 2010)
- Royal Building of Mafra – Palace, Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden, and Hunting Park (Tapada) (2019)
- Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga (2019)
- University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia (2012)
How to Get to the Stock Exchange Palace
The Stock Exchange Palace is situated on Ferreira Borges Street, one of the most central streets in the city. And from here, you’re very close to other tourist attractions, such as Casa do Infante – City Museum (170 meters), the Ribeira Pier (200 meters), the Porto Cathedral (550 meters), the Luiz I Bridge (650 meters), the Clérigos Church and Tower (700 meters), or the São Bento Station (700 meters).
In my opinion, Porto is a true “open-air museum” and therefore deserves to be explored on foot. However, if you prefer to travel by public transportation, you can reach the Stock Exchange Palace by bus (number 1M, 403, 500, or 913; stop Ribeira (Infante) or Ribeira), or by tram (number 1; stop Infante).
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
The Stock Exchange Palace is open every day, from 9 am to 6:30 pm, and the visit must be guided. This lasts about 30 minutes and is available in four languages: Portuguese, English, Spanish, and French.
As for tickets, they cost €10 (adults) or €6.5 (students, schools, and seniors), while children under 12 don’t pay admission!
What to See at the Stock Exchange Palace
Hall of Nations
The Hall of Nations (in Portuguese, Pátio das Nações) is so called because of the twenty coats of arms of countries that had friendly and trade relations with Portugal in the 19th century. Here, there’s no way to ignore the imposing iron and glass dome, created by the architect Tomás Soller and which floods the space with light!
If you look at the floor, you can also admire the ceramic mosaic pavement. This pavement is inspired by the Greco-Roman mosaic models, which were discovered in Pompeii in the first half of the 19th century (and in the decades that followed).
The Noble Staircase (in Portuguese, Escadaria Nobre) connects the Hall of Nations to the first floor of the Stock Exchange Palace, where the rooms included in the visit are located, such as the Court Room, Gustave Eiffel’s Cabinet, President’s Room, Golden Room, General Assembly Room, Portrait Room, and the Arabian Salon.
Designed by the architect and engineer Gustavo Adolfo Gonçalves e Sousa, the Noble Staircase is a monumental granite structure, with a series of decorative details: festoons (or wreaths), Corinthian capitals, fluted pilasters, etc.
After climbing to the top of the Noble Staircase, don’t forget to see the two chandeliers created by the sculptor António Soares dos Reis. This is because the two hanging lamps testify to how the Stock Exchange Palace was one of the first buildings in the city of Porto to have electricity!
The Court Room (in Portuguese, Sala do Tribunal) was designed by architect Joel Pereira da Silva and later reformulated in French Neo-Renaissance style by José Marques da Silva. And the paintings that cover the walls and ceiling depict the economic activities of the city and region of Porto, as well as the function of the room.
Originally intended for the sessions of the Trade Court, the Court Room is now used to enthrone the new confreres of the Confraria do Vinho do Porto. Of all the names that have passed through here, there are illustrious personalities such as Prince Albert II of Monaco!
Gustave Eiffel’s Cabinet
In 1875, the French engineer Gustave Eiffel was hired by the Royal Portuguese Railway Company to build a bridge over the Douro River in Porto: the Maria Pia Bridge. Since then, Gustave Eiffel has returned to Portugal several times to oversee other projects in the north of the country:
- Barcelos Railway Bridge (1877)
- Road-Rail Bridge of Viana do Castelo (1878)
- Pinhão Railway Bridge (1906)
Gustave Eiffel’s Cabinet at the Stock Exchange Palace (in Portuguese, Gabinete de Gustave Eiffel) still preserves the desk where the renowned engineer worked during his extended stays in the city of Porto. For that reason, this room also serves as a tribute to the French genius.
The President’s Room (in Portuguese, Sala do Presidente) served as a private office for the president of the Commercial Association of Porto. The decoration includes a set of works in oil on canvas representing the traditional works of Roman civilization, designed by the painter João Marques de Oliveira in 1890.
Another element that is impossible to ignore is the floor carved with exotic woods from Brazil and Africa. And of course, the fabulous fireplace in marble and wrought iron, sculpted by António Teixeira Lopes and decorated with motifs alluding to commerce and the Douro River!
Did you know that the Board of the Commercial Association of Porto still meets in the Golden Room (in Portuguese, Sala Dourada), on the first Monday of each month? It’s made up of 15 elected and unpaid elements, representing different sectors of activity.
In terms of decoration, it’s worth noting the wooden floor and the stucco ceiling, the furniture designed by the architect José Marques da Silva, the painted portraits of former presidents, and the two bronze paintings, with the names of all the presidents of the Commercial Association of Porto.
General Assembly Room
The General Assembly Room (in Portuguese, Sala das Assembleias Gerais) was built between 1879 and 1883, according to a project by the architect Tomás Soller. Nevertheless, like the Court Room, it was modified almost entirely between 1883 and 1890, by the architect José de Macedo Araújo Júnior.
The exception was the large chandelier placed in the center, which weighs about a ton and is still the original. Since its foundation, the General Assembly Room has hosted two general meetings of the Commercial Association of Porto every year.
The Portrait Room (in Portuguese, Sala dos Retratos) is a room decorated in the style of King Louis XVI of France, which serves as a tribute to Queen Maria II, for donating the ruins of the former Convent of Saint Francis for the construction of Palácio da Bolsa. Here, are displayed the portraits of the last six monarchs of the Braganza Dynasty:
- King Fernando II (1837-1855) – husband of Queen Maria II (1834-1853)
- King Pedro V (1853-1861)
- King Luís I (1861-1889)
- King Carlos I (1889-1908)
- King Manuel II (1908-1910)
Interestingly, the Portrait Room also accommodates a table by the artist and woodcarver Zeferino José Pinto, considered his masterpiece. The table, which took three years to complete, received an honorable mention at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867!
If you’ve already had the opportunity to visit the Alhambra of Granada in Spain, then you won’t have a hard time understanding that the Arabian Salon of the Stock Exchange Palace (in Portuguese, Salão Árabe) was based on the Andalusian palace complex. The design is attributed to the architect and engineer Gustavo Adolfo Gonçalves e Sousa.
Works began on September 15th, 1862, and ended on June 12th, 1880 – which makes the Arabian Salon one of the most recent spaces in the Stock Exchange Palace! Today, the room hosts the most important official acts in the city of Porto, as well as dozens of concerts and other events.
The flooring was accomplished with a mixture of the finest woods, including rosewood, mahogany, satinwood, rosewood, and plane tree. And walls and ceiling are entirely covered in stucco, with Arabic characters and other elements engraved in gold.
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