This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
Built on the site of a burned down convent, the Palacio da Bolsa building rose from the city’s ruins to provide Porto with a site for its stock exchange. Constructed over a span of 70 years, the Palacio is now a National Monument in Portugal.
In the early 19th century, Portugal was embroiled in a Civil War sparked by the contested royal succession to the throne of King João VI. In 1832, a military siege on Porto resulted in the fiery destruction of St. Francis Convent, which dated back to the 13th century.
Years later, Queen Mary II donated the ruins to the city’s merchants, and The Associação Comercial (Commercial Association) decided to build the Palacio to host commercial exchange. Until that point, Porto’s businessmen had made their trades on the streets. The city selected the plans of architect Joaquim da Costa Lima Júnior who offered a design in a Neoclassical style. In 1842, the first stone was laid.
By 1850, much of the Palacio was finished with the exception of the decoration of the interior. Over the next decade, so many artists began contributing to the interior’s completion that the Palacio became an actual school for the working artists. As a result, its interior is adorned with a variety of paintings and sculptures.
By the early 20th century, the interiors were finally complete. While it no longer serves as the city’s stock exchange, the building is heralded for its architectural and historical significance. It remains the headquarters for Porto’s Commercial Association, and now hosts major events and state receptions.
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