Bolsa Palace. You might not have heard of it yet but when you enter Porto you can’t miss it. At every tourist office they will let you know that this is one of the town’s highlights and yes, they are right. The surprise at the end is breathtaking! Warning. This is a spoiler alert since we will be giving the surprise away at the end of this article.
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Book a tour to the Bolsa Palace
Bolsa in English means stock and this palace was once used as the headquarters of the Porto’s Chamber of Commerce. This was where the stock market was housed. Today it is opened to the public but you need to join a guided tour. You are not allowed to enter by yourself and stroll around – here you need to make a reservation. Since this is one of the most beautiful buildings in Porto – make sure to get here pretty early to reserve your spot for the tour.
There are guided tours every half hour and they are in several languages (English, Spanish, French and Portuguese). We had to wait for about two hours from the time we got there to the time the tour started in English. We went and had something to eat so there was no problem but a tip is to make the reservation first thing! Each group can take up to 50 people.
Keep close to your guide at the Bolsa Palace
I believe that we were a full group = a lot of people that want to hear what the guide is saying. Unfortunately, the guides are not wearing any microphones so you need to be close if you want to hear what they are saying. During our visit, there was also some kind of travel fair going on so the noise level was pretty loud.
After trying for some time to get close enough to the tour guide (because I wanted to hear the story about the palace) I gave up. If you have 50 people you might not hear all the information. Instead of getting upset that I couldn’t hear – I decided to just tag along and enjoy the palace.
Bolsa Palace is magnificent
The first thing that caught my eye was that the columns inside the palace were in granite. Usually, they will be in marble since that is a lot “softer” to work with compared to granite stone. But at the Bolsa Palace, the pillars are made of granite and that is a unique and awesome detail. The palace is really beautiful and impressive. During the tour, you will see rooms and halls that will impress you. When you think that you have seen the most beautiful room in the palace you will see something even more pretty and impressive in the next room.
Make sure to look at all the details while visiting the Bolsa Palace. Since the guide was not “loud” enough for all of us to hear, I can not say if they are pointing out the details or not. I do wish that they put a microphone on because it would be interesting to actually hear what he was saying. According to the research I made on this place – the guides will tell you all about the stock market that happened inside the building and give you information about the rooms that you enter.
Impressive rooms at the Bolsa Palace
We entered one room that had a very impressive ceiling with paintings. The room itself looked like some courtroom and there were balls (yes balls) inside the room. The balls were only there temporary for safekeeping but they were really awesome. I wonder what they are used for?
Did you know that the desk of Gustave Eiffel is inside the Bolsa Palace? Well, now you know! There is a sign that says that he used to sit by that desk during his work in Porto. There is a lot to explore here. The thing I liked the most was how different all the rooms were. Each and everyone is unique. So which was the nicest one? Well, that’s easy… The Arab hall!
Spoiler alert – The surprise at Bolsa Palace
There is only one word to describe this room: WOW! The Arab Hall is the perfect ending to a great tour. It took 18 years to finish this room. Once it was done they noticed that the door is 30 centimeters off (when you look at all the symmetric of the room). I don’t think that you can see it just by looking at it but the question is if the 30 centimeters was a result of a mistake or if the imperfection was made on purpose.
I could honestly see myself getting married here. After a while, I felt bad for the guide because he could not get his group out of this room. There were so many pictures taken in one time here that it would be impossible to count how many flashes went off. By far the nicest room in the whole palace! And it would be worth to pay the entrance fee – just to be able to enter this room!
Information about the Bolsa Palace
Address: R. de Ferreira Borges, 4050-253 Porto, Portugal.
Opening hours: Daily 09.00 – 18.30.
Entrance fee: 9 euros per person.
Time-consuming: The tour takes about 45 minutes.
Tip: Make sure to make reservations to be guaranteed a place.