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Oporto Transport in Baedeker's Guide of 1898

25 July 2011


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Because of the demise of U-Net webspace, from 5 March 2015, this site will move to a new location at

Please be patient if there are any glitches in this process!

The first Baedeker guide to cover Portugal was published in Leipzig (then spelt Leipsic on the title page) in 1898. It was entitled Spain and Portugal: handbook for travellers by Karl Baedeker and was the most expensive volume in the German's travel guide series to date at 16 Marks; the 17th edition of the Switzerland volume, for instance, published in 1897 was only 8 Marks which suggests that only a small circulation was expected for the publication on Iberia - then a relatively exotic and distant location.

Portugal occupied fewer than a hundred of the book's 600 plus pages. Of these, Oporto itself received ten pages, amongst which is some fascinating information for the traveller, which will be summarised below. But earlier in the volume, is some equally interesting guidance on how to get to Portugal from the UK in 1898.

Getting There

Page xvii: We are told that from London, Hall's Line operated a shipping service on Wednesdays from London to Lisbon, which took five days and cost six guineas (£6.30) single, ten guineas (£10.50) return! Alternatively, the General Steam Navigation Company operated a service every three weeks from London to Oporto which cost just four guineas (£4.20) but curiously "ladies" were ten shillings (£0.50) extra! That journey also took five days.

From Liverpool, you could get a ship to Vigo in Galicia, Spain, for £6.50 first class and £4 second class by Pacific Steam Navigation Co. or to Lisbon with Singlehurst's or Booth's steamers.

On page 574, Baedeker gives more details on Oporto steamship services and the companies' offices in the city.

Oporto Railways

Railway stations p.573

  • 1. Estação Central. This is what we now know as S. Bento, a terminal station, which opened in 1896 in the city centre. With its restricted access through tunnels it was therefpre limited in the services it could offer. (S. Bento is pictured right in 2011).
  • 2. Estação do Caminho de Ferro Norte e Leste e Linha do Minho e Douro. Theis is the station for the North & East Railway and the Minho and Douro valley lines. It is now the main Oporto station - at Campanhã, where today's services from Lisbon terminate.
  • 3. Estação do Caminho de Ferro da Povoa. This station for the Póvoa Line still stands, albeit disused, on the roundabout at Boavista. Post 1898, the railway line was extended to Trindade station, nearer the city centre. This was the station for the line north to the seaside resort of Póvoa de Varzim. Services still operate there from Trindade, which is now the hub of the city's Metro system.

    Inclined railways

    Known locally as "elevadores", Baedeker lists two such routes on p.574.

  • 1. From Avenida Diogo Leite to "the Gaia station". This is long gone; it ran from the quayside in Vila Nova de Gaia, near the Sandeman's waterfront building, steeply uphill to the main railway station on the south bank of the Douro at Gaia.
  • 2. From the Cais dos Guindais to the Praca Batalha. See the Oporto funiculars page for the modern-day succesor to this ill-fated 19th century funicular.


    Known as "carris de ferro" by Baedeker (p.574), today trams are called "eléctricos". Baedeker tells us that there are special tramcars for smokers, known as "fumistas". He lists two tram routes:

  • 1. From the "East Railway Station" i.e. Campanhã, via Pç. Batalha, Pç D. Pedro (now. Pç Liberdade), Pç dos Voluntarios da Rainha (now Carmo), Rua do Rosario (outward, returns via the parallel North-South road, the Rua da Cedofeita, to terminate at the Rotunda Boa Vista, where the above-mentioned railway station of Boa Vista was sited (now writtem as Boavista and pictured left in 2011). The Batalha to Carmo route is very similar to today's tram route 22.
  • 2. From Passeio da Cordoaria via Rua da Restauração, Massarelos and S. João da Foz on the coast before proceeding further north to Leça da Palmeira. Part of this route is today's tram route 18 and the latter part is today's tram route 1.

  • Baedeker also mentions a branch from Restauração via Alfândega, the customs house on the quayside, to Infante, which is the city end of today's tram route 1.

    The tram fare in the city was 50 réis; 1000 réis = 1 escudo.

    Steam tramway

    Known as the Linha Férrea Americana (American railway), this ran from the Rotunda da Boa Vista via Fonte da Moura (about halfway along what is now the Avenida da Boavista headinmg west towards the coast), where it turned left to go to S. João da Foz and then along the coast to the north at Matosinhos (p.574). Adjacent to Matosinhos on the other bank of the Rio Leça is the port of Leixoes, which Baedeker explains was a 240 acre port created by two breakwaters of 5,240 feet and 3,756 feet respectively, constructed between 1883 and 1890.

    Railway routes

  • Oporto to Póvoa de Varzim (p.583).

    This 18 mile railway journey took 90 minutes in 1898, costing 540 reis first class and 333 reis second class. It was then a steam-powered narrow gauge railway line, running, as now on the Metro, via Custóias, Mindelo and Vila do Conde.

  • Oporto to Braga (p.583).

    Three trains ran daily on the Linha do Minho and took two and a half hours from Estação Central (S. Bento) - from where it still runs today, via Rio Tinto and Ermesinde where, in 1898, the junction had a line to Salamanca in Spain, a journey which took "circa 14 hours"! The route to Braga continued via S Romao and Trofa. From Trofa, a train could be taken to Guimarães which Baedeker also describes. He also refers to the three-mile tramway to Bom Jesus church from central Braga.

  • Oporto to Régua (p.585).

    In 1898 an Oporto to Régua express went on, eastwards along the Douro valley, to Barca d'Alva near the Spanish border; it took seven hours!

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