Sad stories lie beneath
If you walk trough Miragaia, near Largo da Alfândega, you can see a long and steep stone stairway that leads to upper town. The steps are many, countless, hard to climb, but if you have the will and curiosity, it is totally worth the effort.
If you climb up there, to the top, you should be very sweaty, but there’s no such thing as too much effort for a good explorer. You have reached Rua da Bandeirinha and its famous Palácio das Sereias (Sirens’ Palace).
The palace is not open to the public, but it’s worth knowing the exterior, with its doors flanked by two large stone sirens (almost 10 feet each) and, on the top, the Cunhas e Vilhenas family crest with a crown above.
The house began to be built in the 16th century, in 1575, by Dom Pedro da Cunha. In the 18th century the house passed to the Portocarrero family.
In 1809, when Napoleon invaded Portugal for the 2nd time, the population of Porto, thinking that the Portocarreros were somehow close to the French, assaulted the palace, captured and lynched the homeowner. Portocarrero’s body was launched to the river Douro and the family never returned to that house. Only in 1955 the palace was inhabited again.
Then, if you pay attention, you will see a strange pyramid with an iron banner or flag on its top. It’s there for the boats to see it from the river. It was a signal for ships with plague aboard, to not cross that point, and not enter the city.
Now, if you go to Palácio das Sereias to take some photos, you will know what sad stories lie beneath those stones.