Porto is the second largest city in Portugal. The greatest sites in Porto are its five bridges, three modern, two nineteenth century and all of them sensational. The valleys and tributaries that run along them form some of the most spectacular landscapes in the the country. The wealth that flowed into the city from the 15th century onward is evidenced throughout Porto. Trade in the commodities from Portugal’s newly claimed lands brought Brazilian gold and exotic woods to embellish Porto’s many elaborate churches and palaces. Prosperous merchants spent lavishly on paintings and the ever famous azulejos. The true fascination with Porto lies very much in the day-to-day life of the place, with its prosperous business core surrounded by well to do suburbs as well as depressed housing estates, tempered by a heart of cramped streets and ancient alleys wholly untouched by the planners. Porto is renowned for the great variety of light, fresh and often fizzy wines as well as the heavyweight Port wines. Vinho verde ‘sparkling wine’, is grown in the northwest. Country wines from the northeast are made in the area between the Spanish border to the north and east and four mountain ranges to the west. The Vinho verde region is best known for its slightly under-ripe wines, with a slightly sparkling character. They are mainly white, and the best are made from the alvarinho grape, as well as the azal, ljurerio and rabigato. Wines from the Douro region are beginning to be accepted as some of Portugal’s finest. Although excellent white wines are produced here, the area is best known for its great reds. The accommodations in Porto range from inexpensive rooms (south east of Sao Bento station) that will fit just about any budget to more expensive places around the city. They are generally a good value but in winter investing in a more expensive place with better facilities to counter the freezing cold is worth the a little extra.