If you know Porto you probably know Rio Douro, the “Port Wine highway” that divides the cities of Porto and Gaia. However, there’s another river that only a few know about: Rio da Vila. The river is not very famous because it flows under the city. To access the Roman footprint that lies under today’s Porto, the water company Águas do Porto is planning to unveil this secret and open a museum, which should be completed by 2018.
Rio da Vila is located between the São Bento station and riverfront Praça da Ribeira, crossing the street of Mouzinho da Silveira. Four meters bellow the sidewalk it is possible to hear the sound of the river running down the 350 meters of a tunnel.
The underground silence contrasts with the excitement of the city above. The granite walls extend into the tunnel and vaulted ceilings allow the safe access.
The museum project will allow the entrance in this underground treasure, in a route with several stopping points. With the use of mobile phones and "tablets" visitors will have access to information about the city and the lost river. The museum will tell the fascinating tale of the city and allow anyone to “go with the flow.”
Under the Romans, Porto was called Portus and developed as a commercial port. The area of today’s Porto and Gaia, across the river, was called Portus Cale. Eventually, it became Portucale, the origin of the name Portugal.
© Margarida David Cardoso