The northwestern edge of the city centre – around 2km from downtown Aliados – is marked by the large park-cum-roundabout popularly known as the Rotunda da Boavista. It’s overlooked by a huge column bearing a lion astride a French eagle, celebrating the victory of the Portuguese and British in the Peninsular War
There’s no call to come up here save to see Rem Koolhaas’ Casa da Música (take the metro to the station of the same name) on the northwestern side of the roundabout. Porto’s contemporary concert hall – a vast white wedge on a bare esplanade – looks as if the Mother Ship has landed, an impression reinforced by the steel staircase leading up into the black maw of the entrance. There are guided visits in English daily at 11.30am and 4pm (e2);
By way of extreme contrast, a few blocks to the east, down Avenida da Boavista and then right along Rua Aníbal Cunha, is the very simple Igreja Românica de Cedofeita, whose name means “built quickly”. Reputed to be the oldest Christian building in the Iberian peninsula, it was supposedly built by the Suevian king Theodomir in 556 AD. However, the existing Romanesque building is a thirteenth-century refashioning of a church whose existence can only be dated certainly to 1118. Cedofeita is unique, however, in being Portugal’s only Romanesque church to have kept its original dome, supported by bulky exterior buttresses.