A symbol of progress
'PROGREDIOR' was deliberately written over the front doors of the first grand Exhibition hall of Porto, the 'PALÁCIO DE CRISTAL' - the word 'progredior' means 'progress' in Latin and it was deeply symbolic. In the mid 1800s, Portugal, and in particular the city of Porto, were trying hard to catch up with Europe and US's industrial revolution and, at the same time, going through a period of intense... romanticism!
The merchants and industrials of Porto were bohemian, wealthy and seeking class and personal affirmation. A small group of Industrials - an association called AIP - decided it was time for Porto to have a grand exhibition hall, one that could host trade shows, large scale festivals, huge banquets, a space worthy of the the rising bourgeoisie of Porto... all of this surrounded by these 'staged' romantic gardens filled with exotic trees and wandering peacocks, fake ruins, fountains and small lakes, classical looking statues: a dignified space for poets and artists looking for inspiration or for those merely looking for romance, during those long lazy Sunday walks... wearing their best Sunday outfits...!
Palácio de Cristal (1865 — 1951) was therefore the materialization of their aspirations. British inspired - the model was the 1851s Crystal Palace, in London - this new 'palace' was designed by Dillen Jones, one of the many British architects who performed work on projects in Porto during the previous decades.
Sérgio is the founder of Porto Running Tours, a keen runner since 1999 and a friendly running tour guide-storyteller since 2015.
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