Porto was called Portus Cale in Roman times and was earlier a flourishing settlement on the Douro’s south bank; Porto’s cathedral, on the site of the Visigothic citadel, was originally a 12th-century Romanesque building with 14th-century Gothic cloisters, but it was largely rebuilt in the 17th–18th century. The Romanesque and early Gothic Church of São Martinho de Cedofeita, notable for the curiously carved capitals of its pillars, occupies the site of a church said to have been built by Theodomir, king of the Visigoths, in 559 to receive relics of St. Martin from France. Also notable are the Torre dos Clérigos, an 18th-century granite tower, 246 feet (75 metres) high.
The present-day city lies chiefly on the Douro’s north (right) bank, sprawling outward from the older riverside district known as the Ribeira. The red-tiled warehouses of the town of Vila Nova de Gaia, where vast quantities of port wine are blended and stored, are on the south bank of the Douro; other suburbs include Matosinhos, Leça da Palmeira, and Aguas Santas to the north and Gondomar and Oliveira do Douro to the southeast. The region’s narrow coastal plain quickly rises eastward to an inland undulating plateau. A mild, moist climate and generally fertile soils have encouraged intensive farming in the region, including winter and summer cereals, vegetables, and tree crops (cork oak and olive). Timber and its associated industries and the production of vinho verde (an effervescent wine) are also important.
The Douro River is spanned in central Porto by several bridges, notably the Dom Luís I Bridge (591 feet [180 metres]), which was built in 1881–85 from a design by a disciple of the French civil engineer Gustave Eiffel, and the Maria Pia Bridge (1876–77), designed by Eiffel himself.