A Brief History of Rua do Almada (Almada Street)
In the mid-eighteenth century, Porto remained a medieval hamlet with rustic farms, gardens, and dusty roads. The transformation began when João de Almada e Melo arrived to quell the 'Tavern keepers' revolt' linked to a wine monopoly enacted by his cousin, Marquês de Pombal.
As the Director of Public Works, João de Almada spearheaded the city's urban renovation from 1757-1786. He began constructing a new avenue connecting Campo das Hortas to Praça de Santo Ovídio, easing access to Braga and Guimarães. Initiated in 1761 and extended throughout the latter half of the 18th century, this artery was known as Rua do Almada. This historic street, intersecting with Rua da Fábrica do Tabaco and Rua dos Lavadouros, belongs to three parishes: Cedofeita, Vitória, and Santo Ildefonso. Military engineer Francisco Xavier do Rego orchestrated the project, marking this street as the first outside the 14th-century Romanesque wall, and the first to feature sidewalks and door numbers.
Rua do Almada gave birth to the tradition of the errand boy. Renowned as a mercantile street, it is strongly tied to iron trading. Some commercial properties still showcase the wagon rails used for heavy goods transport, and the granite floor slabs built to bear substantial loads.
Porto's bourgeoisie resided here during the 18th and 19th centuries, with the street's 'pretty girls' often seen on the wrought-iron balconies. Dandies would arrive on horseback to count them, one of whom was writer Camilo Castelo Branco, who first saw Ana Plácido here. Rua do Almada also hosted the sports and utility store Lino's, a popular evening gathering spot for intellectuals.
Prominent residents included philosopher Teles de Albergaria, painter Inácio de Pinho, poets Teixeira de Pascoais and Soares de Passos, and Sofia de Outeiro, whose actions drove poet Jaime Artur to suicide.
Porto Lounge Hostel & Guesthouse now resides in a refurbished building, representing the Almada era with its ironmongery, granite floor slabs, and typical wrought iron balconies, a charming echo of its vibrant history.