I already told you where are the best views over Porto, and today I am sharing with you what is the highest point of Porto.
No, it is not the Clérigos tower nor the Cathedral. In fact, the highest point of Porto is located at the top of a discrete building, unknown by tourists and even by the locals, called Edifício Miradouro. This building is connected to the history of a once very strong society of Porto, called Cooperativa dos Pedreiros, which translates to Bricklayers’ Cooperative.
This Cooperative was established in 1914 by a group of bricklayers who were working on the construction of S. Bento’s Station. In order to safeguard the employment rights of bricklayers, the Bricklayers’ Cooperative was as direct labor receptor (thus cutting the middlemen in the process). On the other hand, at a time when the welfare state was not a reality, the Cooperative assured the support of the families of bricklayers in case a work accident occurred, thus having a strong social component.
The impact of the creation of the Cooperative was immense, as it soon constructed some of the most iconic buildings in Porto. As an example: the Town Hall of Porto; the Faculty of Engineering; the Trade Palace; the Bank of Portugal… the list is endless and very present in the daily life of the city!
But what does this have to do with the highest point of Porto? Please be patient; you know how I like to give you a little historical context, as an antechamber of my answers 🙂
In 1937, Moreira da Silva, one of the founders and manager of the Cooperative, went to Paris, where he learned the new granite processing techniques, bringing to Portugal the polished granite. This innovative technique, which allows to coat the buildings with polished granite slabs, rather than constructing the entire building of solid granite, was developed by the Cooperative in such a way that in 1958, it won the gold medal at the Universal and International Exhibition of Brussels. This recognition brought great notoriety to the Cooperative, which began making projects worldwide.
In 1969, when polished granite Empire was fourishing, the Cooperative built Edifício Miradouro, at Rua de D. João IV No. 1000. The building has dozens of apartments whose rents revert precisely to the social funds of the Cooperative. On the top floor is the restaurant Portucale, which is actually the highest point in the city of Porto.
The Cooperative of Bricklayers no longer has the importance of other times, reflecting the transition from the granite era to the concrete one. However, its legacy continues to dominate the city: it is not for nothing that a glance at the Port mostly reveals granite, and therefore grey is one of the top colours of Porto.
A special thanks to Mr. Fernando Martinho, manager of CPOPP, who was kind enough to guide me on a tour the the Museum of the Cooperative.