17 Apr 2019 1984
PortoBay Hotels & Resorts
#culture

500 years of history : PortoBay Flores

There are hotels and there are HOTELS WITH HISTORY. 
Ideally located. With a special charm that takes you back in time. With buildings and architectural features that tell their own story. With a legacy engraved in their very being . .. This is the new PortoBay Flores, the PortoBay Group's newest 5-star hotel, a restored and iconic 16th-century palace located in the historical centre of Porto.

The origin of the houses in Rua das Flores

This palatial house is known by locals as the Casa dos Maias (the name of the last family that inhabited it) or the Palácio dos Ferrazes. The Ferrazes Bravo, by marriage of the Ferraz family and the nobleman Manuel Bravo, owned the house until the 19th century, when it was acquired by Domingos de Oliveira Maia. It was built in the 16th century by the nobleman Martim Ferraz in Rua das Flores, on the site of the kitchen gardens of the Bishop of Porto. 

This street was one of the city’s main thoroughfares and a preferred residential area for the urban middle classes, with a beautiful series of palatial manor houses dating from that period which have been well preserved down to the present day. This is a large building, whose 16th-century features were radically altered by eighteenth-century building work. 

Beautiful historical façade

The façade bears the marks that its long history has left there: of note are the large wooden doors, the windows surmounted by triangular pediments, the wrought-iron balconies and the fifteenth-century stonework with coats-of-arms each side of the central doorway. 

These coats-of-arms consist of shields which may be fifteenth century, although they are mounted on an ornamental structure comprising baroque scrolls and coils, perhaps as a result of alterations made in the eighteenth century. 

Period details

In the interior, the old palace stables have now made way for the hotel entrance.  The design, by architect Samuel Torres de Carvalho, has restored its main elements. Among them are the floor and the imposing staircase, with its original granite slabs, taking pride of place 500 years later. There are also other elements of the period in the interior such as the beautiful tiles, windows, decorative motifs in the original stone and an old kitchen oven that is located halfway along the corridor that links the mansion building to the new wing of the hotel.

The large entrance hall has two flights of steps on each side and a central staircase, with six raised columns leading to the upper halls from its balustrade. It is here, in the original restored Maia family halls, that you will find the hotel restaurant, as well as a meeting room with natural light, both of which look out on Rua das Flores.

One of the city’s secrets . ..

At the back of the palace, there is a large patio paved with granite slabs, the result of the eighteenth century transformations, where a baroque fountain used to be. The courtyard holds another of Porto’s many secrets, a small baroque chapel which dates back to the renovation works on the property, most probably in the mid-eighteenth century, and is attributed to the Italian artist Nicolau Nasoni. He became a kind of Michelangelo in the city of Porto, and designed numerous buildings, including the neighbouring Misericórdia church and the iconic Torre dos Clérigos.

The architect’s challenge

The premise of the hotel design, led by architect Samuel Torres de Carvalho, was to preserve and integrate the features that characterised the original mansion and thereby retain its identity.

The lot consisted of two buildings architecturally different in character, located at opposite ends and with a significant difference in height. To the south, the Palácio dos Ferrazes in Rua das Flores, and to the north, in Rua da Vitória, a mid-twentieth century building. The challenge of the project was to create a modern hotel, creating connections between the various architectural, temporal and topographical discrepancies, to establish a unique space. 
In order to fulfil the hotel design, with 66 rooms, spa, gym, restaurant and meeting space, the demolition of the existing building in Rua da Vitória gave rise to a new building with nine floors that, due to its size and visibility from the street and other points in the city, would necessarily have to establish a dialogue with the surrounding environment. The additional challenge of the discrepancy between dimensions and buildings was solved through a landscaped courtyard between the two buildings that establishes a common space. The use of stone as a material plays a decisive role in the dialogue between the buildings and the surroundings, because, through its renovation, a guiding thread is established that interconnects the different interventions and spaces, reinforcing the building’s whole image.
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