Casa da Música’s elusive patio offers unprecedented view of one of Portugal’s most beautiful cities, Porto
I first discovered Porto’s “House of Music” — Casa da Música, was during my first trip to Portugal in 2011, and I’ve returned several times since then for events and a closer look at the building’s unique architecture.
The avant-garde brainchild of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, Casa da Música was built on the former parking site of the city’s trams and is the current home of Orquestra Nacional do Porto.
The Casa was commissioned for Porto’s participation as European Capital of Culture in 2001, but it didn’t open until the spring of 2005. Despite the long delay, Casa da Música has become the centrepiece of the neighbourhood of Boavista (translated as “good view”) and is now a major part of the city’s skyline.
Casa da Música’s unusual shape, there are some who like to say it looks like a meteorite landed in Boavista – has been photographed countless times, but I hadn’t noticed or heard anyone mention that there was a terrace on the roof!
It wasn’t until April 2015 and Casa da Música’s 10th anniversary open house, that I was able to tour each of its 12 storeys in-depth on a technical tour, and discovered its hidden lounge right out in the open.
Casa da Música offers great views of the city from a few points in the building facing Praca Mouzinho de Albuquerque, but my favourite spot is the rooftop terrace, for a number of reasons:
- One of the highest points in the city, it offers a rare view over the busy rotunda, and on a clear day you can see all the way out to sea.
- The terrace is the only open air space available in the whole building. This is one of the drawbacks of Casa da Música’s angular design, but with the terrace embedded in the roof it doesn’t disturb the clean lines.
- The futuristic entrance is a long, metallic-silver corridor with a motion-sensor glass wall at the end. If that doesn’t give you the feeling of being on a space ship, the glass wall sliding open with a quiet whoosh probably will.
- There’s a touch of whimsy in the terrace’s grey chessboard pattern and angled balcony wall.
- It’s like a Star Trek entrance meeting Alice in Wonderland on the other side. After that, you may want a drink! (See below.)
- The terrace itself is a relaxed and casual outdoor lounge, with bar service at peak times but typically without in quieter seasons. Draw up a lounge chair, enjoy the weather and stay a while.
How To Reach That Elusive Terrace
The rooftop can be accessed only by two elevators to the 7th floor (same as the restaurant). The elevator button for the 7th floor only works during restaurant hours: Portuguese lunch and dinner times (see website for hours).
There is a flight of stairs between the elevators and the restaurant, with wheelchair access by motorized railing. Visitors don’t need to pass through the restaurant to reach the terrace, just follow the corridor at the top of the stairs and instead of turning left to the restaurant, take a right instead through the silver tunnel.
Casa da Música
Avenida da Boavista, 604-610
+351 220 120 200