The Bolsa Palace, or Oporto Commercial Association Palace, a neoclassical style building, began to be built on October 6, 1842, the solemn date of the laying of the first stone.
History of the Oporto Trade Association
The Palácio da Bolsa, or Oporto’s Trade Association Palace, in the city of Oporto, began to be built in October 1842, due to the closure of the Casa da Bolsa do Comércio, which temporarily forced Oporto’s merchants to discuss their business in Rua dos Ingleses, in the open air. The building is now almost 180 years old and dates back to the night of July 24, 1832, during the siege of Porto, when there was a huge fire at the S. Francisco Convent, of which only the current church was left. It was on these ruins of the old convent, later donated by D. Maria II, through the dispatch of the letter of Law of Concession, dated June 19, 1842, that the merchants built the Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace) so that in it they could establish the commercial marketplace and the court of first instance. Interestingly, in order to prevent eventual financial problems that could arise from the onerosity of the work itself, the Queen ordered that the Commercial Association of Porto would have at its disposal an extraordinary income, for a period of ten years, on the products that circulated through the Customs of Porto. With a mixture of architectural styles, the building shows, in all its splendor, traces of the eighteenth-century neoclassical, Tuscan architecture, as well as the English neo-Palladian. The Arabian Hall holds the greatest prominence of all the rooms in the palace due, as the name implies, to 19th century stuccoes adorned in gold with Arabic characters that fill the walls and ceiling of the room. It is in this hall that the tributes to visiting heads of state take place.
There were many men who participated in the construction of the Stock Exchange Palace. Starting with Joaquim da Costa Lima Júnior, in office since 1840 (who submitted the plan, budget and details of the project of the Stock Exchange Palace), Gustavo Adolfo Gonçalves de Sousa, Tomás Augusto Soller, José Macedo Araújo Júnior, Joel da Silva Pereira and, osé Marques da Silva, which was the last architect and decorator of the Palace. The building was built over almost 70 years, had six main architects, dozens of master carvers, plasterers, painters, gilders, bricklayers, and hundreds of workers, who always gave it their best. With the implantation of the Republic on October 5, 1910, the Bolsa Palace was inventoried and vacated. Public possession of the building was taken on February 11, 1911. One of the paintings of a monarch present in the space, that of D. Carlos I, was vandalized with two pistol shots. However, unlike what happened in other cases, this building does not fall into decay or stagnation and during the consulate of Sidónio Pais returned to the hands of its rightful and worthy owners. An authentic live classroom, the Palácio da Bolsa, besides being a unique and exclusive place, attracts more than 300 thousand visitors every year.