The Ribeira (Riverside) quarter of Porto is steeped in atmosphere, with narrow, winding streets and colourful painted and tiled houses with washing hanging from the balconies, harking back to a time when this part of the river was a working port and the quarter was a working-class district. Local children swim confidently in the murky waters of the Douro, while tourists drink and dine at the large number of restaurants and bars in the old arcades along the Cais da Ribeira (riverfront) and on the back streets. Clearly visible from the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the river is the Elevador da Riberia (also known as the Elevador da Lada), an iron lift which transports people from the Cais da Ribeira to the Barredo quarter, avoiding a climb up the steep hill.
At the heart of the Ribeira quarter is the Praça da Ribeira at the bottom of Rua de São João, where old tiled townhouses line a riverfront square, at the centre of which is a fountain comprising an original stone fountain with a controversial huge 1970s cube (O Cubo da Ribeira) suspended above it, created by the artist José Rodrigues. In a niche of an eighteenth-century fountain built into a wall, a statue of John the Baptist, the patron saint of Porto, was added by the sculptor João Cutileiro (who also sculpted the statue of Dom Sebastião in Lagos) in 2000. Today the square is full of pavement tables and is a popular place to sit and have a drink or a meal, while enjoying views of the boats sailing by on the River Douro and Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side of the river. The view is particularly lovely after dark when the Dom Luís I Bridge and the Serra do Pilar Church are lit up.