Guimarães, the Birthplace of Portugal
Portugal Was Born Here
The Castle of Guimarães is said to be where the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, was born in 1110. It is one of the most symbolic and important monuments of the history of Portugal.
When its defensive role in various conflicts throughout history (such as in the Battle of São Mamede) came to an end, the castle stopped being used. It was declared a National Monument in the 20th Century, and its restoration begun. Today, the Castle of Guimarães has modern elements which improve its accessibility for those who visit it — as its structures are being continually improved.
More Than a Home: Paço dos Duques de Bragança
The construction of this royal residence was commissioned by Afonso Henriques, Duque of Bragança, and it was built between 1401 and 1442. In 1933, Paço dos Duques underwent major renovation works in order to become the official residence of the dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. It is still used today as the official residence of the President.
Praça de Santiago is one of the preferred places for locals to enjoy the many terraces and other busy spots, such as restaurants, cafés and bars. In this square, there was once a chapel from the 17th Century that was demolished in the end of the 19th Century — look closer and you will see the granite slabs that mark the place where it once stood.
Walking along the streets of Guimarães is one of the best ways to get to know the city. Largo da Oliveira in the historical centre gathers several interesting landmarks, such as the Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira and Paços do Concelho (today housing the Museum of Primitive Modern Art). You can also see the beautiful Padrão do Salado, a Gothic monument built during the reign of D. Afonso IV to celebrate the Battle of Salado, in 1340. Santa Maria Street is one of the oldest of the city, connecting the Castle area with the Santa Clara Convent (today the Guimarães Town Hall).
The historical streets of the city are busy during the day, but there is also plenty to do at night! From terraces in the centre to clubs for those who want to dance the night away, Guimarães has a lot to offer.
Most of the busiest bars and terraces in town are in Largo da Oliveira, Praça de Santiago and Santa Maria Street. With its outdoor chilling areas and fun atmosphere, these places quickly fill up with cheerful people.
European Capital of Culture
Being crowned the European Capital of Culture in 2012 led to the renovation of several symbols of Guimarães, bringing more life and renewed light to the city. The rehabilitation of Largo do Toural is one of the strongest examples of the impact this title had in the revival of the city. It also led to the building of the Platform of Arts and Creativity, which in turn led to the rehabilitation of the old Market of Guimarães, which gave a boost of energy to the city. Bringing history and innovation together, Guimarães clearly has renovation and modernisation as the main pillars of its growth.
Seeing the city from above
Connecting the city with Penha Mountain, the cable car is an excellent way to view the city from the air. 400 metres high, it travels a distance of 1700 metres in only 8 minutes. Arriving at the mountain, there are many things to do, such as hiking, mini golf, trying new restaurants and cafés. If you want to escape the city, there is a campsite in Penha which is the perfect place to spend a few nights in nature. One of the most remarkable spots in Penha Mountain is Penha Sanctuary, a pilgrimage site visited by many people, especially during the Summer.
A Taste of Culture
The Minho region’s gastronomy is extremely rich and diverse, with many iconic substantial dishes! Along some of the better know specialties, such as cabrito assado (roast lamb), arroz de cabidela (poultry cooked in its own blood with rice), bacalhau assado (roast salted codfish) and rojões (pork cooked in lard), there is also a variety of traditional sweet specialties, such as the tortas de Guimarães and toucinho do céu, which will certainly be the delight to those with a sweet tooth!