Guimarães is known as "the Cradle of the Portuguese Nation". Here, in 1128, took place the main political and military events, with King Afonso Henriques, which led to the independence of Portugal and the birth of a new Nation.
The Historic Centre, exemplarily restored, was distinguished and classified by UNESCO as World Heritage in 2001, raising its recognition and prestige on a global scale.
Culture and cultural events are a poster to visit Guimarães, as was recognized in 2012 with the realization of the event "European Capital of Culture", which catapulted the city to the main European cultural tourist destinations, boosting creativity and fostering local arts and artistic creativity.
A safe and peaceful place, with activities and nature walks, cultural events and traditional festivities throughout the year, good food and wine, Guimarães has much to offer and surprise the visitor.
10 Places to visit in Guimarães
1. Castelo de Guimarães
Guimarães castle was ordered to be built by the Countess Mumadona. The purpose of the fortification was to protect the Monastery of Santa Maria from the Norman and Saracen invasions that were then hitting the Iberian Peninsula. At the end of the 11th century, Count D. Henrique
gives orders for the castle to be built. Later, at the end of the 13th century, on the initiative of king D. Dinis, the fortress was remodelled.
In the following centuries, other monarchs wanted to leave their mark by subjecting the castle to various improvement works.
As the centuries went by, however, new war tactics caused the castle to lose its defensive function and to fall into a state of progressive abandonment and degradation. In the 20th century, the castle was restored and later classified as a National Monument.
2. Igreja de S. Miguel
The symbolism of the Church of S. Miguel is linked to the foundation of Portugal and to the tradition that says that it was here that King Afonso Henriques was baptised. Inside, next to the baptismal font, there is an inscription that intends to confirm this fact. The interior floor is paved with tombs of noble warriors, all connected to the foundation of nationality. As time went by, the high part of the village - where the church is located - was progressively abandoned and with it also the old church of S. Miguel. In the 19th century, Francisco Martins Sarmento, an illustrious citizen of Guimarães, directed the restoration of the church, trying to respect its original architecture. The last intervention that it underwent dates from the 20th century. The S. Miguel Church is classified as a National Monument.
3. Dukes' Palace
It was in this palace that Dom Afonso lived with his second wife, Constança de Noronha, known as the Holy Duchess. It is believed that after her widowhood, she devoted herself exclusively to religious life and to helping the poorest people. At that time, the ducal palace would have been transformed into an immense hostel permanently open to the most needy. The building, which had been abandoned for a long time, now houses one of the most visited museums in the country, presenting a diversified collection of decorative arts from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Paço dos Duques de Bragança has been classified, since 1910, as a National Palace and official residence of the Presidency of the Republic.
4. Praça de Santiago
According to tradition, an image of the Holy Virgin Mary, brought by the apostle St. James, was placed in a square. That is why this very old square, which still preserves its medieval features, is called Praça de S. Tiago. In the 11th century, the Franks who accompanied Count D. Henrique founded a chapel dedicated to the saint. In the 17th century, the temple was demolished and replaced by another one, of which
no traces of it remain. Later, as a reminder of these pre-existences, a scallop is engraved on the pavement - reminding us of S. Tiago - and the first Latin words of the Carta de Foral, granted by Count D. Henrique to the men of Guimarães: "To you, men who came to populate Guimarães and to those who want to live here...".
5. Oliveira Square
Legend has it that a miracle was responsible for this square being called Largo da Oliveira. An olive tree, planted in front of the Church of Santa Maria de Guimarães, had withered. It was in 1342 that the tree gave leaf and fruit again, when a Guimarães merchant settled in Lisbon ordered a Norman cross to be placed there. The news spreads like a miracle due to Saint Mary. Since then, the square is called Largo da Oliveira. Consequently, the virgin is renamed Nossa Senhora da Oliveira. The olive tree stays in the square until 1870, year in which, against the will of the people from Guimarães, it is removed. Only in 1985, year of the last intervention in the square, an olive tree is again placed in the place where it was supposed to be initially. Here you can find the "Padrão do Salado" and the "Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira".
6. Largo do Toural
Nowadays considered the heart of the city, Largo do Toural has always had a social function, being the meeting point and place for the people of Guimarães. In the 17th century, Toural was a square located outside the main gate of the town. The name Toural is due to the fact that it was the place where the cattle fair and bullfights took place. In the second half of the century, in 1878, the Toural, surrounded by an iron fence, was transformed into a public garden. Today, in the centre of the square, there is a statue of King Afonso Henriques.
7. Arts and Creativity Platform
Inaugurated on 24 June 2012, the Plataforma das Artes e da Criatividade was born from a project whose goal was the transformation of the old of the old Guimarães Market into a multifunctional space dedicated to artistic, cultural and economic-social activity. In addition to a magnificent public square, this equipment has a series of facilities and spaces dedicated to three main programme areas: the José de Guimarães International Centre for the Arts (CIAJG), the Emerging Workshops and the Creative Laboratories.
8. Penha cable car
Unique in the northern region, the Guimarães Cable Car travels along a 1,700-metre route, overcoming in around 10 minutes the 400 metres of altitude that separate the city from the Penha Mountain. Right in the centre of Guimarães, with excellent access and parking facilities for cars and buses, the cable car turns a visit to Guimarães into an unforgettable moment. Penha Mountain is one of the great tourist attractions of Guimarães, both for its natural landscape and for the various facilities and services available to visitors. It should be noted that the cable car is equipped so as to allow the transport of bicycles.
9. Penha Mountain
With about 60 hectares of green area, a sanctuary, chapels, caves and magnificent landscapes, Penha mountain is one of the most extensive areas of contact with nature in Guimarães. The Penha mountain provides the visitor with a wide range of spaces and services. Besides the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Penha, we can find a vast set of equipments, such as a mountain camping park, a hotel, a mini-golf field, maintenance circuits, walking and picnic areas, restaurants, bars, esplanades and large parking areas. You can also venture out to discover the countless caves and enjoy the spectacular landscapes provided by the natural viewpoints.
10. Museological Trail in the Convent of Santo António dos Capuchos
The Museum Trail in the Convent of Santo António dos Capuchos was created by Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Guimarães in 2008, as a result of its concern for the conservation and enhancement of its artistic and cultural heritage. Located in the Sacred Hill, the trail occupies the space of a convent built in the 17th century. In 1842, the building was acquired by Misericórdia, which set up its hospital there. The route is an opportunity to get to know the movable heritage of the institution and the corridors, courtyards and cloister of the imposing building. The convent church and its magnificent 18th century sacristy.
How to get There?
Get Bus: 9 euros (about 45 minutes travel time, stop in front of the airport)
Train: 3,25 euros (60 minutes trip)
Taxi: about 70 euros (about 40 minutes travel)