City of Guimaraes

Guimaraes: Get Around Portugal’s Most Historical City

Guimaraes in Portugal is the city for visitors to visit especially if they are interested in the country’s history. Located in the Minho region in north Portugal, Guimaraes is hailed as the the ‘cradle of Portugal’ for two obvious reasons. First, it is the birthplace of the country’s first king, Afonso Henriques. Second, it was the first capital of the newly established Portugal kingdom. Furthermore, the city is considered as one of the most important historical cities in the country. To prove this, its historical center has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One historical structure in Guimaraes, Portugal that visitors should not miss paying a visit to is the Castelo de Guimaraes. While it was built in the 10th century to protect the people from the attacks of Moors and Normans, it is also believed to be where the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, was born. Moreover, the Igreja de Sao Miguel de Castelo stands next to the castle, the church where the king was believed to be baptized. Besides its historical importance, the church is a view in itself because of its Romanesque structure. Also standing across the church is the Palace of the Dukes of Braganca or the Paco dos Duques. Built in the 15th century, it is a medieval palace that houses a huge collection of furniture, carpers, porcelain, and portraits that date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Besides marvelling at these towering structures, visitors can wander around Rua de Santa Maria, the city’s old town. It is lined with restored historic buildings including the City Hall, marvellous houses made of granite, and cafes and shops. On the other hand, visitors get to experience town life with the locals by going around Praca Toural, the town’s main shopping street.

Guimaraes, Portugal, just like many of the important cities in the country, is never deprived of impressive historical churches. One these is the Sao Francisco Church, which was built in 1400 and restored in the 1700s. The church showcases both Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. Another worth-visiting church is Santos Passos Church, with its baroque architectural style.

As a historical site, the city surely boasts museums that house extensive collections of historical pieces and artifacts. One of these is the Alberto Sampaio Museum, which mainly exhibits religious art. Its most important possessions are the tunic worn by Joao I in the 1385 Battle of Aljubarrota and a silver altar piece that is said to have been taken from the defeated Spanish king. Then there is the Martins Sarmento Museum, which houses a collection of historical pieces found from the Celtic settlement of Citania de Briteiros. Furthermore, the Citania de Briteiros is an archaelogical site that is open for visitors to marvel at. It is founded on 150 stone huts, two of which were restored to their original appearance.

One of the best times to visit the city is during the first week of August, where visitors will witness for themselves the medieval Guimaraes. Dating from the middle of the 15th century, the three-day celebration is highlighted by a torchlight procession and a medieval parade. Another festivity to look out for is the Nicolinas, which is a week-long celebration in honor of Saint Nicholas. The celebration, which starts on the 29th of November and ends on the 7th of December, is attended mainly by the students of the city. One of the events during this festivity is a street parade of students playing ‘Toques Nicolinos’ in drums.

Moreover, one of the advantages of tourists visiting Guimaraes, Portugal is that it can also serve as a jump-off point to other important cities in the country. By motorway, Oporto is just 30 minutes away from the city. Braga, on the other hand, is just 15 minutes away. Lisbon, the country’s capital, is three hours away while Vigo, Spain is only 90 minutes away from the city. Trains and bus lines also link the city to other cities in the country.

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