Portugal City Travel Guide: Guimarães
- Named a Unesco world heritage site in 2001.
- Historical city center of picturesque buildings.
- Stay in two of Portugal's finest pousadas.
- Modern city famous for textiles, shoes & cutlery.
- Population of around 53,000.
- At an elevation of 400m.
- Hosts lively Festas de Cidade e Gualterianas
- European City of Culture 2012
Guimarães is a medieval city that has joined the modern world. It is closely connected to the formation of Portugal as a unified state in the 12th century and is the birthplace of Afonso I of Portugal - Portugal's first king.
It contains a 10th century castle and many traditional buildings from the 15th to 19th centuries, including the Palace of the Duke of Braganca ('Paco dos Duques'), a World Heritage site; the Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira which has a sculpture-laden front and a museum in the cloisters; the Santa Clara Convent; Gothic arches; and a monastery ('Monesteiro de São Domingos') that holds local archeological exhibitions.
Afonso Henriques became the first King of Portugal after a battle during which his army defeated that of his mother in 1128.
The Moors who had invaded the south of Portugal (and Spain) were pushed back into North Africa subsequent to this event. There is a statue (1874) of King Afonso in the Paco Ducal.
A pleasant square in the heart of the old town is Largo da Oliveira (Olive Tree Square) which contains the historic church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira. Nearby on Rua Alfredo Guimarães is the Museu de Alberto Sampaio (Tel: 253 423 910) with an impressive collection of relgious antiquities and art. Praca de Santiago is the city's other ancient square connected by a portico to Largo da Oliveira.
In early June Guimarães stages an annual food fair of local and overseas cuisine and on the first weekend in August is the Festas de Cidade e Gualterianas, held in the town since 1452, with a market, bullfighting music and floats over a week-long period. Sao Gualter is the town's patron saint.
The Paco dos Duques (Tel: 253 412 273) was originally built in the 15th century before falling in to ruin. Restored in the 20th century the building has collections of ceramics, furnishings and tapestries.
The Guimarães Castle seen today dates from the 10th century and is thought to be the birthplace of Afonso Henriques, who became King Afonso I of Portugal.
Other historic buildings, churches and museums in Guimarães include the Igreja de Sao Francisco, the twin spires of the Igreja de Sao Gualter, the Museu de Arte Primitiva Moderna (Tel: 253 414 186), a 14th century building that was once the old town hall and now features the works of modern artists and the Museu Arqueológico Martins Sarmento (Tel: 253 415 969) with exhibits of the pre-Roman, Celtic culture of Iberia much of it excavated from the Celtic hill fort at Citania de Briteiros, 15km north of Guimarães by Dr. Martins Sarmento in the 1870s.
Guimarães Tourist Office
Alameda S. Damaso 83 (tel. 253/41-24-50).
Monday to Friday 9:30am-12:30pm and 2pm-6:30pm.
Getting to Guimarães
Frequent daily trains make the 1-hour run between Porto and Guimarães.
Drive northwest from Porto on N105-2 and N105.
From Braga buses make frequent 1-hour trips during the day. A single (one-way) bus ticket from Braga to the Guimarães bus station, Quinta das Lameiras, is reasonably priced. Tel. 253/42-35-00. There are also buses to Porto (50 mins), Lisbon (5 hours), Amarante, Braganca and Vila Real.
Pousada N.sra Da Oliveira Hotel, 16 rooms, 4 star.
Book Hotel Accommodation in Guimarães
Praca da Santiago 20a
Prices: moderate (closed Sun.).
Rua de Santa Maria 42
Tel. 253 515 197
Cool sounds till 2am.
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Local football team
Stadium name: Estadio Dom Afonso Henriques Seats 30,000. North-west of city center.
The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
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