If you ask the average tourist the question: “Where did he think the state of Portugal originated?”, Then you are unlikely to hear: “Guimaraes,” because few people have heard about the town, where a little more than 40 thousand people live today.
Nevertheless, it is Guimaraes that the Portuguese themselves call “the cradle of their country”, because here, according to Fernand Lopis, the largest chronicler of Portugal, Afonso Enriques was born in 1110, who later became Afonso I the Great - the first king of Portugal.
In the photo: view of the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança and the city of Guimaraes
By this time, Guimaraes was already considered 270 years a city with all the rights attributable to this status - the settlement received them in 840, after the king of Leon Alfonso II founded the episcopate here. But the state of Portugal at that time was still out of the question! The city was the center of the vassal county of Portucale, recently conquered from the Muslims, it was part of the kingdom of Castile and was considered the weakest region of the country protected from raids by the Moors.
In the photo: map of the kingdom of Castile
Parents of the first king of Portugal, albeit of noble birth, were by no means the first in line for the throne. The family of Afonso Enriques's father, Heinrich of Burgundy, went back to the French royal dynasty of the Capetians, but Henry received the county of Portucale not as an inheritance, but as a dowry from King Leon and Castile Alfonso VI the Brave. The fact is that Henry of Burgundy was a talented military leader, and he showed himself perfectly in campaigns against Muslims, for example, in 1085 he helped the king of Castile to conquer Toledo from the Moors. In order to provide Galicia, which was part of Castile and borders with Portugal, protection from the encroachments of the Moors, but not lose its influence in this region, the king of Castile and Leon Alfonso VI came up with a cunning plan - he married Henry to his illegitimate daughter Teresa of Leon and he gave the problem area of the kingdom to the young as a dowry.
Claudius Jacques's painting “Henry of Burgundy becomes Earl of Portucale”, 1841
From this marriage the future king Afonso Enrikish was born, whose name literally means Afonso - the son of Enrique (that is, Henry). But, life is not a fairy tale, where in the finale a brave hero receives a princess and half a kingdom in addition, and then everyone lives happily ever after. Henry of Burgundy died soon after the birth of his son, and Theresa of Leon began to rule in the county of Portukale alone. She did not love her son and considered it exclusively as a contender for her place, in which she was right, because already at the age of 11, Afonso, with the support of the Bishop of Braga, tried to strip her mother of power. From the first time, the young man did not succeed, and the young prince, together with Bishop Braga, was sent into exile. In 1123, Afonso became an adult - in the XII century, the age of legal capacity was considered to be fourteen, after which the young count was knighted, he raised his army and invaded his homeland. Already in 1128, the young man completely defeated his mother’s troops, captured Theresa of Leon and imprisoned her forever in the Leon monastery. At the same time, he defeated the troops of the King of Castile and Leon Alfonso VII of the Emperor, who was an ally of his mother, and as a result, Portugale's vassal dependence on Castile was dissolved.
Monument to King Athos the First at Guimaraes Fortress
Afonso was proclaimed king after the victory over Muslims in the battle of Ourica, which took place on July 25, 1139, because, having become the ruler of Portucale, Afonso immediately tried to solve the main problem of his possessions - the dominance of the Moors in the territory of modern Portugal. After Afonso was proclaimed king, Portugal, of course, became a kingdom and a completely independent state, and the country's capital was transferred from Guimaraes to Coimbra. But Guimaraes remained in history as the place where the royal history of the country was born, and although today some historians, referring to recently discovered documents, argue that King Afonso Enrikish was not born here at all, and in Coimbra - never talk about this hypothesis to the inhabitants Guimaraes! At best, they will argue with you hoarse!
WHAT TO SEE IN GUIMARAIN: KEY SIGHTS
The main attraction of the city associated with the name of King Afonso and his father Heinrich of Burgundy is ancient fortress of San Miguel, located in the north-eastern part of the city, it is often called the Castle on the Holy Hill. The fortress was built in the X century to repel the attacks of the Moors, but Henry of Burgundy, becoming Count of Portucale, significantly expanded it, erected new walls and a defensive tower.
The ancient fortress of San Miguel
They say that King Afonso was born within the walls of this fortress, because there was the residence of his father. A fortress of huge granite blocks is built, in the western part there is the chapel of São Miguel do Castelo, where the future first king of Portugal was baptized, and a monument to Afonso Enriques is installed at the entrance to the castle. You can get to the fortress using the cable car, and from the top of the Holy Hill, on which it was erected, offers amazing views of the city.
The most picturesque place in the historical part of Guimaraes is the main square, which bears a poetic name. Oliviera. It is surrounded by arcades, there are many street cafes and shops. One curious legend is connected with this place. Like, in the X century there was a monastery on the site of the square, near which an olive tree grew, and from its fruits the monks made oil for the lamps. In the XIV century, the tree began to dry, and then a certain merchant decided to hang a cross on it, which helped - the dying olive came to life. This legend is evidenced by the sign installed on the square, there is also a real olive tree here, although it is not original, it was planted on the square already in 1985. A church was erected in honor of the Virgin and the olive tree, it is called Nosa Senhora da Oliviera. The church remained a legacy to the city from the monastery located here, and it was reconstructed in the 16th century by King Juan I on the occasion of the victory of the Portuguese over the Spaniards at the Battle of Aljubarrot.
In the photo: Piazza Olivier
Another curious city church - Santos Pasos, this is a baroque temple with two spiers, looking up, but in the church of the XIII century Sao Franciscodedicated to Francis of Assisi is worth a glimpse in order to take a walk along its courtyard - it is charming.
In the photo: the facade of the Church of St. Francis in Guimaraes
Those who are interested in archeology, it makes sense to go to the museum Martins Sarmentu - a famous Portuguese archaeologist of the XIX century. At one time, he discovered the ruins of a Celtic-Iberian settlement on the territory of Portugal, because the Celts used to live in this part of Europe.
In the photo: the ruins of the Celtic population in Portugal
Martins Sarment's finds related to protohistorical archeology are exhibited in the museum that bears his name. Well, if you prefer the study of royal interiors to the study of archeology, then spend time and effort on Palace of the Dukes of Braganza.
In the photo: Palace of the Dukes of Braganca
He is curious not only because the ceiling in his banquet hall looks like the bottom of an overturned boat, but inside the halls there is an excellent collection of flagship paintings, antique furniture and porcelain. No less interesting is the fact that the palace, beautiful in every way, was surprisingly unlucky with the owners. No one has ever lived here.
In the photo: the banquet hall of the Palace
The palace was built in the 15th century by order of Count Barcelos - the son of King Joao the First. The building was erected in a fashionable at that time in the Burgundian style, but the duke did not settle here - he settled in the city of Vila di Visosa. In the 30s of the XX century, the desolate palace was reconstructed, because the Portuguese dictator António di Salazar wanted to arrange his government residence here. But again it did not work out. As a result, the Palace functions as a museum and is open to tourists.
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Church of St. Francis
Located on the Rois do Infante, the Igreja de Sao Francisco was erected at the beginning of the 18th century. At the entrance to the temple, the space around the altar, decorated with magnificent ornaments made of ceramics in the 18th century, attracts attention. The coffered ceiling of the church, artfully painted, as well as the majestic arches with columns, are also colorful.
Do Carmo Monastery
Convento do Carmo is an old monastery located in the historical center of Guimaraes. Its first stone was laid in 1685, and the first service was already in 1687, despite the delay in work. Du Carmo was dedicated to Saint Theresa, and the Carmelite rules were introduced by the nuns under the direction of Archbishop Luis de Souza. Today the monastery is accessible for visiting, but an excursion here requires compliance with certain rules, which can be found at the entrance.
Chapel of São Miguel do Castelo
The Chapel of São Miguel do Castelo is symbolically associated with the formation of the Portuguese kingdom. The chapel was lit in 1239. At the end of the 19th century, the church was completely restored with the money raised by the parishioners, and the area around it was arranged by the artist Vyana Berreto.
It has a chapel of 1 nave and 1 altar. Simple granite walls are decorated like the tombs of knights who died in the line of duty. Noteworthy is the round baptismal fountain of the chapel made of granite. Nearby is a stone, the inscription on which says that Alfonso Henriques, the future king of Portugal, was baptized here.
Monastery of Santa Marinha de Costa
On the 617-meter hill of Penna, 2 kilometers from Guimaraes, the monastery of Santa Marinha de Costa is equipped. It was founded in 1154 by Queen Mafalda, wife of Alfonso Henriques, in honor of St. Marina, the patroness of pregnant women.
The facade of the church of the monastery is carefully crafted in the rococo style, and its interior is an interesting mixture of various architectural styles. Today the monastery is transformed into a hotel. He does not own only the chapel, which is opened by a priest living nearby.
Church of Nossa Senhora da Consolacao e Santos Passos
With a distinctive configuration thanks to the twin towers with an arrow-shaped roof, the Nossa Senhora da Consolacao e Santos Passos Church is easy to see from the center of Guimaraes. It was built in the 18th century by the architect Andre Suarez.
Alberto Sampaio Museum
Opened in 1928, the Albert Sampaio Museum is located in the former monastery and home of the head priest of the University Church of Nosa Senhora da Oliveira. It is home to several ancient religious-themed collections of churches and monasteries in the Guimaraes region.
If you highlight the most remarkable exhibits of the museum, it should be noted: the tunic worn by King Joao the First at the Battle of Aljubarrot in 1385, an altar made of gilded silver of the Nativity of Christ, dated to the 14th century, a fresco depicting Saloma, who enjoys the sight severed head of John the Baptist.
Opened in 1885, the Guimaraes Archaeological Museum was named after the archaeologist Martin Sarment. Housed in the Gothic monastery of St. Domingos, the museum is known for its collections of artifacts before the Roman era.
In addition, the only Castro culture collection in Portugal is on display. The Martin Sarment Museum also hosts temporary exhibitions on ethnography and contemporary art.
Palace of the Dukes of Braganza
The former residence of the first Dukes of Bragança was erected in the 13th century. In the 16th century, the dukes left the palace, which began to collapse. Only at the beginning of the 20th century they decided to restore it. After 1910, the palace was used as the official residence of the President of Portugal. Its first floor is divided into several rooms, separated by narrow corridors.
Here are located: the area of registration of visitors, the main hall and office. The intermediate floor consists of towers and rooms with fireplaces. The second floor is used by the president and the prime minister. On the upper floor of the rear wing is a chapel, with one nave.
Guimaraes Castle was built in the 10th century to protect the settlement from raids by Muslims and Normans. He became the official royal residence in 1139, when Portugal became independent from the Kingdom of Leon. During the reign of King Miguel, the castle was used as a prison, and in 1910 it was declared a national monument. In 1935, the complete reconstruction of the castle began, which was completed in 1940. Today it is a symbol of Guimaraes and its most popular attraction.
Prices in Guimaraes
A small sleepy place - this is how Guimaraes appears to the guests. And if from the metropolitan chic the local region got numerous architectural and historical monuments, then the prices are far from megalopolises.
It is here that you can inexpensively relax in local hotels, which occupy buildings of the XVIII-XIX centuries of construction. The cost of a standard room is low - only 25-40 € per day. Demanding customers can stay in four star complexes, where apartments will cost 50–70 €.
Local residents and guests eat mainly in eateries, where a large burger costs only 3-5 €. The average check in the tavern, which serves hearty lunches and dinners, will be about 30-40 € for two. There are also first-class restaurants in Guimaraes where you can dine for 50 euros per person. The check includes not only the cost of dishes, but also a glass of good wine.
Sights of Guimaraes
In the small town of Portugal - in Guimaraes - there are many attractions. Picturesque parks and architectural structures form entire complexes, the value of which is undeniable. Some ensembles are included in the list of UNESCO heritage and are protected by the state.
Guides advise you to visit all the sights of Guimaraes. However, if there is not enough time, the tips of experienced travelers come to the rescue, who compiled their own rating of memorable places in a small but remarkable town in Portugal.
Largo da Oliveira Square
The first in the list of visits is the central square of Guimaraes. It is called an old olive tree, which, according to the stories of local residents, has been around for several centuries. The peculiarity of these places is the unique flavor. Small alleys attract travelers, here you can wander and walk endlessly. Along the cobbled narrow streets are crowded stone houses, typical of northern Portugal.
An advantageous feature of the Olivkova Square is its proximity to other memorable and remarkable places. All of them are located within walking distance.
Around the square were grouped: the famous Church of Our Lady (Igreja de Nossa Senhora de Oliveira), the Gothic temple - a symbol of long-standing victories, the medieval town hall.
Tourists after visiting the architectural monuments will be able to visit one of the many local restaurants or drop in a cafe. Prices in restaurants that are on the square are slightly above average, but the pleasure of having a meal in the heart of the city is worth it.
Peña Hill Park (Montanha - Parque da Penha)
A picturesque mountain park with many small paths becomes an excellent bonus to an educational trip to Guimaranaish. You can get here by rented car or use the cable car as a transport. Visitors recommend choosing the second option, because during the trip you can appreciate the beauty of these places.
The whole park is strewn with huge boulders covered with green moss. Paths and mossy stone stairs, centenary trees and delightful silence - all this gives a fabulous atmosphere.
This is not man-made beauty, but ennobled and perfected, taking a walk here is a pleasure.
In the park you can take not only a few stunning pictures of Guimaraes from a height, but also explore small caves that are located along the paths right in the rocks. At the peak of the mountain there are restaurants serving national cuisine.
There is also a hotel where you can spend the night and go back on the next day.
Church of Our Lady of Oliveira (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira)
This is not a simple place that from the very first moments attracts the eye with its arched entrances. The Church of Our Lady of Oliveira was erected in honor of the victory of the Portuguese over the Costiliers at Aljubarrot. In 1385, the Portuguese king ordered the architect Garcia de Toledo to erect a temple in gratitude for the patronage of the Virgin Mary.
The building itself has undergone several reconstructions over the years of its existence. In the course of the work, the architects added several contemporary solutions to the appearance of the church. As a result, today the Guimaraes temple successfully combines the Gothic style, as well as the features of the stylistic direction of Manueline and neoclassicism.
Church of da Peña (Santuario da Penha)
The hilltop church of Guimaraes is notable for its location. The attraction is located in the park Montanha- Parque da Penha and rises above the whole city. You can come here by car or by cable car. The peculiarity of the place is not Gothic, but modern architecture, which fits perfectly into the space.
Not even the most devout people go to this place. Their goal is not the complex itself, but stunning landscapes of urban and rural areas, which are perfectly visible from the foot of the hill. Often it is from here that Guimaraes guests start their walks, who climbed here by cable car for 5 euros.
How to get to Guimaraes?
Trains and buses run from the nearby city of Porto to Guimaraes. It is recommended to choose the appropriate type of transport taking into account the number of people and the age of the traveler. These criteria are taken into account when reducing the cost of travel.
Buses run between cities every hour. A standard ticket will cost the passenger 6 euros. Transport companies make favorable offers to passengers. You can get decent discounts up to:
- 25% - on the European youth card, which offers discounts to all people aged 12 to 30 years.
- 65% - for tourists who decide to purchase tickets in advance (at least 5, 8 or more days in advance).
The relevance of prices and schedules can be checked on the website rede-expressos.pt.
Like buses, trains running between Porto and Guimaraes depart every hour. The first train leaves Porto at 7:20, the last at 23:20. Travel time is 1 hour 15 minutes.
Ticket price varies between 3-10 euros. However, you can get discounts if you travel in a group of 3-4 people. In this case, the transport company Alfa Pendular and Intercidades offers tickets at a significant discount - up to 50% of the initial cost! Youth under the age of 25 are also entitled to 25% discount on fares.
Train departure point: Campanha Railway station.
As an important historical center of Portugal, Guimaraes is interesting for travelers. Tourists who are fortunate enough to get here recommend staying at least a day or two. This time will be enough to explore all the picturesque places and sights, to plunge into the prevailing atmosphere of the Middle Ages.
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Guimaraes City (Portugal)
Guimaraes is a city in the north of Portugal in the district of Braga. It is considered the cradle of the Portuguese nation and is justly proud of its special place in the history of the country. Guimaraes was the first capital of independent Portugal and is famous for the abundance of preserved ancient buildings and historical monuments scattered in the picturesque narrow streets. This is one of the most beautiful historical cities of the country, the main attraction of which is a magnificent medieval castle. This ancient fortress rises above the city for many centuries, protecting it from the attacks of the Moors and Normans.
Guimaraes is a very beautiful place and a great example of a northern Portuguese city. In the compact historical center there are atmospheric streets, beautiful examples of medieval architecture and delightful squares with cozy cafes. A number of important historical monuments were recognized by UNESCO, which declared the city a World Heritage Site in 2001.
Geography and climate
Guimaraes is located in Northern Portugal in the historic Migno region. The city is 57 km northwest of Porto and 16 km south of Braga. Guimaraes is built on rocky hills in the Avi Valley and has a subtropical climate. Summer is hot and slightly humid, and winter is relatively cool and rainy.
- The population is more than 150 thousand people.
- Area - 241.3 km 2.
- The language is Portuguese.
- Currency is Euro.
- The visa is Schengen.
- Time - UTC 0, in the summer +1.
- The nearest international airport is located in Porto, which is about an hour from Guimaraes by bus or train. It also has regular rail links with Lisbon. In general, a train is the best and cheapest way to get to Guimaraes.
Guimaraes was settled in the 9th century. In 1096, he received city rights. After some time, the city became the capital of the county of Portugal. Guimaraes is considered the cradle of the nation for the following reasons: firstly, it is believed that the first Portuguese king Afonso I was born here, secondly, in the vicinity of the city, the battle of San Mamed took place, in which the Portuguese defeated the kingdom of Leon, and thirdly, Portugal's independence was declared here. Guimaraes was the capital of an independent kingdom for a short time. In 1128, the capital of Portugal was moved to Coimbra.
Despite the loss of capital status, Guimaraes throughout its history played an important role. In the 13-14 centuries, the city was expanded and partially surrounded by a wall, which was destroyed during the reign of John of Aviz. Interestingly, the structure of the medieval city did not undergo significant changes until the 19th century (except for the construction of several churches, monasteries and palaces). The construction of modern streets and buildings in Guimaraes intensified by the end of the 19th century, but the process of modern urbanization was under control to preserve the magnificent historical appearance of the city.