Guimarães (Portugal) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Guimarães with descriptions, guides and maps.
Guimaraines city (Portugal).
Guimarães is a city in northern Portugal in the district of Braga. It is considered the cradle of the Portuguese nation and is rightly proud of its special place in the history of the country. Guimarães was the first capital of independent Portugal and is famous for its abundance of preserved old buildings and historical monuments scattered in picturesque narrow streets. It is one of the most beautiful historical cities in the country, with a magnificent medieval castle as its main attraction. This ancient fortress towers over the city for many centuries, protecting it from attacks by Moors and Normans.
Guimarães is a very beautiful place and a fine example of a northern Portuguese city. The compact historic center has atmospheric streets, beautiful examples of medieval architecture and delightful squares with cozy cafes. A number of important historical monuments have been recognized by UNESCO, which declared the city a World Heritage Site in 2001.
Things to do (Portugal):
Sintra, the Atlantic and Cape Roca
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A colorful stroll through the multifaceted city with a glass of liquor or a cup of coffee in hand
Geography and climate
Guimarães is located in Northern Portugal in the historic Minho region. The city is 57 km northwest of Porto and 16 km south of Braga. Guimarães is built on rocky hills in the valley of the river Avi and has a subtropical climate. Summers are hot and slightly humid, while winters are relatively cool and rainy.
- The population is more than 150 thousand people.
- Area – 241.3 km 2 .
- Language: Portuguese.
- Currency is euro.
- Visa – Schengen.
- Time – UTC 0, in summer +1.
- The nearest international airport is in Porto, which is about an hour away from Guimarães by bus or train. It also has a regular rail connection to Lisbon. Generally the train is the best and cheapest way to get to Guimaraes.
Guimarães was settled in the 9th century. In 1096 it received the city rights. A short time later, the city became the capital of the county of Portugal. Guimarães is considered the cradle of the nation for the following reasons: first, it is believed that the first Portuguese King Afonso I was born here; second, the Battle of São Mameda, in which the Portuguese defeated the Kingdom of Leon, took place in its vicinity; third, the independence of Portugal was declared here. Guimarães was the capital of the independent kingdom only for a short time. In 1128 the capital of Portugal was transferred to Coimbra.
Despite the loss of its metropolitan status, Guimarães played an important role throughout its history. In the 13th and 14th 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 (apart from the construction of several churches, monasteries and palaces). The construction of modern streets and buildings in Guimarães intensified by the end of the 19th century, but the process of modern urbanization was controlled to preserve the magnificent historic appearance of the city.
Guimarães’ delightful historic center is centered around the squares of Oliveira, República Brasileira and Tural. Most tourists start in this part of town because it’s closer to the train station and is the best place for lunch.
The second most popular tourist destination is Largo Hill, which is north of the center. In this area are the most important historical monuments and tourist attractions of Guimarães: the castle, the Bragans Palace and several ancient churches. The third area to visit is the hill of Peña, which is accessible by cable car and has a beautiful view of the surrounding area.
Guimarães Castle is one of the most complete and well-preserved medieval fortifications in Portugal. This ancient square fortress with powerful crenellated towers has been “guarding” the city for a thousand years. It is believed to have been founded in the 10th century. For some time there was a Benedictine monastery. The Portuguese consider Guimarães Castle the cradle of the nation. Supposedly, the first king of Portugal, Afonso I, was born here. It is also thought that he was baptized in the small Romanesque chapel of São Miguel on the west side of the castle.
Palacio de la Braganza
The Bragans’ Palace is a magnificent royal residence, begun in 1401. It was built in the style of Burgundian architecture. In 1933 the building underwent extensive reconstruction to become the official residence of Antonio Salazar. It now houses a museum with collections of 16th-century furniture, as well as Persian carpets, Flemish tapestries, medieval weapons and rare paintings.
Largo da Oliveira
Largo da Oliveira is an ancient square that is the historical center of the old Guimarães and a symbol of the city. It is surrounded by traditional colorful houses and atmospheric streets. It is also home to some of the best preserved Gothic architectural masterpieces.
Church of Nos – Senhora – da – Oliveira
The Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira is one of the most iconic examples of Gothic architecture in northern Portugal. The church grew out of an ancient monastery that was built on the site of an older Romanesque building. The church has a simple three-nave structure and a stone façade. A Manueline style bell tower was added in the 16th century. In front of the church is a splendid Gothic monument to the Battle of Salado (Padrão do Salado), erected in the 14th century.
On the charming medieval street Rua de Santa Maria you can buy delicious pastries and cakes.
San Francisco Monastery
The Monastery of San Francisco is an elegant convent of the Franciscan order, founded in the 14th century and rebuilt in the 18th century. Known for its magnificent engravings and colorful azulejos (painted clay tiles).
Peña Hill is the highest point of Guimarães (620 meters). It is a great place to walk among ancient trees and huge granite boulders. The hill is located seven kilometers southeast of the city center and is part of a national reserve. On its lower slopes is the former monastery of Santa Marinha da Costa, founded in the 12th century.
Mosteiro de Guimaraes
Mosteiro de Guimaraes is a former Augustinian monastery from the 12th century in which the hotel is now located.
Citânia de Briteiros
The Citânia de Briteiros is one of the most important archaeological sites in Portugal. It is an Iron Age settlement situated 15 km north of Guimaraes. This ancient city was founded by Celtic tribes around 500 BC and was under Roman rule from the first century BC. Excavations have revealed an intricate urban network of paved streets, underground cisterns, sewers, aqueducts and even a fountain.
The Church of the Virgin Mary
The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Igreja Nossa Senhora da Consolação) is a magnificent 18th-century Baroque religious structure. Built on the site of a small chapel dating back to 1576.
Monastery of St. Torcato
The Monastery of St. Torcato is a splendid Neo-Manueline building with Gothic, Renaissance and Romanesque elements. It is built of granite stone, which is quarried in this region. The church has the typical shape of a Latin cross. It houses the relics of St. Torcato.
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Guimarães, birthplace of the first king of Portugal
A small and picturesque town Guimaraes (Portugal) is a place where many travelers rush from Porto. Quiet streets, beautiful park alleys and numerous attractions await tourists who want to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Guimarães is the city where the independence of Portugal was proclaimed. Even today it is called the cradle of the nation.
There are ancient churches and castles, parks and architectural complexes to remember the past. Guimaraines is full of old houses, built between the 11th and 19th centuries.
Prices in Guimaraes
A sleepy little town, Guimaraes presents itself to visitors. And if the capital of this region has inherited the chic numerous architectural and historical monuments, the prices are far from metropolitan.
Here you can inexpensively rest in local hotels, which occupy buildings XVIII-XIX centuries of construction. The cost of a standard room is not high – only 25-40 € per day. Demanding customers can stay in the four-star complexes where the apartment will cost 50-70 €.
Meals locals and visitors eat mostly in the eateries where a large burger costs only 4-5 €. The average bill in a tavern serving hearty lunches and dinners will be about 30-40 € for two. There are also first class restaurants in Guimarães, where you can dine for 40 euros per person. The check includes not only the cost of food, but also a good glass of wine.
In a small town in Portugal – Guimarães – there are many sights. Picturesque parks and architectural structures form entire complexes. Some ensembles are included in the UNESCO list of treasures and protected by the state.
Guides advise to visit all the attractions of Guimarães. However, if there is not enough time, the advice of experienced travelers who have compiled their own rating of memorable places of the small but remarkable city of Portugal is helpful.
First on the list of visits is the central square of Guimarães. It bears the name of an ancient olive tree, which, according to the locals, is several centuries old. The peculiarity of this place is a unique color. The small alleys beckon travelers, you can wander and walk around for hours. Along the paved narrow streets are crowded stone houses, typical of northern Portugal.
An advantageous feature of Olive Square is its proximity to other memorable and noteworthy sites. All of them are within walking distance.
Clustered around the square are the famous Church of Our Lady (Igreja de Nossa Senhora de Oliveira), the Gothic temple – the symbol of the old victories over the Moors, the medieval town hall.
After seeing the monuments you can visit one of the many local restaurants or cafes. Prices in the restaurants on the square are a little higher than average, but the pleasure of eating in the heart of the city is worth it.
This is the famous Guimarães Castle, which is one of the most interesting places in town. An entire palace complex “bristles” with numerous towers and needle-pipes. Built in the XV century, the palace was designed after the Burgundian palace complexes, which was very fashionable at the time.
The complex is beautiful not only from the outside. Inside, visitors are welcomed by a true medieval era, which has forever left its mark in weapons and furniture, tableware and numerous tapestries. The interior includes Flemish and French tapestries, pottery from the Portuguese East India Campaign, wooden furniture, weapons and armor. The chapel is particularly impressive.
The picturesque mountain park with its many little trails becomes a great bonus to an informative trip to Guimaranais. You can get here by rental car or use the cable car as transportation. Visitors recommend the second option, as you can appreciate the beauty of this place during the trip.
The park is studded with huge boulders covered with green moss. Paths and mossy stone stairs, century-old trees, and intoxicating silence all add to the fairy-tale atmosphere.
It’s not man-made beauty, but landscaped and perfected, it’s a pleasure to take a walk here.
In the park you can not only take some stunning pictures of Guimarães from above, but also explore the small caves that are located along the paths right in the rocks. At the peak of the mountain there are restaurants that offer national cuisine.
There is also a hotel where you can stay overnight and travel back the next day.
The original medieval castle of Guimarães is the official residence of the first king of Portugal. This architectural complex is very popular with tourists. It has not been spared by time, depriving the castle of the roof and destroying several walls. However, restorers have not so long ago arranged new staircases, and therefore guests always have the opportunity to walk along the building, explore it up and down.
An added bonus is the stunning views of Guimarães from the castle walls. The walk to the architectural monument is only 10 minutes from the city center.
- Opening hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the entrance closes at 5:30 p.m.
- Tickets cost: full ticket – 2 €, for students and seniors – 1 €, children under 12 can visit the castle for free.
Take note! What sights to see in Porto first of all, see here.
It is not a simple place, which from the first moments attracts the eye with its arched entrances. The Church of Our Lady of Oliveira was erected to commemorate the Portuguese victory over the Costilians at Aljubarrot. In 1385, the Portuguese king ordered the architect García de Toledo to build the church in gratitude for the patronage of the Virgin Mary.
The building itself has had several reconstructions over the years. During the works the architects added to the appearance of the church some modern solutions for those times. As a consequence today Guimarães church successfully combines Gothic style and also stylistic features of Manuelino and neoclassicism.
- Opening hours: Fri-Sat from 9 to 12:30 and 14 to 18, Fri from 7:30 to 13.
- Admission is free.
For your information. Read about the religious center of Portugal, Braga, located 25 km from Guimaraes here. And its most outstanding sights are described on this page.
The church in the park of Guimarães on top of the hill is notable for its location. The landmark is located in the Montanha- Parque da Penha and towers over the entire city. It can be reached by car or by cable car. The peculiarity of the place is not gothic, but modern architecture that fits perfectly into the space.
Even not the most devout people go to this place. Their goal is not the complex itself, but the stunning scenery of the city and countryside, which is perfectly visible from the foot of the hill. It is often from here that Guimarães guests start their walks, who for 5 euros have climbed here by cable car.
How to get to Guimarães?
There are trains and buses 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 are the criteria that are taken into account when lowering the fare.
Buses run between the cities every hour. A standard ticket will cost the passenger 6.5 euros. Transportation companies make good deals for passengers. You can get decent discounts of up to:
- 25% – on the European youth card, which offers discounts to all people between the ages of 12 and 30.
- 65% – for tourists who decide to buy tickets in advance (at least 5, 8 or more days in advance).
Like the buses, the trains between Porto and Guimaraes depart every hour. The first train from Porto leaves at 6:25 and the last at 11:25 pm. The travel time is 1 hour and 10 minutes.
The cost of the ticket is 3.25 euros. However, you can get discounts if you go in a group of 3-4 people. In this case, the transportation company Alfa Pendular and Intercidades offers tickets with a significant discount – up to 50% off the original cost! Young people under 25 years are also entitled to 25% discount on travel.
You can purchase tickets and check the timetable on the official website of the Portuguese Railways – www.cp.pt.
Train departure point: Campanha Railway station.
As an important historical center of Portugal, Guimarães is interesting for travelers. Tourists who are already lucky enough to visit it recommend staying at least a day or two. This time will be enough to see all the picturesque places and sights, to plunge into the prevailing atmosphere of the Middle Ages.
All prices and schedules on this page are for April 2020.
Interesting information about the city and an overview of its main attractions with a local Russian-speaking guide – in this video.
Author: Oksana Svetlichnaya
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