“Portugal was born here”! This is how we are received in the cradle city and we are reminded of the importance that the city had in the birth of Portugal. A city that rebelled against Spain and saw the birth of the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques.
Visiting Guimarães is immersing yourself in the history of Portugal! In this post we propose you a one-day itinerary to get to know the most emblematic places of the city.
1. Paço dos Duques de Bragança
The Ducal Palace, the castle and the church of S. Miguel are located at the top of the city. There is no better place to start your day. Park your car in the free car park behind the castle and visit the whole city on foot.
Paço dos Duques was built in the 15th century and during that same century it remained inhabited, being abandoned and degraded in the following centuries. Centuries later, from 1937 to 1959, the Palace underwent a major reconstruction and it was at this time that the current contents were bought.
Nowadays, the Palace functions as a museum, where you can see works of tapestry, furniture, ceramics, paintings, sculptures and weapons. The visit to the museum is structured so that the visitor gets the feeling that he is visiting a manor house. You will get to know the Dormitory Chamber, the Banqueting Room, the Great Hall, among others.
2. Guimarães Castle
Still on the Latito hill, next to the Palace, you will find the Guimarães castle. A building with seven towers, built in medieval times to defend the monastery and the population from Viking attacks. Over the centuries, it lost its initial function and even became a prison. Nowadays, it is a national monument and one of the most visited castles in Portugal.
3. S. Miguel Church
After visiting the castle, you go down the hill towards the historical centre of Guimarães and you will find the S. Miguel Church, dating from 1216. The church deserves a brief stop to see where the first king of Portugal was baptised.
Once you have finished visiting the church, you continue down the hill, always surrounded by the green space of the palace gardens.
4. City streets
A few minutes walk and you are in the historical centre of the city. It is time to let yourself go and feel the energy of the people of Guimarães and the spirit that lives in the city. A city that goes back to medieval times, but that transmits modernity and youth. You don’t need a map because all the streets lead to the next destination.
5. Largo da Oliveira and St. James Square
And you have arrived at Largo da Oliveira, right in the city centre. A square with typical northern houses, with the Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira and with many restaurants and cafés. This square is where it all happens!
We suggest you have lunch here as you will have plenty of choice. We had lunch at Buxa restaurant and we highly recommend it. We opted for “Posta à Trás-os-Montes” and it was divine.
Right next to Largo da Oliveira you have St. James Square, where the offer of restaurants and cafes continues.
6. Walls of Guimarães and Alberto Sampaio Museum
Next to Largo da Oliveira, you will find the Walls of Guimarães and the Alberto Sampaio Museum. You can explore the walls freely and get a different perspective of the city.
A visit to the museum is a journey to various works of sacred art from several churches in Guimarães and beyond. There are several collections, from goldsmithery, painting or sculpture.
7. Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Consolação e Santos Passos (Church)
After visiting the museum, you will come across the Largo da República do Brasil garden. At any time of the year, this garden is impeccably tended, ending with the Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Consolação e Santos Passos and offering a view of Penha, high up in the mountains.
8. Largo do Toural
After enjoying the garden, go to another important place in the city of Guimarães, the Largo do Toural. This square is the main square of the city, where there is a lot of commerce and where open-air exhibitions on a wide variety of subjects are constantly taking place.
The Largo do Toural is flanked by one of the most famous and important walls of Guimarães, where it says “Aqui Nasceu Portugal”.
9. Cable car
It’s time to return to the place where you parked the car and set off towards the cable car. This can be a one way or a round trip to Penha. Ideally you should ride the cable car on a sunny day to see all the beauty of the city and the mountains that surround Penha. We weren’t that lucky and the fog and rain got in our way, but we still enjoyed the ride and got a different perspective and abysmal feeling!
10. Penha Mountain
Also known as Monte Santa Catarina, at Penha the view extends to the ocean. It is one of the most important points in the city and has a Camping Park, an Equestrian Centre, a Mini-Golf Course and a Picnic Park. It is also possible to enjoy rides on the tourist train and go on hikes.
One of the most attractive places in the mountains is the Penha Sanctuary, a place of pilgrimage, surrounded by gardens and labyrinths to discover.
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