On the opposite side of the road from the tourist office in Guimarães, emblazoned on a wall is written "Aqui Nasceu Portugal" (here was born Portugal). It was at Guimarães where Portugal gained independence from the kingdom of Leon and is fondly referred to as the "cradle of the nation". Nestled between sloping hills, most notably the Penha Hill, the old town with its well preserved medieval streets and monuments gained Guimarães UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2001, confirming it a fascinating town to visit. Let MADABOUTPORTO.COM be your essential guide to the area's sights, things to do, best hotel options and a range of guided tours. Come and explore this incredibly beautiful town with us.
Largo da Oliveira
At the heart of the old town is the Largo da Oliveira which retains a medieval ambience and is an ideal spot for morning coffee or lunch. In one corner in front of the church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, lies a 14th-century shrine. Its canopy houses a stone cross that commemorates the miracle to which the church and square are dedicated.
Sometime in the early 14th century, an olive tree was transported from São Torquato a few miles away and re-planted at this spot, in the hope that its talent for supplying lamp oil for St. Torquato would work just as well for the lamps at the church Nossa Senhora da Oliveira. Alas, the olive tree objected to being transplanted, withered and died. Sometime after on the 8th September 1342, Pedro Esteves placed a cross he brought back from Normandy onto the dead tree. Within three days it miraculously sprang back to life. The miracle was used as an excuse to forcibly transport the relics of Saint Torquato to Guimarães.
Branching off from the Largo da Oliveira are charming narrow medieval streets where old granite houses with iron-work balconies loom overheard and where welcoming restaurants await you, the Rua de Santa Maria being a fine example.
Afonso Henriques founded the church in the 12th century to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Ourique against the Almoravid Moors. It stands on the site of a 10th Century convent founded by Countess Mumadona. Another century, another King and another victory.
Between 1387-1400 the church was considerably enlarged at the request of Joao I. The works were carried out to celebrate triumph over the forces of the Crown of Castile. It was during this time much of the Romanesque cloisters were removed. Most of what remains now dates from the 16th century. The lofty Manueline bell tower was erected in 1505. Inside can be found the only Gothic ceiling paintings in Portugal, revealing an Italian Byzantine influence. Also inside there are two altars, a Gothic stone altar and a priceless silver altar in the sacramental chapel.
Tuesday - Sunday: 10h00 – 18h00, Mondays: CLOSED
Largo da Oliveira, 4810-281 Guimarães, Braga, Portugal. | 41° 26' 34.1" N | 08° 17' 33.8" W
+351 253 421 200 | email@example.com
Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira
The stations of the cross demonstrate the piety and devotion which the populace had for the passion of Christ, commonly found represented in a church but in Guimarães they're also found scattered about the city in small shrines. There were originally seven shrines, erected in 1727 by Irmandade de Nossa Senhora da Consolação e Santos Passos. During the course of time and with the development of the town the shrines have been moved or taken down completely. This has led to difficulties in identifying the sculptures since they have been dispersed in an arbitrary fashion, the five remaining shrines can be found at; Largo do Carmo, Rua de Santa Maria, Largo João Franco, Senhora da Guia and Campo da Feira.
Now the beautiful square is an important commercial area lined with shops, banks and hotels but it was first conceived as a cattle market and its location is just outside the original town walls. A later rendition of the space happened in 1878 where space was converted into a public park complete with a bandstand, WCs benches and streetlights. The park was re-located in the early 20th century, its statue of Alphonso was moved to the castle area and replaced by an attractive fountain, the striking black and white paving was laid down at the same time.
In a commanding position on top of a hill overlooking the town lies the impressive castle walls. It is an 11th-century remodelling of the castle built by Dona Mumadona Dias in the 10th century. Its original purpose was to defend the town's monastery from Muslim and Norman attacks. It became the official royal residence once Portugal gained independence until c1200. Its tall slender walls have the air of a Hollywood backdrop. Sadly its interior doesn't deliver visitors expectations. The castle was brutally stripped in the 19th century for building material. However, a walk around the ramparts is well worthwhile for the views. The massive inner keep, the Torre de Menagem, once housed a Benedictine convent in the 11th century but now houses a small museum. In 1910, the castle was declared a national monument. In 1937, the General Service for National Buildings and Monuments started its restoration, which concluded with the inauguration of the castle's present symbolic status on 4 June 1940.
Adult €2.00, Conssesionary €1.00, Child <12: FREE
Daily 10h00 - 18h00
R. Conde Dom Henrique, Guimarães, Portugal. | 41° 26' 52.5" N | 08° 17' 25.6" W
Down the hill from the Castle's entrance stands the small chapel of São Miguel, constructed within the castle grounds. Its exact age is unknown but it's believed to originate from the 9th or 10th century (its first recorded reference occurred in the 13th century). The walls are built from huge dressed stone. The floor is lined with granite slabs, many of which have the worn names of knights engraved. By the entrance lies a simple granite font from which Afonso Henriques was baptised.
At the foot of the castle hill lies the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança. This majestic Gothic stately home was commissioned in the 15th century by the illegitimate son of King Joao I, Afonso, who was destined to be the first Duke of Bragança. He lived at the palace with his second wife Contança de Noroanha. Unique in the Iberian peninsula for being constructed in a chateaux style more typical of northern Europe, boasting steeply inclined roofs and cylindrical chimneys. After the seat of the Bragança house moved in the early 16th century to Vila Viçosa, the palace lost its earlier importance and suffered a progressive decline. By the 20th century, the palace had fallen into almost total ruin, the shameful demise of such a national monument of great importance galvanised the Salazar regime into action.
Rebuilding began in 1937 and continued until 1959, at which time it was transformed into a museum housing an interesting collection from the 17th and 18th centuries. Of its present collection, a set of copies of four tapestries by Pastrana are of special importance. They tell the story of Portuguese expansion, the originals are now in Spain. Its fine interior is home to 16th–18th century furniture, Flemish tapestries, a display of weaponry and valuable porcelain, all of which is open to the public. The fortunes of the palace are now protected as a classified National Monument.
Adult €5.00, Conssesionary €2.50, Child <12: FREE
Daily 10h00 - 18h00
Rua Conde D. Henrique, 4810-412 Guimarães. | 41° 26' 46.7" N | 08° 17' 27.8" W
+351 253 416 310
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Capela de Sao Miguel do Castelo
The Palace of the Dukes of Bragança
Teleférico de Guimarães
The only one in the north of Portugal, the Guimarães Suspended Cable Car (Teleférico de Guimarães) has been in operation since 1994. It offers a journey of 1,700 metres from the city to the top of Penha Mountain, climbing 400 metres in just a few minutes. It is possible to transport bicycles inside the cable cars during the trip up or back. Enjoy the views at the top, the Chapel of Our Lady of Penha, which was consecrated in 1652. It has fine azueljo panels by Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes. Also amongst the wooded hillside can be found the PR3 Penha Route footpath, picnic areas, a mini-golf course, a horse-riding centre and several restaurants, cafés and bars.
Adult €2.00, Conssesionary €1.00, Child <12: FREE
Daily; Low season: 10h00 – 17h30, Mid season: 10h00 – 18h30, High season: 10h00 – 19h00 (weekdays), 20h00 (weekends)
URIPENHA, Cooperativa de Turismo de Interesse Público, CRL. Estação Inferior do Teleférico, Rua Aristides Sousa Mendes 37, Costa, 4810-025 Guimarães, Portugal. | 42° 22'' 15.1" N | 08° 22' 22.3" W
+351 253 515 085 | email@example.com | Website
At the end of the beautiful Largo da República do Brasil the São Gualter Church, also known as Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Consolação e Santos Passos was designed by the architect André Soares. Construction began in the 18th century and is probably one of the city's most attractive churches but alas it was Soares's last work. The two spires were added in the middle of the 19th century and the balustrade was added at the same time. The exterior is richly decorated with azulejos and a facade Italian in style. The altarpiece of the chancel is of classical inspiration dating from the 18th century, painted to imitate marble.
Monday – Saturday: 07h30 – 12h00/15h00 – 17h00, Sunday: 07h30 – 12h00
Igreja de São Gualter, Largo da República do Brasil, Guimarães 4800, Portugal.
41° 26' 28.5" N | 08° 17' 26.5" W | +351 253 416 310
São Gualter Church
On the side of the Monte de São Romão hill, laying guard over the Ave river valley, in-between Braga and Guimarães, spanning 24 hectares (of which only seven have been excavated), lies the fascinating ruins of Citãnia de Briteiros. Successive cultures dating back to the bronze age have taken advantage of this strategic spot. The slight elevation of the site and moderate climate brought bountiful treasures from the land in the way of farming, fishing and forest fruits.
Although little survives from its earliest inhabitants some rock art engravings have been found in this area dating back from the first millennium BC. Most of what remains at the site is attributed to the people of the Castro culture who from the end of the Bronze Age (c. 9th century BC) until it was subsumed in local Roman culture occupied northern Portugal and Galicia. The most notable characteristics of this culture are, first, its walled oppida and hill forts, known locally as Castros, from Latin castrum "castle", and second, the absence of visible burial practices, despite the frequent depositions of precious items and goods, swords and other metallic riches in rocky outcrops, rivers and other aquatic contexts.
From the 2nd century BC, some of the hill-forts turned into semi-urban fortified towns the remains of which are locally known as cidades, (cities) with populations reaching up to a thousand inhabitants. Such urban centres were hubs of industry and trade, manufacturing including pottery, stone masonry, metalworking and tool making. Pottery from the early Iron Age has been found at Citånia de Briteiros, the period after the settlement had been fortified with a system of ramparts and moats suggesting a need to protect its wealth.
Much of what is known about the site is due to the work of the acclaimed Portuguese archaeologist Francisco Martins Sarmento who started annual excavation campaigns in 1874 in which one such campaign led to the discovery of the acropolis, the highest portion of the settlement, the site was named a national monument in 1910. It is thanks to Sarmento that the visitor can have an insight into how life must have been during the site heyday, whilst walking along the original streets you'll encounter two reconstructed huts complete with straw roofs, remains of a bathhouse, and the ruins of the defensive wall and a visitor centre with exhibits of excavated finds.
PR2 Footpath starts atthe foot of the hill in São Salvador.
Arriva bus 173 (Guimaraes - Taipas - St. Leocadia). Alight at Igreja de São Salvador de Briteiros, duration 45 minutes. Timetable
14 km (8.5 miles) North of Guimarães on the N309
High Season: Daily 09h00 - 18h00, Low Season: Daily 09h00 - 17h00
Monte de São Romão, Briteiros São Salvador, Guimarães, Portugal. | 41° 31' 35" N | 08° 18' 55" W
Situated in the historical centre of Guimarães, Hotel Toural is equipped with free WiFi throughout its 30 rooms, all equipped with individually controlled air conditioning, telephone, satellite TV, mini-bar, personal safe and hairdryer. A local and international breakfast is served every morning. Guests can enjoy breakfast in the privacy of their own room. The cosy bar serves a wide variety of drinks, including Portuguese wines. The friendly hotel's staff is available 24/7. The hotel also offers a laundry and ironing service, wireless internet access, and car rental.
Largo A. L. de Carvalho, 4800-153, Guimarães, Portugal.
41° 27' 12.5" N | 08° 17' 45.3" W | +351 253 517 184
Bordering the edge of the World Heritage centre lies this four-star hotel which blends a modern atmosphere with good old fashioned hospitality. Hotel de Guimarães features a spacious indoor pool and offers rooms with cable TV. Palace of the Dukes of Bragança, the city walls and the Salado Monument are within a 15-minute walk. The air-conditioned accommodation at Hotel de Guimarães features contemporary furnishings and an LCD TV. They come equipped with a safety deposit box and a minibar. The restaurant D. Maria is decorated in warm colours and offers panoramic city views. It serves a buffet breakfast and seasonal Mediterranean cuisine. The Piano Bar serves a selection of beers, wines and refreshments. Guests of the Hotel de Guimarães can relax in the sauna, and enjoy a massage or body treatment. The hotel also boasts a large fitness centre.
Rua Dr. Eduardo Almeida, PO Box 189, 4810-264 Guimarães.
41° 26' 10.7" N | 08° 17' 49.4" W | +351 253 424 800
Located in a renovated old building close to the heart of Guimarães, a short walk from the castle. The rooms come with air conditioning, satellite TV and great views through large windows. Comfortable, welcoming and chic. Awarded the Green Key eco-label in 2017. The rooms at Hotel Mestre De Avis come with large windows and parquet floors. Each room has a modern, private bathroom with either a bathtub or shower. Some rooms have a balcony. With 24-hour hotel access, a guest at Mestre De Avis can come and go as they like. While breakfast is served daily in the dining room, the reception can also organize in-room breakfasts and packed lunches.
Rua D. João I 40, 4810-422, Guimarães, Portugal.
41° 26' 30.8" N | 08° 17' 49.6" W | +351 253 422 770
Named after the square where it's located and renown for the quality of its Bachalão and Rojões and grilled dishes. With capacity inside and on the square with a friendly multilingual staff.
Monday - Saturday: 11h00 - 15h00, Friday: 18h30 - 22h00, Sunday: CLOSED
Praça de São Tiago 16 17, 4800-445 Guimarães, Portugal. | 41° 26' 36.9" N | 08° 17' 33.7" W
+351 253 516 669 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Facebook
Although the menu here is quite varied, each dish is equally delicious, it is the Leitão Assado à Bairrada, that is; suckling pig spit roasted as they do from the Bairrada region. Here they cook it to perfection, it might even be the best Leitão north of Porto. Traditionally you accompany Leitão with Bairrada sparkling wine (Espumante), red or white. The service is polite yet jovial. This isn't in any way a touristy place you'll be dining with the locals.
Tuesday - Saturday: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 22h00, Sunday: 12h00 - 15h00, Monday: CLOSED
Travessa de Sao Mamede 225, Monte Largo, Azurém, Guimaraes 4800-069 Portugal.
41° 34' 10.5" N | 08° 20' 55.9" W
+351 253 554 374
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Chef Antonio Loureiro and his team create contemporary dishes with great respect to seasonal local produce. The food is as imaginative as it is flavoursome. This Michelin star restaurant delights all senses. Top class service as you would expect, professional yes but also jovial and welcoming.
Tuesday - Saturday: 12h30 - 15h30/19h30 - 23h00, Monday – 19h30 - 23h00, Sunday: CLOSED
Largo do Serralho 4 | Centro Histórico de Guimarães entre a praça de Santiago e o Largo João Franco, Guimaraes 4800-472, Portugal.
41º 26" 34.4' N | 08º 17" 37.7' W
+351 253 534 022 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Facebook
Guimarães is 50km (31 miles) North of Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport PORTO. Website
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22km (14 miles) south-west of Braga - A11. 33 miles (53km) north east of Porto - A7 & A3.
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Regular trains from Porto, use the urban train service (comboios urbanos) Linha do Guimarães. (75mins): Train Timetable | Comboios de Portugal Website
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