With its perfectly preserved medieval centre, Guimarães invites you to step back in time to Portugal’s founding days. The ruling seat of the country’s first king, this is an atmospheric spot for a luxury escape. But far from being caught in the past, Guimarães’s lively university and contemporary arts bring new life to its ancient streets.
Illustrious history and cutting-edge culture in the birthplace of Portugal.
Things to do
With the town motto, Portugal nasceu aqui (“Portugal was born here”), Guimarães wears its history proudly. Take a walking tour of the UNESCO listed centre to see the town as it was in the days of Dom Afonso Henriques. Or visit the majestic, seven-towered Castelo, where the king was born in the 12th century. For a birds-eye view of the medieval town, climb up to the Paco dos Duques de Braganca. Built in the early 15th century, this opulent residence is bursting with historic treasures.
From open-air concerts and parades to innovative museums, Guimarães is home to a thriving modern arts scene. In fact, it became the European Capital of Culture for 2012. Among the centuries-old churches you’ll find cutting-edge architecture, such as the striking Platform for Arts and Creativity in the old market square. Another highlight is the Centre for Art and Architecture, in a revamped textiles factory. This gallery space showcases the work of local artists and students from the town’s university.
With a boutique hotel in Guimarães as your base, make sure to explore more of surrounding Minho. Take the cable car up Penha Mountain for beautiful views of the hills and vineyards surrounding the town. Travel slightly further afield to visit Braga – a buzzing religious centre with countless churches and an extravagant archbishop’s palace. Or venture to the ancient past at the mysterious Iron Age village of Citania de Briteiros.
Take a seat Largo da Oliveira – a community hub for centuries. Here you can sip coffee while gazing at the beautiful churches and porticos of this historic square.
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