Located some 60 kilometers northeast of Porto, Guimaraes stands out as one of the top attractions nearby Porto, at least from the point of view of tourists who want to explore the genuinely historical sights of Portugal. Originally called Vinamares, the city was founded in the 9th century, and it was one of the historical settlements which played an important role in the unification of Portugal. Its leading role in this respect is called forth by the fact Guimaraes is dubbed the cradle of the Portuguese nation, which is of no little importance from both a historical and a tourist point of view.

Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, was born in Guimaraes and baptized in one of the city’s chapels. We speak of the small chapel which is located close to the massive Guimaraes Castle, a medieval building overtopped by 8 towers which, from their height (28 meters), evoke the soberness of those times it was built in: the 10th century, when the city constantly faced the danger of the attacks attempted by the Moors and by the Normans alike.

Another important architectural landmark refers to the Palace of the Dukes of Braganca. This one too is located in the vicinity of the Guimaraes Castle. Built in the 15th century, the palace used to be the presidential residence during the rule of Salazar, but at present it showcases an exquisite collection of applied and decorative arts which turn the palace into a museum-like venue. The City Hall of Guimaraes is also well worth a visit. The Baroque building dates back to the 16th century, and it originally served as place of worship, formerly known as the Convent of Santa Maria.

Speaking of religious edifices, the Church of Sao Francisco is generally deemed the most appealing of all. The church was built in the early 15th century, undergoing significant restoration works during the 18th century, such that at present it combines sundry architectural influences into a striking and prominent overall Gothic dash. The Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira is also of note. This one is located nearby the historical Town Hall of Guimaraes, being, in fact, one of the oldest places of worship in Guimaraes. On top of that, the church is home to the splendid Alberto Sampaio Museum which showcases a collection of sacred art.

In terms of museums, the Martins Sarmento Museum should also be taken into account by visitors of Guimaraes, since it showcases an extensive collection of archeological findings excavated chiefly from the ancient Citania de Briteiros, a Celtic settlement in the vicinity of Guimaraes which is now one of the most important archeological sites in Portugal, inviting tourists to enter the world of a fascinating past.

From Porto (Campanha Train Station), about 15 trains leave to Guimaraes each day, trips taking between 60 and 90 minutes.

Guimaraes, Portugal
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