Guimarães is one of the most important historical cities of Portugal,being a UNESCO World Heritage since 2001, which makes it one of the major touristic centers of the North region of Portugal. Its streets and monuments breathe history and delight for those visit it. Guimarães is considered to be the “cradle” of Portugal and the residence of the first King.
Guimarães grew from a medieval center, which has its origins in 10th century. At this time, the Countess Mumadona Dias ordered the construction of a monastery which became the focal point for a settlement and gave origin to the fixation of a population group known as Vila Baixa. In parallel, for the defense of the agglomerate, She ordered the construction of a Castle in a close hill, leading to a second nucleus of development. Later, the monastery becomes a chapter house and acquired great importance due to the privileges and donations given by kings and nobles. It becomes a famous peregrination sanctuary, attracting the prayers and promises from the faithful coming from several origins.
As the village expanded and organized, it grew surrounded by a defense wall. Meanwhile, orders of poor friars arrived in Guimarães and made their contribution to shaping the town. The city presented two main areas, inside and outside the walls. Both nuclei subsequently merged into one after the wall separating them was demolished, and the village start expanding outside the walls until the 15th century, when the layout of the city within the walls had been established.
After this time, there was the construction of some churches, monasteries and palaces, but the layout did not experiment important changes. It was by the end of the 19th century, with the advent of urbanistic novel ideas about symmetry and public health that Guimarães would be raised to the status of a city by Queen D. Maria II and undergoes major changes. Also, the demolition of the city walls was authorized and encouraged. New squares were opened, as well as new streets and avenues. However, almost everything was done in harmony with the conservation of its historic town center.
The city of Guimarães gains in a perfect way the history and maintenance of the heritage with the dynamism and enterprise that characterizes modern cities, being nominated as the European City of Culture in 2012. Guimarães was elected by the New York Times as one of 41 sites to visit in 2011, which considered it also as an emergent cultural site from the Iberian Peninsula.
Guimarães Tourism Office
Largo Cónego José Maria Gomes
4810 – 419 Guimarães
tel: (+351) 253 421 221
fax: (+351) 253 515 134
You can find suggestions for tours HERE