Where Portugal was born
Guimarães is a city located in the north of Portugal, in the district of Braga.
Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has medieval traces that combine harmoniously with more recent constructions.
Historically, Guimarães is considered to be where “Portugal was born”, partly because it was the administrative center of Henry of Burgundy’s Portucalense County and also because it was the birthplace of his son, Afonso I of Portugal, who would later become the first king of Portugal.
It was also in Guimarães where the Battle of São Mamede was fought, where the forces of the Portucalense County and the Kingdom of Galicia confronted each other, resulting in the victory of Alfonso Enriques or Alfonso I of Portugal.
What to see in Guimarães
The medieval castle of Guimarães can be the starting point of your tour. Its construction began thanks to the orders of Countess Muniadona Diaz during the 10th century and was later restored by Henry of Burgundy. It holds a special place in the hearts of the Portuguese because of its connection with the country’s independence struggles. It is considered one of the Wonders of Portugal.
Next to the Guimarães Castle you can visit “Paço dos Duques de Bragança” or Palace of the Dukes of Bragança, in Burgundian style and with a part converted into a museum. It is also used for official events of the Portuguese government and as the residence of the President of Portugal when he visits the northern part of the country.
In the historic center you must include the “Largo da Oliveira or Praça da Oliveira“. Around this square you can see the old town hall palace, the century-old balconies of the houses surrounding the square, the church of “Nossa Senhora da Oliveira” and the “Padrão do Salado“. The latter is a National Monument commemorating the victory in the Battle of Salado, a dispute in which Castile and Portugal joined forces and defeated the Benimerines.
“Praça de São Tiago” is another square worth a visit. Neighboring “Praça da Oliveira”, it has nice balconies and terraces where you can sit, rest and even have a snack. It is a two-minute walk from “Largo da Oliveira“.
How to get to Guimarães from Porto
You can arrive by train from Porto departing from Porto-Campanhã station. The customary route has 9 stops and takes 54 minutes. You can buy tickets at the station.
Arriving by car takes about 50 minutes and you can choose to take the A3 and then the A7 freeways or follow the A3 all the way. See an example route on googlemaps.
To go by bus you should arrive at the bus station located in Campo 24 de Agosto and from there routes of several companies depart.
You can also book a guided tour to Guimarães from Porto with transfers included.
Guimarães is one of the excursions near Porto that we recommend to do in case you have spare time.