Guimarães: Travel and tourism

With its historical centre declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Guimarães adds this mark of honour to another title it displays by right, that of «birthplace of the nation». Its proud and dominating castle is said to be the place where Portugal's first king, Afonso Henriques, was born in the 12th century.

The historical center is extremely well preserved and the narrow streets of the Medieval quarter are lined with old houses embellished by ornate balconies and statuary, leading to the beautiful main square, Largo da Oliveira.

The Palace of the Dukes of Bragança (15th century), the magnificent Monastery and Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira (with the Alberto Sampaio Museum housed in the beautiful Romanesque cloister), the 14th-century Padrão do Salado (a Gothic shrine) or the elegant Church of Saint Francis, with its dazzling 18th-century decorated tiles, are only some of the many monuments to admire.

At about five kilometres from the city, the former monastery of Santa Marinha da Costa (12th century) lodges now the sumptuous Pousada de Santa Marinha da Costa, with the gardens and the chapel open to the public.

The Iron Age settlement of Citânia de Briteiros (15 km north of Guimarães) is one of Portugal's most interesting archaeological sites.

Otherwise, the county is characterized by its industry, agriculture (corn, wine, potatoes and beans), carefully preserved recipes of sweet things and the traditional joy and merrymaking of the Minho region, visible in numerous festivities.

During the first week of August, the Festas Gualterianas, at Guimarães, are a festival of Medieval art and costumes.
Pousada de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira Pousada de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira
$$$$ (100 to 150 euros)

Located in the medieval historical centre of Guimarães, known as the birthplace of the Portuguese nation. Part of the liveliness of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, it reflects its century old traditions.

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