Guimarães

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Guimaraes is a city in Minho, Portugal and is one of the most historical cities in Portugal, said to be where “Portugal was born”. It is the first city of Portugal, and have a beautiful Castle, and a Palace to visit, from the beginnings of the country. The Castle has been classified as one of the New Portuguese Seven Wonders.

The first King (D. Afonso Henriques aka D. Afonso, I of Portugal) is still being idolized by the city. Placed about 50 km from Porto, Guimaraes is placed near to a mountain, Penha, with wonderful views to all the city. Guimaraes will be the European Capital of Culture 2012, a great honor to this city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

History :  Guimaraes was founded between year 950 to 957 (10th century) and had its origin around a monastery built by Countess Mumadona Dias, widow from Count Hermenegildo Mendes. To protect the monastery from Muslims, the Countess build also a military tower.
In 12th Century, the Guimaraes Castle was fully built and the first king of Portugal – Afonso Henriques – was living there and using it as a base for conquering further territory from Muslims forces who at the time occupied most of the Iberian Penisula.
In 13th century the city was all surrounded by a big perimeter of walls and divided into low city and high city.
Guimaraes is World Heritage from UNESCO since 2001 because of its precious medieval historic center.
Guimaraes was 2012 European Cultural Capital, which was a huge success, with more than 2,5 million people visiting the city in 2012.
Guimaraes is 2013 European City of Sports, with sport events taking place every week

Access : Coordinates: 41.45, -8.3 / By car :  A numberof  highways going to Guimaraes, from Braga, Porto, Felgueiras, Chaves, and others. If you are coming from the south of Portugal there is no difficulty at all. The Portuguese highways are all very well connected, and you only have to go straight to Oporto, and then in Oporto you catch A7 (Highway 7) which goes to Guimaraes. It’s quite easy.
By bus
Rede Expressos , a national bus company, and is the best way to get to Guimaraes. With this company you can travel from almost every (big) city in Portugal (i.e. Lisbon, Oporto, Coimbra).

If you are traveling by cities near to Guimaraes, like Braga, for example, or even Oporto, you always have to ask to people (a very common thing in Portugal) where you can get a bus to Guimaraes (you can try this in the cities within about 50km). You may make a lot of stops during the trip, but it’s a way to better get to know the North.
By train
This the cheapest and the best way to arrive in Guimaraes. The Portuguese company CP  provides travel by train. If you come from Lisbon you have some, but few, direct connections to Guimaraes. It’s about four hours. From Oporto, you have a train every hour.

Train from Europe, on InterRail, for example, you have always to go to Oporto first and then you catch the train to Guimaraes. This trip can give you the best attractions. One is the cheapest price (EUR 6.20 return from Oporto + EUR 0.60 metro card), and the other is the wonderful views, passing over some small rivers and small villages in rural Portugal.

By Air  : The easy way to go to Guimaraes by plane is to fly to Porto/Sa Carneiro/Pedras Rubras,Maia. Oporto international airport(OPO), and then catch a train or a bus to Guimaraes. It’s about one hour from Oporto to Guimaraes, by bus, and almost one hour and a half by train. Also there is a shutle betwen Guimaraes/Oporto Airport/Guimaraes .

There are very low cost airlines flying to Oporto, the ones that fly from more places are Ryanair  and EasyJet . Also, coming from Paris, Transavia , or, coming from Barcelona Clickair . Certainly, more low cost airlines are flying to Oporto, but the other ones have fewer trips per day. Once you get to Porto Airport, you can catch the following transports to Guimaraes: Train/Metro

Catch the Metro to Campanha Station or Sao Bento Station and then get a train to Guimaraes. Duration: 2h00 Price (aprox.): 5€ Metro Porto Train

Bus transfer :  Direct transfer to Guimaraes from Porto Airport and vice versa, it works everyday, 9 times per day. Duration: 50 min Price: 8€ one-way – 14€ go & return , Taxi : The taxis are located on the arrivals floor at Porto Airport. Duration: 40 min Price (aprox.): 60€

Highlights :

  • Casa de Sezim (Sezim Manor), located in Nespereira (about 5 km away from the city centre), this old manor has astonishing saloons decorated with hand painted wallpaper from 19th century from the french painter Roquemont.
  • Penha Mountain, is the only mountain in Guimaraes, when you can have a wonderful view over the city. You can go there through an elevator, where you can taste a little more of the mountain spirit, and at the same time get different views of the city.
  • Paco dos Duques de Braganca (Dukes of Braganza Palace) was probably originally built between 1420 and 1422, for Afonso, Count of Barcelos – illegitimate son of king John I of Portugal and future Duke of Braganca. Entrance: EUR 5  Hours: 09:00-18:00 every day except 1. Jan., Easter Sunday, 1. May, 25. Dec.
  • Castelo de Guimaraes (Guimaraes Castle) Located on a hill looking down upon the old town, this castle was constructed in the X Century, ordered by Mumadona Dias with the purpose of defending the city from the Muslims. It has been classified by UNESCO as World Heritage. Entrance: EUR 2.50
  • Largo da Oliveira (Olive Square), one of the most beautiful places in the city, where you can really feel the ancient times. It’s a good place to sit, and have a drink, and look at old construction and typical houses. Here you have Igreja da Oliveira (Olive Church) and the Padrao do Salado(in the photo, at Praca da Oliveira).

Go next : Braga / Amarante / Chaves / Peso da Regua / Viana do Castelo / Vila Real

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