Last updated: 06/15/2022
Discover the Castle of Guimarães, a historic building directly linked to the birth of Portugal as a nation.
THE CASTLE OF GUIMARÃES
considered one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal, Guimarães Castle is a Military fortification built from the 10th century on the foundations of an ancient Roman structure. It is directly linked to Portuguese independence and is considered the birthplace of the country's nationality. Next to Historic Center of Guimaraes, the castle is listed as UNESCO World Heritage since 2001.
The castle is located on the northern edge of the urban area of Guimarães, isolated on a small granite hill and surrounded by a small forest park.
In the surroundings are Church of Sao Miguel do Castelo (where the first king of Portugal is believed to have been baptized) and the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança (palace built in the 15th century), in addition to some parts of the walls that surrounded the city and which were originally integrated into the castle.
The castle area is bounded by walls forming a pentagram, similar to a shield, which includes eight rectangular towers, military square and central keep. The structure includes several Gothic features, due to its remodeling in the late 13th century.
A LITTLE OF HISTORY…
Before being called Guimarães, the territory where the castle is located was called Vimaranes. In the context of the Christian Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula, in the 9th century, the domains of Vimaranes were granted to the knight Diogo Fernandes. One of his daughters, Countess Mumadona Dias, ordered to build a monastery located on land now occupied by the Collegiate Church and Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira. To defend the parish priest, she ordered the building a fort (initially called Castelo de São Mamede).
The village of Vimaranes was among the domains donated by King Alfonso VI of León and Castile to the Count D. Henrique of Burgundy, which formed the County of Portugal. Count D. Henrique and his wife, D. Teresa de Leão, chose this village and its castle as their residence, expanding it at the end of the 11th century. Thus, the primitive construction of the time of Mumadona was demolished and, in its place, erected the imposing structure of the Tower of Homage.
It was in this house that the couple's son was born, D. Afonso Henriques, in 1111. After years of family rivalries, in 1128, the Battle of Sao Mamede gave resulted in independence of portugal and the formation of the nucleus of what would become Portugal. D. Afonso Henriques became the first Portuguese king.
FROM THE 19TH CENTURY
Over the years, the Castle fell into disuse, mainly after the transfer of the Portuguese capital first to Coimbra and later to Lisbon. In 1836, after years of neglect, it was considered to demolish the castle, which had already been used as a political prison before.
The first attempts at restoration took place in 1936 and, in 1952, a special protection zone was established that included the castle, the Church of São Miguel and the Paço dos Duques de Bragança. In 1992, the building became the property of the Portuguese Institute of Architectural Heritage (IPPA). After a restoration process, the three buildings of the complex were opened to the public.
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HOW TO GET TO THE CASTLE OF GUIMARÃES
To get to Guimarães Castle, the best options are:
- CAR: Rent a car, park in one of the city's many parking lots and walk to the Castle (that's what we did). We have a partnership with RentCars, a portal where you can quickly compare quotes from several different companies.
- TRAIN (TRAIN): One option is to take a train ride (train, as they say in Portugal) from Porto, Braga and other cities in northern Portugal. To run simulations and see prices, access the company's official website trains from Portugal. It is possible to get from the Railway Station to the Castle within a 25-minute walk.
- EXCURSION: Participate in a guided tour from Porto. It is very convenient for those who don't want to drive and don't want to worry about public transport, being able to visit several attractions in a single day, including in the city of Braga. Check out some options below:
HOW IS THE VISIT TO THE CASTLE OF GUIMARÃES LIKE
To visit Guimarães Castle, the first step is to go to the ticket office located in Paço dos Duques de Bragança. There you can buy tickets for both attractions, in addition to being able to purchase some gift items about the city and the Castle of Guimarães. Then go back up the hill to the Castle entrance. Show the ticket at the entrance so that your entry is authorized.
Guimarães Castle has a faceted shield plan, surrounded by walls that are reinforced by four towers. The main gate is to the west and is defended by two clods. There are two others that defend the Gate of Betrayal, which is to the east. A wide adarve, which can be accessed by stairs in the towers, runs along the upper part of the walls, which have pentagonal battlements, with a pointed cut.
On the west side there is a wooden bridge that connects the adarve of the walls and the door of the Torre de Menagem, a quadrangular structure in the center. The Tower is formed by a few floors that can be internally by wooden and stone stairs.
Inside there are exhibitions that show a whole chronological panorama and tell the story of the formation of Portugal, including the Condado Portucalense, the construction of the Castle and even an animation about Afonso Henriques (below).
- Address: R. Conde Dom Henrique, 4800-412 Guimarães, Portugal
- Schedules: daily from 10 am to 6 pm
- Entrance: €2 | The ticket office is located in Paço dos Duques.
- €5 Guimarães Castle + Palace of the Dukes of Bragança
- €6 Guimarães Castle + Palace of the Dukes of Bragança + Alberto Sampaio Museum
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