Guimarães City Guide

Guimarães, often regarded by the Portuguese as the birthplace of their country, is blessed with an abundance of riches that can be almost overwhelming. Nestled at the base of a mountain range, this city, which served as the first capital of Portugal, has managed to preserve a medieval ambience at its core. It was in Guimarães where Afonso Henríques, the first king of Portugal and son of Henri de Bourgogne, a French nobleman, and his wife, Teresa, the daughter of the king of León and Castile, was born. Teresa, who received the county of Portucale as her dowry, eventually gave rise to the name “Portugal.” The area that comprised Portucale was the land that lay between the Douro and the Minho, which included present-day Porto. Teresa and Henri chose Guimarães as their court, where Afonso Henríques was born.

After the death of Henri, Teresa became the regent for the infant king. However, her affair with a count from Galicia and her strong ties with her native Spain caused her to fall out of favor with her subjects. Afonso, as a young man, led a rebellion against the regent’s forces outside Guimarães in 1128. His major victory came in 1139 when he defeated the Moors near Santarém. He broke away from León and Castile and declared himself king of Portucale. In 1143, Spain recognized the newly established kingdom.

In addition to Afonso Henríques, Guimarães was also the birthplace of Gil Vicente (1465–1537?), who is considered the father of Portuguese theatre and is often called the Shakespeare of Portugal. Although trained as a goldsmith, Vicente entertained the courts of both João II and Manuel I with his farces and tragicomedies, as well as his religious dramas.

Nowadays, Guimarães is a bustling town with a keen interest in trade, particularly in weaving, tanning, and the production of kitchenware and cutlery. It is also renowned for its handicraft industries, such as pottery, silver- and goldsmithing, and embroidery.

17 Best things to See in Guimarães

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Tours and Activities from Guimarães