Europe Guimaraes Portugal

In the Cradle of Portugal: Guimarães

In the category of, why did we not stay here longer, is the city of Portugal’s (or at least modern Portugal, and by modern we mean almost 900 years ago) birth: Guimarães (gee-mar-einsh).

Most sources say that Afonso I, the first king of Portugal was born here, others say elsewhere, but either way he was raised here and this is the first place from which he governed. The ruins of the castle sit atop the hill overlooking the old city center and just below sits the Chapel of São Miguel do Castelo where Afonso was allegedly baptized (although this source dates its construction to a later period) and in which are entombed the knights who died defending the castle.

The Palace of the Dukes of Bragança has been restored with furniture like it would have appeared in the medieval period and bills itself as “the most visited museum in Portugal”. Regardless of the truth to that claim, it’s worth a visit and the ticket you buy to it can also get you into the original castle and the chapel.

But we mostly liked wandering around the town with its narrow cobblestone streets, plazas with cafes and little nooks, crannies and alleyways.

On our way home from dinner we stopped off in the Praça de São Tiago for an after dinner brandy and dessert and were entertained by some local college lads singing Fado de Coimbra until they were shut down and shunned away by a local resident at around 11pm.

We will be back, and for longer, next time.

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