Exploring Guimaraes and Braga
13 and 14 august 2016
What to see in Guimaraes? What to see in Braga? Guimaraes is an interesting old town in Portugal with a beautiful historic center where we recommend to spend at least one day and one night, perhaps doing an half-day trip to Braga, a town not far away, which offers museums and remains of Roman times.
is an ancient town in northern Portugal, dating back to the 9th century, with a beautiful old town partially surrounded by imposing walls.
What to see in Guimaraes?
One of the main attractions in Guimaraes is the historical center, a maze of alleys that lead to picturesque squares surrounded by buildings of the 14th century. The entire old town of Guimaraes has been included in the UNESCO world heritage sites and, in 2012, the city was chosen as the European Capital of Culture.
The picturesque Oliveira Square
in the historic center of Guimaraes, animated by the tourists among the many restaurants in the summer, where visitors can taste typical local products.
The ancient palaces and houses of medieval origin, very well preserved, in the historic center of Guimaraes
The Cathedral of Our Lady Oliveira (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira), which is found the homonymous square in Guimaraes old town
. It dates back to the 14th century.
The interior of the church of Our Lady Oliveira
is rather austere, in a purely Gothic style, repeatedly restored and modified over the centuries.
A beautiful portico in the historic center of Guimaraes.
Just outside the historic center of Guimaraes stands the church of St. Walter (Igreja de Sao Gualtar) dating back to the 18th century, characterized by two twin towers that rise to the sky.
During the night, the historic center of Guimaraes is filled with tourists who have dinner and spend time sitting at the tables of the many restaurants.
The castle of Guimaraes
dates back to the 11th century and is still very well preserved. It is located just a few minutes of pleasant walk from the historic center of Guimaraes and, during high season, it is advisable to plan the visit early in the morning (the opening is around 10am).
A short distance from the castle of Guimaraes, stands the magnificent palace of Dukes of Braganca
(Paco dos Duques de Braganca), dating from the 15th century and subsequently restored to become a fortress first, then the presidential residence of Salazar during the last century.
The rooms of the Palace of Dukes of Braganza
are sumptuously furnished with Flemish tapestries and large tapestries depicting Portugal's attempts to conquer North Africa.
The original furnishings in a bedroom of the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza.
Not far from the palace of the Dukes of Braganza, stands the small church of St. Michael of the Castle (Igreja de São Miguel do Castelo
) from the Middle Ages, built almost entirely with granite blocks.
Before leaving Guimaraes, we spend some more time in the castle
, where visitors can walk on the ramparts and enter inside the great tower of Mumadona Countess, which currently houses a small museum.
is located less than half an hour's drive from Guimaraes and can be visited on a half-day excursion (or something more if you want to see all the museums and attractions). The excursion to Braga starts from the central Santa Cruz Square, where the church of the same name makes a background for a beautiful flower bed.
On the opposite side of Santa Cruz Square, there is the church of St. Mark
One of the main attractions in Braga
are the remains from Roman era, some of which were discovered only recently during the excavation works for the construction of a building. The complex dates back to the 2nd century AD and was probably abandoned in the 5th century. These Roman ruins
belong to a thermal complex (Termas Romanas do Alto Cividale) with an amphitheater still partially buried.
The Fountain of Idolo
is another remain from Roman times and was open to the public only recently. On the fountain there is a carving representing a human figure dressed in a toga, holding a cornucopia in his hand.
The church of the Coimbras
(Capela dos Coimbras) is located in the center of Braga and is characterized by a facade covered with ceramic tiles. The interior is very interesting, but currently the church is closed to the public and therefore it was not possible to visit it.
(Palacio do Raio), also called Casa do Mexicano, is a building dating back to the mid-18th century. It is built in Baroque style and has a facade almost completely covered with azulejos (ceramic tiles). Inside, the palace hosts various exhibitions and a small museum.
The flowerbeds of the gardens of St. Barbara in Braga
(Jardim de Santa Barbara) adorn a 17th-century square, where ancient buildings used as a university site, are opposed to the most modern buildings.
Not far from the central Republic Square, stands the Igreja Dos Torceiros
, a church with a facade fully decorated with azulejos.
Among the attractions in Braga, we find one that often appears in the tourist brochures of Portugal: the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte
(Santuário do Bom Jesus do Monte), a large structure dating from the late 18th century and built in neoclassical style. The sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is located a few kilometers from the center of Braga: the whole complex includes a path decorated with miniature chapels and a stairway that represent the Sacred Way to earn salvation.