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.

Guimaraes walls
Guimaraes is an ancient town in northern Portugal, dating back to the 9th century, with a beautiful old town partially surrounded by imposing walls.
Guimaraes Guimaraes - Portugal
Alleys in Guimaraes
Guimaraes old town

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.
Oliveira Quare
Guimaraes historical centre
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.
Medieval houses Historic houses in Guimaraes

The ancient palaces and houses of medieval origin, very well preserved, in the historic center of Guimaraes.
Cathedral in 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.
Bell tower

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.
Ancient portico
St. Walter church
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.
Guimaraes at night
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.
Guimaraes Castle
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).
Palace of Dukes of Braganca Dukes of Braganca palace
Paco dos Duques de Braganca
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.
Tapestries Tapestry in the castle
Room in the castle Bedroom
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.
Chirch of St. Michael of the Castle Ancient church in Guimaraes
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.
Castle in Guimaraes
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.
Tower of Mumadona Countess
St. Cross church
St. Cruz square - Braga
Braga 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.
St. Mark church - Braga
On the opposite side of Santa Cruz Square, there is the church of St. Mark.
Roman ruins in Portugal Roman ruins in Braga
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.
Fonte do Idolo Roman fountain in Braga
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.
Capela dos Coimbras
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.
Raio Palace

Raio Palace (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.
St. Barbara gardens Gardens in Braga
Jardim de Santa Barbara

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.
Igreja Dos Torceiros

Not far from the central Republic Square, stands the Igreja Dos Torceiros, a church with a facade fully decorated with azulejos.
Braga Bom Jesus di Monte

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.

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