Guimarães Historic Centre

There’s another World Heritage Site, listed by UNESCO in 2001, just over half an hour from Porto (about 50km). The beautiful city of Guimarães, accessible by bus and train, beyond the Yellow Bus, has many attractions and a medieval charm that captivates all who visit it. It’s also known as the "Cidade Berço" (Cradle City), due to the fact that, in the 12th century, D. Afonso Henriques, founder of nationality and first Portugal's king, was born and lived there.

The city's historic centre closes a significant part of the Portuguese territory's history.  From the ground level houses (simple one-floor houses) to one or two floors' houses, from the noble tower-houses to the imposing 15th century's Ducal Palace, Guimarães holds an architectural set of rare value dating from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries to the 19th and 20th centuries.

The towering Castle dominates the city. Overlooking the Campo de São Mamede, it's connected to the foundation of the Condado Portucalense (Portugal's County) and to the Portugal's struggles for independence. In the center of its Plaza of Armas, we can see the Menagem Tower, which was classified as a National Monument in 2007, being elected as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

Guimarães is an exceptionally well preserved example of evolution from a medieval village to a modern city, with buildings that show the Portuguese architecture's development between the 15th and 19th centuries, with the continuous use of traditional techniques and building materials. The city has a glorious historic past and a built heritage of great wealth.

The Oliveira Square is surrounded by buildings of great heritage value, such as the Nossa Senhora da Oliveira Church, the 17th century's porched houses, the traditional dwelling houses, and the Gothic porch with the Padrão do Salado, commemorative of the King D. Afonso IV's victory at the Battle of Salado against the Muslims, in 1340.

Beside is the Santiago Square, surrounded by the residential development of the 17th and 18th centuries' greater artistic and environmental quality, and marked by the former Town Hall's building, whose ground floor has a porch supported by Gothic arcades, making the linkage between the Plaza of Santiago and the Oliveira Square.

The Santa Maria Street is one of the oldest medieval featured streets and the main axis connecting the castle, at the top, and the monastery, in the lower part of the city. Already in the Nova Street or in the Ega Moniz Street, with different eras' buildings, from the Middle Ages to the 17th to 19th centuries, stands out the Rua Nova's medieval House, which went through modification works in the 17th century, and it’s one of the  Guimarães typical houses' best examples.

All the Guimarães's urban nucleus is of medieval formation, characterized by diversified buildings, but with a large formal unit as a whole. Among the various types, the 16th century's bourgeois houses and the 16th century urban noble houses stand out. Throughout the 17th century, the typology became more diverse, and a tendency for heights' stabilization, ground level floor and two-stories houses: the ledge’s houses, emerged. From the 18th to the 20th centuries, the tile-coated buildings and the 18th century's urban noble houses, arose, in ashlar masonry and furnished with heraldic arms, but smaller than the 17th century's ones. The 19th century's tile-coated constructions constitute a style that has only began to be used in Portugal since this era, when Portuguese emigrants returned to the land and invested in the ceramic factories' purchase, increasing the manufacture of standard type's tiles.

Guimarães was one of the first cities, after Porto, to use tiles on the houses' façades, some plain, others in relief, and others in low-relief. The buildings coated with monochrome tiles (green, wine color, brown, etc) belong to the 20th century. The Guimarães Historic Centre's rehabilitation had also the effect of awakening and enlivening the tourism, the leisure, and the catering, in a unique offer of nightlife, attracting to the Oliveira and Santiago Squares hundreds of teenagers who mingle with the increasing number of visitors. These Squares bring together people of all ages, with a higher incidence in the summer, when cultural performances, outdoor movies, and medieval markets' recreation, happen.



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