Travel Log: Guimarães

Painters, hello and welcome to the lovely month of November! The temperatures are dropping, your sweaters are slowly leaving your drawers and that Christmas scent is filling the air. What better time for us to take another trip around Portugal, to the birth place of our nation? Guimarães is our next stop!

Guimarães has an enormous history, it was actually settled in the IX century! It is thought that Vímara Peres gave it it’s name (Vímara Peres > Vimaranes > Guimarães) when he made it the main government seat for the County of Portugal. It is also the birthplace of Afonso Henriques, the Conqueror, the first Portuguese king – and that is why we call it “the craddle of Portugal”.

The historical center is a UNESCO Heritage Site, and it’s absolutely stunning to visit! That’s why tourism here is so appealing, since the city is so well maintained and gives you such a sense of historical importance. The architecture can date back to medieval times, but it’s mostly typical of the period between the XV and XIX centuries in Portugal. Can you imagine? Just a walk around town feels like a voyage back in time!

Don’t even get me started on the cultural life! This city is packed full of museums, monuments, art galleries, exhibitions, important landmarks, and even has a very big list of traditional festivities. I’ve been to a Medieval Fair there in 2014, and I have to say: if you think you know medieval fairs, you’re wrong. You don’t know medieval until you’ve been to Guimarães and seen the outfits, music, food and dances up against this city’s gorgeous architectural layout!

And since we mentioned food: do you wanna talk typical Portuguese cooking? Because there isn’t a better place for you to have some tortas de Guimarães (Guimarães’ pies) or toucinho do céu (literally means heaven’s bacon, not actually bacon though!). The gastronomy is the usual Minho gastronomy – can’t have it every day, but for a trip… what a place to give your palate an adventure like no other!

I took this trip to Guimarães back in 2011, so these pictures are a little bit old and most of the city’s details aren’t super fresh in my mind… But this is a city with such an alive soul, that even one single trip there will imprint it’s vibe on you for a long time! I remember how beautiful and ancient it feels, how it can be both modest, even humble and a regal sort of elegant at the same time. If you love culture and history, Guimarães could very well be a sensational experience for you – specially in the summer, when there’s tons of festivities and events. But the truth is, all year round, this is a city with an unique beauty, and I’m very proud to know I can call it Portugal’s birthplace and be sure that it mirrors the Portuguese soul perfectly.

To finish off my shouting Guimarães’ qualities at the top of my lungs, I’d like to point out that it was elected by the New York Times one of the 41 places to go in 2011 and NYT called it one of the Iberian Peninsula’s emerging cultural spots. So if you happen to be around, pop by a visit. You’ll never know the kind of (historical) adventures you might find 😉

Stay awesome,

Sofia

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