I went to Guimarães because it was suggested by a couple of friendly people I met when I was in Aveiro.
One of them was Joanna, an engineer from Lisbon and a University of Coimbra graduate, who was in Aveiro for work. I was staring at the big world map plastered on the wall behind her, covered with colorful pins. The hotel owner has asked me earlier to place my pin on the city I came from but it wasn’t on the map. The whole state wasn’t even on the map so I placed it somewhere between New York and Boston, and explained that somewhere in between those two great cities lies a small state called Connecticut.
“You absolutely have to go to Portugal’s birth place so you can write about it.” I was told. And so I did. I took the next train to Guimarães which took about two hours. Located northeast of Porto, in the district of Braga, Guimarães is an important city. It played a vital role in the foundation of Portugal.
Built in the 10th century, the castle was the birthplace of Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques and is often referred to as “The Cradle of Portugal”. Visitors are free to roam inside the castle and there is no entrance fee.
Palace of the Dukes of Braganza
A bronze statue of Afonse Henriques guards the entrance to both the castle and the palace. The medieval estate was the former residence of the first Dukes of Braganza.
Admission fee: €5
Walking around the city is a treat itself. For such an old city, Guimarães has that pleasant atmosphere of a new place waiting to be explored. I am always amazed every time I find myself in a historical site. Important historical figures have walked these streets and hiked these hills and now there I was, walking the same footprints.