The historic centre of Guimarães is known for its medieval building techniques, that have been transmitted to the Portuguese colonies.
This well-preserved town shows the evolution of this techniques from the 15th to the 19th centuries.
Notable constructions include:
- The half-timbered houses
- Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira
- Palace of the Dukes of Bragança
- Town Hall
Guimaraes played an important role in the formation of Portugal in the 12th century. The region was given as a feudal property to the family that created the country in the 12th century. In 1139 Count Dom Afonso Henriques declared the independence of Portugal from León and took the name of Afonso I as the first king of the new kingdom.
Visit December 2002
I didn't know what to expect of Guimaraes, and my first evening (when it was raining) I walked around town a bit lost.
What a difference the next day was! The sunny Sunday morning started with a walk to Guimaraes castle. Although totally empty and crumbled down on the inside, the view of the outside is very picturesque.
After that I went to the small but very distinctive historical city center. You see a lot of wooden balconies and azulejos here.
Chris W. - June 2016
I visited Guimarães from Porto. Just a day trip. It was one of the many UNESCO sites I would visit this road trip.
I loved the place! It was a Sunday and very quiet but made it easy for photography. Parking you can do best at the castle and from there walk to the palace of the dukes, then continue to Olive Square. Then circle back wandering the small streets with the medieval half wooden houses.
Highly recommended!! A photo gallery you can see on the link.
Read more from Chris W. here.
Tom Livesey - February 2016
We stayed one night in Guimarães in October 2015, which was quite sufficient for this small town. I chose nice hotel within the old city walls called the Toural.
The town's castle dates back to the tenth century, and still stands solid and imposing at the town’s highest point. They don’t charge an entrance fee to get in, and you can appreciate some pleasant views of the hilly surrounding countryside. The town’s medieval quarters have remained largely unchanged since they were built. The Portuguese are keen on colourful tile patterns, as we saw the next day at Porto’s famous São Bento station.
The Portuguese national identity isn't something that has much significance to me – I had only ever visited the country once before! But it was nonetheless a pleasant, relaxing place to visit, and an opportunity to sample ‘small-town’ Portugal – as opposed to the big-town bustle of Lisbon and Porto.
Read more from Tom Livesey here.
Clyde - August 2014
I visited this WHS in August 2014. I spent 2 nights here and I wasn't disappointed. Guimaraes has quite a lot to offer for those who decide to visit at leisure. The Guimaraes castle is one of the main landmarks (free entrance) together with the Oliveira Square and Toural Square. I was lucky enough to visit on the first Sunday of the month which meant that the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza was free too. Moreover, there was the local parish feast when I visited which meant that the main churches were in tiptop condition and fully lit. My personal favourite was the Church of St Francis with its over-the-top interior.
John Booth - April 2010
Other interesting features in Guimaraes were the five Stations of the Cross to be found around the town, the church of Our Lady of the Olive Tree and the Santa Clara convent.
Meiri Parma - December 2009
Guimarães is all up and downs, hill after hill. It is very beautiful and it whispers the stories of old times.
The sidewalks are decorated with stones, many different colors and figures.
For finnish people, it is funny to see flags -very similar as finnish flag- hanging all over the old town. This blue crossed white flag is the old Portugese flag from the time of kindom.
Frederik Dawson - September 2006
As you enter Guimarães, a small historic town in northern Portugal near Porto, you may think this is just a normal Portuguese old town until you see a huge inscription “AQUI NASCEU PORTUGAL” on the building which means “Here is the birthplace of Portugal” then you know this town is quite special (at least).
Guimarães is associated with Portuguese first true king, Afonso Henriques who drove the Moors out of Tejo river area which is now central Portugal. His castle on the hill above the old town is quite spooky with many turrets but enchanted by medieval felling. Near the castle is the recent restored Ducal Palace or presidential palace which is famous for it chimneys, however it is not interesting compared to the castle since it is just a big manor.
The old town is a very pretty medieval quarter with many colorful balconied houses and nice churches. The symbol of the city is its unique 14th century town hall which was constructed on many pillars. My favorite is Igreja de Sao Gualter with its beautiful façade and lovely esplanade in front of the church.
Guimarães is a nice lovely town and very important for Portuguese; however, for foreigner like me this town is not special as I had expected. The town is so small and I spent only half day to see all attractions. I did not conclude that Guimarães is not a good place, the town is beautiful but when compared to Porto or Braga, Guimarães is just a second rate tourist attraction.
But if you want to see the Aqui Nasceu Portugal and appreciate the meaning of the Portugal state seal which is on the back of Portuguese euro coin, Guimarães is the place and local people will proudly explain the meaning to you as it associated to their lovely homes. From Porto central station, there are many trains go to Guimarães making a perfect half day excursion from Porto.
ivan mandy - July 2006
Guimaraes is a cute little town at the foot of a mountain. Its not spectacularly amazing but it does exude a certain Iberian charm that is so typcial in these part of the world
Share your experiences!
Have you been to Guimarães? Click here to add your own review.
Full name: Historic centre of Guimarães
2001 - InscribedReasons for inscription
The site has 11 connections. Show all
- Famous tapestries Palace of the Dukes of Braganza: "In its vast collection, are the tapestries of Pastrana, which narrate some of the events in North African conquests, attributed to Nuno Gonçalves ... and a collection of Flemish tapestries by Peter Paul Rubens, among others"
- Built in the 12th century The early history of Guimaraes is closely associated with the establishment of Portuguese national identity and the Portuguese language in the 12th century
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process
- Extensions on Tentative List Historic Centre of Guimarães and Couros Zone (extension) (2017)