GUIMARAES

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The historic oldest town of Portugal

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GUIMARÃES:

GUIMARÃES World Heritage Site - UNESCO. The town of a thousand windows

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The northern town of Guimarães is one of Portugal’s oldest urban settlements and one of the country’s best preserved. Its medieval centre and historic buildings have been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage in 2001. The first King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, chose this former Roman city to be the administrative capital of the kingdom after his victory at the Battle of São Mamede, in 1128. That’s why Guimarães is known as the birthplace of the nation.

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Guimaráes shows the evolution of the Portuguese building techniques from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The historic centre is a maze of alleys around Toural Square and Largo da Oliveira, the medieval town square. Other references are the Castle, the Ducal Palace and the Museum. Santa Maria is the main street in the pedestrian old centre.

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The Town Hall is at present located in the baroque building of the old Santa Clara Convent (16th century).

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The neo-classical two-storey cloister

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Praça do Toural Toural Square

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This is the civic square , the most busy meeting point for after work and celebration days . The Toural Square has been renovated for the 2012 Cultural Capital event .

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The rich variety of windows glowing in the late hours of sunlight is a local must see .

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Most of the façades are also covered with coloured azulejos (tiles) in blue, yellow, orange or green

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Largo Condessa do Juncal

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The Music Shool is installed in a noble baroque house; at the nearby corner, a cozy family café and tearoom serves gourmet cakes.

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This is a pretty and quiet square, where trees and azulejo (tiles) façades compose a quaint but colourful atmosphere.

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In this square, most of the houses were built in the 18th and 19th, centuries. Iron balconies and tile -covered façades are a sign of the Romantic period.

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Now we enter the pedestrian old town.

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Largo da Oliveira Olive Tree square

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The old Town Hall ( City Council Palace ), from the14th century .

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The outdoor terrace of the Hotel da Oliveira is ideal to sit and relax, in sunny as well as in rainy days.

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A lonesome olive tree still decorates the square, facing the gothic Salado Memorial .

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On the south side , a stone gallery in the style of northwestern Iberia .

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The Salado Memorial

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This gothic porch was built in 1342 to celebrate the battle of Salado won by a coalition of Portuguese and Spanish armies against the occupying Muslims.

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The Coconuts Café , with a view to the historic square, is a must for the morning coffee or a late drink.

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Not many cafés around the world have hand painted azulejo panels decorating the walls !

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The Romanic Church and Abbey Nossa Senhora da Oliveira ( Our Lady of the Olive Tree). The Legend : ‘An olive tree. planted in front of the church to supply olive oil for the altar lamps, withered and died. Later on, a local tradesman placed a cross on the site and the tree miraculously sprung to life ! ‘

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The Monastery’s romanesque cloister.

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One of the small statues in the cloister’s garden.

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Walking down a narrow alley, the Museum comes next .

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The National Museum Alberto Sampaio displays religious art and silverware as well as traditional handicraft and panels of Portuguese azulejos. It’s housed in buildings which were part of the Priory..

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Blue and yellow painted azulejos from the 17th century.

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Statue of Jessé , by Garcia de Toledo, 14th century.

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The old quarter It’s a maze of winding streets and alleys around Largo da Oliveira, flanked by three- or four-stored half timbered houses, some with colorful balconies, and now and then larger baroque buildings.

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The narrow and shady Egas Moniz street , former Rua Nova ( New Street ), has been renovated under an European funded project .

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This house in Rua Nova, from the 17th century, has won a prize for its careful restoration.

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Praça de S. Tiago Saint Jacob Square

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This picturesque piazza , filled with cafés, bars and restaurants, is just behind the Olive Tree Square .

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This is the medieval heart of Guimarães.

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Several balconies , mainly on the second or third floor , are richly sculpted in wood or in iron .

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Santa Maria street

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This was the main street in medieval times , linking the Castle ( uphill ) down to the Santa Maria Monastery .

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Casa do Arco ( Arched House ) is one more distinctive postcard .

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Largo dos Laranjais , Orange Grove square

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A hidden small square, romantic and orange-perfumed .

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Zona de Couros South Downtown

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South of the Toural and the historic centre, a residential borough of narrow and steep alleys, leading down to the river Couros, displays a variety of renovated façades.

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It’s the most intimate and secret old quarter.

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The Youth Hostel is installed in this excellent building on the lowest part of Guimarães, by the Couros river.

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Martins Sarmento Museum http://www.geira.pt/museus/Coleccoes/index.asp?id=3

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This Museum is a private foundation and was created after careful excavations in archeologic sites of the celtic era, most some miles North of Guimarães. It is also housed in parts of a previous St. Dominic Convent from the 14th century. This is one of my favourite museums.

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The remaining gothic cloister of the St. Dominic convent is a magic place, one of the hidden secrets of Guimarães .

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The cloister’s columns have richly decorated capitals, figuring fauna, flora and humans. There are no two alike.

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Two warriors of the pre-national celtic tribes that occupied the northwest of the Peninsula. Sculpted in granite.

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The Museum has a rich collection of artifacts from the pre-Roman era .

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A bronze Phalera from an archeological site nearby. Ampula , a ribbed blue bowl, from southern Portugal. Roman Lucerne .

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A magnificent Roman bowl in light green glass (1st cent.)

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Golden bracelet, from 3 BC to 3 AD.

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Maybe the most spectacular object in the Museum is this celtic toy, a bronze car representing a sacrifice rite and dedicated to a war deity, and dating from around 500-300 BC.

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The Pedra Formosa (fair stone) was found in a pre-Roman balneary. It’s a granite monolith, probably worked about three thousand years ago, weighing approximately five tons, and part of a site that is essentially an ensemble of baths (steam and water) built around the 6th cent. BC.

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Vila Flor Palace and Cultural Centre

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This is the main venue for music concerts and theater, and was a prized work of modern architecture living together with a 18th century Palace.

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The annual Jazz festival is an international event well known in the Jazz scene. The town gets a livelier place in November.

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Here, Jan Garbarek trio in 2017.

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The Vila Flor Café is a special space for a cup of coffee, talking, reading and maybe a surprise jazz session.

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The Castle

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The impressive square keep of the Guimarães castle dominates the skyline for miles around.

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This castle was built in the 10th century to protect the town against invaders and was expanded in the 12th century as an arsenal and palace. The first King of Portugal may have been born here, but anyway the castle is linked to the Foundation of Portugal.

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The Ducal Palace Paço dos Duques de Bragança

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Medieval, 1420-1422. Built by the first Duke of Bragança , this manor house contains Renaissance furniture, Flemish tapestries and Persian carpets.

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Quite unusual cloister.

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The Great Hall

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The duchess’ sleeping room .

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Santa Marinha da Costa Monastery ( now a Pousada hotel )

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It’s origin is as old as the 9th century, but the Monastery’s present buildings date back from the 11th to the 18th cent., undergoing several renovation and enlarging works. The church is clearly in late baroque style, some parts are neo-classical.

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The church nave, rich in gilded wood carvings .

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The Choir stalls.

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The font, in a polychrome tile decorated niche.

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The light of late autumn sunset creates a special atmosphere inside the Pousada.

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A stairway connecting to the gardens, richly decorated with azulejo pannels.

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At the top of the monastery building, the porched Balcony of Saint Jerome was a 17th century addition.

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Cerca da Costa Gardens

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The Monastery’s Gardens are just one more little secret few people know about. And free to visit !

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Back to the start: What a brilliant folly, a fountain in the centre of a balcony porch ! Unbelievable.

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Guimarães by night

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The End

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This selection © Mário Ricca, 2015 Search for more: http://www.topguimaraes.com/index.php

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