Guimaraes castle, a symbol of Portugal
Considered the monument symbol of the birth of Portugal, a visit to Guimaraes castle is commendatory to all wishing to understand my country
Guimaraes castle is a commendatory visiting place for all who wish to dive in the Portuguese origins as this impressive monument witnessed the São Mamede battle, crucial for the birth of Portugal.
Guimaraes castle and the Portuguese history
But let us begin by the beginning: In the 10th century, the Countess of Mumadona, the widow of Count Hermenegildo Gonçalves and aunt of Ramiro II, king of León, ordered the construction of a convent in the land of Vimanares, today’s Guimaraes. In order to defend it from the Moorish and Normand attacks, it was build the Guimaraes castle between 959 and 968, which led to the development of Vimanares.
One century later, Afonso VI from León and Castile grants the rule of the county of Portugal to Count Henrique who decided to move into the Guimaraes castle with his wife Teresa where, supposedly, their son Afonso Henriques, who would become the 1st Portuguese king, was born. Several improvements took place, being the most significant the enlargement of the defensive perimeter and the keep.
Count Henrique used to dream about an independent Kingdom of Portugal however he died without fulfilling it. Fortunately, his son followed the same goal and the decisive moment took place in 1128 just outside the Guimaraes castle on S. Mamede field when Afonso Henriques defeated his mother who was against the Portuguese independence and whose troops were supported by the Galician. In 1179, Afonso Henriques is recognized as King of Portugal by Pope Alexander III. Thus linked to the most significant events that led to the Portuguese independence, Guimaraes castle is considered a symbol of the birth of our nationality. And the symbolism is even stronger by the statue of our founder king, standing right beside the castle, who was baptized on the São Miguel Church situated between the castle and the Ducal Palace.
Throughout the years several kings enlarged and reinforced the defensive capacity of the castle walls, namely Dinis, Fernando and John I. However, in spite its historic importance, the monument was despicably damaged during the 19th century when much of its walls were dismantled and its stones reused for public and private construction works. Fortunately the castle was saved from the same faith by one vote on an election held in 1836. During the 1940’s, to celebrate the “Double Centenary of the Birth of the Nationality and the Portuguese Restoration (1140-1640-1940)” the castle suffered huge renovations that gave him nowadays look.
The grandiosity of Guimaraes castle and the nearby historic centre was acknowledged in 2001 by UNESCO that elected the place as World Heritage. So who is interested in visiting Guimaraes castle to understand the founding of one of the oldest nations in the world?
Access to the Peek – 1.50€
- Opening hours and days
Daily from 10.00 until 18.00
Closed on January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1st and December 25th