The castle in Guimaraes.
Guimaraes is located in the very north of Portugal, close to the spanish border, but it was because of a man from Guimaraes, called Afonso Henriques, that Portugal was founded as a nation.
Guimaraes was back then a part of the kingdom of Galicia and southern Portugal occupied by the moors from todays Morocco, but he managed to break away from Galicia and defeat the moorish army in 1139 and since then, the country that we know today as Portugal has existed. Guimaraes also served as the capital of Portugal for a very short period, before it was moved to Coimbra, where Afonso Henriques is buried. His son Sancho, moved the capital to Lisbon, where it has remained ever since.
Modern day Guimaraes still has a lot of remains from the medieval times and from the time when Portugal was founded as a nation. On top of the old town of Guimaraes, you have the castle where Afonso Henriques was most likely born and right below it is a little chapel, where he was most likely baptized. There is also a 14th century castle called paço dos duques situated on the same hill. It looks very pretty, but it had some restoration done during the Salazar dictatorship that was quite unfortunate and destroyed quite a bit of the building and this is the one place in Guimaraes that I do not think is worth the entrance fee. But the rest of the old town is everything you would ever want from a medieval town.
The statue of Afonso Henriques.
Walking down the hill, you get to one of the best preserved old towns on the iberian peninsula. The old houses with wooden balconies are protected by UNESCO and strolling through the old part of Guimaraes is really a joy. You have two little squares by the cathedral where you can sit at one of the many cafes and restaurants and enjoy some food and drink. I travel a lot in Portugal and Guimaraes is my favorite place in all Portugal to stop for lunch.
Houses in Guimaraes.
Guimaraes might be a little off the beaten track and far from Lisbon, but if you want to visit a historical place in Portugal outside Lisbon, then I would really recommend that you visit Guimaraes.
The old town of Guimaraes.
Inside the castle in Guimaraes.