WELCOME TO GUIMARÃES
There is a special moment in our free tour in Guimarães, when we stop in front of the Torre da Alfândega and point to the gothic letters announcing "Aqui nasceu Portugal". We are right at the entrance of the historical centre of Guimarães, the city founded by Vimara Peres, the first Count of Portucale and known as the "birth city" because Afonso Henriques the first king of Portugal, was born here. If Portugal was born in Guimarães, Guimarães was reborn in Portugal in the 21st century. It was reborn in 2001 when it was classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. It was reborn again in 2012 when he was European Capital of Culture. It is reborn every day by the eyes of those who visit the city for the first time and are caught by the granite sidewalk, the iron balconies, the medieval arches and porches, the old wooden doors of the manor houses. During our Guimarães free tour, as we step on the slabs polished by time, we return to the origins of Portugal. The echo of our steps as we walk the streets of the city has an almost mystical aura. Guimarães is a charismatic city and a walk through its ancient streets is an unforgettable experience. Past and present they welcome us in Largo do Toural, the heart of Guimarães. Far gone are the times when bulls were sold here, at the gates of the city. In the Largo do Toural we find some of the oldest spaces in the city such as Clarinha pastry or Casa Ferreira da Cunha that live side by side with contemporary spaces such as the 9 Century Gallery. But when the free tour in Guimarães goes to the historical centre we absorb the unique atmosphere of this city. Nothing is by chance. If today the monuments are living testimonies of Portugal's history, it is due to the careful restoration of Guimarães' historical and cultural heritage. The Largo da Oliveira, where the Padrão do Salado was built and the Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira or the Santiago Square where pilgrims were welcomed on their way to Santiago, are fine examples of this. But it is as we go along the narrow street of Santa Maria that makes the connection to the upper part of the city that the guided tour acquires a special mood. The Paço dos Duques de Bragança and the Chapel of São Miguel are mandatory stops at the end of our free tour in Guimarães before the final moment for which we all wait, one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal, the famous Guimarães Castle. Viewed from above, the limits of the castle resemble a facetted shield and its 4 defense towers carry us to the 12th century and the birth of Portugal by the hands of D. Afonso Henriques. Guimarães is a city with a unique identity and a remarkable historical heritage but what best defines it is the Vimaranense spirit; so if you want some advice, come and watch the Gualterian festivals during the summer or the Nicolinas in winter to feel the pride and affection that the Vimaranenses feel for the city where Portugal was born.