Guimaraes History, Portugal
Guimaraes is Portugal’s pride and joy, a town that has been the heart of the country for centuries. Metaphorically speaking, Guimaraes is Portugal’s birthplace. This is where the fascinating culture of Portugal has first begun to take roots. The magnificent castle at Guimaraes, as well as the ducal palace and the numerous picturesque manors have rightfully put Guimaraes among Portugal’s seven wonders. The first Portuguese king, Alfonso I, was born in Guimaraes, and he is still a revered historical figure in the city. Simply put, Guimaraes is one of those places that you shouldn’t miss at any cost when you’re visiting Portugal. Most of its attractions have a colourful past and have played an important part in the city’s history. This Guimaraes History Guide will give you some basic information about this charming city’s history.
Guimaraes History Guide - Foundation and early history
In the second half of the 9th century, Vimara Peres was named the first count of Portugal, and he built the town of Vimaranis to commemorate the event. Pres is known to have driven out the Moors of the area, and to have built the first fortified town in Portugal. Vimaranis later became Guimaranis, the precursor of modern-day Guimaraes. ‘Vimarense’ is even today the term used to name the residents of Guimaraes. The countess Mumadona Dias built a convent in the city in the 10th century, and Guimaraes became an important religious site, attracting pilgrims from all over the Iberian Peninsula. In the 11th century, the king of Castile and Leon, the sovereign of the province, made Dom Henrique, the husband of his illegitimate daughter, the power over the city. He was the father of Alfonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, born in 1111. Guimaraes was the site of one of the most important battles in Portuguese history, the Battle of Sao Mamede in 1128. The army of Alfonso Henrique fought the forces of his mother, Dona Teresa, and won independence for the budding nation of Portugal. Fifty years later, the Pope officially designated Alfonso as the King of Portugal.
Guimaraes History Guide - Middle ages and modern period
In the following centuries, Guimaraes flourished thanks to its many and varied industries and crafts. It became a town favoured by artists and writers, and it produced some of the most important figures in Portuguese culture, such as Gil Vincente, called the “Shakespeare of Portugal”. Vincente was also an accomplished goldsmith, and thanks to him, gold work became one of the traditional crafts of Guimaraes, along with pottery and embroidery. The Dominicans and the Franciscans who came to the area contributed a great deal to the expansion of Guimaraes outside the city walls. Although at the time, the distance between Lisbon, the capital, and Guimaraes was quite significant, Porto was only about 40 kilometres away, and this fortunate position increased the trade in the city. In 1853, when the Queen of Portugal, Maria II officially elevated Guimaraes to the status of city, some of the fortified walls were taken down, but parts of the old structure can still be seen today. This Guimaraes History Guide recommends that you visit the remains of the fortress to truly get into the medieval atmosphere of the city.
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