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Coat of arms
Coordinates: 41°27′N8°18′W / 41.450°N 8.300°W / 41.450; -8.300 Coordinates: 41°27′N8°18′W / 41.450°N 8.300°W / 41.450; -8.300
CountryFlag of Portugal.svg  Portugal
Region Norte
Intermunic. comm. Ave
District Braga
Parishes 48
   President Domingos Bragança (PS)
  Total241.3 km2 (93.2 sq mi)
  Density660/km2 (1,700/sq mi)
Time zone UTC±00:00 (WET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+01:00 (WEST)
Historic Centre of Guimarães
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Guimaraes Portugal Paco-dos-Duques-de-Braganca-02.jpg
Criteria Cultural: (ii), (iii), (iv)
Reference 1031
Inscription2001 (25th session)
Area19.45 ha (48.1 acres)
Buffer zone99.23 ha (245.2 acres)
The Toural square in 1864 Toural em 1864.jpg
The Toural square in 1864
The Toural square in 2009 The Toural square in 2009.jpg
The Toural square in 2009

Guimarães (Portuguese pronunciation:  [ɡimɐˈɾɐ̃jʃ] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a city and municipality located in northern Portugal, in the district of Braga. Its historic town centre is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, in recognition for being an "exceptionally well-preserved and authentic example of the evolution of a medieval settlement into a modern town" in Europe.


Guimarães is also a part of the Ave Subregion (one of the most industrialised subregions in the country), as well as the historical Minho Province. The city has a population of 52,181 inhabitants. [1] The population of the municipality in 2011 was 158,124, [2] in an area of 240.95 square kilometres (93.03 sq mi). [3] The current Mayor is Domingos Bragança, of the Socialist Party. Guimarães, along with Maribor, Slovenia, was the European Capital of Culture in 2012.

The city was settled in the 9th century, at which time it was called Vimaranes. This denomination might have had its origin in the warrior Vímara Peres, who chose this area as the main government seat for the County of Portugal which he conquered for the Kingdom of Galicia. Guimarães has a significant historical importance due to the role it played in the foundation of Portugal. The city is often referred to as the "birthplace of Portugal" or "the cradle city" (Cidade Berço in Portuguese) because it is widely believed that Portugal's first King, Afonso Henriques, was born there, and also due to the fact that the Battle of São Mamede – which is considered the seminal event for the foundation of the Kingdom of Portugal – was fought in the vicinity of the city. [4]


The Oliveira square, in the historical center of Guimaraes, with the Padrao do Salado on the left Praca da Oliveira 01.jpg
The Oliveira square, in the historical center of Guimarães, with the Padrão do Salado on the left
Largo do Toural, Guimaraes, Portugal Guimaraes Portugal Largo-do-Toural-01.jpg
Largo do Toural, Guimarães, Portugal

The History of Guimarães is associated with the foundation and identity of the Portuguese nationality. Guimarães, as well as other settlements, precedes the foundation of Portugal and because of its role in the foundation of the country it is known as the "cradle of the Portuguese nationality". In 1128, major political and military events that would lead to the independence and the birth of a new nation took place in Guimarães. For this reason, in one of the old towers of the city's old wall it is written "Aqui nasceu Portugal" (Portugal was born here).

Ancient history

According to archeological findings in Citânia (Castro) of Briteiros and Sabroso and Penha's archeologic site, the area in which Guimarães is located has had permanent settlements since the late Chalcolithic period.

There is also evidence of Roman occupation, and a stone dedicated to the Roman emperor Trajan found in Caldas das Taipas suggests that this was already a spa town in Roman times. [5]


Statue of Mumadona Dias, in front of the city court Guimaraes Mumadona Dias.jpg
Statue of Mumadona Dias, in front of the city court

Following the Reconquista policy promoted by the Kingdom of Galicia in the 9th century, the medieval foundations of the actual city have roots in the 10th century. At this point, the Countess Mumadona Dias, erected a monastery in her property of Vimaranes, which originated the fixation of people in the area known as "vila baixa" (downtown). At the same time, she ordered the construction of a castle on the hill area which became known as "vila alta" (uptown), to defend the settlement. To connect these to other areas, the Rua de Santa Maria was built.

The monastery became the "Real Colegiada" (Royal Collegiate church) and throughout time acquired importance due to the privileges and donations given to it by nobles and kings and it became a famous pilgrimage site.

Henry, Count of Portugal approved the first national foral possibly in 1096 (but not confirmed). The foral proves the growing importance of the village of Guimarães at that time, which was chosen as the capital of the County of Portugal.

On 24 June 1128, the "Batalha de São Mamede" (Battle of São Mamede) took place in Guimarães.

Middle Ages

During the reign of king Denis, as the town was expanding, it was partially surrounded by a defensive wall. Meanwhile, mendicant orders settled in Guimarães and helped to mold the shape of the emerging city. Later, during the reign of John I, the wall was torn down and the two parts of the city (uptown and downtown) were finally united and the city began to expand outside its old walls.

Modern history

Until the 19th century the structure of the city did not suffer many transformations besides the construction of a few more churches, convents and palaces. It was by the ending of the 19th century that new urbanistic ideas of hygiene and symmetry that the village, that was promoted to city by the Queen Maria II on 23 June 1853 had its greatest changes.

The complete demolition of the city walls was authorized and the creation of many streets and avenues could start at that point. The controlled process of urbanization permitted the conservation of the city's magnificent historical center.


Couros river, near Guimaraes Youth Hostel Rio de Couros.jpg
Couros river, near Guimarães Youth Hostel
Red-legged partridge Redleggedpartridge35.jpg
Red-legged partridge


Granite rock formations occupy the majority of the municipality but schist rocks can also be found in certain zones in the northwest of the municipality. On the southeast, clay can be found in stream bed of the Ave, Vizela and Selho rivers.

Orography and hydrography

The municipality is delimited at north by the "Senhora do Monte" (Senhora hill), at northwest by the hills of Falperra, Sameiro, Outeiro and Penedice. To the south by the Penha hill which with height of 613 meters, it is the highest point of the municipality.

Guimarães is part of the drainage basin of Ave river which divides the municipality in half. The Ave river has as tributaries the Vizela river, Torto river, Febras river and inside the city, the Selho river, the Couros river and the Santa Lúzia stream.


Guimarães is located in a valley and surrounded by hills, and because there is some distance to the sea, the winter is normally cold and rainy and the summer is hot and lightly humid. The average annual temperature is 14 °C.


There is not much diversity, specially in the urban areas, but the municipality has some species of cynegetic interest such as: the red fox, the wild boar, the turtle dove, the thrush, the pigeon and the red-legged partridge. In the green areas of the city, the most common species are rodents, especially squirrels.


Administratively, the municipality is divided into 48 civil parishes ( freguesias ): [6]

  • Abação e Gémeos
  • Airão Santa Maria, Airão São João e Vermil
  • Aldão
  • Arosa e Castelões
  • Atães e Rendufe
  • Azurém
  • Balazar
  • Barco
  • Briteiros Salvador e Briteiros Santa Leocádia
  • Briteiros Santo Estêvão e Donim
  • Brito
  • Caldas das Taipas (Caldelas)
  • Candoso (São Martinho)
  • Candoso São Tiago e Mascotelos
  • Conde e Gandarela
  • Costa
  • Creixomil
  • Fermentões
  • Gonça
  • Gondar
  • Guardizela
  • Infantas
  • Leitões, Oleiros e Figueiredo
  • Longos
  • Lordelo
  • Mesão Frio
  • Moreira de Cónegos
  • Nespereira
  • Oliveira, São Paio e São Sebastião
  • Pencelo
  • Pinheiro
  • Polvoreira
  • Ponte
  • Prazins (Santa Eufémia)
  • Prazins Santo Tirso e Corvite
  • Ronfe
  • Sande São Lourenço e Balazar
  • Sande (São Martinho)
  • Sande Vila Nova e Sande São Clemente
  • São Torcato
  • Selho (São Cristóvão)
  • Selho (São Jorge)
  • Selho São Lourenço e Gominhães
  • Serzedelo
  • Serzedo e Calvos
  • Silvares
  • Souto Santa Maria, Souto São Salvador e Gondomar
  • Tabuadelo e São Faustino
  • Urgezes


In 2001, the population of the municipality was 159 576. In 2010, it is estimated that the population will reach 188 178 inhabitants. The population is constituted by 78 436 males and 81 140 females. Guimarães is the 13th biggest city in the country in terms of population.

Evolution of the population of the municipality of Guimarães (1801–2011)
Evolution of the population in the city center (1864–2011)


Nossa Senhora da Consolacao e dos Santos Passos Church, Guimaraes, Portugal Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Consolacao e Santos Passos, Guimaraes, Portugal.jpg
Nossa Senhora da Consolação e dos Santos Passos Church, Guimarães, Portugal

Guimarães is an average size city but with a booming cultural life. Besides its museums, monuments, cultural associations, art galleries and popular festivities, it has since September 2005, an important cultural space, the Vila Flor Cultural Center. This cultural center has two auditoria, exhibition center and a concert-cafe. Guimarães was the European Capital of Culture in 2012, together with Maribor in Slovenia.

Guimarães was elected by The New York Times one of the 41 places to go in 2011 and called it one of the Iberian peninsula's emerging cultural spots. [7]


Joanina fair in Guimaraes, where old activities are recreated such as the production of meat "cake" Feira Joanina Guimaraes.jpg
Joanina fair in Guimarães, where old activities are recreated such as the production of meat "cake"

The fact that since its beginning, Guimarães had a feminine monastery made much influence over its regional cuisine, specially its confectionery. "Tortas de Guimarães" (Guimarães' pies) and "Toucinho do céu" (normally translated as bacon from heaven) are a good example. Besides the customary Minho cuisine, the so-called "meat" cake is made here, which is a kind of bread in a pizza shape served with pork, sardines or other toppings.

Traditions and festivities

Museums, cultural spaces and art galleries

Centro Cultural Vila Flor Copia de Centro Cultural Vila Flor 085.jpg
Centro Cultural Vila Flor

The city of Guimarães has several cultural spaces of reference at a regional and national level. Among the several museums of the city, the Alberto Sampaio museum is the one that stands out. Founded in 1928, it opened its doors to the public in 1931; it is located in the old site of the Canon the Collegiate of Our Lady of Oliveira (Cabido da Colegiada de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira in Portuguese). It contains a rich collection of pieces from the 14th, 15th and 16th century, including one rare vest that was used by the king John I.

Headquarters of the Martins Sarmento Society Sociedade Martins Sarmento.JPG
Headquarters of the Martins Sarmento Society

The Martins Sarmento Society (Sociedade Martins Sarmento in Portuguese) is one of the country oldest institutions dedicated to the study and preservation of archaeological artifacts. The society owns two museums: the Archaeological Museum of the Martins Sarmento Society, which is known by its prehistory and protohistory collections and also its numismatics and epigraphy collections; and the Castro Culture Museum which is dedicated to the Castro culture.

There is also: the Primitive Modern Arts Museum, located in the Domus Municipalis (the old city hall), which contains a collection of naïve art; the Museum of the Village of São Torcato, which is dedicated to the region and its relationship with the monastery and Saint Torcato (São Torcato in Portuguese); the Agriculture Museum of Fermentões, which exhibits collections of the traditional agricultural practices of the region; and the Museum of São Sebastião, inaugurated on 24 March 1984, which contains mainly sacred art.

Other cultural venues include:


Estadio D. Afonso Henriques Italia-Bulgaria.jpg
Estádio D. Afonso Henriques

Guimarães has two major sports club, Vitória Sport Clube, whose football (soccer) team has been the city's representative in the Primeira Liga every year, having already conquered a Portuguese Cup in 2012/13 and a Portuguese Supercup in 1988, and Moreirense Futebol Clube, whose football (soccer) team is also in Primeira Liga for some years and already won the Portuguese Second Division in 2013/14 and the Portuguese League Cup in 2016/17. During Vitória SC European campaigns, the Portuguese team played against teams like Arsenal FC, Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Eintracht Frankfurt, Parma FC and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Vitória SC also has basketball, volleyball and water polo squads competing in the top divisions of their sports.


The church in the Toural square, lit to celebrate UNESCO heritage status Toural in Guimaraes by night.JPG
The church in the Toural square, lit to celebrate UNESCO heritage status

In 2008, the city ranked second in the index of most livable city in Portugal. It is also the second most polluted city in the country.

In 2004, 89% of the population had running water; it was forecast that the number would raise to 95% by 2006. In 2001, 63.5% of the population had basic sanitation; it was forecast that the number would raise to 80% by 2008. In 2001, 100% of the population had access to waste management services.

However, several people complain that the city, together with other cities of the Braga district has had an unaesthetic and unorganized growth.


Guimarães ranks fourth in the country for available newspapers. The oldest was the "Azemel Vimaranense", founded in 1822; it possibly had its publication halted by the Vilafrancada incidents. From 1856, other newspapers start to appear, amongst them "A Tesoura de Guimarães". Actually the city's newspapers are:

  • O Comércio de Guimarães
  • O Cónego
  • O Conquistador
  • Desportivo de Guimarães
  • Entrevillas
  • O Expresso do Ave
  • Jornal do Adepto
  • Lordelo Jornal
  • Notícias de Guimarães
  • O Pilar
  • O Povo de Guimarães
  • Reflexo – O Espelho das Taipas
  • Sport Jornal dos Desportos


There are two stations headquartered in the town: Radio Fundação (95.8 FM) and Radio Santiago (98.0 FM).


The Guimarães TV transmission is made online since 24 July 2007; it is the result of a collaboration between the city's assembly and the Guimarães Cybercenter. Its contents are feature in the Região Norte TV channel which is available through cable.

The "canalguimarães" is another online channel that started operating in March 2010. It is the fruit of the effort put in by an arts association, the "Associação de Socorros Mútuos Artística Vimaranense", one of the oldest associations of the city.


Guimarães is one of the most industrial municipalities in Portugal. Its primary industries are textiles, shoe industry and metalomechanics.


Guimarães is linked to Porto by the Guimarães line. This railway line was originally built with narrow gauge track, then modernised and rebuilt to the broad Iberian gauge in the first decade of the 21st century. The train service is operated by Comboios de Portugal (CP). Locally, Guimarães is served by TUG (Transportes Urbanos de Guimarães) which operates 21 bus routes serving the city.

International relations

Guimarães is twinned with:

Notable people

Medieval and Early Modern

Late Modern


See also

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