Castle of Guimaraes, Portugal
Continuing my journey from Bom Jesus do Monte, Braga, I am now at Guimaraes.
Castle of Guimaraes is the place where Portugal was created. Visiting it was like traveling back in time to 10th century! It was a clear day and I got some neat shots against the deep blue sky. Guimarães has the UNESCO world heritage status as it is closely associated with the establishment of Portuguese national identity and the Portuguese language in the 12th century. Though the wall is crumbling at places, much of what remains is impressive. Something so old as this is rare in Portugal!
History of Castle of Guimarães
The construction went on in phases for several centuries. And behind the walls of the castle family rivalries and bickering took place. The property of Vimaranes (today Guimarães) belonged to Count Hermenegildo Gonçalves. The Count’s widow ordered the construction of the castle. By 4 December 968, a document mentions that the Countess Mumadona Dias referred to the castle as just having been constructed, in order to defend the friars and nuns in the monastery.
At the end of the 10th century, Dias’s eldest son, Gonçalo Mendes, took possession of the lands following her death and continued her wishes to support the monastery. But soon after family squabbles started, with uncles and nephews bidding control over the castle. This was the palace of King Afonso Henriques (1111 – 1185). You can check out a more detailed history in wiki.
For the Portuguese these castle ruins is an important connection to their past. This represents their birth as a nation. Its significance on this historical basis makes this site so interesting to visit. This (pic below) is the Romanesque Church where according to tradition King Afonso Henriques was baptized. It has served as royal chapel and parochial church.
Tour of the Castle
Touring this place took hardly half an hour. We walked in though the huge green door of the castle, the area inside was all uneven. Some huge rocks strewn here and there, like in any other ruin. No pathway made for visitors and we were on our own to explore. There were stairs up the old walls. You can do one thing; either climb or take pics. With no supports by the ruined stairs it is important to exercise some caution. Small little place for some adventure, my teen aged kids enjoyed the exploring here. This part of the tour is free of any charge.