The city of Guimarães is located in the region of Minho in northern Portugal, around 50km north of Porto. The city's urban character ranges from its traditional and defined identity in the narrow urban fabric of the historical centre to the outer city displaying 19th century bourgeois growth that formed around that centre.
Essentially a mediaeval town, Guimarães has its origins in the distant 10th century. It was at this time that the Countess Mumadona Dias ordered the construction of a monastery which became the focal point for a settlement. For its defence she ordered a castle to be built on a hill a short distance away, thus creating a second nucleus of development. Later the monastery was to become a chapter house and acquired great importance due to the privileges and donations bestowed on it by kings and nobility. It became a famous centre for pilgrimage attracting the prayers and promises of the faithful drawn from all quarters.
While the town continued to grow inside the walls which were erected to defend it, the orders of poor friars arrived in Guimarães and made their contribution to shaping the town. The twin nuclei subsequently merged into one so that by the 15th century the layout of the city within the walls had been established. Although some churches, monasteries and palaces would still be built, its display would not be significantly altered. It was by the end of the 19th century, with the advent of new ideas on public health and town planning, that Guimarães would be raised to the status of city by Queen D. Maria II and undergo major changes. Also, the demolition of the city walls was authorised and encouraged. New squares were opened, as well as new streets and avenues. However almost everything was done in harmony with the conservation of its historic town centre.
Among its architectural jewels, most of them still organically integrated in the city's life, can be found contributions by two of the most important Portuguese architects of the 20th century: Marques da Silva and Fernando Távora.
Guimarães was declared a World Heritage Site in 2001 by UNESCO and it was chosen by the Portuguese government to be the European Capital of Culture in 2012. Thus, it makes the perfect venue for an architectural history meeting, where reflection and debate may be inspired by the city’s legacy.
More information about Guimarães: http://www.guimaraesturismo.com/home_en/
A city of youth is fired up by its art scene
— by CHARLY WILDER from The 41 Places to Go in 2011
Travel Section of The New York Times (24.1.2011)
Considered the birthplace of Portugal, this picturesque northern city has long been of great historical importance to the country. Now, with half its inhabitants under 30, it is also one of the youngest cities in Europe. A string of recent developments, like its selection as a 2012 European Capital of Culture (http://guimaraes2012.pt/) and the rehabilitation of the Unesco-designated historic center (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1031), have helped turned the youthful “cradle city” into one of the Iberian peninsula’s emerging cultural hot spots.
Much of the city’s burgeoning music and arts scene is nourished by the Centro Cultural Vila Flor, a contemporary-minded cultural center that opened in 2005 in a converted 18th-century palace. It includes amphitheaters, an exhibition villa, artists’ studios and a modern Portuguese restaurant. This March, the center will host the first International Festival of Contemporary Dance, bringing in an impressive selection of dance companies from throughout the world.
How to reach Guimarães
Guimarães is located in north-western Portugal, approximately 350 km north of the capital, Lisbon, and about 50 km from the second largest city, Porto.
The nearest airport is Francisco Sá Carneiro International Airport (OPO), located just north of Porto and about 50km from Guimarães.
The airport is connected with the Porto Train Central Station - Campanhã - by metro line E - violet line (www.metrodoporto.pt). The travel takes approximately 30 minutes, with trains departing every 20 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the automatic ticket machines located in the Metro station. Tickets must be validated before travel by scanning them in front of the yellow machines located in the stations.
Trains between Guimarães and Porto takes approximately 60 minutes and costs around 3 euros (www.cp.pt).
Using the highway the airport can be reached in approximately 40 minutes.