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City of Guimaraes

Geographical Context

Guimarães is located in the broad coastal regional of the north of Portugal, bordering the Spanish province of Galicia. It belongs to the administrative district of Braga, in the region of Minho and the sub-region Ave River Valley (NUT III).

The concelho (county) of Guimarães is, for the most part, surrounded by low-lying mountains. Cutting the county in half, from northeast to southwest, is the Rio Ave (Ave River) and one of its tributaries, the Rio Selho.

The climate of the region is characterized by cold and rainy winters and hot and slightly humid summers, with a rather high range of temperature variations during the year due to the city’s geographical position of being located in a valley encircled by several mountain ranges.
The concelho (county) of Guimarães is considered a hub of the region, with its central location benefitting from an excellent network of roads and motorways.

The total land area of the County is 241.05 km2, distributed amongst 69 freguesias (boroughs). It is a densely populated County with about 160,000 inhabitants, and one of the youngest population centres in Europe.

Historical Context

© Photos: Tempo Livre, José Caldeira, Amadeu MendesGuimarães is the historical capital of Portugal, and its founding dates back to before the existence of the Condado Portucalense.

The city took shape as people came to settle around the monastery established by the Countess Mumadona (built in the 10th century, from 950-959), and its nearby  counterpart, the Castle, erected atop the Monte Latito by her order.

The unification of the city took place between 1279 and 1498 with the construction of stone walls surrounding the “Upper Town” and “Lower Town.” Sections of these impressive stone fortifications can still be seen today, and they constitute one of the main and emblematic landmarks of the city. In fact, it is on one of the imposing stone towers that the inscription “Aqui Nasceu Portugal – Portugal Was Born Here,” has been placed, a reference to the events which led to the founding of the Portuguese nation, whose origins are in the Battle of São Mamede, fought on 24 June 1128, culminating with the subsequent recognition of the winner, D. Afonso Henriques, “The Conqueror” as the first King of Portugal.

The City of Guimarães, over 1,000 years old, is symbolically recognized by all portuguese as “The Cradle of the Nation.”

World Heritage City 2001

© Photos: Tempo Livre, José Caldeira, Amadeu MendesThe Historical City Centre of Guimarães features an exceptionally well preserved nucleus of medieval architecture, which displays a simultaneously occurring and unique dialogue of the past, evolution and the future. The heritage zone is of priceless value for its collection of buildings which represent the different stages of the historical city centre’s development and evolution from the 12th to the 19th centuries.

The classification of the Historical City Centre of Guimarães as World Heritage in 2001 produced exceedingly important impact on the social, economic, cultural, and tourism-based aspects of the city.

It can be said that a spirit of heritage-mindedness of the historical sites was awakened in Guimarães at the beginning of the 1980s when the city began to feel the first moments of criticism and pressure stemming from the observations made at the state of decay of the architecturally significant buildings which would later comprise the area under consideration for UNESCO heritage classification.

European city of Sport 2013

© Photos: Tempo Livre, José Caldeira, Amadeu MendesGuimarães is a city of sporting passions and the population reveals their engagement with unconditional support provided to the local team that plays in the national football league.
As a result of strategic investment, the city is endowed with cultural and sports equipment that allow locals and visitors enjoying high quality services.

In addition to many other sports facilities we emphasize the "Cidade Desportiva" project that includes a multipurpose pavilion, a running track, a grass pitch, a swimming pools set, a fitness center and a water park is a successful example of this investment.  The motivation, dedication and passion revealed by the locals for sport put Guimarães as an example for the country.

In 2013 Guimarães celebrated its title of European City of Sports (ACES Europe) with high levels of love and passion for sport, in all its dimensions and modalities.

Motivated by the contagious spirit of sport that arouses in all its inhabitants, 2013 became one of the best years on sport activity and public involvement with sport.

At the end of the year, Guimarães was declared by ACES Europe as Best European City of Sport in 2013 (from 9 competitors).

European Capital of Culture 2012

© Photos: Tempo Livre, José Caldeira, Amadeu MendesThe declaration of Guimarães as European Capital of Culture in 2012, following the Portuguese Government’s decision to advance the candidacy, represents the collective work of two decades, strategically geared toward the renovation of the historical and architectural heritage of the city and toward the promotion of a calendar of diversified, regular, and contemporary cultural activities.
Guimarães presents itself as a city with a talent for hosting events on a national and international scale, and it assumes this role by demonstrating its organizational capacity, respect for clients’ demands, logistical response, and the technical knowledge required of the different teams that are brought together and mobilized for the production and holding of events.

The list of cultural and sporting events held here reveals the intensity and regularity which is Guimarães’ trademark; here we mention those examples which stand out in for their national or international success – the Guimarães Historical Conference (organized since 1979 and an event which has contributed to the enrichment of scientific knowledge on Portuguese history), the Guimarães Jazz Festival (organized since 1992), The Handball World Cup 2003 and the UEFA
Euro 2004™. Guimarães also features a noteworthy collection of museums, libraries, archives, historical sites, and religious monuments, in particular the Martins Sarmento Society Archaeological Museum, the Alberto Sampaio Museum (which is part of the Portuguese national network of museums), the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza (the 2nd most visited palace in Portugal), the Martins Sarmento Society Library, the Raúl Brandão Municipal Library, the Alfredo Pimenta Municipal Archive, the archaeological site at the Citânia de Briteiros, the Penha Mountain, and the churches of Serzedelo and São Torcato (both dating from the 12th century).


More information:

Municipality webpage – http://www.cm-guimaraes.pt/
Guimarães Tourism – http://www.guimaraesturismo.com/
Vila Flor Cultural Center webpage – http://www.ccvf.pt/
Sport Unit Tempo Livre webpage - http://www.tempolivre.pt

© Photos: Tempo Livre, José Caldeira, Amadeu Mendes
© Photos: Tempo Livre, José Caldeira,
Amadeu Mendes