Guimarães, Portugal

General Information

Regional secretariat

Administrative status

City in the North of Portugal and first capital of Portugal

Historic Centre of Guimarães

Registration Year


Historical function

Religious and Political

Location and site

Guimarães is located in the Minho region, on the north-west of Portugal. It is surrounded by mountains of which the highest is the Mountain of Santa Catarina (Penha). The city is crossed by the River Ave that passes by a long valley where several industries, connected to cutlery, textiles and shoe manufacture, have settled.

Urban morphology

The town of Guimarães developed itself around two dynamic centres: the castle and the convent of Mumadona, whose sites surrounded by walls were only joined to the ramparts in the 14th century. The historic centre of Guimarães was built on a hill surrounded by two escarpments and still preserves today its medieval characteristics – narrow and winding streets, the typology of narrow and long terrains, as well as construction techniques. With the installation of the religious orders – Dominican and Franciscan – the urbanization extended outside the wall.

Guimarães has had its own evolution due to the morphology of its urban fabric of medieval origin, which configured a succession of squares, of great formal value and a specific type of construction (most of it from the 17th century) of typological diversity, completely constructed with traditional techniques – ‘taipa de rodizio’ and ‘taipa de fasquio’ (construction techniques that have wood as its most important component) but with a large formal unity as a whole.

Registration criteria

Criterion (ii): Guimarães is of considerable universal significance by virtue of the fact that specialized building techniques developed there in the Middle Ages were transmitted to Portuguese colonies in Africa and the New World, becoming their characteristic feature.

Criterion (iii): The early history of Guimarães is closely associated with the establishment of Portuguese national identity and the Portuguese language in the 12th century.

Criterion (iv): An exceptionally well-preserved town, Guimarães illustrates the evolution of particular building types from the medieval settlement to the present-day city, and particularly in the 15th-19th centuries.

Historical reference

  • In the 10th century, in 949, by the order of Mumadona Dias (who was related to the Royal Family of Leon), the monastery of monks and nuns of Santa Maria, São Salvador e Todos os Santos was built on the Vimaranes property – which is now Guimarães. In 986, she ordered the construction of a castle to ensure the safety of the population.
  • In the 11th century, count Henry of Burgundy and his wife Teresa – daughter of the King of Leon, came to live in the County of Portucale. From this marriage was born Afonso Henriques who would later become the first king of Portugal.
  • On June 24, 1128, took place the battle of S. Mamede, close to the castle of Guimarães. This battle opposed Afonso Henriques to Teresa (his mother) and the count of Trava of Galicia, Afonso was defending the independence of the County of Portucale against the forces of his mother. The battle was won by Afonso Henriques and thus began the Portuguese nation.





Dr. Domingos Bragança

Câmara Municipal de Guimarães

Largo José Maria Gomes
Guimarães, Portugal

[email protected]

Drª Isabel Pinho

Head of Culture
Câmara Municipal de Guimarães

Largo Cónego José Maria Gomes
Guimaraes, Portugal

[email protected]