Guimares Castle, North Portugal

The north of Portugal has a few of the best places to visit in the country. Cities like Porto and Braga go up against Lisbon and the warmer regions down South with ease. One of these northern cities is Guimaraes. Just a few miles away from Braga, the city of Guimarães is well known for its history and stunning sights.

Guimarães was extremely important in the formation of Portugal as a country. Filled with stories of battles and political ranglings dating from 1128, it’s no wonder why the city is known as the birthplace of the Portuguese nation. One of the city’s mottos is the phrase: “Aqui nasceu Portugal”, roughly translated as “This is where Portugal was born”. Furthermore, its historical center is considered a World Heritage Site and in 2012 the city was named European Capital of Culture.

Most of the tourist attractions in the city will be found in the historical center, which is actually great, because you’ll be able to experience the city all by foot. There you should pay attention to the architecture of the houses, the squares and churches.

Speaking of churches, Guimarães has a few of the oldest and most beautiful in Portugal. One of the most impressive in the city is Igreja de São Francisco. People are often surprised with how beautiful the church looks from the inside. The perfect example for why you should never judge a book by its cover can be seen with this astonishing church.

The Largo da Oliveira is a square in the historical center known for its charm. The place exudes culture and takes you back to the times when Portugal wasn’t the nation we all know today. If you walk around you’ll find shops and cafés for you to enjoy the atmosphere of the area.

A must attraction for any tourist in Portugal is the Castle of Guimarães. The birthplace of the nation is preserved here with the walls that once were a fortress that stood tall and proud. As you might expect, the walls date from hundreds of years ago, so much of it is already gone, but the Portuguese government has done a great job to restore and maintain this beautiful castle.

Last but not least, if you’re ever in the area you should definitely try some of the local cuisine. One of the dishes you should try is toucinho do céu, translated as bacon from paradise. The toucinho do céu is a kind of cake made out of sugar, almonds and egg yolks. Originally, one of the ingredients of the recipe was pig fat, which explains the curious name.

Guimarães is without doubt a great destination for tourists worldwide, so if you’re ever in the north of Portugal, make sure to visit the birthplace of Portugal.