Guimarães is of considerable 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. It is an exceptionally well-preserved town illustrating the evolution of particular building types from the medieval settlement to the present-day city, and particularly in the 15th-19th centuries.
It is unanimously agreed upon that the name and image attributed to the Historic City Centre of Guimarães has spilled over into the arena of public domain, taking with it the ever-present concept of quality rightfully associated with the City Centre.
Over many years, Guimarães city officials pursued a policy of preserving architectural forms and rededicating spaces to new functions such that old and forgotten areas of the city were given a rebirth. Guimarães is the focus of greater levels of interest and recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a result of the city’s strong commitment to the criteria it adopted and craftsmanship it supported in this area.
Guimaraes has more than 1000 years (founded on the IX century) and it´s a city that breathes history, culture, friendship, and hospitality. It is a medieval city founded by Vímara Peres (IX century) and developed by Mumadona who founded a monastery and the castle (X century) beginning as a part of Leon and Castille catholic kingdom.
In the X and XI centuries the Iberian Peninsula was divided between Cristian and Muslim kingdoms fighting against each others. At that time Guimaraes was part of the county of Portucale (later Portugal) which belonged to count Dom Henrique a vassel of the king Alfonso VI of Asturias, Galiza and Leon. Independency was a dream of Dom Henrique but he died before it became reality. It was his son Dom Afonso Henriques that supported by local nobles that declared independence after the batlle of São Mamede (near Guimaraes) in 1128.
He became the first king of Portugal and made of Guimaraes the first capital of the new born country, officially recognize in 1143 in the treaty of Zamora. That is why Guimaraes is known as “the cradle of Portugal” and it shows in it´s walls “here born Portugal” (Aqui Nasceu Portugal, in the original).
Although a city of immense history Guimaraes is far from being an open-air museum dedicated to the preservation of historic buildings and monuments.Guimaraes is alive and vibrant, entertaining and educational, cultural and commercial and constantly renewing and improving the quality of life for its inhabitants and visitors.
The northern city of Guimarães is all set to start its reign as Europe’s 2012 Capital of Culture with a year-long entertainment programme beginning on Saturday the 21st of January.