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What you need to know about Guimaraes

Guimarães  is a city and municipality located in northern Portugal, in the district of Braga. Its historic town centre is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, in recognition for being an “exceptionally well-preserved and authentic example of the evolution of a medieval settlement into a modern town” in Europe. Guimarães is also a part of the Ave Subregion (one of the most industrialised subregions in the country), as well as the historical Minho Province. The city has a population of 52,181 inhabitants. The population of the municipality in 2011 was 158,124, in an area of 240.95 square kilometres (93.03 sq mi). The current Mayor is Domingos Bragança, of the Socialist Party. The municipality is bordered to the north by the municipality of Póvoa de Lanhoso, to the east by Fafe, to the south by Felgueiras, Vizela and Santo Tirso, to the west by Vila Nova de Famalicão and the northwest by Braga. The city was settled in the 9th century, at which time it was called Vimaranes. This denomination might have had its origin in the warrior Vímara Peres, who chose this area as the main government seat for the County of Portugal which he conquered for the Kingdom of Galicia. Guimarães has a significant historical importance due to the role it played in the foundation of Portugal. The city is often referred to as the “birthplace of the Portuguese nationality” or “the cradle city” (Cidade Berço in Portuguese) because it is widely believed that Portugal’s first King, Afonso Henriques, was born there, and also due to the fact that the Battle of São Mamede – which is considered the seminal event for the foundation of the Kingdom of Portugal – was fought in the vicinity of the city. For some decades, Guimarães was the capital of the County of Portugal, however, shortly after the Battle of São Mamede (1128), and due to the needs of the Reconquista, Coimbra became the kingdom’s capital. The inhabitants of Guimarães are often called “Vimaranenses” and “Conquistadores” (the Conquerors) in relation with the historical heritage of the conquest initiated in Guimarães. Guimarães, along with Maribor, Slovenia, was the European Capital of Culture in 2012.

Population: Estimate 158,124
Area: 241,3 km²

Currency

Culture

Nossa Senhora da Consolação e dos Santos Passos Church, Guimarães, Portugal. Guimarães is an average size city but with a booming cultural life. Besides its museums, monuments, cultural associations, art galeries and popular festivities, it has since September 2005, an important cultural space, the Vila Flor Cultural Center. This cultural center has two auditoria, exhibition center and a concert-cafe. Guimarães was the European Capital of Culture in 2012, together with Maribor. Guimarães was elected by the New York Times one of the 41 places to go in 2011 and NYT called it one of the Iberian peninsula’s emerging cultural spots.

 

Economy

Guimarães is one of the most industrial municipalities in Portugal. Its primary industries are textiles, shoe industry and metalomechanics.

 

Language

Portuguese is the official language.

 

Society

The church in the Toural square, lit to celebrate UNESCO heritage status In 2008, the city ranked second in the index of most livable city in Portugal. It is also the second least polluted city in the country. In 2004, 89% of the population had running water; it was forecast that the number would raise to 95% by 2006. In 2001, 63.5% of the population had basic sanitation; it was forecast that the number would raise to 80% by 2008. In 2001, 100% of the population had access to waste management services. However, several people complain that the city, together with other cities of the Braga district has had an unaesthetic and unorganized growth.

Transport

Guimarães is linked to Porto by the Guimarães line. This railway line was originally built with narrow gauge track, then modernised and rebuilt to the broad Iberian gauge in the first decade of the 21st century. The train service is operated by Comboios de Portugal (CP). Locally, Guimarães is served by TUG (Transportes Urbanos de Guimarães) which operates 21 bus routes serving the city.

 

Weather

Guimarães is located in a valley and surrounded by hills, and because there is some distance to the sea, the winter is normally cold and rainy and the summer is hot and lightly humid. The average annual temperature is 14 °C.