A Castle and the Duke’s Mansion in Guimaraes, and our last days in Matosinhos – this trip.

We took the train from Porto for a day trip back to Guimares with the express goal of checking out the museum housed in the Duke’s residence and visiting the Castle of Portugal’s first King. During our visit here in May we skipped this attraction because there was a bus load of elementary students visiting and we thought it would be better to check it out on a quieter day. A mid week day in November proved to be a perfect time to return. We took the bus from our hotel into the historic train station of Porto, Sao Bento Station, where there are usually several tour groups in the entrance lobby to see the building’s tiles. This day, it was much quieter than usual

This is first time in at least 8 trips here where I could get a photo of the tiles without a large group of people blocking some of them. The various sections of the tiles tell stories from the history of Portugal and they are very pretty.

Guimaraes lays claim to being the birthplace of the first King of Portugal, Alfonso Henriques who unified the area that is now Portugal in the 1100s. The Castle where he was born, and the church where he was baptized remain.

We had a lovely day and arrived to both Holiday decorations and some lovely fall foliage.
The Duke’s Residence is the restored Castle built for the Duke of Braganza in the early 1400s. Restored in the early 20th Century (possibly a little fancier than the original), it is now a museum filled with Art and decor from the first few centuries of Portuguese history. It has a display of armor and weapons, as all good castles should!
Swords, and spears, and blunderbusses, Oh My!
The size of the rooms was impressive, along with the support systems for the ceilings. What amazed both of us was that there were way fewer fireplaces than we would have thought they needed. Many of the larger rooms had one fireplace, and many of the smaller rooms had none. We did see some braziers, where hot coals would be gathered and placed near seating areas, so I guess they relied on the many layers of clothing to keep warm.
The chapel, with some lovely stained glass and nice wood carvings.
A view of the chapel entrance from across the courtyard. The bright marble columns were brought back from the Holy Land as pillage from one of the crusades.
In one of the Duke’s private rooms, a very fancy ceiling. The ceiling details in many of the buildings in Portugal is amazing, so don’t forget to look up when you check out these places!
Another fancy ceiling in the Duke’s private quarters.
A view of the Castle walls. The castle is not restored, except for one tower, so it looks about like you’d expect an eight or nine hundred year old structure to look. Very impressive.
The one tower that is restored houses a nicely done interpretation center, geared toward school groups. It includes the chance to wear a helmet like Alfonso’s and wield a sword! Alas, both were attached to the wall so I couldn’t lop off Dan’s photo finger for taking this shot!
In town there are many old buildings to check out, and they have some lovely details in the stone carvings.
More detail in the carvings. I found this building entryway to be photogenic, and it is quite possible a similar photo appeared in our Guimaraes post earlier this year.

For this trip, we spent the first month or so in Porto and the north of Portugal before heading south. Matosinhos and Porto hold the distinction of being our first favorite spots in Portugal. And, because we had several lengthy stays in the same hotel in Matosinhos, we also made friends with the folks we saw there every day. When people ask us “why Portugal” for the repeat trips the answer always starts with “the people, and the food” and then we go on to discuss the fun things we have done and the places we have visited.

When we arrived back after five months it was nice to be recognized by folks at the front desk who had been so helpful on our first trip, and to have them enforce our “please use Portuguese so we can practice our language lessons” on this trip. When we showed up for breakfast the first day and insisted on trying to say our room number in Portuguese, the giggles we got in response made the “corrections” as difficult to understand as our mangled attempts, but we got better! And, because we got better, we got offered fancy coffee! Getting to chat with familiar people is always a treat for us, and one highlight came a few days before we left when someone came over to say goodbye as she would be on vacation for the next few days and would miss our last day. And then, the night before checkout, a tray with dessert and an envelope was dropped by our room. The envelope had a lovely note signed by many of our new friends! When you travel for months at a time you get a lot of quick interactions with people. But sometimes, you stay in a place long enough to make friends, and those times become the treasures of travel.

One of our last days in Porto we checked out the Jardins do Palacio de Crystal, a lovely park with some amazing views, a Holiday Market, and Peacocks!
Also on our last day, The Dessert Whisperer presented us with some of her favorite cookies – which are not on offer at the hotel – Linguas de Veado. Despite the mildly off putting name, in English it is deer’s tongue, they are a lovely cookie and we really enjoyed one last sweet pushed on our objecting selves!

2 thoughts on “A Castle and the Duke’s Mansion in Guimaraes, and our last days in Matosinhos – this trip.”

  1. Lovely headwear and some of your very best pictures. Thanks for sharing. I envy you your trek and your new friends who are so comfortable in the kitchen. Love, Dad


  2. Enjoyed my tour once again!!! Thanks. The food sounds good would be nice to try something from Portugal!!!


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