Rumbo al Norte – Day 1

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We drove here directly from Madrid. Five hours, more or less. We arrived in good time, and everything would have been perfect…if we hadn’t forgotten the time change! So we arrived in Guimaraes with one extra hour, and felt it.

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Because Guimaraes (pronounced gui-mar-aesch) is beautiful and has every right to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it is tiny, and two hours would have been more than enough!

Anyway.

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One of the squares is called Oliveira square, because legend says that there was a very, very very old olive tree living there. And one day, it died. Everyone mourned. Shortly after, someone-or-the-other decided to redecorate the church facing the now-dead olive tree and that a norman cross would look oh so much better. And when the cross was placed, the olive tree came back to life. (please note that the olive tree in the square now isn’t the same one as the legend) In the square there is also a gothic shrine. Quite quite pretty really.

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There’s also a statue overlooking the square and – can you see? – he’s got another head on his stomach. Some people say that he embodies the two-faced nature of the inhabitants of Guimaraes…which isn’t really a compliment!

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Another thing we noticed in Guimaraes was what we believe were the statues of the Via Crucis. We found three, but there were probably many more that we didn’t see. The fact that Jesus was so green and zombie-like in one of them didn’t make me want to look for more.

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The way to the castle, bare and empty of tour guides or staff of any kind (and, therefore, free) was very pretty. There’s a green square and a park with beautiful camellias that I will show you in a second post.  And there were so many cream-coloured buildings that are so typically Portuguese.

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The Church of St Michael, in which King Alonso was baptised

I have no photos of the castle itself, because I was tired and uninspired by the cold, bare bricks.

Here is a statue of King Alfonso, though. He was the first king of Portugal and probably why there is a huge sign on the walls of the city that say “Portugal was born here”

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As in every other Portuguese city, Guimaraes was great just to walk around in. I found the houses particularly pretty, and spent three quarters of the time looking up.

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To finish, this is the Virgin Mary in all her greatness, drawn on Portuguese tiles called Azulejos.

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See you tomorrow!

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