Another sweet dawn and I’m sure that I will have a very well spent day and it will end in the best way, to see another theater play.

Today our tour will be to the cradle of the nation, the city of Guimarães. For those who are lovers of the country, of this wonderful Portugal, this city is always an inspiration. It is a city with a glorious historical past that is associated with the foundation of the national identity and the portuguese language. It is certainly one of the most important historical destinations in the country. Ancient Roman city, was chosen by D. Afonso Henriques (our first king) to be the capital of the kingdom, after the victory in the battle of S. Mamede, in 1128. It was classified as World Heritage of Unesco in 2001.

When you arrive in Guimarães there is always a good feeling that I can’t explain, but I think it’s because I’m portuguese. I want to shout very loudly “Viva Portugal”. We start at the hill where two remarkable examples of the Vimaranian heritage stand: The castle and the Ducal Palace. BEAUTIFUL!

The Castle of Guimarães was built in the 10th century , being extended in the 11th century. Says the legend that D. Afonso Henriques was born here. In 1910 it was classified as a national monument.

The Ducal Palace dates back to the 15th century, and it has, in its interior, a set of Flemish tapestries and Persian rugs, superb. Both are well worth a visit.

Then we continue our journey right through the main square, the Oliveira Square.

It’s so nice to go down calmly enjoying the surroundings. A real labyrinth of winding alleys, flanked by old houses, decorated with statuary.

Suddenly we see the Salado Pattern in the center, which is a Gothic pearl (style that I like so much) and on the left side is the beautiful church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira. This church was founded by D. Afonso Henriques and underwent a restoration in the reign of King João I in 1835, after the victory in the battle of Aljubarrota. The tower is Manueline (a style that is only portuguese).

There is a curious legend associated with this square that I think is worth telling here. There was an olive tree in front of the church, which olives were used to provide oil to the altar lamps, but dried up and died. Later, a merchant put a cross on the exact spot where the olive tree once existed. Miraculously the tree came back to life. Unfortunately the one that exists today is not the original.

It is lunch time and there are many good restaurants in Guimarães. We chose one that, apart from eating very well, is a happy recovery from an old building, Papa Boa. I recommend.

Our afternoon will be spent on the mountain of Penha to enjoy all the nature and the best views over the city.

We will climb the cable car, probably the first to start operating in Portugal, in 1955. The climb is very pleasant and allows us to have an aerial perspective.

The mountain of Penha, although it goes back to the prehistoric period, its occupation took place in the last three centuries, was when the relation of the men with the space happened. The men wanted to build a place of worship here and “faith moves mountains”. Today there is a very important sanctuary for the Catholic religion and that is a true place of pilgrimage. It’s a fascinating place where granite rocks predominate. There are a set of caves, gorges, fountains, cliffs, large trees, all ready to be discovered and appreciated.

The devotion of men does miracles. Man with nature and faith leaves a valuable legacy.

It’s time to go down to dinner in Oliveira Square, on a terrace where you feel like sitting and taking more time than necessary, looking without haste for every detail. We had dinner calmly, but now we have to go to the Alberto Sampaio Museum where we will have the real privilege of seeing a play. I think it’s an unbeatable duo, a good play in an unlikely and so beautiful place.

The Alberto Sampaio Museum has one of the most valuable collections of tiles and sculptures in the country. I emphasize a beautiful triptych in silver, that represents the visitation, the annunciation and the birth of Christ. But the ex-libris of this place are, for me, the cloisters, gorgeous.

Here we go up an ancient staircase that takes us to a small wooden room, cozy, where we feel special. The historical play was very well performed, with a fantastic wardrobe. Congratulations!

It’s time to say goodbye and it looks like we miss it already. We’ll come back soon!

 

   Maria José Dias

Pictury Photo Tours

Nothing better than getting up in the morning with the joy of thinking that the end of the day will be toasted with another play, Cheers to the Theater (on this day that is his I have to celebrate it)!

Thus, we have a good excuse to go early to Braga and enjoy the day in this small and beautiful city.

Braga is, beyond a city full of history, the city of creativity, despite its interiority, it feels the bubbling.

We start the tour in the Sé (catedral) that still exists before Portugal is a country and that is the most emblematic building.

Located in the historical center, as we know it was projected at the end of the 12th century by Bishop D. Pedro. It is thought to have been built where there once existed a Roman temple dedicated to the goddess Isis (goddess of motherhood and fertility, protector of nature and magic – this building is even magical). It offers a range of styles, from the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles.

Inside are the tombs of the most important “fathers” of Portugal, those of D. Afonso Henriques, our first King. Let us appreciate.

Whenever I go to Braga I like to walk the old streets, to enjoy the details calmly, but also the people with all their sympathy and generosity.

One of the buildings I like most is the Palácio do Raio, sublime!

It has everything that in my imagination a palace must have, so full of details, with all the magnificent tiles (that so much taste and that so well represent Portugal), sumptuous and so different. It’s really special.

I can not fail to make reference to the architect to whom we owe his existence to our delight, André Soares.

André Soares and Carlos Amarante are two of the most important architects for the city of Braga. Already someone said that architecture is the greatest art.

Continuing our tour we have to pass in the so-called New Door Arch that never had a door, but which is worth appreciating, especially the top sculptures. This bow will connect to a square with a very beautiful fountain where a fish market was once held. It is always interesting to imagine ourselves in other times.

There is still a curiosity that has to do with the authorship of this arch, there are doubts about if it was  André Soares or Carlos Amarante who built.

It’s lunchtime and hunger tightens. We still have a long afternoon, but it sure will be worth it.

Lunch at S. Frutuoso, one of Braga classics restaurant retemper and is always so good.

Let’s go to one of the favorite places, Bom Jesus do Monte or Braga.

As the name implies it stands on a hill and has one of the most curious buildings I know, it is a staircase with 573 steps where the five human senses are represented in each fountain with enchanting details, whose authorship is the architect Carlos Amarante.

I recommend climbing on foot, for the bravest it’s worth it, when we got there above we felt some conquerors.

There is the possibility of getting on the funicular (you have to try climbing or descending) which was inaugurated in 1882 and is the oldest in the world in activity. It is an extraordinary work of engineering of the Portuguese Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, moved by water by counterweight, constituted by two cabins, both with water deposits and connected by a cable. Truly ingenious.

The conquerors have arrived and will now feel these gardens that alone are worth the visit. Nature at its best, whatever the time of year.

To those who are believers, nature is indeed a gift from God and to me these gardens are proof of that. We are in a set of extensive gardens, lakes, grottos, rails and coretos, a true feast. It is worthwhile to let yourself to be inebriate  and envolved with nature, discover all the nooks that are always surprising. A very rich afternoon.

Let’s get down on this fantastic funicular that I told you about (yes, do not forget that the climb was on foot).

We had dinner in a restaurant in the historic area that I really like, both for its beauty and for the food it offers. Modern, but in an old building that has been recovered in the best way.

My heart is “running” fast, I see the entrance to Theatro Circo.

Take a deep breath, let’s get into one of the most beautiful theaters in the country and maybe in the world. The inauguration of this theater took place on April 21, 1915, a project by the architect João Moura Coutinho, because there was a need to provide the city with a large cultural space. After years of decline, it has been completely restored and today is a true cultural icon.

It is difficult for me to describe how much I am moved by all the place surroundings, it is really to go to tears. So beautiful that it hurts! (A good pain, of course.)

The piece lived up to expectations and all the palms they received were well deserved. Thanks.

The time has come for me to return to “my” sea, which is so dear to me. Even though it’s night, let it light up in a sweet moonlight, I see it greet me a warm welcome.

Until always Braga, I promise I’ll come back more often.

 

   Maria José Dias

Pictury Photo Tours