Guimaraes - Encyclopedia




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GUIMARAES (sometimes written Guimaraens), a town of northern Portugal, in the district of Braga, formerly included in the province of Entre-Minho-e-Douro; 36 m. N.E. of Oporto by the Trofa-Guimaraes branch of the Oporto-Corunna railway. Pop. (190o) 9104. Guimaraes is a very ancient town with Moorish fortifications; and even the quarters which are locally described as "new" date partly from the 15th century. It occupies a low hill, skirted on the north-west by a small tributary of the river Ave. The citadel, founded in the 11th century by Count Henry of Burgundy, was in 10 9 4 the birthplace of his son Alphonso, the first king of Portugal. The font in which Alphonso was baptized is preserved, among other interesting relics, in the collegiate church of Santa Maria da Oliveira, "St Mary of the Olive," a Romanesque building of the 14th century, which occupies the site of an older foundation. This church owes its name to the legend that the Visigothic king Wamba (672-680) here declined the crown of Spain, until his olive wood spear-shaft blossomed as a sign that he should consent. The convent of Sao Domingos, now a museum of antiquities, has a fine 12th-13th century cloister; the town hall is built in the blend of Moorish and Gothic architecture known as Manoelline. Guimaraes has a flourishing trade in wine and farm produce; it also manufactures cutlery, linen, leather and preserved fruits. Near the town are Citania, the ruins of a prehistoric Iberian city, and the hot sulphurous springs of Taipas, frequented since the 4th century, when Guimaraes itself was founded.

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