Capital of Culture II
This splendid route which explores and passes through Guimarães, the cultural capital and birthplace of the country starts in Porto the principal city of the region – it’s Portugal’s second city and gave the country its name. No mention of Porto is complete without a reference to the most famous product of this region, port wine. Most of the major producers have their cellars across the river in Gaia: here the wine, produced on the estates up-river in and around the Douro Valley, is aged before being shipped to markets throughout the world, and a visit to one of these cellars followed by a tasting of a few varieties is absolutely recommended.
Reproduced with kind permission of Bing
This beautiful Pousada is situated just upstream from the historical old town of Oporto on the bank of the Douro river. Built around 1742, the Palácio do Freixo (Freixo Palace) is one of the most remarkable examples of Portuguese baroque architecture in Porto. The Pousada has preserved the entire façade of the palace building, which became a National Monument in 1910. The interior has been meticulously restored to preserve the original features such as beautiful painted ceilings, mirrored drawing rooms and a small chapel room. The property consists of two interconnected buildings: the Palácio (or palace), which houses the restaurant, bar, lounges and meeting rooms; and the former 'Harmonia' Flour Factory, where the rooms are found, some of them boasting magnificent river views, and there is also a state of the art spa.
Guimarães Sta Marinha
Near the historical centre of Guimarães, set on a hill overlooking the city, stands the majestic Santa Marinha Pousada. This 12th-century Augustinian convent was given to the Church by Dona Alfalda, wife of the first king of Portugal. The convent retains many original features, including its decorative façade, but it has now been transformed into a most impressive 51-room hotel. There is a formal garden, a lake, a terrace with granite fountains, cloisters, a grotto and a swimming pool. In 1985 the restored building was awarded the National Architectural Prize.
Surrounded by lush fields and vineyards, where the famous Vinho Verde wine is produced, this quite exceptional Pousada is situated in the beautiful Minho region of northern Portugal between the historic city of Braga – the religious capital of Portugal – and the stunning Peneda Gerês National Park. Originally a 12th-century Cistercian monastery, Santa Maria do Bouro has been charmingly modernized by the award-winning Portuguese architect, Souto Moura. It has retained its character of monastic serenity but now offers a high degree of comfort and tasteful modern décor, including a particularly inviting swimming pool in the adjoining garden. It is a delightful, relaxing base from which to explore the many cultural sites of the Minho.