Pousada de Guimarães
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- Number of rooms: 51
- Air conditioning
- Disabled facilities
- Free internet (public areas)
- 24-hour reception
- Outdoor pool (seasonal)
- Safe at reception
- Room service
- Business centre
- Tennis court
- Golf course nearby
- Airport (55km)
Pousada de Guimarães (Sta Marinha) - 12th century convent-monastery
Approximately 1km from the historical centre of Guimarães, set on a hill overlooking the city, stands the majestic Santa Marinha Pousada. This 12th-century Augustinian convent/monastery was given to the Church by Dona Alfalda, wife of the first king of Portugal. It 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 an outdoor swimming pool. In 1985 the restored building was awarded the National Architectural Prize.
The monastery displays elements of late-Roman and Moorish architecture, including a doorway in one of the towers off the cloister that was once the main entrance to the building and is perhaps one of the finest remaining examples of a simple, ornamental Moorish door. Evidence of Romanesque, Gothic and Classic architecture can be seen around the monastery but a fire in the east wing during the 20th century has destroyed many of the impressive glazed-tile panels that depicted Portuguese life in the 18th century. The remaining panels provide us with a remarkable view into the culture and activities of the people of that time, whilst wood carvings, sculptures and other works of art depict the colourful history and function of the building.
The well-kept gardens are another focal point, whilst the stunning setting of the monastery on the hillside affords memorable views across the town and the surrounding hills.
The existing structure was converted in the 70s into the Pousada of today, and has retained many of the original features of the monastery including the monks cells which are now bedrooms, and the restored mill in the gardens near the spring. This Pousada is steeped in history and you cannot fail to be moved by its majestic façade, its rich architecture and its authentic atmosphere.
The Pousada also has a free of charge garage – limited availability and subject to first come, first served basis. There is a public car park in front of the Pousada where guests can park free of charge.
Guimaraes - commonly known as ''the birthplace of Portugal'' - is a historical gem, well worth enjoying over a weekend. Portugal was named after the original city of Portucale (Porto, today) but it is Guimaraes which is cherished by the Portuguese as the city where their first king was born. The historical centre has been declared a UNESCO Heritage site and the city has more recently celebrated its award of European city of Culture 2012 (jointly with Maribor in Slovenia).
Above the old quarter sits the castle which is well worth a visit - although it is a simple stone structure, partially in ruins, these days - and the 15th century palace of the Dukes of Braganza, which also fell into ruin but has been extensively rebuilt and refurbished.
As you walk down into the old town of Guimaraes, you will see occasional ''religious stations' - alcoves with Christian statues and paintings - which are visited on days of Christian celebration, and you will pass through the attractive, narrow old streets before entering several of the central squares, all proudly maintained and immaculately adorned, many of which are cobbled terraces of charming restaurants and cafes. The main square - Praca da Nossa Senhora da Oliveira - perhaps hosts the most cafes with streets leading off it with small shops and on the square itself you will find the Church of Maria, the patron saint of Guimaraes and one remaining olive tree, after which the square was named. Enjoy the arches, colonnades and colourful facades of the architecture of the city so fondly cherished by the Portuguese. This is a city to be explored on foot, and once you have explored the many sites in the city centre, you can venture up onto the hillside by a short ride in the cable car, to enjoy spectacular views down on the extended city and to join the locals in a quiet stroll on a warm afternoon.
Nearby, you can easily reach by car the three shrines overlooking the larger city of Braga, which include the specatular Bom Jesus shrine, and you can descend the steps, bordered by statues and flowers, and consider the marvel of the surrounding architecture along the hillside. The city of Braga isn't as small and picturesque as Guimaraes and it perhaps lacks such a concentrated nucleas of historical sites to visit, but it makes up for that with broader streets and larger squares full of shops and boutiques, set neatly amongst colourfully painted and tiled facades.
Restaurant meal times & typical dishes
Lunch is served from 13.00 to 15.00
Dinner is served from 19.30 to 22.00
- Codfish with Corn Bread
- Roasted Bísaro Pork with Chestnuts and Sarrabulho Potatotes
- Grilled Barrosã Veal with Golden Potatoes, Broccoli Turnip Tops and Garlic Sauce
- Rabbit Stew Fundador Style, with Chestnuts and Mushrooms
- Pica Rooster, with Stewed Rice
- Toucinho do Céu (Egg and Syrup Custard)
- “Abade de Priscos” Pudding
- Chocolate Pie
- A. Dawson
This Pousada was the most memorable we stayed in due to one lady, Margarida Silva, who after taking us on the free tour of the Pousada, looking after one of Portugal's top football teams who stayed overnight and most of the following day, organising a wedding and a christening in the afternoon and a reception, still had time to come and chat to us and tell us what were the best sites to go to. This ancient capital has a castle and very old houses too, with a cable car up the Penha hill to Penha.
- A. McCall
A wonderful 12th century convent which has been expertly converted into a very comfortable hotel with great public rooms, an excellent restaurant and beautiful gardens all complemented by a fine swimming pool complete with snack bar and views over the town - an exceptional and very relaxing base.
- D. Levenson
We have just returned from Portugal and had a truly wonderful time at the Pousadas in Guimaraes and Alijo. The Pousada Sta Marinha in Guimaraes is a magical place - we loved it and hope to go back. The Barao de Forrester in Alijo is also very nice; I think we had the best room with a very large balcony. We hope to travel to Spain or Portugal again in the near future and if we do we will certainly come back to Keytel.
- Sandrine D. Epsom
We had visited Guimaraes previously and I’d forgotten what a special feel the city has – the extensive historic centre has been lovingly maintained, full of atmosphere and a real sense of historical significance.
How to get there
From Guimaraes train station 1. Head east on Av. Dom João IV toward R. Paulo VI (0.1 mi) 2. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on Av. Dom João IV (0.5 mi) 3. Turn right onto R. Dom Domingos Da Silva Gonçalves (0.2 mi) 4. Turn left onto R. Dr. Raúl Alves da Cunha (0.3 mi) 5. Take the 2nd left (0.4 mi) 6. Turn right (0.1 mi) 7. Slight left at Travessa da Boavista (312 ft)
N. Sra de Oliv. - 3 Km
Amares - 41 Km
Marao - 60 Km
Viana do Cast. - 77 Km
Oporto Airport - 55 Km
Region & Cuisine
PORTO & THE NORTH
This for us is the most scenically spectacular of all of Portugal’s five official Regions on the mainland. Bordering the Spanish regions of Galicia to the north and Castilla y León to the east, and with the Atlantic to the west, this is essentially a mountainous region that encompasses two important river systems: the Minho in the north-west forming part of the border with Spain, and further south the Douro running roughly east-west and reaching the Atlantic at the city of Porto. With a mild climate – winter temperatures average 13/14ºC, rising to 26ºC in July and August – this is a region to visit at any time of the year.
Porto is the principal city of the region – it’s Portugal’s second city and gave the country its name. Only an hour and a half or so from the UK by air, Porto is rapidly becoming one of the most popular ‘city break’ destinations for visitors from this country, and for good reason. Most of the historic quarter can comfortably be explored on foot, and a spectacular view of the city and of Vila Nova de Gaia (Gaia for short) on the other side of the Douro can be seen from the splendid Romanesque-Gothic cathedral in the old quarter. Another, more leisurely, way of seeing both Porto and Gaia is by taking a trip on one of the river boats that run between the eastern edge of the city and the point at which the Douro enters the Atlantic.
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. Moored in Gaia are the original ‘Rabelo’ boats which were used to transport the wine down from the estates. Nowadays, modern cruise vessels carry passengers up into the Douro Valley, and beyond as far as Spain, for trips of one day to a week.
North of Porto is the ‘Costa Verde’, running up to the River Minho and the Spanish border. The principal town on this coast is the elegant resort of Viana do Castelo, famous throughout Portugal for its ‘Fiesta of Fiestas’ on the third weekend of August, while further north and a few miles inland, on the banks of the Minho and with glorious views across the river to Spain, is the little town of Vila Nova de Cerveira and its charming Pousada.
Other notable towns in the region are Braga, founded by the Celts in 300 BC and an important Roman administrative centre, and Guimarães, a medieval town known as the birthplace of the Portuguese nation and with a magnificently well-preserved historic centre. And in the mountainous ‘Tras-os-Montes’ in the north-west, the historic towns of Chaves and Bragança stand out.
But a major attraction of this beautiful region of Portugal has to be its outstanding scenery. To appreciate this to the full you really need a car and a touring holiday of a week or so, starting and finishing in Porto and staying at several Pousadas en route, will provide a perfect introduction to the region. We would certainly suggest staying a night or two in Porto itself and an ideal route would include the highly-recommended Pousadas at Vila Nova de Cerveira, Amares (near the exceptionally beautiful Peneda-Gerês National Park), Guimarães, Alijó and/or Mesão Frio in the Douro Valley area, the latter with quite magnificent views of the river valley itself, then back to Porto.
The cuisine of the region naturally includes fish of the highest quality along the coastal stretch (including lampreys, a speciality of Vilanova de Cerveira) and inevitably ‘bacalhau’ (codfish), for which there are either 365 or 1,001 methods of preparation – whoever you believe – throughout Portugal. A very popular local speciality is ‘caldo verde’, a green cabbage and spicy sausage soup; rich meaty stews in the mountainous north-west, and everywhere a profusion of sweet desserts, many of them almond based, cakes and pastries. This is ‘vinho verde’ territory so this light, white wine is found throughout the region, while several excellent red wines are produced in the area of the Douro. And, of course, there is always port.......
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Pousadas of Portugal:
Children: Generally the cost of an extra bed for a child under 13 years is free (when sharing a twin/double room with 2 parents).
Half-board: Most Pousadas offer a varied 3-course 'Table d'Hote' menu from £27 per person excluding drinks, and from £36 for their Pousadas in Cascais, Porto and Lisbon.
An extensive 'a la carte' selection is available at all Pousadas, these menus change seasonally.
Pestana Hotels and Resorts:
Children: Prices for extra beds for one or more children will be displayed at best rate available for each room type with capacity for additional beds.
Half-board: Most Pestana hotels offer 'a la carte' and buffet dining options.