The castle in Guimaraes was the real thing: thick walls of stone, built on a high bed of rock, its only purpose was defensive.
The interior space was smaller than expected. We saw very few openings in the tower to the outside. These were narrow slit windows for shooting arrows out of the castle and narrow enough to protect the archer inside. The floor in places was the rock bed at the foundation of the castle. We imagine it was the perfect defensive fortress for its time. It was built by the year 968 to protect the monastery next door.
The Guimaraes castle is an important building in Portugal’s history as the first royal residence in 1139 when Portugal became independent.
Since the 15th C Palace of the Dukes of Braganza sat just next door and because we had plenty of time, we decided to take a look.
We’d spent our morning visiting an Iron Age fortified city, Citânia de Briteiros, dating back 2,000 years, followed by a visit to a 1,000 year old castle, and then a palace a mere 600 years old. Through one day we had leaped through time, from pre-historic Castro culture, to Portugal of the Middle Ages, and all the way up to merely old Portugal. Then we hopped on a train that would take us back to contemporary Portugal before the end of the day.