, , , , ,

Before going to Amarante, I received a timetable with the activities to do during the first month of my internship. It was scheduled: June the 9th 2013, trip to Guimarães and Porto.

And there we went on that day: 2 Leonardo interns and 2 fresh new EVS volunteers, on the road with the director of Casa da Juventude de Amarante for our first trip in Portugal.

Guimarães is a northern Portuguese historical city and municipality in the district of Braga, that had an important role in the formation of Portugal. It was settled in the 9th century, at which time it was called Vimaranes. This denomination might have had its origin in the warrior Vímara Peres, when he chose this area as the main government seat for the County of Portugal, which he conquered for the Kingdom of Galicia.

Guimarães is one of the country’s most important historical cities. Its historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it one of the largest tourist centers in the region. Moreover, Guimarães was the European Capital of Culture in 2012.

Praça da Oliveira.

Guimarães, Praça da Oliveira. Image found on Wikipedia.

The Castle of Guimarães

The Castle of Guimarães. Image found on Wikipedia.

Guimarães is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited in Portugal and the fact that I didn’t take pictures while walking down its street is the proof I was too busy observing its beauty. I don’t take pictures when I really like the moment I am living. My brain collects better memories.
Photography is my hobby, but I only photograph what does not actually feed my soul. The best photographs I have ever taken are 5 senses images stuck in my mind.

Some months ago, I read an article on Psychological Science that confirms my behaviour. The study was published on December 2013 by Dr. Linda A. Henkel from Fairfield University and updated on July 2014.
[Read the article online: click here]
Summarizing, Dr. Henkel found out that when people rely on technology to remember for them, it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences.

Returning to the main topic of this post, my trip to Guimarães, I visited the Castle and the historical city centre with the Church in Praça da Oliveira called Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, then I had lunch in the Restaurant Cor de Tangerina.


The Castle of Guimarães is the principal medieval castle in the city. Its construction was ordered by D. Mumadona Dias in the 10th century to defend its monastery from attacks by Moors and Normans. The castle is a military fortification grounded primarily in the late Romanesque period and elaborated during the early Gothic epoch of Portuguese architecture. Its area is delineated by walls forming a pentagram, similar to a shield that includes eight rectangular towers, a military square and a central keep. Originating in the foundations of a Roman structure, from the writings of Alfredo Guimarães, it was later elaborated on the French model in its current form of a shield, with a reduced central yard and difficult accesses. It includes several Gothic characteristics, owing to its remodelling at the end of the 13th century, when the keep and the residences were constructed.

The Castle can be visited from the inside and it’s really enchanting.
One of the rooms belonged to Catarina de Bragança, who was the
Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1662 to 1685, as the wife of King Charles II.

Catarina de Bragança’s bedroom in the Castle of Guimarães. Image found on http://umpasseiopelaminhamente.blogspot.pt/2012/11/guimaraes.html

Catarina de Bragaça

The portrait of Catarina de Bragaça that you can find in the Castle of Guimarães in her bedroom. Image found on Wikipedia.

This is a portrait made by the artist Peter Lely in 1663, when she had already married Charles II. Since Portugal is a Catholic country, the marriage happened in Great Britain, preventing the Pope to interfere.

Catarina was not a beautiful lady. When Charles II saw her portrait before the marriage, he really liked her black hair and eyes and her sweet-looking face. Anyway, she wasn’t really as beautiful as the portrait and Charles II could not know that she actually was short and chubby, while her teeth were slightly protruding. Moreover, she possessed several good qualities, but she had been grown up in a convent, secluded from the world, and she was scarcely a wife Charles would have chosen for himself. Her personal charms were not potent enough to wean Charles away from the society of his mistresses and in a few weeks after her arrival in Great Britain, she became aware of her painful and humiliating position as the wife of a licentious king.
Catarina became pregnant and miscarried at least three times, and during a severe illness in 1663, she imagined, for a time, that she had given birth. Charles comforted her by telling her she had indeed given birth to two sons and a daughter. Her position was a difficult one, and though Charles continued to have children by his many mistresses, he insisted she had to be treated with respect and he sided with her against his mistresses when he felt she was not receiving the respect she was due.
After her three miscarriages, it seemed to be more and more unlikely that Catarina would bear an heir. Royal advisors urged the monarch to seek a divorce, hoping that the new wife would be Protestant and fertile, but Charles refused. This eventually led to her being made a target by courtiers.
Throughout his reign, Charles firmly dismissed the idea of divorcing Catherine, and she remained faithful to Charles throughout their marriage, until he died in 1685.

The tea time
Catarina went back to Portugal, but her stay in England brought and promulgated goods such as cane, lacquer, cottons and porcelain. She also introduced the use of cutlery, tobacco and the famous “tea time“.
British people were already drinking tea, she just made it a common practice, today known as the “5 o’clock tea“.
Tea was first introduced to Portuguese priests and merchants in China during the 16th century, at which time it was termed chá, that’s still the Portuguese word for “tea”.
When Catarina de Bragança was the Queen of England, tea arrived in Great Britain in boxes onto which there was written the acronym for “Aromatic Herbs Transport” in Portuguese: “Transporte de Ervas Aromáticas“, that is T.E.A.
So, actually, TEA is the acronym for an information in Portuguese about what was carried on ships arriving in England from Portugal.
Funny story.

THE HISTORICAL CITY CENTRE: Igreja de Nossa Senhora de Oliveira

Guimarães has a very nice historical centre, merging the medieval art with the modern lifestyle.
Praça da Oliveira is a charming place with yellow houses where you can feel comfortably happy, by the way the gothic style of the Church gives a dark side to the square.

There are several gargoyles on the walls of the Church, some of them practicing auto-fellatio as the following one:

Nobody told me anything about it, nor why that gargoyle was built like this and I couldn’t find any information online. I think it’s an important detail for the history of the city, someone should write about this.


Cor de Tangerina is a vegetarian restaurant situated in front of Palácio dos Duques in Guimarães and it’s one of the co-workers of Equação Crl.

[Equação is the first Fair Trade Shop of Portugal, which was opened in Amarante in 1999. As organization, Equação was founded in 2006 and it cooperates with other organizations of Portugal based on Fair Trade, among which the restaurant Cor de Tangerina.]

I really loved its style and the food is excellent.
Some people are perplexed about the vegetarian cuisine and I really don’t understand why. Even though I usually don’t eat meat and I prefer vegetables, I am not vegetarian. I ate vegetarian food everyday while living in Casa da Juventude for my internship and I lived very well without meat during 3 months of my life.
Cor de Tangerina is a very elegant and particular vegetarian restaurant, based on the ideals and values of Fair Trade: if you go to Guimarães, you must eat there.
My philosphy of life is:

Don’t be scared about what you don’t know: just give it a try. And, most of all, don’t judge what you’ve never tried without experiencing it!

That’s a general advice. Be brave, life has to be lived. A lack of knowledge is called “ignorance” and there is no better teacher than life itself. Empiricism is your best guide.


Guimarães (PT): http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guimarães
Guimarães (EN): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guimarães
Castle of Guimarães (EN): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guimarães_Castle
Castle of Guimarães (PT): http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castelo_de_Guimarães
Catarina de Bragança (EN): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_of_Braganza
Catarina de Bragança (PT): http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catarina_de_Bragança
Articles about Catarina de Bragança (PT):
– http://www.adiaspora.com/cronicas/Catarina_de_Braganca
– http://www.leme.pt/biografias/catarina/
Praça da Oliveira (PT): http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centro_Histórico_de_Guimarães
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira (PT):
– http://www.planetware.com/guimaraes/largo-da-oliveira-p-bra-laroli.htm
The history of tea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_tea