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Guimarães is a town proud of its past, and this is evident in a series of delightful medieval landmarks. The old town's narrow, cobbled thoroughfares pass small bars that open onto sidewalks and pastel houses that overhang little squares and have flowers in their windowsills. The historic center of Guimarães is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the town has served as the European Capital of Culture and the European Capital of Sport.

Many come for the rich history that the town offers. Afonso Henriques was born in 1110 in Guimarães, and Portuguese schoolchildren are taught that "aqui nasceu Portugal" (Portugal was born here) with him. Within 20 years he was regarded as king of Portucale (the united Portuguese lands between the Minho and Douro rivers) and had made Guimarães the seat of his power. From this first "Portuguese" capital, Afonso Henriques drove south, taking Lisbon back from the Moors in 1147.

The volume of tourists in Guimarães is a fraction of what Porto or Lisbon receives, so you'll have many of the city's winding cobblestone streets all to yourself. This truly authentic slice of Portuguese heritage deserves an overnight stay on any trip to the region.

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