The drive up there was absolutely beautiful, rolling hills, tall trees, homes, farm lands dotted here and there. Once you are out of the big cities in Portugal you are out in the beautiful countryside. In less than an hour we found ourselves in this historic town that sits on the Cavalo River and is connected to the town across the river by a Medieval Bridge built in the 14th Century. We started our exploring by the river at the ruins of the Palace of the Barcelos' Counts built in the 1st half of the 15 century and a National Monument since 1910, it is now the Archeological Museum of Barcelos.
As we left the ruins we spotted our first Galo, the are large statues and very colorful, it was fun having my picture taken with them throughout the town. We continued walking thru the historic streets and in to the Town Center. It was a nice stroll, this is a very nice, well kept town. We found a beautiful garden, many fountains, gorgeous Church and of course more Galo's here and there! We stopped for coffee and a Pastel de Nata. I did a little shopping - I had to get some Galo souvenirs! Barcelos was a very nice, quaint little town and we could have stayed longer but we still had Guimaraes to visit (we were told it was even nicer) so we decided to go there and start our visit with lunch.
|A view of the town across the river!|
GUIMARAES - the Birth Place of Portugal
The drive to Guimaraes continued to amaze us, I can't stress how beautiful this country is! Another plus for drivers is that the highways are exceptionally well organized, the toll booths, signage etc.. We arrived here hungry, not a good way to arrive anywhere, it makes it a little hectic. Parked by the Igreja de San Pedro and wandered into the historic part looking for Cheers, restaurant recommended by Peggy and Eric. We found the Plaza but unfortunately they were not open that day so we continued looking. Just walking thru the town was a feast for the eyes (no pun intended), narrow, winding streets lined with very old buildings, churches etc. In another small plaza we found a wonderful restaurant, Pimenta Moscada, serving Frango (chicken) as their Menu of the Day. We ate like Royalty, now we are ready to explore!
We walked the beautiful streets towards the Castle, built in the 10th Century. We've seen many Castles but we just don't get tired of them (plus its good exercise to walk up and down the many steps). We walked all the way up to the very tippy top and pretended we were searching for the enemy, in this case we only spotted groups of noisy school kids on tours with their teachers. Luckily we were able to enjoy the Castle without them. The views from here were incredible, we could see the Palace and St. Miguel's Chapel, all in the same area. From here we walked to the small Chapel, built in the beginning of the 12th Century and then continued on to the Palace, built in the 15th Century. Since 1959 the Palace has been a Museum open to the public, housing a collection dating from the 17th and 18th Century. It includes wooden furniture, tapestries, porcelain and weapons from the 15th and 16th Century. The Palace had its own small Chapel with beautiful Stain Glass windows.
|View of the Palace from the Castle|
|A Room in the Palace!|
We found a charming outdoor cafe right across the street from the Palace and decided to have an afternoon drink - Howard had his favorite, Cerverja and I mine, Vinho Verde! I also found myself a Handsome Knight -
The views from our table were beautiful, this truly is a very quaint, charming city. Hard to believe how old it is, it is so well kept up. It is a Medieval town but its origins go back to the 10th Century. After relaxing (resting our feet) we wandered thru more of the narrow streets, viewing many historic buildings, fountains, statues, Churches, Monasteries, etc. you could feel the history all round us!
We were in our car headed back to Porto when we spotted a sign for the Teleferico (Cable Car) that takes you up the mountain. We looked at each other and said "Why not?". We had about 30 minutes before they closed, giving us a little time to explore up at the top. The ride (view) was spectacular and we enjoyed a short hike at the top to the Sanctuary, more magnificent views from here!
We drove back to our Castle in Porto very happy campers, what a fabulous day!