Guimarães: The Castle

The current Castle at Guimarães dates from the reign of D. Dinis when it was strengthened and the walls extended to encircle the main part of the lower town.

The Castle at Guimarães
The original stone-built castle was erected on the site of a 9th century fortification by D Henrique, when Guimarães became the capital of the 2nd Condado Portucalense. It served his son, Afonso Henriques, as a base from which to pursue independence. In the year before the decisive battle of S. Mamede (1128) this castle was besieged by the King of Léon who sought to force him into submission.

The 14th century defences withstood the invasion of D. Henrique of Castela in 1369. The Mestre de Aviz also lacked forces to take the town by storm, resorting to subterfuge. The Castle, however, resisted all assaults, until the Alcaide, seeing that his cause was lost, surrendered.

Eventually the Castle at Guimarães lost its military significance and at the end of the Civil War (1832-34) its demolition was proposed to reuse the stone for paving the town’s streets. Fortunately this did not occur, so that William Flower was able to take the first photograph of Guimarães Castle (cerca 1854), a gesture repeated by thousands of tourists every year.

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Arriving in Oporto to select a port wine for his college, Englishman Horace Grimpil soon finds himself embroiled in the conflicting interests of the British and Portuguese communities, where he is an ignorant outsider.

This Portuguese city - a turbulent place of ambition and defiance fought over by the French and British during the Napoleonic wars - is emerging from political turmoil that left the city and its people with their wealth and society destroyed.

Mr Grimpil, however, is about to experience personal turmoil of his own. Little does he know how the passions aroused during his journey of discovery will affect his own character, or how his presence will bring to a conclusion the relentless pursuit of a political revenge spanning generations.

Read more about the book here

Grimpil's Retrogress © 2010

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