Photographer's Note

Night shot of Guimaraes castle, probably the best known and mythical in Portugal as it represents the birthplace of the nation. In fact it is known as the “Cradle of the Nation” because it was here where D. Afonso Henriques was born and raised and where he planned the wars for the independence of the Portugal province during the 12th century, becoming the first Portuguese king.

The origins of the Guimaraes castle can be traced back to 968, when the Countess of Galicia, D. Mumadona Dias, ordered the construction of a fortification to defend the populations and the existing monastery against the raids of the Norman / Vikings hordes from the coast and the Moors (Arabs) from the south. During the 11th century, Guimaraes had its defensive structure extensively enhanced when Count Henrique assumed the government of the province from King D. Alfonso VI of Leon. The existing tower and wall were augmented with additional towers, a keep and the widening of the original wall.

In 1129, D. Afonso Henriques proclaimed the independence of Portugal and several battles ensued, including that against his mother’s army who was against independence contrary to her initial belief. Despite Portugal’s independence being recognized in 1143, battles were fought with Spain until the 14th century due to the pretensions of Spain to dominate the Portuguese kingdom.

With the advent of the artillery, Guimaraes castle became outdated and was abandoned for several centuries. It was used as a prison, barn, and quarry. In a total state of ruin, it was recovered during the 1930’s to become the symbol of nationality.

Info from Guide to the Castles of Europe

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Additional Photos by Chris Chafer (sandpiper) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 767 W: 87 N: 1198] (6788)
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