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In the 10th century, after the death of the Count Hermenegildo (or Mendo) Gonçalves, his widow – Countess Mumadona Dias – took over the County of Portucale. She adopted two relevant measures: around 950, she founded the Santa Maria Monastery in down-town Guimarães; and, uptown, a castle known as of S. Mamede, between 950 and 957.

The construction of said castle was required to protect the new Monastery and the people that, in the meantime, settled near these two new structures. The construction of the Castle also served as a mean to assert her power towards other feudal lords. In December 4, 968 a decree granted the S. Mamede Castle to the Guimarães Monastery. This document has the first known reference of the fortification.

As the historian Mário Jorge Barroca refers, at that time, the castle would have been much different than the one we know nowadays for these types of buildings were rudimentary. Turrets were rare and there are no known watchtowers in the time-frame.

The Castle was continuously altered, so its original design mustn’t have considerable similarities to the current one. It is known that Count Henrique did some renovations and, according to Mário Barroca, there are some remains believed to be from the 11th century. Later on, in the 13th and 14th centuries, King Dinis had the watchtower built, along with eight turrets that flank the castle walls. There were some other interventions afterwards, during the reign of King João I, which defined the last design.

It is curious to notice that the Guimarães Castle was the first to be photographed in Portugal. These recordings allows one to see how the building was in the 19th century. The photos were taken by Frederick William Flower, an English trader that lived in Porto, which was a pioneer photographer.

After centuries of abandonment and decay, the Castle was repaired in the 1930’s, under the extinct D.G.E.M.N. (Directorate General for National Buildings and Monuments). It meant to restore the most emblematic Portuguese site relating to the creation of the Country.

The Guimarães Castle is a National Monument since 1910.

Historical figures