Showing posts from 2012


30 March 2012 Afonso Henriques Guimarães is an important historical city of Portugal.  Its history traces back the 9th century, the formation of Portugal, the birthplace of Portugal nationality.  Probably it's because the first Portugese Alfonso was borne here.  The town centre is Unesco historical site. This year, 2012, Guimarães is chosen as the European Capital of Culture.  It explains the tourist crowds. Our first unplanned spot is Guimarães  Vila Flor Palace and Cultural Centre .  The palace was constructed in mid-17th century.  It is decorated with granite statues of the first kings of Portugal and surrounded by a 3-terraced garden.  It was refurbished in 2005 when a Cultural Centre of the same name as built. The second spot waiting to welcome us is the Church of S. Francisco . Inside the decoration is rich.  Gathering or mass was in place when we entered.  We were picked by a man working there, led to the front left hand corner when an old man wa


29 March 2012 Braga will be the first city in Portugal going to heaven as once every other building in Braga was a church or seminary.  Today, churches are still abundant in this relatively small city. Once entered into the city centre, you will feel the intensive religious atomsphere around.  First, Easter Semana Santa banners hung everywhere prior to the festival.  Church is more frequently seen than in other cities. The city is clean and bright.  Buildings have been restored. Flowers were everywhere.  Well, it's lots of money to make the city beautiful.  Not all European cities are lavishly decorated with flowers.  Braga can be reached from Porto by suburbano.  The journey lasts about 1 hours 10 minutes, costs 3 Euro.  A quicker suburbano runs some time, 15-20 minutes less.  Or you can take IC train which cost 10 Euro.  My experience, take the suburbano from Sao Bento.  Taking out the travelling time, you can still enjoy a good full day in Br

Vila Real

2 April 2012 Vila Real is the 'must stop' for Casa de Mateus if tourist is taking a bus from somewhere.  Say, one way trip to Porto over an hour and cost 9 Euro. From there one can take a connecting bus.  The first impression of Vila Real is neat and tidy, organised and everything refurbished.  It is a small town (less then 25,000 population) but affords to beautify to impress.  Houses are very nice and in a good state.  I can't remember seeing any decadent houses. Walking down to the end of the main street (Avendia Carvalho Araujo) will lead you to a panoramic view of a valley.  You will see a few houses scattering, in progress highway construction, part of a river and terreaced fields.  Very green and charming!   Igreja S.Paulo We visited a few churches. Two are Igreja S.Paulo and the cathedral. The first embedded in the shopping area with tile panels inside. The Cathedral is Romanesque style, raw and appealing. The rose window is very modern, however.

Casa de Mateus

2 April 2012  Casa de Mateus best represents the flamboyance of Baroque architecture in Portugal .  It was not known for two centuries until it was depicted on the label of Sogrape's Mateus Ros é . The construction started in early 18th century and completed in 1743, probably by Niccolo Nasoni , who also built the Cathedral and Clerigos Tower in Porto.  The owner was Jose Botelho Mourao .  Its descendants are living in the house.  Parts of it and the garden are open to the public to admire the exquisite and symmetry of the architecture.  A pool was added in 1930, reflects the main facade and the two harmonious wings.  In it lies a half naked drown woman by Joao Cutilerio . Visiting the garden alone cost 6 Euro.  A joint ticket including the house will have 9 Euro out of your pocket.  The tour starts with the Entrance Hall, a symetric wooden hall with antique furniture, clock and paintings on the wall.  The visit also includes the Four Se