Guimarães is an ideal destination to visit in one day from Porto. One of the top attractions to see in this city is the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza.
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Visiting the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza
This Palace, together with the Guimarães Castle, stands out in the landscape and attracts the attention of the visitor. If from the outside it’s interesting I assure you that inside it’s also worth it.
It looks like a fortress and its many cilindrical chimneys gave me the impression that I was in front of a factory or something like that.
Its rectangular structure drives it away from the typical palace picture we usually have. but despite its sober exterior it has an imposing presence.
How to get there
The Paço dos Duques de Bragança or Palace of the Dukes of Braganza is located a few steps from Guimarães Castle and very close to the historic center of Guimarães.
In fact you can walk to all the attractions of Guimarães and reach the old town easily from the train station.
Check out for more information and other things to do one day in Guimarães clicking on the link.
The Palace of the Dukes of Braganza is located on the Rua Conde Dom Henrique and there are signs to get there, so you should not get lost
Use the map below to search for accommodation near the Palace.
Opening times and prices
The Palace of the Dukes opens from 10 a.m. at 6 p.m. every day except holidays (December 25, January 1, Easter and May 1).
The price for adults is 5 euros but there is a combined ticket with the Castle for €6.
More information about Guimarães Castle and our visit clicking on the link.
History of the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza.
It was built in the 15th century under the orders of Afonso, first Duke of Bragança, illegitimate son of João I . The palace served as his residence after his second marriage.
When he died the palace was inherited by his brother Fernando who made renovations and extensions to the palace. After the death of Fernando, his son Fernando II becomes the new Duke of Bragança.
In the 16th century the dukes moved their home to Vila Viçosa in Évora, so the palace got abandoned for long periods.
Despite having several owners and restorations, the palace begins to deteriorate due to the neglect. The stones of its walls were taken for other buildings. It also served as military barracks on several occasions.
During the Estado Nuovo in the 20th century, they made a controversial restoration. The palace was given a look and decorations with modern architectural styles fitting the ideology of the new regime.
In 1958 they finished renovating the Chapel and in 1959 the Palace of the Dukes was opened to the public.
You can check the official website of the palace for more information about the visit.
The palace can be seen completely in about an hour. You can make the tour at your pace and there are indications of the route to follow to make the visit.
Salão dos Passos Perdidos
The first thing you’ll see is a large room called el Salão dos Passos Perdidos or the Hall of Lost Steps. In ducal times it functioned as a waiting room. It has furniture from the 16th and 17th centuries, Chinese porcelain and some replicas of Belgian tapestry from the 15th century.
Passage Chamber and Armoury
Then you will pass through a small room that connects the Hall of the lost steps with the Hall of the banquet. In this room there is a table with chairs in the style of a typical living room of the time. It’s decorated with textiles, ceramics and goldsmith pieces. Next is another small room called the Armoury containing a collection of weapons from the 16th century.
When the palace was rebuilt they decided to furnish this room as a large dining room. This was decided because when the president lived here, they used to hold social receptions. In this room there is a heavy wooden table, replicas of tapestry on its walls and 7th and 18th centuries furniture.
Bedchambers and Chapel
Other outstanding rooms are the bedchambers of Afonso I Duke of Braganza and Catherine of Braganza, and the Chapel.
In Alfonso’s bedroom, attracts the atention a large bed, reproduction of a 17th-century Portuguese model. At the foot of the bed there is a trunk of the 18th century. This is one of the several private rooms of the dukes. In front of the entrance there is a door that leads to a spiral staircase that connects this room with a second level of rooms.
The room called Catherine of Braganza is furnished with pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries. This room pays tribute to Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King João IV, princess of Portugal and queen of England, even though she never lived in this palace.
The chapel is possibly the one with the most of original elements. When it was renovated in 1930 the walls, windows, door and stairs were still in place. Yet, it didn’t have the original stained glass window and they decided it to renovate it as a typical 15th century chapel.
Impressions of my visit
Although the pieces exhibited didn’t belong to the palace and it might not look as the original, it’s very interesting to see an image of what could have been in its former glory.
Do not miss the large inner courtyard where you can see Gothic-style arches and elements of the Estado Nuovo. Two balconies with large arches stand out. It is also said that there was a wooden bridge linking the chapel with the front of the palace.
In general, the visit is very entertaining, the palace is imposing and the pieces displayed in the palace are interesting to see. There is much more to see in this palace than in the Castle of Guimarães, but it’s possible to visit both in a few hours.
It is a very beautiful palace, so I recommend it to you widely. The only thing is that it’s a bit dark, especially in winter, so bring a good camera to take your photos.
What’s your opinion of the Palace of the Dukes? Do you like castles and palaces? Tell me if you already knew this palace in Guimarães Portugal. You can also leave me any questions in the comments section.
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Thanks for reading and bon voyage!