My absolute favorite of the cities I visited on my trip to Portugal was Guimarães, the 2012 European Capital of Culture. I really just began to scratch the surface of this Medieval town flecked with cool, modern cultural touches. And while I really enjoyed the castle and other traditional sights of the city (which I’ll tell you more about soon), I loved the funky vibe!
So just which cool, modern touches did I find around the city?
Well, long ago fountains actually served a purpose. Once used to provide drinking water and bathing or washing to residents, over time fountains came to be just for decoration. Nowadays you can even be fined if caught bathing or frolicking in a fountain. Guimarães, the 2012 European Capital of Culture that it is, returned function to fountains by turning five of their fountains into public swimming pools complete with life preservers for the summer. I came across a few of the fountains turned pools at night, so no one was swimming, but I was assured residents took advantage of them to beat the heat all throughout the summer.
Another fun thing to spot around the city were the many, many hearts. The heart is the official symbol of the 2012 European Capital of Culture and the city of Guimarães challenged all of its’ businesses to create their own uniquely decorated heart. You’ll find them all over the city: in store windows, as mailboxes hanging near doors, and as sculptures.
No matter how long I’ve now lived in Europe (and absolutely despise actually having to hang laundry out to dry. I might have to take up rain dancing, or rather anti-rain dancing, just to do my laundry from this trip!), I do love seeing the colorful clothes fluttering in the breeze. So I just about squealed with glee when I came across giant pants and shirts hanging out for all to see!
The project is by local artist, Fulvio Mendes, and is called “Between Art and Life”. It is meant to humanize buildings under construction and get passersby talking. Well, I certainly appreciated having something other than scaffolding to look at and the work of art did indeed get our group talking about it. So dear city of Guimarães, your mission has been accomplished!
Where To Eat
The cool modern touches didn’t stop with the fountains, sculptures, and functional art work. Located in an old, restored mansion right in the center of Guimarães, chef Isabel Vitorino of Historico by Papaboa Restaurant puts a modern spin on the most traditional dishes of Portuguese cuisine. Our group was served family style, beginning with so many Portuguese tapas that they could have been a meal all on their own! Every time I passed along a little dish of cod fritters or sausages, more tapas were making their way around the table. As I finally came up for air, I remembered the cardinal sin of travel blogging. I hadn’t taken any pictures of my food. I only captured a picture of the main dish, Portuguese cod fish, which was also served family style.
Note: Thank you to Turismo de Portugal for hosting me. As always, all opinions (and decisions to eat until I needed the giant pants) are my own.