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Largo de São Tiago and Rua de Santa Maria

Largo de São Tiago and Rua de Santa Maria
Forming a very old part of the city, this square is surrounded by beautiful houses with typically northern features, simple three-storey 16th and 17th-century constructions, whose wooden balconies illustrate the great skill of the carpenters at that time. Tradition has it that St. James the Apostle brought an image of the Virgin Mary to Guimarães, which he placed in a pagan temple that stood on this site, so that thereafter the place became known as the square of St. James (São Tiago).

From here, you should follow the narrow Rua de Santa Maria, one of the first streets to be built in Guimarães, having already been referred to by this name in 12th-century documents. The street is lined with several fine examples of past architectural styles: Convento de Santa Clara (17th-century), Casa do Arco, with a small emblazoned bridge over the street, Casa dos Peixotos, the Gothic Casa dos Valadares, all testifying to the importance that the street had in mediaeval times as the preferred area of residence of the city´s dignitaries: the clergy, nobility and well-to-do merchants.

Straight ahead of you is the Largo do Cónego, where your attention will immediately be caught by the splendid façade of the Convento de Santa Clara, which now houses the Town Hall, and the manor house known as the Casa dos Carneiros. You should also make sure to pass through the Largo Martins Sarmento and appreciate some of the city´s most impressive 19th-century architectural features: a group of houses and the former Convento do Carmo, one of the most expressive baroque constructions in Guimarães.


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