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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Take In the Culture Boom in Guimarães


5. Oddball Day

Cable cars offer transportation between town and the peak of Penha mountain.  

Take a break from cultural intake to experience Guimarães’s scenic surroundings with a walk up the Penha mountain range. The 5.3-mile trail features boulders, ravines, springs, and forests where hermits once lived in devotional grottos, and locals still come here to seek spiritual enlightenment. Hit the trail in City Park and then make your first stop at the Convent of Santa Marinha da Costa, followed by the small Chapel of Saint Catherine, with an ancient chalice-shaped pulpit said to be built by shepherds in the 1700s. Move on to the Penha Sanctuary, constructed in the thirties, and take in city views from its observation area. Next, walk to the Chapel of Saint Christopher, built upon enormous boulders, where a rustic staircase leads to a series of compartmentlike openings in the granite, then head to Grotto of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, said to be the place where the Carmelite monk William Marino made his spiritual retreat. Reenergize with lunch at mountaintop Casa das Merendas restaurant (Resort of Penha; 351-253-516-875), which serves traditional plates like roasted cod with cornbread ($10.50), paired with a glass of vinho verde ($2.60). Once you’re ready, take the cable car back to town ($3.50) and then a taxi ($13) to São Torcato, a small village 3.7 miles north of Guimarães that’s known for its production of corn production in the 1500s, which led to a number of gristmills that still stand along the riverside centuries later. If you have the energy, you can embark on another four-hour hike through the forest and stop at the Monastery of São Torcato, where the mausoleum holds the mummified body of the namesake martyr who lived in the seventh century. Either way, don’t skip the still-operational corn mill (closed Sunday) at Sub-Devesa with its horizontal water wheel, and pick up a loaf of cornbread called broa de milho ($3.30) from the mill keepers. End the day with dinner at Restaurante Fentelhas (Rua Pedro Homem de Melo 111; 351-253-551-292), where you can try typical dishes from the Minho region, like sarrabulho, a traditional combination of pork and rice ($14.50), and the pica no chão rooster ($17). Afterwards, it’s just a short bus ride ($2) back to Guimarães.

Published on Apr 27, 2012 as a web exclusive.

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