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Guimarães is a northern Portuguese city located in the district of Braga, in the Ave Subregion (one of the more industrialized subregions of the country), with a population of 52 181 inhabitants, distributed throughout 20 parishes (freguesias in Portuguese), in an urban area of 23,5 km² with a population density of 2 223,9/km².
It is the seat of a municipality with an area of 241,05 km² and 162 636 inhabitants (2008), divided in 69 parishes. The municipality is bordered to the north by the municipality of Póvoa de Lanhoso, to the east by Fafe, to the south by Felgueiras, Vizela and Santo Tirso, to the west by Vila Nova de Famalicão and the northwest by Braga.
It is an historical city that had an important role in the formation of Portugal and it was settled in the 9th century, at which time it was called Vimaranes. This denomination might have had its origin in the warrior Vímara Peres, when he chose this area as the main government seat for the County of Portugal which he conquered for the Kingdom of Galicia.
Guimarães is one of the country’s most important historical cities. Its historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it one of the largest tourist centers in the region.
The city is often referred to as the “birthplace of the Portuguese nationality” or “the cradle city” (Cidade Berço in Portuguese). This might be because the administrative seat of the County of Portugal was established there by Henry of Burgundy, or that it might also been the birthplace of Afonso I of Portugal, the first Portuguese king or because of the historical role of the city in the Battle of São Mamede (June 24, 1128), which had a tremendous importance in the formation of Portugal and was fought in the vicinity of the city, However, due to the needs of the Reconquista, the governative center was changed to Coimbra in 1129. The “Vimaranenses” are also called “Conquistadores” (the Conquerors) in relation with the historical heritage of the conquest initiated in Guimarães.
Guimarães, jointly with Maribor, Slovenia, was the European Capital of Culture in 2012.
Until the 19th century the structure of the city did not suffer many transformations besides the construction of a few more churches, convents and palaces. It was by the ending of the 19th century that new urbanistic ideas of hygiene and symmetry that the village, that was promoted to city by the Queen Maria II in 23 June 1853 had its greatest changes.
The complete demolition of the city walls was authorized and the creation of many streets and avenues could start at that point. The controlled process of urbanization permitted the conservation of the city’s magnificent historical center.