Staying at the Pousada of Santa Marinha in Guimarães is not only an opportunity to relax for a few days, but also to learn about history with your every step. Located on the slopes of Monte da Penha, this former monastery that once belonged to Queen Mafalda, wife of King Afonso Henriques, and was part of the order of the Holy Canons of Saint Augustine in the twelfth century, is a building that inspires admiration. Its every door, window and stone exudes wisdom.
The feeling of being at home begins in the bar which once served as the monastery's kitchen. There is a striking contrast between the comfort you are treated to - the huge fireplace, the cozy sofas and a terrace with a very inviting esplanade in the summer, or on any sunny day - and the history that you'll learn about.
It's simple to figure out how to get to the Pousada: just drive up to the center of Guimarães and follow Penha's directions. You'll be going uphill, and as you are getting away from the city, you'll be getting closer to a place that is different from everything you have ever experienced before, a place that is perfect for contemplation and reflection.
Climb the stairs and go through the impressive Salão Nobre and the old library with its imposing oak wood trough ceiling and caissons. Let your footsteps echo through the spaces of the monastery. Pass through the amazing Chapter room, which has the same ceilings but is also lined with johannine tile panels that were laid in the eighteenth century - these artifacts inform you about the life of a time past. This was the only room in the whole monastery that was open to the exterior. If you stay in the old wing, visit the hall in the cell area - these cells were remodeled into rooms where you will be staying - and allow yourself to be captivated not only by the sensation of being in a broad, ample space, but also by the spirit of asceticism that takes hold of you.
Discover the amazing stonework of the Jerónimos monks' balcony, with its two amazing panels of Johannine tiles that depict the transfer of the Augustine monastery order to the Jerónimos monks, and also portray the school's most famous student, Dom Duarte of Portugal during a lesson.
Climb the staircase that leads to the garden, take one of the botanical guides with you and cross the magnificent garden, grove and orchard. With an impressively large area of 10 hectares, it features many paths and tracks perfect for a leisurely stroll.
Back at the monastery, be sure to visit the Church of Santa Marinha that has a spacious central nave with its slabs of granite and magnificent white and gold baroque carvings that feature the representation of a choir. The decor is gorgeous and stunning, especially the tall and richly decorated side stalls. The wealth of the Jerónimos monks' era is evident in this display of religious and decorative art, which contrasts with the unusual decoration that you come across in the Pousada's spaces.
Whether you are staying in a suite or a standard room, the view of the city and garden, as well as the decorative artifacts- most in the Baroque or Rococo style - taken from the national heritage collection will draw you into the very special atmosphere of this hotel-museum.
It was no accident that this property, originally home to the Augustinian monks, was transferred to the Jerónimos monks in the sixteenth century. The descendants of nobles were more interested in arts and teaching than their brothers of the order. That is why they established one of the first Portuguese universities on the site (Please note that the university was later relocated to Coimbra).
This structure, winner of the 1985 National Architecture Prize, reveals all the special effort that the Architect Fernando Távora had to make to follow the original design and preserve most of the monastery's features. The new wing, seamlessly integrated into the overall architectural structure of the monastery, is more than a part of the landscape where the city and the mountains meet.
At the bar, have a tea or an appetizer, along with some delicious cheese sandwiches and sweets made exclusively in the Pousada's kitchen. Behind the cloister door, you will find extraordinary remains of Arabic construction from the 9th and 10th centuries, the amazing gate of the Mozarabic tower, one of the rarest remains still in existence, as well as the original monastery building from the 12th century.