#159 Castelo de Guimar‚es
Guimar‚es, Minho, Portugal
Mid-10th century, 1130 plus restorations
This is NOT an official Lego site

The first castle of Guimar‚es was built by Mumadona Dias, Countess of Portugal from 924 to 950. She was the aunt of King Ramino II of Leůn. She built a monastery at Guimar‚es, but found it prone to attack both by Normans from the north and Moors from the south. The castle was built to protect the monastery. It is not noted whether the first castle was made of wood or stone or both... Over the next century and a half the castle apparently did its duty, but Portugal remained a province of the Spanish Kingdom of Castile & Leůn. We move to the late 11th century: Henrique of Burgundy was born in 1066. As a younger son of the heir of Robert I, Duke of Burgundy, he had little chance of fortune or titles by inheritance. He therefore joined the Reconquista campaign of his uncle King Afonso VI of Castile & Leůn against the Moors in the Iberian peninsula.
Henrique was so successful in his military role that he was allowed to marry King Afonso the Brave's illegitimate daughter Teresa, Countess of Portugal, in 1093 and thus received as dowry the County of Portugal, fiefdom of the Kingdom of Leůn. Henrique had 6 children, including 3 sons, but the only one to survive infancy was the scrawny and crippled infant Afonso Henriques, born in 1109. At the death of his father in 1112, the youth under the tutelage of his mother Teresa, became Count of Portugal. By age 11 the young Count, growing stronger each year and discarding his youthful infirmities, became a thorn in his mother's side! He sided with the Archbishop of Braga, and both he and the Archbishop were exiled! At 14 with the age of manhood upon him, Afonso Henriques declared himself a knight. He gathered an army and at the Battle of S„o Mamede in 1128 (near Guimar‚es) rested northern Portugal from his mother's control, declaring himself Prince of Portugal in 1129.
Afonso Henriques chose Guimar‚es as his headquarters, but the old castle of Mumadona Dias was much decayed. He removed the old castle and rebuilt the Castelo de Guimar‚es about 1130 much in the form it is seen today. He then turned his attention to the Moors. On July 26, 1139 he defeated the Moors at Ourique, declaring himself King Afonso I of Portugal! Guimar‚es Castle was the his headquarters until his death in 1185. Eventually Guimar‚es became a state prison and was recommended for demolition in 1836. However the castle was not destroyed and in 1881 Guimar‚es was listed as the most unique historical site in Minho. In 1910 the castle was declared a national monument, and from 1937-40 major restoration returned the Castelo de Guimar‚es to its historic place of honor.
The north tower seen
from near the entrance
to the donjon
A close-up of the bridge
into the donjon
The northeast tower The west tower Detail of the stairs of the north tower
with its door into the residence
Floor Plan Drawing of West Elevation


Photos of the Lego Model
under construction in August 2017
Construction began on August 1 with the
usual outlining of the castle, allowing me
to adjust baseplates.  For the first time I'll
be using Google Earth to walk around the...
...current castle to recreate
the rocky terrain upon which
Guimar‚es rests.  It's an
interesting challenge!
I began at the north end of the
castle, where a town gate is just
below the North Tower. It's the
lowest point near the castle...
...allowing me to "walk" up the slope,
constructing the hill, huge boulders and
the base of the curtain wall as I go.
This is the end of day 3.
By the end of August 5, the
gross landscaping is complete.
I can now turn my attention to the
castle's unusual courtyard.
But first a grid of supports
and beams must be laid out.
I never do this beforehand: It's fun to
figure out the most efficient way to support
the courtyard, curtain walls, donjon, etc.
By the end of August 7, much of the
substructure and courtyard are done...
...with the donjon and residential
range outlined, and the difficult
south end saved for last.
Two more days of build
shows progress on the
dual stairs to the wall walk
...and great strides at the
town entrance at the base
of the south tower.
Two weeks after building began,
the larger entrance
is complete.
The donjon and residential range
are up to the 2nd level, with
the double staircase complete.
The wall walk reaches the south
tower door...
...and the west tower is
finished.  The next pictures
will be the completed model!


Photos of the Lego Model
Built August 2017

On August 23 the castle is
completed.  Here's the view from
the much photographed east side.
The view from the south-
east highlights the town
entrance through the
south tower, now blocked.
The SSW view features
both the exit of the tunnel,
and the huge boulders of
the castle's hilltop.
The west side the Guimar‚es
accents both the west tower
and the town entrance to the
The view from the north-
west highlights the steps
to the town wall originating
amongst the rocks.
The north view shows
both the north tower, and
the residential range, the
exterior still intact.
The northeast tower is the
feature of this view. Only the
NE and south towers contain
a room.
This is my best shot
at showing the tunnel
under the south tower.
Here is the completed double
staircase to the wall walk, tower
rooms, residential accommod-
ations and donjon entrance!
The Learning Channel's
"Great Castles of Europe"
show featuring Guimar‚es
said a drawbridge guarded
the donjon entrance. There
is no sign of one now.
Here's the back of the
north tower, which leads
into the residential range.
Finally, this is my idea of
what the residential range
would have looked like
nine hundred years ago.


Build Your Own
Lego Plan [I may or may not
get these scanned...]
Front Elevation
Back Elevation

Other Castelo de Guimar‚es pages (the last two are in Portuguese):

Return to the main castle page.

Castles created by Robert Carney
Page designed & maintained by
Robert Carney