PR3 GMR – The Penha Route (Guimarães)
Penha Hill is the lung of Guimarães, an impressive green mantle which is also the protagonist of this hiking trail, the “PR3 GMR – The Penha Route”. The landscape is dominated by granitic formations, cliffs, caves and gorges that gives to this natural observatory a unique beauty and it enables this hike in a perfect harmony with nature in its purest state mixed with traces and buildings of Christian devotion.
This route may start in the City Park or near “Nossa Sra. da Consolação e Santos Passos (S. Gualter)” Church. I chose to start this hike near this monument classified as a Public Interest Building, whose origins date back to a small chapel built in 1576.
Penha Hill is the lung of Guimarães, an impressive green mantle which is also the protagonist of this hiking trail, the “PR3 GMR – The Penha Route”.
I leave behind the city center and start the ascent of the hill. In the first 3 km, by asphalt, stairs and later through trails on gravel and dirt, I face a change of 400m in altitude, only in this section. Over my head, the steel cables of the cable car cut short the distance to the top of the mountain. The way back is in one of those cabins but I can’t think of it right now. The sun was very hot and therefore the rhythm at this initial stage was relatively low.
Finally I arrive to the leafy shadows and the green landscape of Penha. The signaling pathway directs me by unexpected tunnels between granite cliffs, caves and narrow canyons. Some of these unique places have names, I remember for example the “Rock of the Boat”, the “Cave of Father Caldas”, the “Suspended Rock”, the “Rock of the Fright”, the “Grotto of St. Sebastian” and “Cave of the Blacksmith.”
Although acknowledging the occupation of Penha in the prehistoric period, was “only” in the last three centuries that humans intensified their action in this hill. And it shows fundamentally on the aforementioned religious devotion well present and integrated with granitic scenarios.
At the top of a staircase on large boulders, stands the Chapel of St. Christopher with a bell tower with battlements. The Saint, patron of drivers, is represented in an image in the center of the peculiar stone altar.
I arrive at the Sanctuary of Penha, work of the architect Marques da Silva, who stands out in all its splendor, with the timeless modernity of straight lines. In the monument of Pius IX I stoped a bit to enjoy the landscape of Minho. I eat a piece of fruit while recover energy with these privileged views before the way back.
For those who wish to spend some time on Penha Hill, you can take advantage of the Camping, fully integrated in an idyllic landscape.
I could have made the descent for the same way and almost in the city center, take the direction of the Convent of “Santa Marinha”, ending just below the City Park. Instead, I chose to go down by the cable car and get a different perspective of Guimarães and its surroundings.
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