On 28th April 2012, we visited Guimarães, the European Capital of Culture in 2012. After visiting the city, we had the opportunity to follow a pedestrian route, the “Rota da Penha” (Penha Route).
“Rota da Penha” is a circular route of 8.5 Km that takes us to the “Monte da Penha” (Penha Mountain), also called “Monte de Santa Catarina” (Saint Catherine Mountain). This route has two optional locations of departure and arrival, the City Park or the “Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Consolação e Santos Passos” (Church of our Lady of Consolation).
As we were nearer the Church, we decided to start our walk there. However, we didn´t find there the usual yellow and red marks that indicate the pedestrian routes. We just saw a brown signboard indicating the direction of the “Rota da Penha”.
We followed that direction and we went along some steep roads. We had no idea if we were following the right path or not. Forty minutes later we finally saw the marks we were looking for.
After following the main road for a while we came across a long stairway that led to the top of the mount. This was the most tiring part of the trek. It felt good when we finally arrived at the top of the “Monte da Penha” (Penha Mountain) and we could enjoy the splendid view of Guimarães.
We continued following the signs of the “Rota da Penha”, which took us to grottoes, chapels, the “Estátua do Papa Pio IX” (Statue of Pope Pius IX) and, at the end, to the “Santuário da Penha” (Penha Sanctuary), also known as “Santuário de Nossa Senhora do Carmo”. Unfortunately it was not possible to visit the interior of the Sanctuary because of a wedding.
On the way back we followed the directions to the “Capela de S. Cristóvão” (Chapel of Saint Christopher), where we found some curious rock formations.
Another point of interest that we see along this trail is the “Pousada de Santa Marinha”, a former convent from the 12th century that has now been transformed into a luxurious Inn.
We took around 3h30 to complete this pedestrian route.