How To Visit The Sanctuary Of Penha In 2024

The Sanctuary of Penha (officially, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of Penha) is a Marian sanctuary located on Penha Mountain, the highest point in Guimarães. Designed by the architect José Marques da Silva, it was built between August 1930 and September 1947.

Nowadays, the Sanctuary of Penha is considered one of the most emblematic works in Guimarães. But this “sacred place” on Penha Mountain is much more than a Catholic temple. In reality, the Sanctuary of Penha is made up of chapels, caves, statues, fountains, boulders, viewpoints, gardens, parks, and many other structures!

So, do you want to know How To Visit The Sanctuary Of Penha In 2024? Keep reading!

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Sanctuary of Penha
Sanctuary of Penha

Brief History of the Sanctuary of Penha

As I mentioned in the introduction, the design of the Sanctuary of Penha was in charge of José Marques da Silva. Interestingly, this was the only religious work entirely carried out by the Portuguese architect, who gained renown in the city of Porto, after the creation of buildings such as the São Bento Station or the São João National Theater.

Unlike traditional Catholic churches, the Sanctuary of Penha was built in the Art Deco style, as evidenced by its abundance of straight lines. And the material used was granite from this region so that the monument could merge with the natural heritage of Penha Mountain.

How to Get to the Sanctuary of Penha

If you’re in the historic center of Guimarães, the best way to reach the Sanctuary of Penha is by cable car. The Guimarães Cable Car (or Penha Cable Car) is open daily from morning to late afternoon, and it has very attractive prices.

If you prefer, you can also visit the Sanctuary of Penha by car. In this case, the journey takes about 15 minutes, as the distance between the historic center of Guimarães and the (free) car parks at the Sanctuary of Penha is 7-8 km.

Opening Hours & Ticket Prices

The Sanctuary of Penha is open every day, from 10 am to 5 pm (from Monday to Friday) and from 9:30 am to 6 pm (on Saturdays and Sundays). Throughout the year, the Eucharist takes place on Sundays at 4 pm. And entry to the religious temple is free for everyone!

What to See at the Sanctuary of Penha

Sanctuary of Penha

After walking through the wide square that precedes the Sanctuary of Penha (in Portuguese, Santuário da Penha), it’s time to enter the church to admire its interior. And from the outset, it’s impossible to ignore the four giant columns, which make it possible to delimit the circulation corridors around the single nave.

Although its interior is mostly made of granite and stripped of elements so characteristic of Portuguese churches (such as tiled walls or altars decorated in gilded carving), the Sanctuary of Penha is still a beautiful and imposing building.

On three of its façades (the main one and the two side ones), stained glass windows above the entrance doors allow the central interior space to be flooded with light and color. And on the fourth and last façade (the rear one) is the bell tower, adorned with the figure of an angel.

Statue of Pope Pius IX

On December 8th, 1854, Pope Pius IX authorized Penha Mountain to become a place of worship dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. In response, the city of Guimarães and Portuguese Catholics erected this stone statue in his honor between 1882 and 1893.

Pius IX was pope between June 16th, 1846, and February 7th, 1878, at a time when Italy was living the Risorgimento movement. After Saint Peter the Apostle, considered the first pope of the Catholic Church, Pius IX had the longest papacy in history.

Cross Square

The Cross Square (in Portuguese, Praça do Cruzeiro) is a square located to the west of the Sanctuary of Penha, more precisely at the beginning of the stairs leading to the religious temple. Opposite and on the other side of the road, is the Restaurante da Montanha, a restaurant that serves regional dishes and delicacies.

As for the Cross, it’s a stone structure made up of four steps (one much smaller than the other three), a richly ornamented pedestal, a rectangular shaft, and a sphere at the top. Crowning the sculptural ensemble is a large cross, which is visible from the entrance to the Sanctuary of Penha!

Aviators’ Boulder

The Aviators’ Boulder (in Portuguese, Penedo dos Aviadores) is the popular title by which the Monument to Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral is designated. Inaugurated on June 12th, 1927, it’s a work in granite rock by the Portuguese sculptor José Luís de Pina. You can find it a few meters from the Sanctuary of Penha, on the way to the main car park.

Carlos Viegas Gago Coutinho was a geographer, navigator, and historian, and Artur de Sacadura Freire Cabral was an aviator. Both served in the Portuguese Navy and entered the history of world aeronautics after having successfully completed the first air crossing of the South Atlantic, in 1922!

Chapel of Saint Kitts & Bell Tower

The Chapel of Saint Kitts (in Portuguese, Capela de São Cristóvão) was built between 1880 and 1881, having been consecrated on June 18th, 1882. Initially, it was known as the Reliquary House (in Portuguese, Casa Relicário), but adopted its current name on July 25th, 1936, after having received the image of Saint Kitts from the drivers of Guimarães.

In this area of the Sanctuary of Penha, you can also visit the Hanging Boulder, the Cave of Father Caldas, the Viewpoint of Saint Kitts, the Bell Tower, the Hanging Garden, the Cave of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Elijah, the Dispatch House, the Labyrinth Canyon, and the Duck Boulder!

Penha Cable Car (or Guimarães Cable Car)

Did you know that the Penha Cable Car or Guimarães Cable Car (in Portuguese, Teleférico da Penha or Teleférico de Guimarães) is the oldest cable car in Portugal? With a length of 1700 meters, this means of transportation opened to the public on March 11th, 1995 – long before the Parque das Nações Cable Car in Lisbon (March 1998) or the Vila Nova de Gaia Cable Car (April 2011).

The Penha Cable Car is open every day from 10 am to 6:15 pm. And tickets cost €7.50 (adults) or €3.5 (children from 6 to 11 years old), for two trips (or round trip); or €4 (adults) or €2 (children from 6 years to 11 years old), for one trip (or one-way trip).

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