Santuário da Penha

Useful Information

Location: Guimarães
(41.43257, -8.26886)
Open: All year Mon-Fri 10:30-18, Sat, Sun 9:30-19.
Teleférico de Guimarães:
APR to MAY Mon-Fri 10-18:30, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-20.
JUN to JUL Mon-Fri 10-19, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-20.
AUG daily 10-20.
SEP Mon-Fri 10-19, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-20.
OCT Mon-Fri 10-18:30, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-20.
NOV to MAR Mon-Fri 10-17:30, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-20.
Fee: free, donations welcome.
Teleférico de Guimarães:
Return EUR 4.50, Single EUR 2.30.
Classification: SpeleologyTalus Caves
Light: bring torch
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Santuário da Penha, Penha, 4810-041 Guimarães, Tel: +351-253-414-114 E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1731 Guilherme Marino bequeathed this place to the Carmelites Order in Guimarães.
19-JUL-1893 statue of the Virgin of Lourdes placed in the Gruta da Nossa Senhora de Lourdes.
1930 planning of the new Sanctuary.
1931 beginning of the construction of the Sanctuary.
13-FEB-1939 Eucharistic Sanctuary da Penha destroyed by fire.
1945 construction of current church completed.
14-SEP-1947 Sanctuary blessed and opened to the public.
11-MAR-1995 cable car opened to the public.


The Santuário da Penha is a church on a granite hill in the eastern part of the city Guimarães. The main church is surrounded by several small churches and a park filled with natural caves. The sanctuary covers 60 ha of the summit of the hill, which is 617 m asl. The weathering of the granite produced huge boulders, a typical result of granite weathering. Those boulders moved downhill by their own weight, forming numerous quite small talus caves. The caves were used as shelter, for meditation and as churches.

The Gruta da Nossa Senhora de Lourdes (Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes) was named after the sculpture of Our Lady of Lourdes at the entrance. It is placed in a natural niche in the rock. The cave was renovated in 1947. You can easily find it next to the monument dedicated to Pope Pius IX. The shepherdess Bernadette Soubirous from Lourdes, France, had apparitions of the Virgin. This phenomenon occurred in 1858 and the word spread rapidly across borders. The marble sculpture of the Grotto was a gift from Fernando de Castro Abreu Magalhães, from Fafe, a small town close to Guimarães. He had emigrated to Brazil, and after he became wealthy, he had the image of the Virgin of Lourdes sculpted and sent to Penha.

The Gruta da Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Cave of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) is the biggest cave on the hill. It was transforemd into a small chapel, with a crack between the boulders on the right side which allows the light to enter. The devotion to Nossa Senhora da Penha dates back to September 1702 and was based on the devotion of a hermit named Guilherme Marino. He came from a city near Rome, and was inspired by God, to place a sculpture of the Virgin Mary between the boulders. It was an inhospitable place, where he lived as a hermit, and the statue was intended to be adored by the faithful who visited him. So he was actually the founder of the religious center on Penha hill, and he predicted that his religious work would be continued after his death.

He was also quite wealthy, as he was the owner of the whole area, and by testament he bequeathed this place to the Carmelites Order in Guimarães when he died in 1731. The Carmelite monks moved to the hill, but from the end of the century until 1870 this place was abandoned. In 1870 a new phase of occupation started. At this time, the Lady was renamed Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Penha. The cave church became known as Gruta Ermida (Hermits Cave), because of Guilherme. With the donations from many faithful and benefactors the Grotto Chapel was restored. At the entrance of the Grotto stands the image of Saint Elias, the “Patron Saint of the Sleep”, who receives great devotion by many of the visitors of Penha.

The Gruta do Padre Caldas (Cave of Padre Caldas) was named after the priest Padre Caldas. He spent a lot of time in this cave praying. The cave is a through cave with a triangular shape.

The Gruta do Ferreiro (Blacksmith's Cave) is a straight, triangular passage. Its easy to recognize, as there is a plate with the name at the cave entrance.

The Adega do Ermitão (Hermit's Cellar) is not a church, its a restaurant which caters the huge numbers of pilgrims. The restaurant is actually built inside a cave, another part of the cave is used as a wine cellar. The local red Vinho Verde is served in a porcelain jar with individual clay bowls. It is typically accompanied with sardine, pork meat cake, or cod fritters.

Gruta do Medo finally is a sort of a mystery cave, it is shown on Google maps and Google Earth, but not mentioned in the descriptions of the place. We guess it is a cave, which actually was not converted into a church or restaurant and thus is not mentioned. If you visit the place and actually find the cave, please drop us a line.

When visiting the city, the best way to visit the Pena hill is by Teleférico de Guimarães (cable car). There are actually not many caves listed on which are accessed by cable car. The site is dedicated a holy place and even most caves are churches. If you visit the place, wear long sleeves, long skirt or trousers, and behave appropriately.