The Ducal Palace of the Bragança in Guimarães was ordered built around 1420-22 by the 8th Count of Barcelos, Afonso (1380-1461), an illegitimate son of King João I and Inês Pires Esteves. It was in this Palace that Afonso set up residence with Constança of Noronha, his second wife.
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Abandonment and ruin

Contrary to what is frequently said, the construction of the Ducal Palace of the Bragança in Vila Viçosa did not originate an immediate abandonment of the Palace in Guimarães.  It was only during the rule of the Felipes (1580-1640) that the Palace’s decay fully settled.
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Occupation as Barracks

The gradual decay of the Ducal Palace led to another very usual process in the 19th Century: the usage of uninhibited spaces for new functions.  The Ducal Palace was occupied as a Military Barracks between 1807 and 1935. Between these years, various units passed through the Palace, such as: the 2nd Battalion of Olivença, Battalion 14, the no. 15 Regiment of Militias of Guimarães, amongst others.
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The Ducal Palace went through reconstruction works between 1937 and 1959, under the responsibility of Architect Rogério de Azevedo. Despite these works having officially exceeded 1959, it was in this year that the Palace was inaugurated as an Official Residence of the Presidency of the Republic (or Summer Residence of the Presidency of the Republic, as it was named by the press at the time) and as a Museum.

The rebuilding process had several setbacks, mostly due to its uninhabited state for three centuries, to the scarce existing documentation and to the particular political context in which this restoration was carried out.
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The Palace as Official Residency of the Presidency of the Republic

The uncertainty about the function to be assigned to the Palace lasted for the entire period of the reconstruction works, that is, twenty two years. However, during the 1950s the function of “Official Residence of the Chief of State” started gaining momentum.

On June 24, 1959, the Ducal Palace of the Bragança was finally inaugurated serving as a Museum and as an Official Residence of the President of the Republic in the North side of the Country.

The Palace as a Museum

The idea to adapt the Ducal Palace with a museum that could be visited, was never officially expressed.  There were disagreements between the Portuguese politicians, the Executive and the architects of the Direcção Geral dos Edifícios e Monumentos Nacionais in which should be the function given to the building.  The latter intended the Palace to shelter a small museum, but the Minister of Public Works Arantes de Oliveira, preferred to give it a political function.  This minister provided indications for the spaces on both sides of the Chapel to be aimed at receiving Chiefs of State. Therefore, half of the building would have an exclusively residential function.

The remainder of the building, was handed to the "Comissão de Mobiliário" for the definition of the usage of the rest of the spaces on the 1st floor.

Then, on July 4 1959, the President of the Council António de Oliveira Salazar, had the Decree-Law 42.365 published, where it was stated that the Ducal Palace was to be treated as a National Palace.  On August 26 1959, the Palace was opened to public for the first time as a Museum, having received around 200 visitors on its first day.