The Ducal Palace was ordered built by Afonso, the 8th Count of Barcelos (who came to be the 1st Duke of Braganza), a natural son of João I with Inês Pires Esteves. The construction occurred between 1420 and 1433.
Despite being a natural son of King João I, who initiated the Avis Dinasty, Afonso always received his father’s support by means of extensive donations. Afonso married Beatriz in 1401 (daughter of the Constable Nuno Álvares Pereira) and from then on held the title of Count of Barcelos.
It is believed that the construction of the Palace began around 1420, when Afonso married Constança of Noronha, a daughter of the Count of Gijón.
Due to diplomatic commitments and by personal initiative Afonso visited England, Scotland, France and Italy. Along with these journeys, his military campaigns in Ceuta must have influenced the way he saw the world, the way he lived as well as the way in which he had his Palace built in Guimarães.
By 1442, when his brother Pedro had been nominated Regent, that the title of Duke of Bragança is granted to Afonso. The Household of the Bragança became one of the richest and more powerful in the Iberian Peninsula.
After the death of the Duke (1461), the dowager duchess remained in the Palace (until her death in 1480) and tradition says it was used as a sort of host site for the sick and the needy.
It is believed that during the 1500s the Palace remained as a residence for the Dukes os Bragança until it went through a phase of neglect and consequent decay. Proof of this abandonment was the authorization granted in 1666 for Capuchin monks in Guimarães to reuse stone of the Palace to build their monastery.
By the 19th century, around the period of the French invasions, the Palace was adapted as a Military Barracks. In the following century, during the Estado Novo, the Ducal Palace was rebuilt with initial project by the architect Rogério de Azevedo.
The reconstruction works occurred between 1937 and 1959, the Palace was officially inaugurated on the 25th of June, and from then on it became the Official Residence of the Portuguese President in the north side of the country.