Discovering the best of northern Portugal involves visiting the beautiful bimillennial city of Braga, where the history of the distant past intersects with modern history and religion with tradition. Concerning infrastructure, Braga is the third city in Portugal, immediately after Lisbon and Porto. However, Braga is the oldest Portuguese city, with the most gardens and squares, the one with the most churches per square metre and one of the oldest Christian cities in the world. Braga was the dowry of the parents of the first Portuguese king, who later donated it to the Archbishops who diplomatically supported Portuguese independence.
Visit the historical centre, get to know Braga Cathedral and visit Bom Jesus to appreciate the rich heritage. Explore Braga’s main attractions and learn about the city founded as Bracara Augusta by the Romans in 16th BC. Religious and civil architecture awaits your admiration, the gardens your rest and the shops your presence. Here, ancient and contemporary history concentrates on architecture, imposing granite and tiled buildings and leisure spaces where locals and visitors of all ages mix. Braga historical centre is very dynamic and hosts diversified events.
Braga Cathedral was the first cathedral erected in Portugal. Built on top of a Roman temple, it is now an icon. Its interior reveals a significant Romanesque style and a floor plan in a Latin cross shape. The cathedral underwent several renovations, offering us architectural styles such as Gothic and Baroque. Designed by Bishop D. Pedro in the 11th century and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Braga Cathedral bears witness to several centuries of history, housing unique treasures.
When visiting this National Monument, take notice of the architectural details, artistic richness and history. The tombs of the parents of the first king of Portugal and Museu da Sé are worth a visit, and so is the first cross that arrived in Brazil during the Discoveries. Without forgetting this is a place of devotion, the Eucharist takes place daily in this treasure of Portuguese Catholicism. Many of the industries in the municipality originated from the church’s needs, promoting jobs such as image makers, engravers, bell ringers, organ builders, wax producers and vestment makers.
One of the oldest Sacro-Montes in Europe is in the Braga area, Bom Jesus do Monte. To reach the top of the hill, go up the staircase with different levels and small chapels or take the funicular, the only one in the Iberian Peninsula still operating. If you choose the first, know that more than five hundred granite steps await you, but along them, you will find the Via Sacra Chapels, statues, fountains and gardens. At the top, discover the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basilica also has a plan in the shape of a Latin cross, constituting one of the first examples of the neoclassical style in Portugal. In the churchyard, eight statues represent the characters involved in the condemnation and death of Jesus.
Braga is a city near Porto and Guimarães that offers visitors a warm welcome and many activities. Remember to taste Braga’s typical gastronomy.
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