Located in the heart of the green and fertile province of Minho, the district of Braga stretches from the coast inland, with wooded scenery that undulates in gentle hills and valleys.
The city of Braga, perhaps Portugal’s main religious center, is known for its baroque churches, splendid 18th century houses and elaborate gardens and parks. The old city is solemn and antique, but industry and commerce have brought it to modern life, with its universities, new neighbourhoods, bars and restaurants.
Not far away, the city of Guimarães, known as the birthplace of the nation, is a place to visit, with its proud castle and well-preserved medieval architecture.
On the coast, Esposende, Ofir and Apúlia are beautiful wild-looking beaches. The whole district is famous for its popular feasts and festivals and for the local gastronomy, with many and varied original recipes. The city’s principal landmarks include a 12th-century cathedral, rebuilt during the 16th century in the blend of Moorish and florid Gothic styles known as Manueline; the 17th-century church of Santa Cruz; and a library that contains many rare books and manuscripts.
On a hill about 3 miles (5 km) south east stands the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, which is visited every Sunday by thousands of pilgrims and is famous for its 18th-century architectural staircase. About a mile away lies the Mount Sameiro, atop which is situated a colossal statue of the Virgin Mary. The University of Minho was founded in Braga in 1973.
PLACES TO SEE
Bracara Augusta Roman Ruins (Braga)
The city of Bracara Augusta was founded by the Emperor August between the 3rd year BC and 4th AC, becoming the capital of Gallaecia on the 3rd century.
On the 4th century, after the conversion to Christianity, Bracara Augusta became the headquarters of the bishopric. Not long after, the Visigoth and the Arabs occupied it.
Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary (Braga)
This Sanctuary is considered one of the most beautiful in Portugal. The masterpiece of Carlos Amarante evokes the love of God and is surrounded by magnificent gardens. To arrive there you have two options: you take the elevator or you go up the 17 extraordinary flights of stairs, diverging and converging side by side with really impressive flowerpots, statues and fountains.
The chapels that go side by side with the yard evoke the biblical subject of the Assumption, of the Apparition of Madalena and the Emaús Encounter, separated by fountains dedicated to the four evangelists: S. Marcos, S. Lucas, S. João and S. Mateus.
Sé Cathedral (Braga)
Inside the city of Braga, right in the middle of the Historic Centre, you can find the Sé Cathedral and its treasure, true relics. This amazing monument, built under the gothic, renaissance and baroque styles, was founded in 1070, and its highlight is the ornamented roof, conceived by João de Castilho, the architect that designed the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon.
Another fascinating relic in this cathedral is located behind the main altar: 12 ceramic panels, conceived by the professor Álvaro Rocha.
Santa Bárbara’s Garden (Braga)
The Santa Barbara’s Garden is one of the most beautiful in all of Portugal. Located behind the Sé Cathedral, it mixes flowers and colors in an almost divine result.
Braga is a city where the old meets the new. Gifted with an amazing cultural and historical patrimony, Braga is also a young and lively city. Walk around the city streets, explore the Arcada (city’s downtown) or the student area of the University of Minho and discover all the entertainment, bars, cafes and nightclubs Braga has to offer.