Braga – Portugal
Braga, although one of Portugal’s oldest cities (stretching back over 2,000 years to Roman times), is still today one of the country’s most vibrant ‘must-see’ destinations. It’s the country’s third largest city with an important university metropolis and notorious student body, and has a rich variety of sites and sounds to explore. Backed up by a wonderfully chilled ambiance and strong restaurant, bar, café & night-life culture.
Whether visiting briefly from Porto, or digging in for a long stay, Braga is a delightful year-round destination, enjoying a relatively calm heat in the summer, as well as months of fresh, clear, blue-sky winters. Spring and autumn are equally delightful. The Bracara Augusta festival (last weekend in May) famously recreates the Roman era in all its colourful glory.
While my photos here reflect a bright autumnal vibe, the combination of traditional and modern locations, with powerhouse of sites, never ceases to charm visitors. Stand by for a labyrinth of characterful streets, grand plazas, countless churches, and sophisticated Baroque mansions. As well as a vibrant street-scene and assortment of gastronomic treats.
Originally one of the Roman administrative centres, Braga was positioned on one of the Iberian Peninsula’s main roads. As a major hub for all things social, commercial, and military, it was later given the status of capital of Gallaecia, by Emperor Caracalla.
Braga Diocese is the oldest in Portugal, with the city’s cathedral (1089) the longest standing in Portugal. Braga has a history of constantly competing in importance with Santiago de Compostela – where even today millions of pilgrims still embark on the Caminos de Santiago walks. The city remains one of Portugal’s most respected religious centres, with the country’s highest number of religious buildings. It is also particularly renowned for its Holy Week celebrations and São João Festival.
I love strolling around the cathedral and museum (Tesouro-Museu da Sé) in the old town, as well as the surrounding areas. The historical houses, churches, and traditional buildings are delightful and include the Placa da Republica, the Jardim de Santa Barbara, Convento do Populo, Paláicio des Biscainhos, Theatro Circo, Arco da Porta Nova, Palácio do Raio and symbolic Brasileira.
Equally, no trip to Braga is complete without a trip up to Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary. With its monumental staircase and beautiful white façade, it offers spectacular panoramic views across the city.
A visit is as exciting and rewarding today as it has been at any other time in history. So, go!