Braga

Overview

Introduction

Braga, Portugal, the capital of the lush region known as the Minho, or Costa Verde, is an early Roman and Christian town, seat of the archbishop and site of the Festival of St. John. It is located 30 mi/50 km northeast of Porto. The city's cathedral is an impressive one, and the Easter processions are definitely worth seeing.

Just east of Braga is one of Portugal's most memorable sites: the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte. The sanctuary, dedicated to the glory of Jesus, covers an entire hillside. The church at the top can be reached via a water-operated funicular railway, but you might prefer the baroque stairway (though you don't have to climb it on your knees as many pilgrims do). The stairway pays homage to the five senses and the three virtues (faith, hope and charity) through a series of statues and fountains. The church itself is somewhat anticlimatic, but on a clear day, you can see the city of Braga and the Atlantic Ocean from its steps. Bom Jesus can get crowded on the weekend.

Also in this area is Citania de Briteiros, the extensive ruins of an ancient Celtic city dating from the first century (including the remnants of more than 150 stone huts and city streets). The ruins are usually seen as a side trip from Braga or Bom Jesus (a car is essential, as is sensible footwear).

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