Braga is one of the oldest cities in Portugal and has a history as being a religious power with an archdiocese fixed in the 4th century. From green wine to old churches and stunning views, it is a city that keeps on giving.
Bom Jesus do Monte Funicular
The funicular railway will take you straight to the top of the hill but with a history that dates back to the 1880s when it was installed, it is an important part of the area and was installed following the instruction of Swiss engineer Nikolaus Riggenbach. Prior to the installation of the Funicular, horsecars which were pulled by horses up the hill on a track but the Funicular is now the oldest in the world, using water to for counterbalance. The cars work together and as one goes up, the other goes down, with the one going down being weighed down with water, ensuring the lighter one moves up the track.
Praça da República
At the centre of Historic Braga, the plaza is known as Arcade and this related to the 18th-century building that can be found on the west side of the square. The square was designed in the 1880s and is long and impressive with beautiful apartment buildings lining each side. This is the best place to begin your visit to Braga, where you can make use of the tourist office but there are a lot of things to see here such as the fountain and the beautiful streets. During the day, you can get out of the sun and grab a cold drink but at night, you can head here for a meal.
Garden of Santa Barbara
Located next to Braga’s medieval palace, this gorgeous garden is encompassed by the north walls which are adorned with pointed merlons. The garden has a very strict design and consists of geometric lines, boxwood hedges and topiaries. However, inside, there is an explosion of colourful flowers where you will find lots of birds but at the back of the palace, the remains of a Gothic arcade can be seen.
You can find this museum on the Biscainhos square and this aristocratic palace that dates back to the 17th and 18th century has glorious gardens and a spectacular design. It provides an insight into the lives of Portuguese noblemen and inside, there is no shortage of stunning decoration. The Iberian painted tiles and stucco mouldings as well as the glassware, jewellery and musical instruments certainly provide an insight into how the rich lived. Outside you will find one hectare of intricate gardens where you can explore the sculptures and fountains that were landscaped in 1750.
The city has a football team that plays in the Primeira Lige and after the other three large teams in Portugal – Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Benfica, they are the next largest team. They compete in the second best European tournament each year and so, they are a club that offer a high standard of football. However, if football is not your thing then that is fine because the sensational Estadio Municipal will amaze you as it is embedded in a former quarry. It was designed by Eduardo Souto de Moura who is a Pritzer prize-winner. Designed in time for the Euro 2004 tournament it is every bit amazing and with 30,000 seats inside, the one end is nothing more than a wall of granite. Impressive is the right word to use here.
As far as Renaissance monuments go, this is one of a few located in Braga. It was built at the beginning of the 1560s when Bartholomew of Braga was the Bishop. You can view the Mannerist style to the external but inside, you will see a Baroque interior that came from a makeover in the 17th century, much of which is adorned with gold. As far as ornate design goes, the reredos behind the altar is unbelievably impressive and contains paintings and gildings.
Once in Braga, you will soon find that there is a beverage on the menu that might leave you wondering what it actually is. In the Minho region, you will find Vinho Verde which is green wine and although this is not the colour of the drink, it does refer to the age and so, it is best enjoyed straight after it is bottled. The taste is crisp and light and there is a slight fizz with it. While red wine and rose are made in the area, the most common is white and because Vinho Verde is fresh, it is the perfect accompaniment with deep-fried cod and sauteed potatoes.
Map of Braga
Pictures of Braga
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