Braga is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal, with a number of impressive Baroque monuments, including one of the country’s best-known sights, the Bom Jesus Sanctuary. Today it is a modern city with a young population, bustling with commerce and industry surrounding a lively and attractive old center with a number of pedestrian streets.
- Five kilometers (3 miles) east of the center is the spectacular Bom Jesus Sanctuary, one of the masterpieces of European baroque. A twin-towered neoclassical church built in 1784 sits on top of a marvelous Baroque staircase lined with chapels representing the Stations of the Cross, the Stairway of the Five Senses, and the Stairway of the Three Virtues, or the spiritual journey of believers, who must overcome their senses and attain the three virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity in order to gain salvation. Visitors can take an old-fashioned funicular to the top, but it’s best to climb the monumental stairway to appreciate the symbolism and the architecture.
- The most distinctive of all the other religious monuments is perhaps the Capela dos Coimbras, with a flamboyant Manueline tower and an interior with tile panels depicting the story of Adam and Eve.
- Sao Frutuoso de Montelis. 3,5 km Northwest of Braga. Remainings of pré roman architecture.
- Museu dos Biscaínhos, the municipal museum housed in a 17th-century aristocrat’s palace and surrounded by a garden full of statuary and a fountain. Its attractive collection includes Roman relics, pottery, and furniture.
- The broad main square, Praça da Republica, with fountains and arcaded buildings, connects the old and the new city. Most of the sights are within walking distance, including the city’s fine old churches (there are about three dozens of them) and the splendid Sé cathedral (the country’s oldest).