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Blick vom Bom Jesus do Monte auf Braga, Bild: trabantos / shutterstock

Discover Braga in Portugal

It is quite possible that Portugal, with its many beauties, sinks a little into the shadow of its big brother Spain. This, in turn, has been a tradition for many centuries, after all, the history of the two countries is not only closely linked by the fate of the Iberian Peninsula. When most people visit the westernmost part of mainland Europe, they are probably most likely to think of Lisbon, Porto or one of the Portuguese islands in the Atlantic. Braga, on the other hand, offers not only a wide history and a variety of sights, but above all an interesting destination for those who are looking for an interesting holiday in the north of Portugal .

Braga – religious center of Portugal full of history

Bom Jesus do Monte
Bom Jesus do Monte, Image: LucVi / shutterstock

Of course, the beginnings of Braga also go back to the Romans, who tried more or less successfully to conquer and pacify the Iberian Peninsula. They never really succeeded, but even after that, neither Spain nor Portugal really found peace. It was not until the Middle Ages that two of the most impressive empires in the world developed independently of each other, which have become rich and influential especially through the colonization of South America. Traces of this can still be found today in Braga, where Catholicism in particular has left its mark until the end.

The first cathedral was built in Braga as early as 1089 and even today the church still plays a decisive role in the architecture of the city. Over time, a wide variety of squares, markets, streets and settlements developed around these churches, which still shape the image of the city today. Braga has retained this charm and is therefore an attraction for all those who are looking for special sights from Portugal’s history due to the old town with its many testimonies from history.

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But it is not only the city itself that entertains residents with monumental buildings and impressive testimonies of history. The surrounding area is characterized by old monasteries and defenses that have survived the centuries and quickly developed into sights. So it can be worthwhile to use one of the many tours in the area to explore the rather hilly surrounding area and meet one or the other treasure.

The main attractions of Braga and its surroundings

Santa Barbara Gardens in Braga
Santa Barbara Gardens in Braga, Image: Alena Zharava / shutterstock

The churches and monasteries already mentioned adorn the cityscape and are an important part of the identity of the people in the city. It is difficult to choose a church that rises above all others – so you should have seen a good selection. For example, there is the Sé de Braga, the oldest cathedral and church in the city, which probably has its roots in the 3. or 4th century AD. The Gothic-style church is still the landmark of the city today and there are an incredible number of stories that entwine around it.

Of course, you should also have seen the Bom Jesus do Monte , the pilgrimage church, which is located a bit outside the city and has perhaps the most famous steps in all of Portugal. After the climb, you have an incredible view of the city here and can explore the church as soon as you have taken enough photos of the skyline.

Of course, there are not only old churches and monasteries to see in Braga, although you could spend whole days exploring them all. Over the years, various shopping streets and marketplaces have developed, the Republic Square is still a vibrant center of life in the city and on every corner you can find new things, this breathtaking culture that you just want to experience. Narrow streets and alleys that lead through the city and give a bit of the historical impression of Braga simply invite you to take a long walk.

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In addition, you can not only book tours to the monasteries, waterfalls, mountains and hills nearby, but also make your way to Porto , for example. The city is just an hour’s drive away, and with its lively harbour and more modern atmosphere, it’s a stark contrast to life in Braga, which is more dignified and historic.

Explore Braga in a cultural way

The city of Braga does not have a sprawling nightlife and party life – a trip to Porto would actually be recommended for this – but lives from a very simple culture. There are many restaurants and good bars where you can end the evening after a long walk. The historic Portuguese cuisine, with its many hearty dishes, plays a special role here. If you ever wanted to enjoy rabbit in red wine after several hours from the oven or try one of the good beers of the Portuguese, you will have just the right experience here. At the same time, there are many exceptionally good hotels that make your stay particularly interesting and comfortable and offer exactly the peace and quiet you need after a long walk through the old town.