Braga Free Walking Tour + Monument & Sights Guide
The pedestrianised centre of Braga is an easy place to orientate yourself. The Rua do Souto cuts through the city centre east–west and has a number of roads snaking from it, both north and south. The tranquil Jardim de Santa Barbara (Santa Bárbara garden) and Praça do Municipio (Municipal square) lie to the north and to the south of Sé Cathedral. Back to R. do Souto now, at the east end of which is the Largo Barão de São Martinho, a huge square, from which going east is the shopping street of Avenida Central and to the south the pedestrian thoroughfare Avenida da Liberdade. The tourist office is on the corner of these two roads.
Braga Free Walking Tour
Braga Monument & Sights Guide
Monument Type: Cathedral
Address: Rua Dom Paio Mendes 10
Opening Times: Winter: Tues – Sun: 9 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. & 2 p.m. – 5.30 p.m. Summer: 9 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. & 2 p.m. – 6.30 p.m.
Price: Cathedral Free Permanent Exhibition 3€ Certain chapels 2€
Information: Sé Cathedral one of the most important monuments in the city of Braga and is the seat of the Archdiocese of Braga. The Archidocese, and thus the cathedral’s roots, date back to the 3rd century AD, and it is one the oldest on the Iberian Peninsula. Work began on the cathedral in 1089 and the original construction was built in the Burgundian Romanesque style which greatly influenced many other churches and monasteries in Portugal in that period. Later modifications left a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline and Baroque styles of which the addition of new chapels and the entrance gallery in the Gothic style and the Manueline main chapel are of particular importance. Later various Baroque additions include the towers, chapels and much inner decoration.
Praça da Repúblic
What is it? Large open plan square that marks the heart of Braga old town
Where is it? Located at the junction of Avenida da Liberdade, Avenida Central & Rua dos Chãos, to the east of Braga Cathedral
Information: Popularly referred to as Arcada, the broad public square of the Republic is the perfect place to start and finish your day in Braga. The site has long been the centre of life in Braga, formerly being the central market before it was transformed into a garden square in the 19th century. Important buildings surrounding the space include the neoclassical Igreja da Lapa (Lapa Church) and two coffee shops that boast over 100 years of history and are emblematic of the city, the Cafés Vianna and Astoria.
Bom Jesus do Monte
(Good Jesus of the Mount)
Monument Type: Sanctuary
Address: Estrada do Bom Jesus, 4715-261
Opening Times: 7.30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Information: The sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is located 5km away from the town centre but is arguable Braga’s finest attraction. The chapel itself, standing on top of the hill, was designed in the Baroque style in the 18th century but the real wonders of the site lay in the extraordinary zigzag staircase replete with allegorical fountains and the fabulous views over the city below. The Bom Jesus funicular, which offers a much easier way to access the sanctuary, was built in 1882 by Niklaus Riggenbach and is the oldest in the Iberian Peninsula. Uniquely, it works by a water counterbalancing system, loading water into the car at the top of the hill, weighs it down so it descends to the bottom, at the same time drawing the lighter, drained car up the hill, where the process starts afresh.
Jardim de Santa Bárbara
(Garden of Santa Barbara)
What is it? Municipal garden consisting of geometric designs carved from beds of boxwood.
Where is it? In the old town, alongside the eastern wing of the historical Archbishop’s Palace of Braga
Information: The peaceful Santa Barbara gardens are a nice spot to take break while walking around town. The most dominant feature is the Gothic wall of the Archbishop’s Palace, which dates back to the 14th & 15th centuries, but other nice features include a statue to Saint Barbara on a fountain and the broken ruins of an arcade, that belonged to a now gone medieval palace.
Arco da Porta Nova
(Arch of the New Gate)
What is it? Baroque and Neoclassical triumphal arch.
Where is it? The western entrance to the medieval walls of the city, at the end of Rua do Souto.
Information: Completed in 1532, the Arch of the New Gate replaced, as the name suggests, an early arch constructed in the 14th century. Later additions have left a predominately Baroque arch flanked by four pilasters and crowned by plinths with pyramidal pinnacles. It is decorated by the coat of arms of the archbishop Gaspar of Bragança, above which is an allegorical figure of the city of Braga. The eastern façade, with only two relief pilasters, is surmounted by an image Nossa Senhora da Nazaré (Our Lady of Nazareth) in a recessed niche.