Why visit Braga, Portugal?
Why visit Braga?
Braga is a homely, intimate city that packs an unexpected punch. The sound of church bells are a constant accompaniment and a ringing reminder of the devote history of a place, strewn with baroque churches, narrow lanes and hidden plazas.
Despite its spirituality, it is not to stay that Braga is an ageing city, as the Universidade de Minho ensures a lively student scene with reasonably priced restaurants and bars catering to students and budget travellers alike. Braga, unlike its more cosmopolitan bigger brother Porto, retains the air of familiarity without being suffocatingly so.
Braga: the facts
The region around Braga has been inhabited since Neolithic times, but truly grew in importance when the Celtic Bracari occupied the territory in the Iron Age. They, in turn, were followed the Romans who established Bracara Augusta in 20 BC as an important administrative centre for the newly conquered Roman lands in Portugal.
The Germanic Invasions of the Iberian Peninsula during the 5th century, following the collapse of the Roman Empire, quickly gave way to the Islamic rule of the 8th century which saw a gradual decrease in the importance of the city. This decline was not arrested until the imposition of Christian rule by Ferdinand I of León and Castile in 1040.
In the Middle Ages Braga played an important role in the Christianisation of Portugal and Spain, as home to the bishopric of Braga, one of the oldest seats of Christian power on the Iberian Peninsula. However, due to its distance from the coast and provincial status, the city was again left behind during the Age of Portuguese Discoveries.
Rejuvenation occurred during the 18th century when attempts to modernise the city and a series of architectural transformations to churches and civic institutions in the Baroque style were implemented. These renovations included work to the municipal hall, public library, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte and many urban palaces.
Braga has a Mediterranean climate similar to other cities in the north-west Iberian Peninsula. However, it is notable for its significantly hotter summer temperature, with a highest recorded temperature of 41.3 °C. The summer averages between 15°C – 20°C and the mild winters rarely dip below freezing and average between 5°C – 8°C
Weather in Braga now
On the culture front, the Braga International Folk Festival takes place the last weekend of August, MIMARTE – Braga’s Theatre Festival shakes down in the first half of July. The Municipio de Braga promises local, national and international troupes performing in public areas and work “based on spontaneous interaction with the spectator”.
Elsewhere, the annual Bracara Augusta Roman historical re-enactment festival, transforms the city’s historical centre and its citizens into Romans for a day every June. On Sunday afternoons during July & August, on a stage in the main Avenida, the local government also provides live music with a focus on Folk groups. Check out the municipal government website for more information.
Written by: Jon