Sunday, 17 June 2012

Braga - the Portuguese Rome

I'm now in Portuguese soil. On the 11th June, I flew from Marseille to Porto in the north of Portugal, to visit a good friend who lives in Braga, about 50km from Porto.
Braga was founded by the Romans over 2000 years ago, and is considered the "Heart of Minho" (one of the 11 Provinces of Portugal) or  "the Portuguese Rome", due to its many churches, squares and Baroque architecture.
It´s a city full of culture, history and traditions, but at the same time quite modern with it´s technological industry and universities.

Sadly I won´t be present for the festivities of St.John, to be celebrated on the 23rd June, for which Braga is renowned for. These are said to have been celebrated since 1515. The main avenue in the city (Avenida da Liberdade - "Liberty Avenue") is filled to the brim with people who walk up and down to the aroma of Basil and sound of music, and who "hit" each other on the head with plastic hammers, that substituted the former leeks.  
Already at the time of my visit, this avenue was full of little stands where everything is sold - from clothing to watches, jewellery and loads of little things that nobody needs!
There are also stands selling food and drink - the famous grilled sardines with corn bread (broa), roasted lamb, or the typical Portuguese soup made with Cale (Caldo verde), not forgetting the delicious fritters or churros with or without fillings. So forget the diet and enjoy yourself if you happen to visit Braga at this time of year!!
Make sure you visit the most emblematic monuments of Braga - Bom Jesus - a church atop a hill from where you have a great view of the town below. The whole area is very clean and the gardens are well taken care of, so it´s a delightful place to walk around and enjoy the views. There are hotels, restaurants and cafes in the area as well.
Bom Jesus de Braga

Another view of Bom Jesus de Braga

You can ride the funicular from the top to the bottom, 100mt below or vice-versa. It was built in 1840, and at the moment the oldest in the world, still in operation.

Inside the beautiful church
The grotto and lovely gardens at Bom Jesus


  1. Linda cidade! So estive uma vez no Bom Jesus e adorava la voltar! Que dia lindo! Um tempo espectacular!

  2. Braga está uma cidade encantadora e moderna. O Bom Jesus é um monumento maravilhoso e está muito bem cuidado.

  3. Sounds very atmospheric, Sami. I didn't know that people used to use leeks to bash each other with. I suspect the plastic hammers hurt less :)


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