Braga, located in the North of Portugal, is considered the most religious city in the country with a high concentration of churches and sanctuaries. It used to be one of the most important catholic cities in Europe and is still the see of the Portuguese Archbishop. Today the city is a commercial and business centre with a population of 169000. The city centre is not large and is best explored on foot to discover the beautiful architecture of Baroque buildings and its many churches. There are more than 30 of them in Braga. The most amazing sanctuary is located about 6 km from the city centre and is the sanctuary of Bom Jesus, a monumental baroque staircase rising to the gardens and the church surrounded by oaks and eucalyptus trees. The steps, dotted with chapels, fountains and statues, symbolize the “via cruces”. There is a cable-car the goes up to the top, which is probably the best way to get there opting for the steps on the way down. Other interesting churches are Santa Marta da Falperra and Santa Cruz boasting a fine example of Rococo art. The best time to visit Braga is at Easter time when the population enacts the events of the Holy week including the crucifixion of Christ and his burial. To assist and even taking part to the events is a very picturesque experience not to miss. The town is considered the most conservative, and by some the most pious, by others the most fanatic. The city is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal. The city is importance as a religious centre is by no means a recent phenomenon and pilgrims have been journeying here for many centuries. However, in the 12th century, as the seat of the Portuguese archbishops, it became established as the religious capital of the country. This rich historical and cultural past has been lovingly well kept, even to the extent that local laws prevent the construction of high buildings in the certain areas so as to preserve the ancient beauty, also it quickly became a spiritual centre and the home for the Catholic Church. Splendid and architecturally interesting buildings still remain to record this period.
|Area||:||41.3 km2 (15.9 sq mi)|