Trip to Braga, the oldest Portuguese city

02_braga_dogOn May 20th2011, we caught the Suburbano train in Aveiro Station at 10:19 to reach Campanhã Station (Oporto) at 11:16.

As we had to wait around 30 minutes for the train to Braga, we looked for a place to seat and eat something. Suddenly, we saw our train departing to Braga… Ups, we lost our train. Well, we needed to wait 26 minutes more for the next train (we were lucky, it could be one hour) so we decided to buy lunch at a restaurant (Segredos de Cristal) in front of the Station.

We finally arrived at Braga at 13:19 and left the Train Station towards to the city center. On Andrade Corvo Street, we stopped on a small garden, next to a fountain built on 1742, to eat our lunch. It was a steak with rice and chips and a fillet of fish in shrimp sauce with mashed potatoes. It was delicious! After lunch we started to get up and a dog sneaked up behind JB without him noticing it!

New City Gate

New City Gate

We continued walking up the street until we reached the “Arco da Porta Nova” (New City Gate), which is the entrance for the historic center. At its left there’s the Image Museum (red building). That street (Dom Diogo de Sousa Street) is a pedestrian street and, at that time, it was decorated for an annual festivity called “Braga Romana” (Roman Braga) which take us 2000 years back, to the time when Braga was occupied by the Romans. Back then, the city was named Bracara Augusta. We didnt have the chance to be present at that festivity because it would take place a few days later after our visit.

Turning right, before the “Largo do Paço” (Paço Square), we reached the Cathedral Cloister. The Cloister has a beautiful garden and, from there, we could go to the “Tesouro da Sé” (Sé Treasury) and to the chapels of Dom Lourenço Vicente and that of Nossa Senhora da Piedade (Our Lady of Pity). On the Cloister, I didn’t notice it was prohibited to take pictures and I was almost pressing the shutter button when I heard someone shouting “No photos, no photos!”. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I stopped in time.

Paço Square

Paço Square

We continued walking around, we saw churches or a shrines everywhere. I never had seen so many Christian cult places together. We passed in front of the “Edifício das Arcadas” (Arcadas Building) and we could see the castle keep behind it. In the Edifício das Arcadas there are some cafes and restaurants and also the “Igreja da Lapa” (Lapa’s Church).

We crossed a small park which had a McDonalds with a distinctive architecture. We saw the “Igreja dos Congregados” (Congregado’s Church) and we continued walking towards the “Miradouro de Guadalupe” (Guadalupe Viewpoint).

Guadalupe's Overlook

Guadalupe’s Overlook

We finally arrived at the viewpoint, which is in the Catholic University campus. It was a pity that JB couldn’t go up because of its vertigo. There, I enjoyed the landscape, I saw the city, the “Santuário do Bom Jesus do Monte” (Good Jesus of the Mountain Sanctuary), the Sameiro Sanctuary… everything around me, very nice view!

Now it was time to have a closer look at the Santuário do Bom Jesus. On our way to the Sanctuary, we saw Braga University. While we were going up the hill, JB made fun of a dog who had a cone collar, but we hadn’t noticed his owner was next to the dog, probably listening to us… After walking for a while we reached the end of the sidewalk and we felt a little bit lost. We turned to our left, towards a parking lot, looking for any directions to the Sanctuary. We found some stairs going up, we climbed it and, at its top, there was a chapel and more stairs! And again and again, a chapel and more stairs. In each one of these chapels there’s terracotta sculptures dedicated to the Passion of Christ.

While we were climbing all these stairs, already a little bit tired, we saw an old lady climbing them, she was so full of energy, almost running. We were very impressed by that woman. She reminded me of my grandma. After so many stairs we finally saw the Sanctuary and we had just a few more stairs to climb!

Good Jesus Sanctuary

Yeeeeiiiiii! We finally arrived at the top! Now it was time to seat and recharge our batteries. When we finished eating I noticed we were not alone, I had a little spider on my back! After that, we went inside the Sanctuary, we wandered around its gardens, we enjoyed the view…and we did all the way back to Braga.

When we arrived at Braga, we took a snack on the stairs next to the “Sé de Braga” (Braga Cathedral), without realizing that it was the Cathedral.

There, we found two maps from the city, a medieval one and the other from the city nowadays and we compared the similarities between them. We only found a common thing, the Cathedral.

Finally, we visited the oldest portuguese Cathedral, the Braga Cathedral, where we can find the tombs of Henry of Burgundy and Teresa of Leon, the parents of Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal.

As we still had time until the departure of the train to Oporto, we wandered around town looking for a regional sweet, but we only found the Jardim de Santa Bárbara (Santa Barbara Garden).

Santa Barbara Garden

Santa Barbara Garden

We discovered later, in the internet and by asking to some friends, that there is a pastry shop (named Frigideiras do Cantinho) where the famous “frigideiras” (puff pastry with meat) are produced, as well as the “Bolo Romano” (Roman Cake). This is the oldest cake shop in Braga (dated from 1796) and, it’s also possible to see the roman ruins there.

It was getting late and we went back to the Train Station, to catch our train to Oporto and then the one back to Aveiro, where we arrived at 22:12.

We enjoyed very much visiting this city and we hope to return another time for there is still much to explore.

You can check the general course of our trip HERE.


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