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Braga is a city and a municipality in the northwestern Portuguese district of Braga, in the historical and cultural Minho Province. The city has 137,000 inhabitants, and the municipality, which includes 37 civil parishes has a resident population of 181,494 inhabitants (in 2011), representing the seventh largest municipality in Portugal (by population). Its area is 183.40 km². Its agglomerated urban area extends from the Cávado River to the Este River.
The city was the European Youth Capital in 2012. It is host to the archdiocese, the oldest in Portugal. Under the Roman Empire, known as Bracara Augusta, the settlement was centre of the province of Gallaecia. Braga is a major hub for inland Northern Portugal.
|TIME ZONE :||WET/WEST (UTC+0/+1)|
|LANGUAGE :||Portuguese (official)|
|RELIGION :||Roman Catholic 84.5%, other Christian 2.2%, other 0.3%, unknown 9%, none 3.9%|
|AREA :||183.40 km2 (70.81 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||Elevation 200 m (700 ft)|
Highest elevation 558 m (1,831 ft)
|COORDINATES :||41°33′4″N 8°25′42″W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.5%|
• Female: 51.5%
|AREA CODE :||253|
|POSTAL CODE :||470x|
|DIALING CODE :||+351 253|
Braga is one of the five largest cities of Portugal, situated in the Minho region in the North of the country. It is known for its abundance of churches and thus called the "city of archbishops". Apart from its rich and long ecclesiastical history and numerous churches, the city also boasts beautiful views from the hills surrounding it, a sizeable old town full of historic buildings and a heritage dating back to Roman times, when it was known as Bracara Augusta.
Braga is also the seat of thje Universidade do Minho, with a medium size campus area with lots of bars and cheap restaurants around it. Apart from the student life, the university also brought about numerous technological ventures that turned Braga into Portugal's Silicon Valley.
Human occupation of the region of Braga dates back thousands of years, documented by vestiges of monumental structures starting in the Megalithic era. During the Iron Age, the Castro culture extended into the northwest, characterized by Bracari peoples who occupied the high ground in strategically located fortified settlements (castrum). The region became the domain of the Callaici Bracarii, or Bracarenses, a Celtic tribe who occupied what is now northern Portugal, Galicia and Asturias in the north west of Iberia.
The Romans began their conquest of the region around 136 BC, and finished it during the reign of Emperor Augustus. The civitas of Bracara Augusta was founded in 20 BC; in the context of the administrative reorganization of these Roman acquisitions, Bracara was re-dedicated to the Emperor taking on the name Bracara Augusta. The city of Bracara Augusta developed greatly during the 1st century and reached its maximum extension around the 2nd century. Towards the end of the 3rd century, Emperor Diocletianuspromoted the city to the status of capital of the administrative areaConventus bracarensis, the south western area of the newly founded Roman province of Gallaecia.
During the Germanic Invasions of the Iberian Peninsula, the area was conquered by the Suebi, a Germanic people from Central Europe. In 410, the Suebi established a Kingdom in northwest Iberia, which they maintained as Gallaecia, and made Bracara their capital. About 584, the Visigothic conquerors of Hispania took control of Gallaecia. They renounced the Arian and Priscillianist hearesies during two synods held here in the 6th century. As a consequence, the archbishops of Braga later claimed the title of Primate of Portugal, then a county, and for a long period, claimed supremacy over the entire Hispanic church. Yet, their authority was never accepted throughout Hispania.
Braga had an important role in theChristianization of the Iberian Peninsula. The first known bishop of Braga, Paternus, lived at the end of the 4th century, although Saint Ovidius (d. 135 AD) is sometimes considered one of the first bishops of this city. In the early 5th century,Paulus Orosius (a friend of Augustine of Hippo) wrote several theological works that expounded the Christian faith, while in the 6th century Bishop Martin of Braga converted the Suebi from Arianism to Catholicism. At the time, Martin also founded an important monastery in Dumio(Dume), and it was in Braga that Archbishopric of Braga held their councils.
The transition from Visigothic reigns to the Muslim conquest of Iberia was very obscure, representing a period of transition and decline for the city. The Moors captured Braga early in the 8th century, but were eventually repelled by Christian forces under Alfonso III of Asturias in 868 and were definitely repelled by Ferdinand I of León and Castile in 1040. As a consequence, the bishopric was restored in 1070: the first new bishop, Pedro, started rebuilding the Cathedral (which was modified many times during the following centuries).
Between 1093 and 1147, Braga became the residencial seat of the Portuguese court. In the early 12th century, Count Henry of Portugal and bishop Geraldo de Moissac reclaimed the archbishopric seat for Braga, with power over a large area in Iberia. The medieval city developed around the cathedral, with the maximum authority in the city retained by the archbishop.
In the 16th century, due to its distance from the coast and provincial status, Braga did not profit from the adventures associated with the Age of Portuguese Discoveries (which favoured cities like Lisbon, Évora and Coimbra, seats of the Portuguese court). Yet, Archbishop Diogo de Sousa, who sponsored several urban improvements in the city, including the enlargement of streets, the creation of public squares and the foundation of hospitals and new churches managed to modernize the community. He expanded and remodelled the cathedral by adding a new chapel in the Manueline style, and generally turning the mediaeval town into a Renaissance city.
A similar period of rejuvenation occurred during the 18th century, when the archbishops of the House of Braganza contracted architects like André Soaresand Carlos Amarante, to modernize and rejuvenate the city; they began a series of architectural transformations to churches and civic institutions in the Baroque style, including the municipal hall, public library, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte and many urban palaces.
With the invasion of French troops, during the Peninsular Wars the city was relegated, once again, to a provincial status. But, by the second half of that century, with influence from Portuguese immigrants living in Brazil, new money and tastes resulted in improvements to architecture and infrastructures.
In the 20th century Braga faced similar periods of growth and decline; demographic and urban pressures, from urban-to-rural migration meant that the city's infrastructures had to be improved in order to satisfy greater demands.
Braga has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb) similar to other cities in the northwest Iberian Peninsula except for having significantly hotter summer temperatures due to being some distance from the ocean: the absolute maximum is as much as 6 °C (11 °F) higher than for A Coruña or Santiago de Compostela. The highest recorded temperature is 41.3 °C (106.3 °F) while the lowest recorded is −6.3 °C (20.7 °F). The climate is affected by the Atlantic Ocean which influences westerly winds that are channeled through the region's valleys, transporting large humid air masses. Consequently, the climate tends to be pleasant with clearly defined seasons. The air masses have the effect of maintaining the relative humidity around 80%: annual mean temperatures hover between 12.5 °C (54.5 °F) and 17.5 °C (63.5 °F). Owing to nocturnal cooling, frost usually forms frequently between three and four months of the year (about 30 days of frost annually), and annually the region receives 1,659 millimetres (65.3 in) of precipitation, with the major intensity occurring between fall/winter and spring.
Climate data for Braga
|Record high °C (°F)||24.0|
|Average high °C (°F)||13.7|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||9.0|
|Average low °C (°F)||4.3|
|Record low °C (°F)||−6.3|
|Source: Instituto de Meteorologia, IP Portugal|
Situated in the heart of Minho, Braga is located in a transitional region between the east and west: between mountains, forests, grand valleys, plains and fields, constructing natural spaces, moulded by human intervention. Geographically, with an area of 184 square kilometres (71 sq mi) it is bordered in the north by the municipalities of Vila Verde and Amares, northeast and east by Póvoa de Lanhoso, south and southeast with Guimarães and Vila Nova de Famalicão and west by the municipality of Barcelos.
The topography in the municipality is characterized by irregular valleys, interspersed by mountainous spaces, fed by rivers running in parallel with the principal rivers. In the north it is limited by the Cávado River, in the south by terrain of the Serra dos Picos to a height of 566 metres (1,857 ft) and towards the east by the Serra dos Carvalhos to a height of 479 metres (1,572 ft), opening to the municipalities of Vila Nova de Famalicão and Barcelos. The territory extends from the northeast to southwest, accompanying the valleys of the two rivers, fed by many of its tributaries, forming small platforms between 20 metres (66 ft) and 570 metres (1,870 ft).
The municipality lies between 20 metres (66 ft) and 572 metres (1,877 ft), with the urbanized centre located at approximately 215 metres (705 ft). In the north, where the municipality is marked by the Cavado, the terrain is semi-planar, the east is mountainous owing to the Serra do Carvalho 479 metres (1,572 ft), Serra dos Picos 566 metres (1,857 ft), Monte do Sameiro 572 metres (1,877 ft) and Monte de Santa Marta 562 metres (1,844 ft). Between the Serra do Carvalho and Serra dos Picos is the River Este, forming the valley of Vale d’Este. Similarly, between the Serra dos Picos and Monte do Sameiro exists the plateau of Sobreposta-Pedralva. To the south and west, the terrain is a mix of mountains, plateaus and medium-size valleys, permitting the passage of the River Este, and giving birth to other confluences including the River Veiga, River Labriosca and various ravines.
The major industries in the municipality are construction, metallurgy and mechanics, software development and web design. The computer industry is growing rapidly.
Although the region hosts its own airfield (Aerodromo de Braga) in Palmeira, the principal airport of note is Sá Carneiro International Airport located 50 kilometres (31 mi) away, in Porto. Access is made by public transit to the city centre (roughly 20 minutes) or Aerobus (30 minutes). Braga is serviced by both regional and high-speed rail connection to major centres in the region.
Administratively, the municipality is divided into 37 civil parishes (freguesias):
- Arentim e Cunha
- Braga (Maximinos, Sé e Cividade)
- Braga (São José de São Lázaro e São João do Souto)
- Cabreiros e Passos (São Julião)
- Celeirós, Aveleda e Vimieiro
- Crespos e Pousada
- Escudeiros e Penso (Santo Estêvão e São Vicente)
- Este (São Pedro e São Mamede)
- Ferreiros e Gondizalves
- Guisande e Oliveira (São Pedro)
- Lomar e Arcos
- Merelim (São Paio), Panoias e Parada de Tibães
- Merelim (São Pedro) e Frossos
- Mire de Tibães
- Morreira e Trandeiras
- Nogueira, Fraião e Lamaçães
- Nogueiró e Tenões
- Padim da Graça
- Real, Dume e Semelhe
- Santa Lucrécia de Algeriz e Navarra
- São Vicente
- São Victor
- Vilaça e Fradelos
Prices in Braga
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€0.85|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€3.50|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€16.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€26.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€5.50|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€1.50|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.20|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€5.40|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€8.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.16|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€4.80|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€1.55|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€85.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€30.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€75.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€1.50|
40 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
131 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
The easiest way to go to Braga by plane is to fly to Porto international airport (OPO).
Once you get to Porto Airport, you can catch the following transports to Braga:
- Train/Metro Catch the Metro to Campanhã Station or São Bento Station and then get a train to Braga. Duration: 2h00 Price (approx.): €5 Metro Train
- Bus transfer Direct transfer to Braga from Porto Airport and vice versa, it works everyday. Duration: 50 min Price: €8 one-way - €14 go & return more information here
- Táxi The táxis are located on the arrivals floor at Porto Airport. Duration: 40 min Price (approx.): €60
Braga is a major terminus railway station, with an impressive new high-rise building erected in 2004, contrasting with the small historic one sitting alongside. It alternates with Guimaraes as the northernmost terminus of Alfa Pendular high-speed and Intercidades long-distance trains, although not all trains reach either city - Braga sees five long-distance services daily, and less on weekends and holidays. The long-distance trains connect Braga with, in. al., Lisbon, Coimbra and Porto, as well as, with a transfer in either Lisbon or Porto, southern cities like Evora or Faro. Braga is also a terminus for one of the local train lines extending from Porto (Suburbanes de Grande Porto).
It is worth noting that due to the terminus character of the railway lines in northern Portugal, nearby cities are not always connected to each other. For example, travelling from Braga to Guimaraes or Viana do Castelo requires going back towards Porto and changing to a different train. Same holds for international trains to Vigo. There are bus services to both Guimaraes and Viana de Castelo, which can save some time.
Travel times between Braga and other major cities:
- Porto - 40 minutes by Alfa Pendular or Intercidad
- Coimbra - 1h40min by Alfa Pendular or Intercidad
- Lisbon - 3h45min by Alfa Pendular
- Guimaraes - 20-40 minutes by bus or 1h40min to 2h20min by changing trains in Lousado
- Viana do Castelo - 1h40min to 2h20min by either direct bus or by changing trains in Nine
Rede Expressos, a network of long-distance bus services, includes a number of direct and indirect lines to Braga from practically every city in Portugal. The buses are slightly slower but often not much cheaper than train tickets, especially when bought in advance, and are a much better option only when a direct rail connection is not available.
You have a lot of highways going to Braga, from Guimarães, Porto, Felgueiras, Chaves, and others. If you are coming from the south of Portugal there is no difficulty at all. The Portuguese highways are all very well connected, and you only have to go straight to Oporto, and then in Oporto you catch A3 (Highway 3) which goes to Braga. It's quite easy.
Transportation - Get Around
Public transportation within Braga is provided by Transportes Urbanos de Braga (website only in Portuguese as of May 2016), which operates a few dozen bus lines throughout the municipality. As the municipality is quite expansive in size, it has been divided into three zones (coroas) for fare calculation purposes. Almost all tourist attractions are in Coroa 1, but outlying sanctuaries such as Bom Jesus are in Coroa 2.
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There are lots of cheap restaurants around the city. Particularly around the University Campus, on the eastern part of town.
The region offers a diverse natural landscape bearing the cultural influences of many centuries. This is reflected in the multiplicity of gastronomic specialities available from the regions kitchens; potato and cabbage broth, bread made from maize, roast pork, cod, octopus and trout, chicken rice "pica no chão" and duck rice, the kid (goat) and the baked heifer and local hams.
- Panoramic Restaurant-Hotel do Elevador, Bom Jesus do Monte, , fax: , e-mail:[email protected]. With seating for 120 people and a pleasant panoramic view of the city of Braga. Serves a wide range of traditional regional specialities.
Beware of ordering a full ration of roast chicken, although it tastes wonderful you will get a mountain of chicken and potatoes that may be enough for 3 to 4 persons.
- Restaurante Centurium, Avenida Central 134, 4710-229 Braga.
- Restaurante Trotas, Largo Senhora-a-Branca 122.
- Restaurante Populum.
- A Buraca, Rua Santa Margarida, (Largo Senhora a Branca). Cheap meals.
- Restaurante Brito's, Praça Mouzinho de Albuquerque 49, 4710 Braga.
- Pastelaria Caravela, Largo Sra Branca, . cake, coffee
- Frigideiras do Cantinho, Lg. S. João do Souto, 01. - Frigideiras (Pastéis Folhados com Carne)
Sights & Landmarks
There are lot's of places to visit in Braga. The historic city centre, with the cathedral and other churches, museums and traditional shops. The cathedral is almost 1000 years old, and while in there you can have a guided tour to its treasure. You can also visit the beautiful Braga Municipal Stadium, used for the 2004 European Football Championships held in Portugal. The stadium is on the northern part of the city and it is advised to take a cab. While in Braga, looking east or south-east will probably make you sight two distinct sanctuaries on a mountain just outside the city. The higher one, Sameiro, with a beautiful Church with lots of paintings and gold decorations, and the other one, Bom Jesus do Monte, with a beautiful park around it. While in Bom Jesus, you can ride the Bom Jesus funicular, the oldest funicular in the world moved by water balancing. Although Braga is known in Portugal as "Cidade dos Arcebispos" (Archbishop's Town) and has a clear religious connotation, it isn't related to the faith or devoted Catholicism of its inhabitants. That name comes from the fact that the town has many churches and sanctuaries.
- Arco da Porta Nova. An arch of triumph built in 1502 and reconstructed many times over until the 18th century. It proves less than monumental, being nestled between buildings, nevertheless providing for a beautiful photo setting with its rococo decorations. The figure atop the arch is the allegorical representation of the city of Braga, and the city has used the arch's image in many of its marketing and social campaigns.
- Braga Cathedral (Sé Catedral de Braga). With a history reaching as far back as 3rd century, the diocese of Braga is one of Europe's oldest, although its existence was interrupted by the fall of the Roman Empire. A string of local religious and civil rulers fought to have it restored and then elevated to archbishopric, while at the same time striving to have a proper seat built. The cathedral was eventually finished in mid-13th century, although the current building is a result of numerous add-ons and reconstructions, blending a number of architectural styles and influences.
- The Tree of Life Chapel. Capela Árvore da Vida- Seminário Conciliar de Braga. It is made with 20 tons of unadorned wood and not a single nail or metal fitting.
- Santuário do Bom Jesus do Monte. A hilltop sanctuary with beautiful gardens, architecture and views over Braga, perhaps the city's most-known tourist attraction. The baroque church sits atop a monumental staircase and for those who'd rather not walk up it, there is a historic funicular powered by water balance.
Museums & Galleries
In addition, many of the district's treasures and historical artifacts are housed in several museums that are scattered throughout the city, such as:
- Museum of the Biscainhos (Portuguese: Museu dos Biscainhos, housed in the historical Palace of the Biscainhos, the museum exhibits a permanent collection of decorative art, that includes furniture, ceramics, European and Oriental porcelain, European Glass, European and Portuguese watches and clocks;
- Treasure Museum of the Sé Cathedral (Portuguese: Tesouro Museu da Sé Catedral), the collection varies, but collects together artefacts from the 16th to 18th century during the period of religious/cultural exploration, associated with the Cathedral, including images and azulejo tiles;
- Museum of Image (Portuguese: Museu da Imagem), dedicated to photography, located near the Arco da Porta Nova and Braga Castle;
- Museum Medina (Portuguese: Museu Medina), located in the same building as the Museum of Pius XII, the collection is the home to the 83 oil paintings and 21 drawings of the painter Henrique Medina;
- Museum of Nogueira da Silva (Portuguese: Museu Nogeuira da Silva), bequeathed to the University of Minho, the collection includes artefacts, paintings, furniture and sculptures collected over a lifetime, such as Renaissance artwork, 17th furniture, ceramics and objects in ivory, silverand religious art;
- Museum of Pius XII (Portuguese: Museu Pio XII), housing a collection ofPalaeolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age implements, Pre-historic and Luso-Roman pottery;
- D. Diogo de Sousa Museum (Portuguese: Museu D. Diogo de Sousa), its collection includes many items discovered during archaeological excavations within the municipality, extending as far back as thePalaeolithic to the Middle Ages.
- Museum of String Instruments (Portuguese: Museu dos Cordofones), the collection features Portuguese instruments as far back as the Middle Ages including Cavaquinhos, Portuguese guitars, Mandolins and banjos among others.
Festivals and events
- Semana Santa (Holy week): In the week before Easter, there are lot's of events to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, such as processions. The city is decorated with flowers and violet sheets.
- Sao Joao (Saint John): Festivities in honour of Braga's saint. Although Saint John Holiday is on the 24th of June, the City starts preparing for it almost two weeks in advance, with small traditional events. On the night of 23 June, Braga's people come to the street to celebrate.
- Braga Romana (Roman Braga): To celebrate the influence of the Roman empire in Braga's history, there is a cultural fair around the streets of the city centre, where people dress like ancient Romans and sell art and other souvenirs in tents. It is usually on the last weekend of May.
Nightlife in Braga may be quite monotonous sometimes. Clubs in town are open only on weekends and Wednesdays, since it is "academic night" and most students go on having a drink and end the night in one of the local clubs. There are lots of small bars around the historic city centre. Most of them are well hidden on the tight streets, and you will only find them with the help of locals. It is not advised to walk around the city centre at night by yourself. It may look safe and very crowded during the day, but it's quite abandoned and very very dark during the night as most people prefer to go into the bars and coffee shops.