JUL 24,2014 - JUL 24,2014 (1 DAYS)
Braga - the historical centre:
Start and End: Braga Railway station.
Distance: 8 km.
Duration: 1 day.
Main Attractions: Arco da Porta Nova, Largo da Praca Velha, Misericórdia, Sé Cathedral of Braga, Old Archbishop´s Palace and Castles Fountain, Paço Arquiepiscopal, Santa Barbara Garden, Igreja do Carmo, Convento do Pópulo, Braga Castle, Reitor Da Igreja Dos Terceiros, Praça da República, Avenida da Liberdade, Largo Carlos Amarante, Palacio do Raio, Convento dos Congregados, Jardim da Avenida Central.
Orientation: Sometimes called the “Portuguese Rome” for its religious air and many churches, Braga is an ancient town in northwest Portugal. Though it is often described in tourist guides as ‘over-religious’ & ‘buttoned-up’ I did not find it so at all. It has a great balance of commerce, tourist sights and religious places. And it’s very friendly. Its history and livelihood are tied to Christianity dating to the 3rd century. This route offers the central sites that can be visited along 1 day. The city’s 12th-century Sé (Cathedral) is still one of the most popular attractions. The second most known attraction lies outside of town - the renowned Bom Jesus de Monte pilgrimage sanctuary, with its striking Baroque stairway. But the Bon Jesus de Monte is NOT included in this itinerary. Instead we concentrate around the historical centre sites. Most of them less reputed - BUT, believe me - you'll love most of them. To visit the Bom Jesus and another couple of more reputed churches or monasteries - you'll need, at least, additional 4-5 hours.
Bear in mind: although Braga is an orthodox town - it is vibrant, sophisticated, sensual and very young. There are wonderful squares, cafe's, restaurants, gardening beds and wonderful buildings. A Portuguese MUST.
Weather: Do yourself a favor - visit Braga in a bright day ! Do not go on a bleak weather day
Transportaion: Catch the Metro in Porto to Campanhã Station or São Bento Station and then get a train to Braga. Duration: 65-75 min. Price (aprox.): 3-4 €. More or less - every hour. From Campanhã Station or São Bento Station - local electric trains of the Porto Urbanos network run to Braga about once every hour every day, with extra faster trains in weekday rush hours. There are simple to use ticket machines in the station's hall. The machines take notes as well as coins. NB these 'Urbanos' tickets are NOT VALID on Alfa Pendular or Intercity trains. Urbanos trains are (mostly) bright yellow! Note: If you do use one of the Alfa Pendular fast trains the trip to Braga will cost you a whopping €14,20 to save about 30 minutes. First train from Porto S. Bento to Braga is at 0615 on weekdays, 0645 weekends and holidays and the last trains are at 2245 then a late train at 0115am daily. These stop at Porto Campanhã five minutes later. Be sure to check timetables at the Portugal Railways Official website; look for Urbanos Porto on the front page. Trains from Braga to Porto run daily from 0434 to 2034 daily, then at 2134 (weekends), 2234 (weekdays) and 2334 daily.
The national long distance bus (coach) network Rede-Expressos has frequent daily service between Porto Batalha bus station and Braga. Times at www.rede-expressos.pt - tickets cost 6€ and can be purchased on line. Journey time 1 hour. (The TRANSDEV bus company runs a bus once each hour from the airport to the city centre Batalha bus station. Details at http://www.transdev.pt/aeroportoporto/).
The railway station in Braga is on the western edge of the city centre, a few minutes walk along a mainly pedestrian street will get you there. None of the city buses directly connect the railway station and main bus station. We shall start our itinerary from the railway station.
The bus station in Braga is a closer to the city centre, in Avenida General Norton do Matos. Taxis outside if you need one.
Braga, the capital of the Minho region, is considered the third most important Portuguese city. Internationally famous as a popular tourist destination, Braga attracts visitors with its monuments, magnificent gardens, cuisine and the animated social and cultural life. Probably the main religious center in the country, Braga is known for its baroque churches, magnificent 18th century houses and elaborate gardens and squares. Known, in the Roman era as “Bracara Augusta”, it was also the headquarters of the Portuguese bishopric in the XII century. Braga’s long history can be seen in its monuments and churches. The most impressive church is the Sé, which has several styles, from Roman to Baroque. Braga is also proud of its splendid houses, especially those from the 18th century.
Braga was Portugal's first city; when Portugal was founded there was only one city on the whole of its territory and that was Braga. The remains of ancient settlements in Braga are thousands of years old and are proven to date back to the Bronze Age.
Braga is one of the oldest Portuguese cities and one of the oldest Christian cities in the world. It was founded in the Roman times as Bracara Augusta and boasts more than 2,000 years of history as a city. Situated in the North of Portugal, in the Cávado Valley (Vale do Cávado), Braga has a population of about 174,000 inhabitants. It is the centre of the Great Metropolitan Area of Minho (GAM - Grande Área Metropolitana do Minho) with a population of around 800,000 inhabitants. Founded by a Celtic tribe called Bracari and later occupied by the Romans (who made it the administrative center of Gallaecia, or present-day Minho and Spanish Galicia), it became the seat of a large archbishopric and the country's religious capital in the 11th century.
Braga has a lot to offer, both in terms of culture and entertainment: its night life, cinemas, theatre, exhibitions, museums and art galleries are exceptional. It is a city vibrant with culture and tradition, where history and religion go hand in hand with technology, industry and university life. There are lots of places to visit in Braga. The historic city center, 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 Arcibispos" (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.
One fact I heard from every inhabitant, in this city, during my visit: Braga is the most fertile city in Portugal - though it is the most orthodox one. Braga has one of the youngest populations in Europe (it was proclaimed to be the European city with the youngest residents in 1989), which makes the city dynamic and energetic. In the past 30 years the District of Braga increased in population by 25 per cent. The district shows parameters of development and quality of living above the national average, which are surpassed only by those of the metropolitan areas of Porto and Lisbon. From statistics and simple calculations one can easily infer that, together with its strategic geographical situation and its rate of development, the aforementioned parameters make this district one of the most attractive regions in terms of investment.
With the railway station (Estacao Braga) on your back - head north-east (and, later, eastward) along Rua Andrade Corvo (the most right climbing up street).
You arrive to an extensive square with non-functioning fountain - Largo das Hortas (public resthouse).
Largo das Hortas - view to the north and city walls:
After 300 m. from our start of climbing up - we arrive to Arco da Porta Nova, Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa. The Arch of the New Gate (Arco da Porta Nova), is a Baroque and Neoclassical arch, designed by André Soares in the late 18th century, in the civil parish of Sé, municipality of Braga. The triumphal arch which decorates the western entrance to the medieval wall of the city, was opened in 1512 and traditionally used to present the city's keys to dignitaries and celebrities. The arch representing the principal entrance to the medieval city. It is surrounded by an urban environment, within one of the city's primary arterial roads, in a space between the Campo das Hortas and Rua D. Diogo de Sousa. In its immediate vicinity (on the left, north side) is a medieval tower, which now houses the Museu de Imagem. King Ferdinand completed the wall of city of Braga around 1373, a project begun during the reign of his predecessor King Denis. THe walls' project called also for constructions of a Torre da Porta Nova (Tower of the New City Gate). Sometime in the 17th century, Archbishop José de Bragança, ordered the reconstruction of the Porta Nova gate, to include the extension of Rococo decoration. The historic arch was used by the municipality, throughout the 20th century, to promotional and marketing campaigns.
The front façade of the arch, looking from west to east along the Rua do Dom Diogo de Sousa:
The front façade of the arch, looking from east to west along the Rua do Dom Diogo de Sousa with the image of Our Lady of Nazareth:
On your right - Largo da Praca Velha. This square is a beautiful place near the Arco da Porta Nova. Its old buildings, brightly colored, its restaurants give you a special atmosphere and giving welcome to tourists and visitors to the city:
Continue east, along the pedestrians-only road of Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa. On your right is the Misericórdia. It is a church built in 1562, the time of Archbishop Bartolomeu Martyrs (1559-1558). it is considered the most important legacy of the renaissance period (Florentine style) in the city, despite the profound changes it suffered in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its monumental Retablo had been built during the years 1735-1740. Its lateral facade is from 1660. Over the centuries it has been the object of several renovations, acquiring the current appearance in 1891. It Is classified as a Public Interest since 1977. The altar is carved authored by Marceliano de Araújo. It is included in the set of buildings in the Se' Cathedral of Braga. Standing against the Cathedral, it is easy to miss...
The interior of the church was remodeled in the Baroque period. The altarpiece is absolutely fabulous and clearly expresses the art of Marceliano de Araujo.
Opposite - the famous Sé Cathedral of Braga, Rua Dom Paio Mendes 10, Rossio da Sé. Open, during the summer months: 09.00 - 12.30, 14.00 - 18.30. No photos allowed inside !!! Taking pictures is strictly prohibited in the premises of the cathedral. So, be cautious !!!Entrance is free. It costs 5 euros per person for the guided tour in the chapels and the museum. Braga is the city of churches, and the Sé is the ex-libris. Due to its long history and artistic significance it is also one of the most important buildings in the country. Built in the 12th century by Count Henry of Burgundy and Dona Teresa. Following his demise, she was chased out of town because of an illicit love affair, but in death Henry and Teresa were reunited in their tombs in the Chapel of Kings. You can visit the Treasury of the Cathedral and the Museum of Sacred Art, an upstairs repository of Braga's most precious works of art. On display are elaborately carved choir stalls from the 18th century, embroidered vestments from the 16th through the 18th century, a 14th-century statue of the virgin and a Gothic chalice from the same period, plus the custódia of Dom Gaspar de Bragança. In the cloister is a pietà, a reflection of human grief.
Main façade of Braga Cathedral. The entrance gallery (galilee) with three arches is gothic (end of 15th century), but the towers and upper storeys are early baroque (17th century). he original romanesque Western façade of the Cathedral of Braga has been totally suppressed, except for some archivolts and capitals of the main portal, heavily decorated with animal and human sculptured reliefs. The figures of one archivolt, with hens, foxes and a minstrel, may be telling a moralistic song like the Roman de Renart, of French tradition. Between 1486 and 1501, an entrance gallery (a galilee) in late gothic style was built preceding the main portal. The galilee has ribbed vaulting and is decorated with statues and gargoyles, the gargoyles were used for spouts so rain wouldn't ruin the side of the buildings. The beautiful manueline metal gate was originally in the interior of the cathedral, but was moved to the galilee in the 18th century. In the early 16th century, Archbishop Diogo de Sousa modified the main romanesque portal, sacrificing the inner archivolts. The upper part of the façade and towers were totally modernised in the 18th century and are unremarkable. The Southern façade of the cathedral has an interesting Romanesque portal.
The entrance from Rua Cabido:
In the courtyard - the Museum of the Se' Cathedral of Braga:
Side entry to the Cathedral:
The main chapel of the apse, rebuilt in 1509 under Archbishop Diogo de Sousa by basque architect João de Castilho. The exterior of the chapel has beautiful late Gothic and Manueline tracery with gargoyles and pinnacles, matched in the interior of the chapel by intricate ribbed vaulting. The outer wall of the main chapel has a beautiful early-16th century statue of the Madonna breastfeeding Jesus (Madona do Leite) between the coat of arms of Portugal and Bishop Diogo de Sousa, sponsor of the Manueline renovation. Under the window there is a Madonna with the Child under a gothic canopy between the coat-of-arms of Portugal (left) and that of Archbishop Diogo de Sousa (right):
Braga Se' Cathedral has three aisles covered by a wooden roof, a transept and five Eastern chapels in the apse. None of the chapels is original Romanesque anymore: the main chapel is Manueline, while the others are heavily decorated in baroque style. In the north wall outside of the cathedral there is a small chapel, of early Romanesque design, that may be a remnant of the late 11th building. This chapel was left outside of the final cathedral, perhaps due to a change of design in the 12th century.
The nave is essentially romanesque thanks to a "purifying" reform in the 20th century that suppressed most later additions, although most original capitals of the columns have been lost. D. Afonso, son of King John I, is buried in a 15th-century tomb made of bronze, which can be seen in the nave of the Cathedral. Head to the north exit of the nave, where you will find the small but well-stocked Museum of Religious Art.
Head over to the desk and for a small price you can visit the treasury, the choir and the chapels.
A high choir was added near the entrance of the cathedral in the Baroque period. You can't help but to stare at the detail of the work. This choir is beautifully decorated with a painted ceiling and sculptured gilt wood (Talha Dourada) choir stalls executed around 1737 by Miguel Francisco da Silva. In front of the high choir there are two gilt wood organs, carved by renowned sculptor Marceliano de Araújo in the 1730s, heavily decorated with baroque and fantastic motifs. These are among the most impressive gilt wood works. Be sure to take the tour of the choir (a small fee) to see the monumental twin baroque organs with exuberant carvings of various cherubs and creatures:
There are twin organs that are just magnificent. These carved woodworks
are by Marceliano de Araújo (1737-1739). The organs are still played during major church events. The organs are the loveliest I have ever seen. I could look at them for hours. The highlight is supposed to be on Sundays - when someone starts to play them. The feeling is heavenly gorgeous:
The cloister offers access to three chapels, which sit adjacent to the cathedral. Visit the tombs of the ArchBishops of Braga. The treassury holds an invaluable amount of gold, diamonds, art, sacerdodal clothing from the 16th, 17th, and 18th century and not to mention some of the best pieces of Ivory in the country.
The first of these, the Capela dos Reis, is built directly onto the nave and is home to the Tombs of Henry and Teresa, the mother and father of the first king of Portugal, as well as the mummified body of Archbishop Lourenço Vicente Coutinho, one of Portugal’s leading 14th-century religious protagonists. It also has the mumified ArchBishop of Braga from the 16th century. You can still see his teeth, hair and jewels.
Next comes the Capela de São Geraldo, which is home to some interesting ceramic works (Azulejos), showing scenes from the life of St Gerald, Braga’s first Archbishop who lived from 1096 to 1108. Words can not do justice...
The Capela da Gloria is home to more Azulejos, as well as the tomb of Archbishop Gonçalo Pereira, who commanded the Minho forces against the Moroccans in the battle of Rio Salado:
Exit the Se' Cathedral (we shall return to its rear facade) northward. Continue walking eastward along Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa and you arrive to Largo do Paço. The buildings with the facades facing the Largo do Paço, are the work of the Archbishops Manuel de Sousa, D. Agostinho de Jesus and D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles. The set of houses can be divided into three wings. West wing: Erected on the initiative of D. Agostinho de Jesus (1587-1609), as attested by his coat of arms, inscribed in the balcony facing the Largo D. João Peculiar (where this archbishop watched the processions) and the center sustained gallery by columns. In the central building of the coat reads the Latin inscription: "D Agostinho de Jesus, Archbishop of Braga and Primate of the Spains":
North Wing: It was also built by D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles. Beneath the coat of arms of the archbishop, is the Latin inscription: "O quam domus antiqua dispari domino dominaris", year 1709 The expression can be translated as "O The old house is different that the Lord has you!" , sentence uttered by Frei Bartolomeu dos Martires when he got there. He added modestly, recalling his predecessors: "How unworthy today what comes to mind your place," the Latin phrase that is due to Cicero:
In the centre stands the Fountain of the Castles - Fonte dos Castelos from year 1723:
The Praca do Paco square is surrounded by buildings of the Episcopal Bracarense, hence its name. It is open only from the south side to the Rua do Souto.
Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa changes its name to Rua do Souto - but still remains pedestrians only road:
We shall explore the hidden sides of the Cathedral of Braga - before continuing (east) to the historical centre of Braga. From the beginning of Rua do Souto - turn right to Rua de Nossa Senhora do Leite which, later, turn right to Rua de S. Joao:
From Rua de Nossa Senhora do Leite - turn right agian to see the rear facade of the Se' Cathedral of Braga. We arrive to a closed square - Roseo de Se' - where we can admire the bell towers, on the southern side of the Cathedral. The Southern façade of the cathedral has an interesting Romanesque portal:
Note the stunning reliefs on this facade while standing in the Roseo de Se':
Turn right to Rua Dom Paio Mendes to see the western facade of the Se' Cathedral. The original romanesque Western façade of the Cathedral of Braga has been totally suppressed, except for some archivolts and capitals of the main portal, heavily decorated with animal and human sculptured reliefs:
Return to Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa / Rua do Souto (the pedestrians roads). Continue walking along the elegant road. You pass Rua da Doutor Justino Cruz on your left. You will be striked by the modern, elaborate architectural commercial centre on your left (north) side. On your right Rua Francisco Sanches with pretty tree-lined avenue:
We turn LEFT (north) to Rua da Doutor Justino Cruz (immediately, on your left, a wonderful porcelains shop. The architectural mix of old and new is admirable. On your right - a dragon statue:
and behind it - the Millenium building:
On your left - the Santa Barbara Garden. It is a municipal garden alongside the eastern wing of the historical Archbishop's Palace of Braga. The garden is located in the northeast corner the Archbishop's Palace, on an elevation. It consists of geometric designs carved from beds of boxwood, decorated with cedar topiaries. In the center of the garden there is a fountain with the statue of Saint Bárbara at the top. It was originally established to enhance the exterior of the palace back in the 17th century and to this day it sets the ancient palace walls off to perfection, framing it in greenery and, on sunny days with the blue skies above. Today’s garden is, however, a modern interpretation of the original space, having been completely re-landscaped in 1955 in keeping with the romantic style of its original period. Plaques on the site identify Jose Cardoso da Silva as the designer and landscaper. The plants, blooms and landscaping are well tended and always found in immaculate condition, making the Santa Barbara Garden a veritable feast for the senses. Do not miss the gardens !!!
The Archiepiscopal Palace (Paço Arquiepiscopal) is seen from the Praca do Paco square and from the Santa Barbara Garden. The Palace is a set of three different buildings with distinct characteristics and time periods: The South wing, defining the Paço Square (see above), is composed of various buildings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries:
The Eastern wing (facing the Santa Barbara Garden is of Gothic style and dates to the 14th and 15th centuries (see later in this route). The oldest building is set facing the Santa Barbara Garden, being known as Medieval Palace of Braga. It was erected in the late Middle Ages through the initiative of Archbishops Gonçalo Pereira and Fernando the Warrior, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It is currently occupied by the District Archive Braga:
The Western wing (facing the Municipio Square) (see above) was built in the 18th century in the Portuguese Northern Baroque style. Town Hall Square: The building facing the square was erected by the Municipality José de Bragança in the early eighteenth century, with the authorship of the architect André Soares, Baroque design. This building was consumed by fire on April 16, 1866, been rebuilt under the guidance of architect Manuel Fernandes de Sá, during the 1930s. Currently it is installed the Public Library of Braga:
The remains of the medieval arcade of the palace forming the southwest corner of the garden:
Rua da Doutor Justino continues north as Rua do Carmo (on our left is Praca Conde de Agrolungo, and, later, hotel Ibis). On your right, in Rua do Carmo - Igreja do Carmo (Our Lady of Carmel church):
Nearby (east to the church) , I had dinner in Restaurante cantinho do carmo (see Tip below).
Return to Ibis Hotel in Rua da Doutor Justino Cruz / Rua do Carmo. With your face to the south - turn RIGHT (west) to Rua Conde de Agrolongo. The spacious Praca Conde de Agrolongo is on your left. Furher, west, on your right, an impressive building with amazing Azulejos inside - LAR Conde de Arlongo - a retirement hostel for elders. You are not allowed to step inside. What a miss !
In the south side of Praca Conde de Agrolongo stands a modern sculpture opposite pretty-tiled buildings:
Close to the LAR Conde de Arlongo, and belonging to the same architectural block there is an ancient convent / church Convento do Pópulo. The 16th century Church of Populo was built on the orders of archbishop Brother Agostinho de Jesus, as his burial monument. He passed away in 1609, with his remains transferred in 1628 to a wooden tomb, ordered by the city of Braga, and located in the main chapel. The original Mannerist style underwent substantial change in the 18th century when the façade was rebuilt in a neo-classical style according to a design by Carlos Amarante. The church is dedicated to the Virgin after the Church of Saint Mary of Populo in Rome. It is well worth a visit for its elaborate finishings including the blue and white tiling attributed to Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes (18th century). By no means - do not miss the tile panels that make up the walls of the grand staircase of the building of the Convent of Pópulo:
Exit the huge square from its south-east corner. Continue EAST along Rua do Souto. Turn Left (north) Rua do Castelo:
On your right, in Rua do Castelo - Braga Castle (Castelo de Braga) + Torre de Menagem. It is a historical fortification and defensive line encircling the city of Braga. While, in fact, the only remains of this structure are the various gates and towers along its perimeter, the main keep tower is the only true remnant of the medieval castle. The old castle, today demolished, had an approximate rectangular plan, with towers on each vertice. Of the walls of the city, only the gate, tower of Santiago, tower of São Sebastião and Porta Nova remain. The demolition of the grounds began in 1858 in the Largo do Barão de S. Martinho, with the destruction of the Souto Gate, followed by the Eastern and São Bento Gates, still in the 19th century. After the beginning of the 20th century, many other lines of the castle were destroyed between the Arco da Porta Nova and Rua dos Biscainhos, and from Rua dos Biscainhos and Rua do Alcaide. Few remnants of the medieval lines remain today. The ancient wall can be seen in some of the backyards of homes along the Rua do Anjo and Rua de São Marcos. Still further, there still exist the Gate of São Tiago, even if partially altered due to the construction in the second half of the 18th century, through the addition of the Capela da Senhora da Torre:
on your left, in Rua do Castelo - Reitor Da Igreja Dos Terceiros. The Church of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis dates back to 1690. The facade, is in the Baroque style, presents a broken pediment, surmounted by a cross and the arms of San Francisco. Inside, the ceiling is vaulted in stone, the altars are gilded and the walls are tiled with motifs signed by Nicolau de Freitas. The church is not open, regularly, to the public:
The Retablo with Azulejos and list of all Bishops:
You arrive to Avenida Central. Turn RIGHT (east) to the Praça da República. The Praça da Republica Square is Portugal at its best. It is a wide, expansive space with a fountain at its heart and surrounded by grand architecture from a variety of periods that define the history of this historic city. This is a square that opens up between the wide Largo de San Francisco and Barão de São Martinho and Avenida Central and Avenida da Liberdade. The Republic Square, popularly referred to simply as Arcade. The square was opened in the late Middle Ages. The name Arcade is due to existing archway (west side with the Igreja da Lapa), erected on the initiative of D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles in 1715, in place of another, earlier, dating back to the time of D. Diogo de Sousa. It was here, from the late sixteenth century. Here were marketed food products which were supplied to the city. The space was transformed into a public garden in the mid nineteenth century and the works of the present building of the arch, with the municipal engineer Joaquim Pereira da Cruz project, was completed in 1885. Between 1761 and 1904 the square was named Lapa and off, between 1904 and 1910 - Largo Hintze Ribeiro. Finally, with the establishment of the Portuguese Republic (1910), the square received the current name. In the centre - illuminated fountain. The fountain is named the Vianna fountain, and in fact many locals simply refer to the Praça da Republica Square as “Vianna”. In the south-east corner of the square - the Tourist Information office. A MacDonalds is in the middle if you need a stop. By day, the Praça da Republica Square is the perfect place for hanging out, people watching and admiring your surroundings from the comfort of a café chair, with a pastel de nata, rich, freshly brewed coffee or a light local beer for company. Things are livened up regularly by a variety of street artists who come to entertain the crowds. By night the mood changes and the Praça da Republica becomes a popular dining destination, especially in summer when it is possible to sit outside and enjoy the balmy evening weather as you taste some of the gastronomic delights of one of Portugal’s leading culinary centres:
In the west side - Igreja de Lapa and the Arcade (Archway):
The oldest café in the city is the Vianna Café, which lies in the heart of the square and has been a leading congregation point for residents and visitors alike since it was opened as long ago as 1858:
Turn SOUTH along Avenida da Liberdade. A WONDERFUL AVENUE. Magnificent buildings on the east side, manicured flower-beds, cafe's. Portugal at its best. Braga carpeted it with flowers. An utmost pleasure !
From this protesting signpost - you can learn a lot about the economic situation in Portugal 2014 (and about its advantages to foreign tourists...):
On the first crossway - turn RIGHT (WEST) to Rua Doutor Gonçalo Sampaio. In the END of this road - you arrive to Largo Carlos Amarante. This is a wonderful square with admirable gardening and a couple of important, interesting and pretty buildinmgs: The Hospital de São Marcos (right side of the following photo) and the imposing Igreja de Santa Cruz. In the center of the square is a granite fountain shaped flower, surrounded by a small garden area and some stone benches to sit:
Igreja de Santa Cruz - what a facade !!!. IBuilt during the years 1625 - 1631. The tower is from 1735. The Retablo from the XVIIIth century:
The Hospital de São Marcos:
Return to the Avenida da Liberdade and continue southward. Turn, again, right (west) in the next crossway to Rua Raio - to see the (under construction works) the Palacio do Raio. It is an example of the late Baroque, early Rococo style of decoration by Portuguese architect André Soares, notable for his influence in the northern Baroque movement. The construction of this ornate palace was ordered by João Duarte de Faria, a knight of the Order of Christ, who was a rich merchant. The commission was given to André Soares in 1754–1755, an architect already famous in the Braga region for his artistic and engineering projects. In the context of Portuguese art, André Soares was part of the end of the Baroque period, and beginning of the Rococo; his style used the structure of the Baroque, but the decorative style of the Rococo. In 1760, the staircase was painted. A century later, the residence was acquired by Miguel José Raio, then Viscount of São Lázaro (in 1867), thus, over time, becoming known as the Palace of Raio. In the future will be the Interpretive Center of Memories of Mercy of Braga - the estate institution of ancient and traditional health care in the region. fIt will be fully rehabilitated to accommodate the museum center, as well as the documentary collection of the institution. It will contain collections and machines used in medical care, as well as other utensils of ancient hospitals. The Completion is scheduled for mid-2015 the initiative has a budget of € 4.2 million that will be used in the comprehensive rehabilitation of the building. A masterpiece !!!
The second-floor balcony with ornate decoration and monolithic lintel, and flanking sculptures:
Walk back in Rua Raio. Now, your back is in the south-west and your face are in the north-east. Cross Avenida da Liberdadeand look to your left:
and continue north-east along Rua Raio. Turn LEFT (after the parking lot) to Rua Dom João Cândido de Novais e Sousa. Cross from south to north the Jardim da Avenida Central
to see the Convento dos Congregados, Avenida Central 98. A garden with lush greenery, flowerbeds and benches located in the historic city center. A fountain, a lake, a bandstand and statues of individuals. The convent is a 18th-century Baroque Basilica designed by the architect André Soares. It is flanked on the top by two bell towers, one of which was finished in the 1960s:
Walk eastward along the Jardim da Avenida Central until you arrive to Largo Senhora A. Branca:
Return west to the Praça da República and continue west to: Rua do Souto, Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa, Rua Andrade Corvo - back to the Estacao de Braga (Braga Railway station).
Restaurante cantinho do carmo, Rua do Carvalhal nº 79-A, Braga. Tel: 253270449 / 936318104. I ate a very generous dinner (sufficient for 2 persons), 3 portions with soft drink and coffee: 10 euros. In case you are solo - ask the owner or the waiter for meia porção (half portion). Otherwise - you get huge portions (enough for, at least, 2 persons - look at the photo below). Double-check your bill. The owner is very polite, but, tends to round the bill amount.