Braga is the largest city in the region of Minho and the oldest city in Portugal, located in the northwest region of Portugal. Its original name was Bracara Augusta, having been founded by Romans in the year 16 BC! This city is a hidden gem that is often overlooked by visitors to the country. However, those who take the time to explore this charming city will discover a rich history, culture, and architecture. Let’s take a look at the top 6 attractions in Braga that are a must-visit for any visitor.
1. Braga cathedral
Braga Cathedral, also known as Sé de Braga, is the oldest cathedral in Portugal. This Roman Catholic cathedral dates back to the 12th century and boasts an impressive mix of Gothic and Baroque architectural styles.
The exterior of the cathedral is adorned with intricate details, including a beautiful rose window. The interior features stunning altarpieces and a silver altar that is a masterpiece of Portuguese Baroque art.
Visitors can also climb to the top of the cathedral’s tower to enjoy panoramic views of the city. The tower is accessible via a narrow staircase, but the effort is worth it for the stunning views.
2. Nogueira da Silva Museum
The Nogueira da Silva Museum is a must-visit for any art lover visiting Braga. This modern art museum is located in a beautiful 19th-century palace and showcases an impressive collection of contemporary art. The museum features works by both Portuguese and international artists, including paintings, sculptures, and installations.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, lectures, and workshops throughout the year. Visitors can immerse themselves in the world of modern art and explore the diverse range of works on display.
3. Image museum
The Image Museum, located within a stunning medieval tower that dates back to the 14th century, is dedicated to photography. The museum has a vast collection of over 200,000 images taken by classic and contemporary photographers. Visitors can see a display of cameras from different decades and a library with photography books and magazines.
The highlight of the museum is the tower itself, which has been ingeniously transformed into a small but interesting museum over several floors. Climbing the tower provides visitors with breathtaking views of the city.
4. Santa Barbara gardens
The Santa Barbara Gardens is a beautiful park that is the perfect place to relax and take a break from exploring the city. The park is known for its beautiful landscaping and stunning views of the city. Visitors can enjoy a picnic or take a stroll through the park’s beautiful gardens, which include a variety of exotic plants and flowers.
The park is also home to the Santa Barbara Chapel, a small church that dates back to the 18th century. The chapel’s Baroque architecture is a sight to behold and is worth a visit while exploring the gardens.
5. Staircase of Bom Jesus de Braga sanctuary
The Staircase of Bom Jesus de Braga Sanctuary is a stunning Baroque staircase that was built in the 18th century. The staircase consists of 17 landings and 573 steps and leads up to the Bom Jesus de Braga sanctuary, a pilgrimage site for many Catholics.
The staircase is an impressive feat of engineering and includes imagery of fountains, sculptures, and chapels. Visitors can take their time climbing the staircase and admire the beautiful Baroque architecture and stunning views of the city.
6. Palácio do Raio
The Palácio do Raio is a beautiful and historic building located in the heart of Braga, Portugal. Built in the 18th century, the palace is considered to be one of the most impressive examples of Baroque architecture in the country.
Its façade features intricate stonework, elegant balconies, and a grand entrance with large columns. Inside, visitors can explore the palace’s incredible decorations, including intricate tilework and beautiful murals.
The palace has been carefully restored and preserved, and today it serves as a cultural center, hosting exhibitions, concerts, and other events throughout the year. We recommend visiting the palace, even if just for a quick tour.