11 Feb A day in Braga and Guimarães
To be honest with you we may have booked more than enough days to spend in Porto. We could have go to Lisbon for a day or two, but then again we were on tight budget and spending it on train and accommodation in another town wasn’t a smart option. So instead of going with the crowd down south we discovered an amazing deal. There are train passes for tourist valid for 1 or 3 days. The pass can take you to Aveiro, Braga or Guimarães for just a 7 euros. So for just 7 euros we went to Braga and Guimarães.
or “Bracara Augusta”, located on Roman road and founded by Augustus makes Braga one of the oldest towns in the area. At the time Braga was a passage for christian pilgrimage and since then Braga nurtures that tradition with religious festivals.
Being the oldest sure means a plenty of historical buildings. When you leave the train station and start your walk to the center you will be greeted by the statue of Augustus and pass it to get to the Pius XII Museum and Medina Museum that feature exhibition from paleolithic to roman period with the peristyle on the original Roman villa location.
From here you go to the Braga cathedral. Pay attention to this building as it is of great importance and beauty, and you will see why it is a National monument.
Continue north toward the Archbishops Court to amazing Santa Barbara Gardens. Entry is free and you will enjoy the beautiful romantic garden with medieval arches.
Infront of the Gradens you can visit the Braga City Hall, a baroque building that was under construction for 111 years. From there, just across it you can find Arco da Porta Nova. This pedestrian triumphal arch has gone under several reconstruction and has been widly used for promotional purposes throughout the 20th century, using slogans: “You’re from Braga, do not close your gates” and “Come under Braga”.
Behind the Gradens is the tourist information center where you can get an information about the bus that drives to Bom Jesus monastery. Buse line no. 2 is located at the bottom of colorful Avenida da Liberdade and drives every half an hour, ticket costs around 1.50€.
In and around the Braga there are many monasteries and churches but we decided to visit the Bom Jesus do Monte. There are two ways to get to the top with funicular or the hard way by foot. We climbed almost 300 steps through serene forest. At the bottom of the staircase just before the church you could see the beautiful architecture, the stairs and fountains.
doesn’t carry an epithet of an oldest town in Portugal but it does carry a title of a first capital, a birthplace of Portugal. This medieval town is not anything you’ve seen in Porto or Braga. No wonder that place has a World Heritage site title. The stone building, narrow streets and sudden, wide squares make the historical center of this place worth visiting.
Just around the corner there is a 10th century Castelo de Guimarães. You can enter for 1 EUR and walk around the castle walls. The castle on the inside is nothing special, you can walk around the inner walls, and in the middle tower there is an great exhibition about the area and the castle.
After your visit to castle go back to the town and if you love museum be sure to visit Alberto Sampio Museum that has a wonderful sculptures and divine private garden.
From there go to squares in the old town and grab a bite, we ate burgers with local bravery beers, a great ending to our short excursions.