This is the last report from our monthly stay in Portugal. In the second week of February in addition to the visit to Porto, described in the previous week, we visited two cities located in the northern part of the country, some distance from the Atlantic coast – Braga and Guimaraes – the first capital of Portugal. Journey to the western part of the Iberian Peninsula ended at the Bom Jesus sanctuary, beautifully located on one of the hills surrounding Braga.
For three days, which took us to explore the above places, we stopped at a campsite near the old stadium in Braga.
From there, we were only two kilometers to the historic city center. It is best to start the sightseeing from its southern part through the wide pedestrian Avenida de Libertade.
Turning a bit to the left we get to the main part of the old town, or the area surrounding the cathedral. However, before we get there, we pass a beautiful square with the church of Igreja de Santa Cruz.
A moment later, we reach a small chapel (Capela dos Coimbras) which is an example of typical Manueline architecture from the 16th century in Portugal.
We are already at the cathedral in Braga. The temple, originally built in the Romanesque style, was repeatedly rebuilt and today in addition to the Romanesque solid and portals, its architecture also has the characteristic features of later periods – gothic and renaissance.
We are already moving to other areas of the Braga center. Old town streets are beautifully renovated, the buildings have clean and neat elevations. This is a change from the previously visited Lisbon, Coimbra or Porto, where they are often scaring ruined and deserted tenement houses.
One of the main monuments of Braga is Arco de Ponta Nova. The arch closing the old city from the west is decorated with a spectacular stained glass window.
Finally, we return to Avenida de Libertade and the main square in Braga. Just in case, the city authorities decided to remind the locals and tourists where they are 🙂 In fact, such installations are very popular in many tourist cities, they are a frequent gathering point and meetings as well as a great place to take a commemorative photo.
The next point on our travel map was Guimaraes, located a bit south-east of Braga. In this hilly and undulating area, one of the most beautiful cities of northern Portugal is located, full of architectural monuments and important from the point of view of the history of this country. It was here that the first king of Portugal was born – Alphonse I, and the city until 1143 served as the capital of the country.
We are at Largo Square to Toural, which is the south-western border of the historical center of Guimaraes. We look at St. Peter’s Basilica.
We are not yet entering the medieval city walls. On their south-eastern edge a beautiful, towering church (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Consolacao e Santos Passos) is located in front of which there is an elongated garden (Jardim Largo da Republica do Brasil) creating a beautiful composition together.
Immediately after entering the center, we see a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral. As in many other cases, not only the sacral but also the defensive character of the temple is cast in the eye.
Streets of old Guimaraes. As in Braga, everything is beautifully restored. Townhouses dominate in bright, mostly white colors with stone, ungraded details. The historical city center in 2001 was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
We come to the area around the castle hill in Guimaraes. The first of the three main buildings is the Ducal Palace Paco dos Duques de Braganca, the former residence of the Braganca family.
At the top there is a castle dating from the 10th century, which is the first seat of the Portuguese kings.
The small Romanesque Chapel of St. Michael, which is now halfway between the castle and the palace, also had a very important function. It is probably here that the first Portuguese king, Alfonso I, later called the Conqueror, was crowned.
Returning through the city center, we have the opportunity to once again look at the beautiful, cobbled streets and buildings of Guimaraes. For the Portuguese, this city is the equivalent of the Polish Gniezno – it is the first of the three capitals of the country.
The last point of our visit to this part of the Iberian Peninsula was the Sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte located in Tenoes, in the suburbs of Braga.
The characteristic Baroque stairs, decorated with statues of saints, lead to the temple located on the top of which spreads a beautiful panorama of the city.
The church itself is a typical example of late Baroque architecture combined with neoclassical elements.
It is worth paying attention to the interior of the temple. Particularly beautiful is the main altar showing the scene of the crucifixion of Christ and murals, such as those on the vault of one of the domes.
In the garden surrounding the sanctuary there is a small rock cave with stalactites. It creates a contrast with the nearby church and at the same time gives this place a unique, beautiful character.
The last look at the facade of Bom Jesus, which Pope Francis in 2015 gave the status of the Minor Basilica.
A glance from behind the baroque stairs with 381 degrees and 116-meter height difference from their beginning to the end.
To get to the nearest car park you must still beat the beautifully paved, leading through the forest the route with the Way of the Cross and stations located in stylish chapels.
Fortunately, we managed to do it and we arrived safely and healthy.
Before Golf was a 1500-kilometer journey to the French Provence, where we are now. After the rest planned until the end of February, we will continue our journey starting from the Italy located on the Peninsula of Apennine.