Tuesday, 2 June 2015
Braga the beautiful
Today was to be a sightseeing day in the city of Braga and I had been looking forward to this from the beginning of the journey. Sometimes the description or name of a place catches your imagination and that is what happened between me and Braga. It just sounded so wonderful and indeed inspiring that I had to go there. Reality, at times, can be a real let down but certainly not today. Braga was everything, and more, that I hoped it would be. Braga is a city with an abundance of spectacular monuments and is often referred as the "Rome of Portugal" but this title does it an injustice. Braga is not a copy of anywhere else, it has its own character and soul, which combine to make it a very unique and outstanding place. This is living history and all enclosed within a comfortable walking distance. You can trace the handprints of the Celts, Romans, Visigoths and Moors as they left their stamp on the town and added to this the Gothic and Baroque embellishments mingling with Art Deco and modern architecture and you have the magic and uniqueness that is Braga. It is also a city with a cafe culture and a relaxed calm atmosphere that lends itself to sitting in the main square watching the water fountains dance up and down in the bright sunshine,and people watch. Or you could walk round the many churches and cathedral that are elaborate and beautiful. The cathedral is an 11th Century Romanesque building that was built on the foundation of a former mosque built by the occupying Moors. Braga is the countries ecclesiastical capital and there are proliferation of statues, fountains, squares and monuments dedicated to past Cardinals, Bishops or Saints. High on a hill overlooking the city is Portugals most visited tourist site, Bom Jesus do Monte, a religious santuary with a monumental Baroque stairway that climbs up 381feet. This is a very special place and has been a pilgrimage site since about the 14th Century. After all the walking and climbing today it was nice to get to our hotel where we enjoyed a lovely meal. Tomorrow is an early start and with temperatures predicted to be about 34 degrees we hope to leave by 5am on the 37k walk to Ponte De Lima.