Sunday, May 07, 2017

Busy Weekend in a Quiet Braga

Braga is the third largest city in Portugal. We hit it on the May Day holiday weekend and it was not at all happening; conspicuously absent of any May Day events (May 01 is International Workers' Day). However, the city did put on various cultural events, including an organ music festival -- we caught two sessions in the series.

We were mainly using Braga as a base for visiting:

1) Guimaraes (pronounced give-me-rash really fast)
Guimaraes, a university town, lacked the usual liveliness. It was a European Cultural Capital a few ago, though I found it only moderately interesting. We then charged up the hill of Penha which turned out to be very satisfying, the panoramic views, interesting rock formations, impressive shrine....

2) Citania Briteiros
Citania Briteiros is a Celtic (or Castro) site from the first two centuries BCE. Having hit so many Roman sites lately, we found the round buildings highly unusual; the ritual bath site incredible! Though geographically within Guimaraes, we concluded it is only possible to visit on public transport on a Sunday from Braga. From the bus stop, there is a well marked trail that goes to 2kms the site and then 2kms more to the museum; then ~3 kms back to bus stop on the third side of the triangle.

3) Bom Jesus do Monte
Bom Jesus is a church on a hill in the suburb of Braga, famous for its Baroque staircase. We had been forewarned of is underwhelming-ness; it was over even faster than I had expected; though it remains very impressive looking to me. We then walked up farther up the hill to another church, Sameiro, for a more sweeping view.

While none of the sites are particularly spectacular, combined with walking/hiking, made Braga more enjoyable for us.

Braga's City Gate, which is at the lower end of a long pedestrian-only street.
City Gate - Braga, Portugal

A free concert in the Cathedral to open the Organ Festival.
Braga, Portugal

View in Guimaraes looking up to Penha (upper left). We walked up (photos below) and took the cable car down.
Guimarães, Portugal

Guimarães, Portugal

The two main sights in Guimaraes are the Ducal Palace and the Castle.
Guimarães, Portugal

Guimarães, Portugal

There are several lovely squares in the Old Town.
Guimarães, Portugal

Guimarães, Portugal

We stopped at Clarinha's for soup, a beer, and a taste of the town's specialty pastries.
Guimarães, Portugal

Oh, and Guimaraes is said to be the birthplace of Portugal; the first king was born here.
Guimarães, Portugal

Then up the hill to Penha. On the way up we see this guy doing some laundry in an old fashioned stone lavandería. A trend. Stay tuned.
Guimarães, Portugal

Guimarães, Portugal

Big stones at the top.
Bom Jesus - Braga, Portugal

View back to Guimaraes.
Guimarães, Portugal

The church at the top of the Penha.
Guimarães, Portugal

Guimarães, Portugal

And down on the teleférico (cable car).
Guimarães, Portugal

Back in Guimaraes, we catch another concert of the Organ Festival; this one in another church.
Braga, Portugal

Then a night walk around town.
Braga, Portugal

McDonald's - Braga, Portugal

We take bus #83 to the Braga-Guimaraes border, and walk 2 kms to Citânia de Briteiros, the ruins of a fortified Bronze Age settlement, on a wet, cloudy, windy day.
Citânia de Briteiros (or nearby) - Portugal

Citânia de Briteiros (or nearby) - Portugal

Citânia de Briteiros (or nearby) - Portugal

Citânia de Briteiros (or nearby) - Portugal

Citânia de Briteiros (or nearby) - Portugal

Citânia de Briteiros (or nearby) - Portugal

Citânia de Briteiros (or nearby) - Portugal

Citânia de Briteiros (or nearby) - Portugal

And the incredible Baths.
Citânia de Briteiros (or nearby) - Portugal

And the main stone from another bathhouse is in the site museum.
Citânia de Briteiros - near Braga, Portugal

And on the morning before we take an afternoon train to Viana do Castleo, we take bus #23 to the foot of the famous stairs that lead up to Bom Jesus de Monte; with fountains, chapels, and statues abounding.
Bom Jesus - Braga, Portugal

Bom Jesus - Braga, Portugal

Bom Jesus - Braga, Portugal

Bom Jesus do Monte - Braga, Portugal

Bom Jesus - Braga, Portugal

View from the top.
Bom Jesus - Braga, Portugal

And over to the Santuario Sameiro with its massive portal.
Braga, Portugal

And some final shots of Braga, including my "taste testing" ;-) of a McDonald's McVeggie - it was OK.
Braga, Portugal

Braga, Portugal

McVeggie - Braga, Portugal













2 comments:

Kathy said...

Did you climb the steps to the Bom Jesus? I did it the first time (on feet, not knees!) and was grossed out by the stations of the cross. The second time there was funicular/cable car and I cheated.

Sun-Ling said...

@Kathy, what I meant was that walking up the steps was over much quicker than it looked. Some of the Five Senses fountains did look a little gruesome. I didn't bother with all the stations, but the ones I did see looked fine and elaborate.