Imagine yourself going back in time to the Renaissance and enter Braga through the Arco da Porta Nova archway, where the keys to the city used to be handed over. This symbolic key will open up the doors to a thousand-year-old city whose monuments display the brilliance of the power held by its bishops.
In Roman times, Emperor Caracalla elevated Bracara Augusta to the capital of the province of Galécia, now known as Galicia. Under Roman rule, the city was occupied by the Suebi, Visigoths and Muslims, until it was conquered by Christians in the 11th Century.
Its Cathedral - the oldest in the country – was Portugal’s greatest religious reference and the popular saying "older than Braga cathedral", to denote a thing of great age, sheds light on just how far back it dates. The city’s ecclesiastic power, so often associated in Medieval times to the power of the sword, extended to the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal.
In the shadow of the Cathedral, Braga gradually became enriched with monuments. In the 16th Century, Archbishop D. Diogo de Sousa, dazzled by Rome under Pope Julius II, gave Braga the brilliance and decorative grace of the Renaissance.
Later on, the exuberance of Baroque art would add other magnificent buildings. The city retains unexpected reminders - great and small - of all the different eras, such as the Medieval tower right in the middle of the street, windows and Venetian blinds which would conceal the faces of the women within, and a rocaille palace which looks like a Louis XV chest of drawers.
More recently, the establishment of the University and the quality of its contemporary architecture have brought the freshness of youth to the city and filled it with light, colour and an unexpected modernity.