Braga, the bold!

Where to begin in describing Braga? It’s been in the back of my mind as an Easter destination for many years, but I had not really taken on board that this is Portugal’s 3rd largest city, and not a small place. In retrospect I might have chosen a hotel with parking, but the priority was to overlook the main street, so that I could watch a procession from my balcony. Which meant driving around town a time or four, but we did eventually find free parking. And a sight we found extraordinary. Some of the traffic lights in the city had a countdown system, so you knew how long your wait was going to be. At one, a young man walked out into the road, carrying his prop, and began to perform handstands and acrobatics as the lights counted down. With perfect timing and a cheeky grin, he righted himself and walked to the curb, holding out a cap for contributions, till the lights changed again. Don’t you love an opportunist?

Please open the galleries to read the captions:

That’s just one aspect of Braga! The religious capital of the north of Portugal, we knew we would find many churches and rich architecture. Stopping off at the Tourist Information office, we collected a map of the city and some good parking tips from the helpful and highly entertaining young man behind the counter. Did he know of any guided walking tours? And so we met lovely Rita! A young lady with a green umbrella, who very charmingly and informatively showed us her city. Starting from Porta Nova, she spent 2 hours regaling us with history and interesting facts. A graduate of Braga and a musician by profession, since Covid she supplements her income with tours. Such a pleasure to spend time with, opening doors for us that we certainly wouldn’t have entered otherwise.

After the tour we stopped off, on Rita’s recommendation, at the oldest cafe in Braga, ‘Frigideira’, where we sampled the pastry named after the cafe. It was a nice peaceful spot to relax in the sunshine and watch the world drift by… but not for too long. We needed to retrace our steps to take more photos.

One of my favourite parts of the city was the Santa Barbara gardens. It was the Wednesday before Easter and the flowers were in full and glorious bloom. As we paused to admire them we noticed a man scattering mini chocolate eggs into the clipped hedges. Barely had he finished when a small tribe of jubilant youngsters were set free by their teachers to hunt for them. Whoops of glee!

Did you spot the eggs? Later that same day, a rather special procession. ‘Burrinha’, Little Donkey, as it’s known, is one of the reasons I had come to Braga. A procession ‘for the people’, it started from Sao Vincente, a little way from the centre. We ate supper as the sun set, and found a place to absorb the atmosphere, just before 9.00. People bustled to and fro, looking for a good spot or meeting up with friends. Lights went on in the rooms overlooking the street, and curtains and bedspreads were dangled for decoration. The church glowed violet blue in the distance, and two white horses tossed their heads, waiting for a signal from their riders to start. A cast of Bible characters, including Noah and the Ark, Joseph and Mary and, of course, the donkey, paraded before us. With huge enthusiasm, waving and singing as they went, young and old represented their community. Finally all had streamed past and we followed along with the good humoured crowd, unable to reach home until the procession had completed its circuit of the city. A lasting memory, and a magnificent day!

So much I haven’t shared! And still to come, the other reason I went to Braga- Bom Jesus de Monte. I think you’ll like it.

117 thoughts on “Braga, the bold!

  1. Pingback: First impressions of Amarante | Still Restlessjo

  2. I confess I knew very little about Braga Jo – have heard of it but didn’t realise it was Portugal’s 3rd city. I did spy the eggs too – the floral displays are magnificent and it must have been such a thrill to see the parade. Walking tours with a local are always a great way to explore new places too. The photos are stunning xx

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  3. Loved the cheeky enterprising acrobat! Also the Baroque details- especially the balcony closeup at the end of the 2nd gallery. Sounds like quite the stunning visit you had… πŸ€—

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  4. Pingback: ‘I am a beautiful Maia’ | Still Restlessjo

  5. How wonderful that you found an excellent tour guide for your walk! I think that’s a lovely way to learn more about such a beautiful city. I love the photos of the gardens and the night scenes. I can see this was a very special destination, Jo. I’m so glad you had the opportunity! πŸ™‚

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    • Many cities now offer ‘free’ tours, Debbie, often involving students, and you tip them whatever you think they are worth at the end of the tour. There was a large group of Spanish speakers on one tour, but just us 2 English, so Rita didn’t make a fortune out of us but she was still happy to take us. We saw her again in the afternoon with a much bigger group, which made us glad. It’s a lovely way to orientate yourself and pick up a bit of history. Thanks, darlin! Wishing you a lovely weekend.

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  6. You’ve certainly discovered some fabulous places Jo and plan accordingly to take in the best πŸ˜‰ Great festival atmosphere shines through your pictures. It all looks so clean organised ! It’s evident much care is taken with flower displays , costumes etc as part of their traditions it really looks a joyous occasion. Have a great weekend at home now maybe . Look forward to your next instalment x

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  7. I did see the eggs, but only second time around as I was concentrating on the flowers πŸ™‚ I winced at the word ‘umbrella’. My hat’s off to you for following one after your recent experiences.

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    • We didn’t really put 2 and 2 together when we saw the eggs being scattered, until the teacher swept around the corner with her brood. We just stood and smiled as we watched.

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  8. Wow, I can see why you wanted to visit Braga πŸ˜€ To be honest the city has never really registered with me but it looks lovely so is now on my list! It sounds like it has a really friendly atmosphere too, from all you say.

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    • I think that people in the north are so ready for visitors now. Probably not so much in Braga, which is a large working town which just happens to be a bit special at Easter. But certainly in Amarante, Lamego and Castelo Branco, which I visited later on in my trip, they were very glad to see us. I had an itinerary but you can never truly know till you get there what works for you. I have seldom been disappointed in a ‘free’ city tour- they are great for orientating yourself and getting a bit of background- but Rita was exceptional.

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  9. Oh my, what a beautiful find! Love doing walking tours with those who truly know the area, not only for their knowledge but to find little out of the way places we would not have visited as tourists. Looks like a marvellous time Jo!

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  10. Braga looks likr a city I could enjoy too Jo. Those Santa Barbara Gardens look terriffic. Thanks for sharing a city I’ve never took much notice of before πŸ™‚

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  11. Now you’ve enticed me, Jo. What stunning photos of this alluring city and it sounds like you had a terrific guide. And the gorgeous gardens! Thanks for a great tour– Braga is on my list. πŸ™‚

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  12. Great post and so many wonderful photos, Jo, particularly the ones with blooming flowers. Braga is one of Portugal’s most beautiful cities that’s packed to the brim with history and culture. Certainly one of the highlights of Braga is its peaceful pace of life compared to Porto and Lisbon. Thanks for sharing and have a good day πŸ™‚ Aiva xx

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  13. What a lovely city and day! Sorry to have disappeared on you for a while. Life is busy … which is good! Hope all is going well with you (and if this is an example of what you have within reach of home, I’d say things are great)!

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  14. What an amazing city and you have captured the beauty of it. You give us armchair travelling at its best Jo. Finding a local to show you around was a great way of discovering the city. Looking forward to more

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    • A lot of cities offer these kind of tours, Pauline, and it’s a great way to orientate yourself and gain a little history, painlessly. We were her only customers for the morning tour but Rita couldn’t have been lovelier. Nothing I like better than seeing somewhere new, hon, and being able to share it is a bonus. Thank you!

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  15. Braga looks like a beautiful city Jo and I can hear your enthusiasm for it in your words. From the detailed architecture to the colourful gardens and then an Easter procession, what a great place. Maggie

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  16. You love your religious festivals and processions! Been plenty of processions here this weekend, but I’m not so keen on crowds. The Furry Dance in Helston looks nice though and if I could get there by bus I’d go and watch it. I too had not heard of Braga, but you have certainly showcased it well. Lovely tiles, especially that yellow building and I see what you mean about the tulips, perhaps a bit too ‘parks and gardens’ for my liking, but very colourful nonetheless. The pies look rather delicious, what’s inside them? And where is the cake? πŸ€”

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  17. Wow. Jo – Braga is really to brag about! Portugal is one of the countries we did not visit in our time living in Europe. I guess mainly because that time there was not much info. about. But it certainly would be on my list now! By the way, to you still have your challenge Monday Walk? Have a great week:)

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    • It’s a beautiful country Emille, or should I call you Jesh? The north is quite different from the south but I love them both.
      I normally post my walks fortnightly and there should be another next Monday, but you can join in any time πŸ€—πŸ’Ÿ

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  18. Wow Jo, you have so many beautiful photos here! The architecture is wonderful and love the colour the flowers bring out – what a lovely place is the Santa Barbara gardens! Oh yes, I spotted the eggs πŸ˜‰.
    Your photo’s of the procession brought back wonderful memories of the processions we saw on our Camino in Spain (Logrono and Leon). Thanks for a beautiful post!

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  19. Dipping a tentative toe back into reading blogs, and love this offering from Braga. I especially love the floral pictures as flowers always give me a lift. I still can’t do much writing as the eyes continue to deteriorate and I want to save them for reading – my greatest pleasure. Glad you are still getting out and about and using your camera to keep us informed of life in Portugal.

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    • It’s such a beautiful country to explore, Mari. We had a wonderful 2 weeks in the north before we start to welcome visitors to the Algarve. I can’t imagine life without being able to read so I would never begrudge you that time. πŸ€—πŸ’Ÿ

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    • I probably should have included some history, Helen, but it took quite a long time to get my photos into some semblance of order. It’s certainly an interesting city!

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      • I’m kicking myself for not going out on Saturday Jo. The weather was great for the photo opportunities I had planned but the motorway would be rammed so I decided to wait until yesterday and set off really early but guess what? A damp and drizzly start and all day dull. Dry today but still dull so I’m having a pj day and Michael is taking me out for dinner later on. Where I had planned to go will still be there another day when it’s sunny πŸ™‚

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