This is where to come to confess your innumerable sins or to soak up a bit of religious fervor. Sitting in the Minho region, Braga is Portugal's third largest city and is literally "littered" with religious iconic buildings. Known as the "Portuguese Rome", it is the center for religious architecture. Considered to be the most pious region, it is where pilgrims roam and the conservative locals bustle about their daily lives in pedestrian only ancient narrow lanes and glorious piazzas. There is a constant ringing of bells heralding the town's devotion and its Semana Santa Festival (Holy Week) is something not to be missed. Piety is not the only thing on offer, as there are universities here with a vibrant and exciting young enthusiasm in the air, where local piazza cafes and bars burst with the exuberance of youth.
Internationally famous as being one of the most beautiful towns in Portugal, Braga was founded in 300 BC by the Celts. In the 12th century it was the seat of Portugal's archbishops and today it is one of the most important religious centers. There are 18th Century mansions to gawk at and when the sight of another church or a Virgin Mary statue is too much, brilliant museums to meander through and amazing market towns sitting close by on the River Lima. You can stagger over the remnants of the old City Walls, or do the hilltop pilgrimage to Dom Jesus do Monte where you will climb so many steps that your legs will ache. But the rewards are beautiful gardens, sculptures, ornate fountains, curious grottoes, small chapels and upon arrival at the top, a jaw dropping view of the surrounding countryside.
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