braga, portugal: immersion

A full late-October day in Braga, Portugal. A day fortified with a breakfast of eggs, meats, cheeses, pastries, orange juice and coffee served by our lovely hostess, Conceição, at Domus 26 Guesthouse.  A day switch-backing up a mountain with my husband in a rented MINI Clubman on narrow roads lined with colorful houses; a blue-sky day that refrained from raining. A day attempting to escape hordes of Chinese tourists at the pilgrimage site of Bom Jesus do Monte, a remake of Jerusalem’s Golgotha, by hiding inside a man-made grotto; a day descending and climbing the baroque tiered staircases dating from different 18th century decades and lined with stations of the cross. A day encountering statues with water gurgling out of eyes, ears, noses, and mouths on the lower Escadaria dos Cinco Sentidos (Stairway of the Five Senses).  A day meeting face-to-face with Faith, Hope and Charity on the highest Escadaria das Trés Virtudes (Stairway of the Three Virtues).  A day meandering through the park, hotels, tennis courts, flower gardens and lakes and then driving further up to the neo-classical sanctuary and Marian shrine of Nossa Senhora do Sameiro.  A day admiring sweeping views of Braga and sitting on azulejo benches at Sameiro.

A day wandering through the oldest cathedral in Portugal, Sé de Braga, with its mishmash of Romanesque, Manueline and baroque styles.  A day finding satyrs and mermen holding up twin baroque organs and cloisters disclosing Gothic chapels.  A day, a moment really, paying homage at the tomb of the Infant D. Afonso, coated with gilded and silver copper.

A day forgetting we were in Portugal as we mistakenly blurted Spanish words. A day marching around the elegant town center with its ancient buildings, narrow lanes and plazas, past the Fountain of the Castles, among candy-colored and azulejo-covered buildings. A day dipping into trim boutiques and buying scarves.  A day leaning on the blue doors of the azulejo-tiled Palácio do Raio, built when John V reigned. A day strolling through geometrically carved boxwoods, cedar topiaries, and a sea of flowers at Jardin de Santa Bárbara to the broken arcade ruins of the Paço Arcebispal dos Braganças.

A day drinking beers in a dark bar; a day savoring delicious sea bass with vinho verde at Restaurante O Jacó, known for its meat, while Mike chewed relentlessly on grisly braised beef loin medallions.  A day that would be our last in Braga, as we headed to Porto by way of Guimarães on Sunday.

Steps: 14,904 (6.32 miles)

*Saturday, October 27, 2018*

See below for historical facts and figures, if you’re interested. 🙂



me & Conceição at Domus 26 Guesthouse in Braga

Bom Jesus do Monte is a famous pilgrimage site outside of Braga. It has a monumental, Baroque stairway that climbs 116 meters (381 feet). It stands on a forested hill that offers grand views across the city. The new church (built 1784–1834) was one of the first neoclassical churches of Portugal.


Bom Jesus do Monte

Escadaria do Bom Jesus


Escadaria do Bom Jesus


Mike at Escadaria do Bom Jesus


me at Escadaria do Bom Jesus

The neoclassical Nossa Senhora do Sameiro, or Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro, is the largest Marian devotional shrine in Portugal, second only to the Sanctuary of Fátima. Construction was begin in 1863.


Nossa Senhora do Sameiro

The 1089 Sé de Braga is the oldest in Portugal; it was declared a National Monument in 1910. The interior includes a sacristy, Treasury Museum and the chapels of São Geraldo  and Glória (Chapel of the Glory, built 1326 – 1348). The Capela dos Reis (Chapel of the Kings), was built around 1374 in the place where Count Henrique and Countess Theresa, parents of the first Portuguese King, were buried. Their tombs were substituted in the early 16th century by new ones, with recumbent figures. The cathedral’s choir is beautifully decorated with a painted ceiling and sculptured gilt wood choir stalls (1737). In front of the high choir there are two gilt wood organs, carved in the 1730s, heavily decorated with baroque and fantastic motifs.


Sé de Braga

Largo do Paço represents the seat of the Republic of Braga, extinct in 1790 by the order of the first Queen of Portugal, María I.  The central fountain is from 1723.


Largo do Paço


Colorful streets of Braga

The small Palácio do Raio was built from 1753-54. It is an example of the late Baroque, early Rococo style of decoration by Portuguese architect André Soares, notable for his influence in the northern Baroque movement.


Palácio do Raio

Igreja do Hospital de San Marcos dates back to the 18th century. Life-size statues of the apostles define the upper rampart.  In the middle of the church façade, there is a niche containing a statue of Saint Mark. On the same site, there was a church and hospital that Diogo de Sousa had built in the 16th century. The hospital provided relief to the poor, pilgrims and travelers staying in the city of Braga.


Igreja do Hospital de San Marcos

Outside the spiky, medieval north wing of the Paço Arcebispal dos Braganças, begun in the 14th century and enlarged in the 17th & 18th centuries, is the 17th century square known as Jardin de Santa Bárbara. The building is now home to university offices and the municipal library.

Jardin de Santa Bárbara


Jardin de Santa Bárbara


public building in Braga

West of the old center sits the elegant 18th century “arch of the new gate,” the Arco da Porto Nova, which once served as the city’s main entry. It displays the coat of arms of the archbishop who commissioned it, Dom José de Bragança.


Arco da Porto Nova

Conceição recommended Restaurante O Jacó, which she said was well-known for its meat.  My fish meal was great, but Mike’s meat was very gristly and chewy.


Grilled sea bass at Restaurante O Jacó


“PROSE” INVITATION: I invite you to write up to a post on your own blog about a recently visited particular destination (not journeys in general). Concentrate on any intention you set for your prose.  In this case, one of my intentions for my trip to Portugal was to pick five random verbs each day and use them in my travel essay: reign, rain, disclose, attempt, march. √

It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or non-fiction for this invitation.  You can either set your own writing intentions, or use one of the prompts I’ve listed on this page: writing prompts: prose. (This page is a work in process.) You can also include photos, of course.

Include the link in the comments below by Monday, March 25 at 1:00 p.m. EST.  When I write my post in response to this invitation on Tuesday, March 26, I’ll include your links in that post.

This will be an ongoing invitation. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!

the ~ wander.essence ~ community

I invite you all to settle in and read a few posts from our wandering community.  I promise, you’ll be inspired. 🙂

Thanks to all of you who wrote prosaic posts following intentions you set for yourself. 🙂