Braga Historic Center Guide
Braga, founded over 2,000 years ago, is one of the oldest cities in Portugal, and is a mix of Medieval, Roman and Baroque influences. Known as the “City of Archbishops”, Braga, or Bracara Augusta, is a trendy, cosmopolitan city that mixes culture with tradition and religion.
When walking by the city, there are several monuments of great heritage value and museums that can be found. In 2021, Braga won the Best European Destination Award for the second time and that fills us with pride.
We have prepared a brief tour for you to discover the historic center that is one of the most beautiful European cities:
The tour starts right in front of the Moon & Sun Hotel in Braga: the Igreja dos Terceiros dates back to 1690 and is a monument of public interest. The architecture of the façade is from the Baroque period and, inside, the dome ceiling, the gilded altars and the tiled walls are worth a visit!
When leaving the Church, head towards Praça da República, but before that, pay attention to the Torre de Menagem, which is a remnant of the old Braga Castle. Amazing!
Located less than a 5-minute walk from Moon & Sun Hotel Braga, you will find Praça da República. Here you will discover the Arcada, Igreja da Lapa, Torre de Menagem, Fonte Luminosa and two of the most emblematic coffee shops in the city – Vianna and Astória. But there’s more: in the heart of Praça da República you’ll find a pedestrian area with so many other incredible places such as the Museum and Gardens of the Nogueira da Silva Museum, the Church and Convent of the Congregados or even Casa Rolão with the wonderful Centésima Página bookstore. It is, without a doubt, a great way to start this journey through the Historic Center of Braga… but there is so much more to visit…
Head to Rua do Souto, another icon of the city. In addition to being the main traditional shopping street, it is through it that we enter the millenary history of Braga. Before venturing into Rua do Souto, start with a cup of coffee at A Brasileira – it will give you the energy boost you need to continue discovering the itinerary that Moon & Sun Hotels team has prepared for you.
Continue the journey along Rua do Souto and you will discover Largo do Paço. Entirely sculpted in granite, this is one of the most beautiful squares in the historic center. The square is surrounded by buildings from the Paço Episcopal Bracarense and in the middle you’ll find the Chafariz dos Castelos, which dates from 1723. Here is also where the Rectory of the University of Minho is located.
The emblematic Arco da Porta Nova (Arc of the New Door) is probably one of the most iconic buildings in the city. Dating back to 1512, the Arco da Porta Nova was built by Archbishop Diogo de Sousa and… it never had a door! That is why it is believed to be to this arch that Braga owes the expression that is usually heard when someone leaves a door open – “Are you from Braga?”. There's no turning back, you really have to visit this place!
The antiquity of the Sé de Braga (Cathedral of Braga) is simple: Portugal did not yet exist, and the Cathedral had already been built. This magnificent cathedral represents the secular evolution of the city, having undergone uninterrupted renovations and reflected in different architectural styles – Romantic, Gothic and Baroque.
It is iconic and occupies a central position in the city, so visiting it is a must.
It is after crossing Rua da Misericórdia that the stunning Praça do Município appears. Surrounded by the façades of two of the most iconic buildings in Braga – the City Hall Building and the façade of the University of Minho Library –, this square is a clear reflection of the Baroque style of the 18th century, signed by the architect André Soares.
We end our brief tour through the Historic Center of Braga, with a visit to what is one of the most beautiful gardens in the city – Jardim de Santa Bárbara. With a perfect geometry, this space is an oasis of flowers and vegetation, right in the center of the city. Perfect for relaxing, reading a book, writing, or simply enjoying the sun.