One of the oldest churches in Portugal is known for its art, architecture and tombs of notable people from the country’s history.
Visit Braga Cathedral to see a captivating example of Romanesque and baroque architecture. The austere façade of this monumental 11th-century church features gargoyles, statues, towers and portals decorated with reliefs. Inside, find tombs with royal connections and a museum full of religious art.
Since construction started in 1070 under the guidance of Bishop Don Pedro, the building has undergone many changes. All that remains of the original edifice is the moulding underneath the main door.
Start your visit by surveying the architectural details of the exterior. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the imposing baroque bell towers and their crown steeples. On the outer wall of the main chapel, look for the statue of Madonna breastfeeding Jesus. In the cathedral’s apse, see another statue of the Virgin Mary suckling her child.
Tour the cathedral’s handful of chapels. Go to the Kings Chapel to look at the tombs of Dom Henrique and Dona Teresa, the parents of Portugal’s first king. Visit the Chapel of Saint Peter of the Rates for the 18th-century painted tiles that depict episodes of his life. At the Chapel of the Glory, see the tomb of Archbishop Gonçalo Pereira with its stone effigy of the religious leader. His final resting place is also notable for the geometric decorations on the chapel walls.
Admire the stone rib-vaulted ceiling of the main chapel and the reliefs of Christ and the Apostles on the altar table. This is what is left of a stone altar commissioned in the 14th century by the serving Archbishop of the time. Marvel at the elaborate decoration of the two 18th-century gilded organs.
Venture upstairs to see the Museum of Sacred Art. Enjoy an assortment of valuable religious pieces including embroidered vestments from the 16th to 18th centuries and a 12th-century gothic chalice.
Braga Cathedral is open all day and admission is free. Situated in the heart of the city, it is easily reached on foot and by public transport.