BRAGA

BRAGA

Braga (pop. 160,000) originally served as the capital of a region founded by Celtic tribes in 300 BC. The city’s beautiful gardens, plazas, museums, and markets earned it the nickname Portuguese Rome. In Portugal’s oldest cathedral, the treasury showcases the archdiocese’s most precious paintings and relics, including a collection of cofres cranianos (brain boxes), one of which contains the 6th-cen-tury cortex of Sao Martinho Dume, Braga’s first bishop. (Cathedral and treasury open June-Aug. daily 8:30am-6pm; Sept.-May 8:30am-5pm. Cathedral free. Treasury ‚2.) Braga’s most famous landmark, Igreja do Bom Jesus, is actually 5km outside of town. To visit Bom Jesus, take the bus labeled #02 Bom Jesus from in front of Farmacia Cristal, 571 Av. da Liberdade (‚1.10). At the site either take the 285m ride on the antique funicular (8am-8pm; ‚1), or walk 25-30min. up the granite-paved pathway that leads to a 365-step zig-zagging staircase.

Buses (253 61 60 80) leave Central de Camionagem for: Coimbra (3hr. 6-9 per day, ‚8); Guimaraes (lhr. every 30min. ‚2); Lisbon (5l4hr. 8-9 per day, ‚12); and Porto (l%hr. every 45min. ‚3.80). The tourist office is on 1 Av. da Liberdade. (253 26 25 50. Open July-Sept. M-F 9am-7pm, Sa-Su 9am-12:30pm and 2-5:30pm; Oct.-June M-F 9am-7pm, Sa 9am-12:30pm and 2-5:30pm.) Postal Code: 4700.

DAYTRIP FROM BRAGA: GUIMARAES. Ask any Portugal native about the city of Guimaraes (pop. 60,000), and they will tell you it was the birthplace of the nation. It is home to one of Portugal’s most gorgeous palatial estates, the iliPa90 dos Duques de Braganija (Ducal Palace), which is modeled after the manor houses of northern Europe. Guimaraes is best reached by bus from Braga. REDM buses 253 51 62 29) run frequently between the cities (40min. ‚2.20). The tourist office is on Alameda de Sao Damaso 83, facing Pr. Toural. 253 41 24 50. Open June-Sept. M-Sa 9:30am-7pm; Oct.-May M-Sa 9:30am-6pm.)

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