is perhaps one of Portugal's most remote towns and
because of this perhaps does not rank highly on
visitor's lists of must see places in this small Iberian
country simply because of the difficulty in getting to
Situated just 18 kilometres from
the Northern border with Spain, in the
region, the next nearest Portuguese town to
is over 65 kilometres away across a
windswept, boulder strewn moor with nothing in between.
was historically a defensive location,
strategically placed to alert the rest of the country of
impending attacks from the neighbouring country of
The town, though remote in
today's terms, was perfectly located for this purpose;
close to the border but equally far enough away from
Portuguese towns so defences could be readied.
does get invaded from it's northern
border, by day trippers and tourists popping across from
Spain to take a look at this once important town in
With little else of interest around the town you could
be forgiven for passing up the opportunity of visiting
known as the seat of the last
Royal Family of Portugal (1640-1910), however it would
be a mistake.
although 65 kilometres from Mirandela to
the south west and 97 kilometres from Chaves to the
west, is a charming town, if not a little chilly in the autumn
and winter months.
Braganša, the capital of the
offers visitors a very warm welcome. Although the
temperature outside may be close to freezing in the
winter months, the warmth the locals exude upon arrival
keeps the shivers at bay.
Streets of Braganša
Paleontological Stone Pig
are proud of their town and their
heritage and are delighted when travellers do make the
long trip north to visit. Not only are they friendly but
helpful and eager to ensure you don't fall foul of the
traffic police for abandoning your vehicle in the local
police officer's spot, as
GekkoPortugal did, inadvertently when
visiting the northerly town.
Step inside one of the many cosy
cafes or restaurants surrounding the compact town square
and you will also be regaled with the
history from one or more of the town's
who are eager to tell everyone the importance the town
played in the making of
town's folk do in fact
There have been settlements at
as early as paleontological times and
even the Romans had a settlement close to the modern day
town, however it was during Medieval times that the town
rose to prominence.
was the first town in the
region to be elevated to town status in 1187. Over the
centuries efforts were made by successive kings to
encourage settlement in the area of
to secure the region from attack. An
annual fair was introduce in the early 13th century and
free trade just over 100 years later.
However during the 14th century
fell into the hands of the Spain.
Defences were decimated and the population fell
dramatically. Less than a 100 years later though King
Afonso V created the Duchy of
of the oldest in Portugal, for his uncle, Afonso who
became the richest and most powerful man in the Kingdom
In 1640 control of
was wrested back from the Spanish and the
8th Duke of
was crowned king of Portugal (King John
IV), thus beginning the 270 year reign of the House of
as the Royal family.
Catherine of Braganša is
probably the best known to many from the United Kingdom
for her marriage to Charles II in 1662. Catherine the
youngest daughter of King John IV of Portugal
introduced the custom of drinking tea to the British,
which was a popular beverage with Portuguese nobility at
the time. Her dowry on marriage were the ports of
Tangiers and Bombay (now Mumbai).
is a well kept town and there are a variety
of buildings of interest notably the
Castelo de Braganša
(Castle of Braganca),
which has for over 600 years watched over the town. The
Castle, an austere granite fortress, has an outer and
inner set of walls. The outer walls distinctive from the
15 turret watch towers. Inside the
Castelo de Braganša
there are several buildings of interest as well as an
unusual carved granite pig, believed to date back to
In the historic centre of
you can't help to notice the the 15th
century Cathedral, which was constructed primarily to be
a monastery for Clarissa nuns. The nuns never resided there and it was handed over to Jesuits who created a
school within the building, which was given the title of
Cathedral in 1767.
does make a good starting point to
explore the Parque Natural de Montesinho, which is
situated only four kilometres north of the town.
To Visit Braganša, Northern Portugal
is probably best
visited during the late spring and summer months when
the temperature has had chance to rise a little and the
risk of snow diminished enough so the roads into
the town are not closed, which does happen regularly in
the depths of winter.
If you do decide to visit
outside of summer then be sure to pack
thermal underwear as the wind whistles relentlessly
through the cobbled streets of the historic centre,
where only the hardy or fool hardy tread during the
Gekkoportugal visited the historic town
in February and the weather was colder than brisk with a
definite threat of snow in the air. Leisurely strolls
around the sights became quick marches to get in out of
Fortunately there are plenty of cafes
in and around
with the heating thermostats turned to full, filled with
retired locals playing card games and no doubt swapping
stories of how cold it was in their day.
However if you do want to see
in all it's glory then why not try and
coincide your visit with the Winter Festivals. Usually
held around the Winter Solstice the festivals see
many of the townsfolk donning brightly coloured masks
and costumes to celebrate fertility.
Braganša, Northern Portugal
is remote with only three road routes
providing access from neighbouring Portuguese towns you can, if you prefer,
get an internal flight from Lisbon to the airport
situated just outside of the town itself.
Unfortunately if you prefer to travel less
ostentatiously and via public transport then you will
have to opt for a coach, as
is not serviced by trains.
Map of Braganša, Northern Portugal
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