Did you know that the Braga Cathedral (in Portuguese, Sé de Braga or Catedral de Braga) is older than Portugal? Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the most important religious temple in the Minho capital began to be built at the end of the 11th century – long before any other Portuguese cathedral!
Nowadays, the Braga Cathedral is one of the most visited monuments in the city. And, although its architecture is primarily Romanesque, you can admire elements in other styles, such as the Baptistery in Manueline style and the High Choir in Baroque style.
To the left of the building, there’s the Treasure-Museum of the Braga Cathedral, a museum of sacred art where artifacts and relics from different centuries are exposed. The entrance is through the Main Cloister, from where you can also access the Chapel of Saint Gerald, Chapel of the Glory, and Chapel of the Kings!
So, do you want to know How To Visit The Braga Cathedral In 2023? Keep reading!
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- Chapel of Saint Gerald
- Chapel of the Glory
- Chapel of the Kings
- High Choir
- Main Chapel
- Tomb of Infante Afonso of Portugal
- Treasure-Museum of the Braga Cathedral
Brief History of the Braga Cathedral
As I mentioned in the introduction, the Braga Cathedral is the oldest Portuguese cathedral, as it was built on the foundations of a primitive basilica, dating from the 4th-5th centuries AD. Interestingly, this first Christian temple is thought to have been built on the ruins of Roman structures!
The building that remains to this day began to be designed during the episcopate of D. Pedro (1070-1093) and was consecrated in 1089. However, the Braga Cathedral was successively altered and renovated over time, adopting different architectural and decorative styles.
How to Get to the Braga Cathedral
The Braga Cathedral is located on Dom Paio Mendes Street, one of the most central streets in the city. And from here, you’re very close to other religious temples, such as the Misericórdia Church (160 meters), Church of the Holy Cross (350 meters), Saint Mark’s Church (400 meters), Pópulo Church (400 meters), Church of the Third Order (450 meters), and the Congregados Basilica (750 meters).
In my opinion, Braga is a true “open-air museum” and therefore deserves to be explored on foot. Nevertheless, if you prefer to travel by public transportation, you can reach the Braga Cathedral by bus (number 41; Frei Caetano Brandão stop).
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
The Braga Cathedral is open for prayer every day, from 8 am to 6:30 pm (from October to March) or from 8 am to 7 pm (from April to September). And cultural visits also take place every day, but from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm (or 6:30 pm in summer).
As for tickets, they have different prices depending on the route you choose:
- Route 1 (Treasure-Museum of the Braga Cathedral) – €3
- Route 2 (Chapels and High Choir) – €2
- Route 3 (Cathedral) – €2
And you can also opt for a combined ticket:
- Route 1+2+3 (Treasure-Museum of the Braga Cathedral + Chapels and High Choir + Cathedral) – €5
- Route 1 + 2 (Treasure-Museum of the Braga Cathedral + Chapels and High Choir) – €4
- Route 1 + 3 (Treasure-Museum of the Braga Cathedral + Cathedral) – €4
- Route 2 + 3 (Chapels and High Choir + Cathedral) – €4
Regardless of the route, children up to 12 years old don’t pay admission!
What to See at the Braga Cathedral
Chapel of Saint Gerald
The Chapel of Saint Gerald (in Portuguese, Capela de São Geraldo) was built in the 12th century to serve as a funerary chapel for Gerald of Moissac, the Archbishop of Braga between 1095 and 1108. Currently, Gerald of Moissac is better known as Saint Gerald, the patron saint of the city of Braga.
In the first half of the 18th century, D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles (the Archbishop of Braga between 1704 and 1728) ordered the reconstruction of the Chapel of Saint Gerald. Therefore, António de Oliveira Bernardes was hired to cover the walls with tiles depicting the life of Saint Gerald, while the saint’s tomb was incorporated into the gilded altarpiece.
Chapel of the Glory
The Chapel of the Glory or Chapel of Our Lady of the Glory (in Portuguese, Capela da Glória or Capela de Nossa Senhora da Glória) dates from the first half of the 14th century, as it was erected at the request of D. Gonçalo Pereira, the Archbishop of Braga between 1326 and 1348. In fact, the tomb in the center of the room is precisely D. Gonçalo Pereira’s!
As you can see from the tomb itself or from the windows, the Chapel of the Glory was designed in the Gothic style – the architectural style that characterized the religious buildings of the Middle Ages. Another detail that has also reached our days is the decoration of the walls with mural paintings.
Chapel of the Kings
The Chapel of the Kings (in Portuguese, Capela dos Reis) is another funeral chapel in Gothic style, which is part of the Braga Cathedral complex. The small Catholic temple was founded at the end of the 14th century by D. Lourenço Vicente, the Archbishop of Braga between 1374 and 1397.
And did you know that D. Lourenço Vicente is one of the many cases that the Catholic Church calls an “incorrupt body” – that is, a human body that didn’t decompose after death, even without being embalmed? Even today it’s possible to see his corpse in the Chapel of the Kings!
Finally, it’s important to highlight the tombs of Count D. Henrique and Queen D. Teresa – the parents of Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal. After all, they are the ones who give this chapel its name! Created at the beginning of the 16th century under the order of D. Diogo de Sousa (the Archbishop of Braga between 1505 and 1532), they were initially in the Main Chapel of the Braga Cathedral.
The High Choir of the Braga Cathedral (in Portuguese, Coro Alto) certainly impresses all visitors, because of its blackwood and gilded carvings, in the Joanine Baroque style. This choir stall was designed by the master carver Miguel Francisco da Silva in the late 1730s.
The High Choir of the Braga Cathedral comprises two rows of seats that surround the space, a cathedra reserved for the archbishop, and a choir shelf installed in the center. Above the chair, a fabulous clock in the same materials complements the ensemble.
The Organs of the Braga Cathedral (in Portuguese, Órgãos) are two musical instruments of monumental dimensions, which were placed on the central nave of the cathedral, at the height of the High Choir. By the way, I suggest you take advantage of your visit to the High Choir to admire all their decorative details!
With a high historical and artistic value, the two Iberian Organs were executed in the 1730s, in Baroque style. The Organ boxes were in charge of Friar Simão Fontana, while the sculptor Marceliano de Araújo was responsible for the ornamentation.
The Main Chapel of the Braga Cathedral (in Portuguese, Capela-Mor) is not the original one, as it was rebuilt during the episcopate of D. Diogo de Sousa, based on a design by João de Castilho – the architect of some of the most important monuments in Portugal, such as:
- Convent of Christ, in Tomar
- Jerónimos Monastery, in Lisbon
- Old Cathedral of Coimbra
- Monastery of Alcobaça
- Monastery of Batalha
- Monastery of Santa Cruz, in Coimbra
- Viseu Cathedral
Carved in Ançã stone (a type of limestone originating in Ançã, in the Cantanhede municipality and Coimbra district), the front of the altar in flaming Gothic style is attributed to Master Machim. And the image of Saint Mary of Braga is also made in Ançã stone.
Tomb of Infante Afonso of Portugal
Before leaving Braga Cathedral, don’t forget to pass by the South Tower, where you can see the Tomb of Infante Afonso of Portugal (in Portuguese, Túmulo do Infante D. Afonso de Portugal). The eldest son of King João I and Queen Filipa de Lencastre was the heir presumptive to the throne of the Kingdom of Portugal, but he died on a trip to Braga when he was only 10 years old.
The Tomb of Infante Afonso of Portugal is a unique work of medieval funerary art. It includes the tomb chest and the tomb effigy (both from the 15th century), as well as the canopy (from the 16th century). The structure is made of wood but has been entirely covered in gold and silver copper details.
Treasure-Museum of the Braga Cathedral
The Treasure-Museum of the Braga Cathedral (in Portuguese, Tesouro-Museu da Sé de Braga) is housed in the former Casa do Cabido, an 18th-century building adjacent to the cathedral. And its collection is made up of artifacts, relics, and pieces of sacred art collected over more than a millennium!
Founded in 1930, the Treasure-Museum of the Braga Cathedral reopened to the public in 2007, after a campaign of expansion and requalification works. Today, it has several floors and rooms, where true “treasures” of the Archbishopric of Braga are on display!
It’s forbidden to photograph the Treasure-Museum of the Braga Cathedral!
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What Photography Gear Do I Use?
- Camera Body: Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless
- Camera Lens: Fujinon XF 18-55 mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS
- Tripod: Manfrotto Compact Action
- Small Tripod: Manfrotto PIXI Mini
- Smartphone Adaptor: Manfrotto PIXI Clamp
- Memory Card: SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO SDXC