The Sanctuary of Sameiro (officially, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro) is a place of pilgrimage and worship in the city of Braga. In addition, it’s the largest and most important center of devotion to the Virgin Mary in Portugal, after the Sanctuary of Fátima!
Nowadays, the Sanctuary of Sameiro includes the Basilica and the Staircases, as well as squares, fountains, and green spaces. Locals choose this spot to exercise, picnic, relax and watch the sunset. Mainly because the Sanctuary of Sameiro has the best panoramic views over the city of Braga!
So, do you want to know How To Visit The Sanctuary Of Sameiro In 2023? Keep reading!
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- Brief History of the Sanctuary of Sameiro
- How to Get to the Sanctuary of Sameiro
- What to See at the Sanctuary of Sameiro
- Staircases of the Sanctuary of Sameiro
- Statue of Pope John Paul II
- Statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
- Casa das Estampas
- Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament
- House of the Heralds of the Gospel
- João Paulo II Center (or “Memories of Sameiro”)
- Hotel John Paul II (or Sameiro’s Apostolic Center)
- Sameiro’s Cross
- More Posts about Portugal
- More Posts about Religious Temples
- What Photography Gear Do I Use?
Brief History of the Sanctuary of Sameiro
The construction of the Sanctuary of Sameiro (in Portuguese, Santuário do Sameiro) dates back to June 14th, 1863, when Priest Martinho da Silva decided to place a statue of Our Lady on the top of the hill. However, the influx of pilgrims forced the creation of a chapel in 1873, which became a basilica in 1890.
The Catholic temple was completed in 1953, but in the 1970s an underground Crypt was added. If you visit the interior of the Basilica, you’ll see an image of Our Lady that was carved in Rome and blessed by Pope Pius IX!
How to Get to the Sanctuary of Sameiro
The Sanctuary of Sanctuary is about 9 km from the historic center of Braga, but buses run this route in less than forty minutes.
To do this, you must go to the Raio (João Penha) stop on Rua do Raio, take line 88 of the TUB (Transportes Urbanos de Braga), and get off at the Santuário (Sameiro) stop.
If you’re traveling by car, there are six free car parks at the Sanctuary of Sameiro!
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
The Sanctuary of Sameiro is open every day, from 9 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm (from November to March); Monday to Saturday, from 10 am to 12 pm and from 1 pm to 7 pm, and on Sundays, from 7 am to 7 pm (from April to June, and in October); or from Monday to Saturday, from 8 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 7 pm, and on Sundays from 8 am to 8 pm (from July to September).
Although entry to the Basilica is free for everyone, going up to the Lantern Tower costs €2 per person!
What to See at the Sanctuary of Sameiro
We already know that the solemn laying of the first stone of the Sanctuary of Sameiro took place on June 14th, 1863, but the truth is that the primitive church only reached the status of a minor basilica on August 31st, 1890, the day on which the current Sanctuary of Sameiro began to be erected.
Inside the Basilica (in Portuguese, Basílica), all eyes are focused on the main altar, where the image of Our Lady of Sameiro appears. Sculpted in Rome and blessed by Pope Pius IX, this statue of the Virgin Mary has a crown made of gold offered by Portuguese women, as well as precious jewels from Queen Amélia de Orleães.
The main altar of the Sanctuary of Sameiro was consecrated on June 12th, 1941, a few months after it was decorated with two marble columns from Estremoz (a town in the Évora district). Not everyone knows, but each of the columns weighs more than 6 tons!
As I mentioned earlier, going up to the Lantern Tower (in Portuguese, Zimbório) costs €2 per person. Even so, this ticket is really worth it, as it allows you to appreciate the Sanctuary of Sameiro (and the city of Braga) in a unique way! Have you noticed the breathtaking panoramic views?
From here you also have a privileged view of the two towers of the Basilica, which house the chimes of bells. Nevertheless, it’s important to warn that going up to the Lantern Tower can be quite challenging for those with vertigo or claustrophobia!
Staircases of the Sanctuary of Sameiro
As it happens in the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, the Staircases of the Sanctuary of Sameiro (in Portuguese, Escadórios do Santuário do Sameiro) are a fundamental element of this religious complex. Comprising 265 steps, the imposing Staircases of the Sanctuary of Sameiro begin at the Crypt’s Square – where you can enter. it
Still in the Crypt’s Square, the Staircases of the Sanctuary of Sameiro are flanked by the Monuments to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. If you look at the photograph, these two monuments correspond to the figures on top of the two pillars.
Statue of Pope John Paul II
If you go down the Staircases of the Sanctuary of Sameiro to its lowest part, you’ll come across the Statue of Pope John Paul II (in Portuguese, Estátua do Papa João Paulo II). Revealed to the public on June 3rd, 1984, less than two years after Pope John Paul II’s visit to the Sanctuary of Sameiro, it’s seen as a sacred place by many pilgrims.
The Statue of Pope John Paul II is made of bronze and recreates the former head of the Catholic Church, dressed in a mantle, a miter on his head, and a cross in his right hand. And on this square, it’s also possible to read three inscriptions signed by the Patriarch Cardinal, the Primacy Archbishop, and Pope John Paul II himself.
Statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
As you may have noticed, the Sanctuary of Sameiro is entirely dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, whose liturgical feast is celebrated every year on December 8th. So it’s no wonder that the Statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (in Portuguese, Estátua de Nossa Senhora da Imaculada Conceição) is one of its main attractions!
This sculpture by Emídio Carlos Amatucci was inaugurated on August 29th, 1869, together with the original monument. Unfortunately, it ended up being destroyed, having been reconstituted and blessed on May 9th, 2019, by D. Jorge Ortiga (the then Primacy Archbishop of Braga).
Casa das Estampas
The Casa das Estampas – or “Recordações do Sameiro” (in English, House of Stamps or “Souvenirs from Sameiro”) – is a historic building that bears a lot of similarities with the Casa das Estampas of the Sanctuary of the Bom Jesus do Monte, also situated in the city of Braga.
The Casa das Estampas of the Sanctuary of Sameiro brings together the most varied souvenirs of this place of pilgrimage and worship in northern Portugal. Among others, here you can buy postcards, books, rosaries, and Nativity scenes!
Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament
The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament (in Portuguese, Capela do Santíssimo Sacramento) – whose full official name is the Chapel of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (in Portuguese, Capela de Adoração do Santíssimo Sacramento) – is one of several monuments that make up the religious complex of the Sanctuary of Sameiro.
Of modest characteristics, at least when compared to the Basilica, the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is found in the heart of the Garden of the Sanctuary of Sameiro – sometimes called Gethsemane (in Portuguese, Horto das Oliveiras).
House of the Heralds of the Gospel
The House of the Heralds of the Gospel (in Portuguese, Casa dos Arautos do Evangelho) is the headquarters of the Heralds of the Gospel – an International Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Right, which was founded by Monsignor João Scognamiglio Clá Dias on September 21st, 1999, in the Brazilian city of São Paulo.
The Heralds of the Gospel was recognized as a Catholic association by Pope John Paul II on February 22nd, 2001. And eight years later, it was Pope Benedict XVI’s turn to approve them the title of “Society of Apostolic Life”.
João Paulo II Center (or “Memories of Sameiro”)
The João Paulo II Center (in Portuguese, Centro João Paulo II) is, since June 18th, 2017, a museum nucleus called “Memories of Sameiro” (in Portuguese, “Memórias do Sameiro”). Its original name is a tribute to Pope John Paul II, who visited the Sanctuary of Sameiro on May 15th, 1982, and distinguished it with a Golden Rose, on December 8th, 2004.
At the João Paulo II Center, you can find true “treasures” from the Sanctuary of Sameiro, such as the first stone used to build the Basilica or the first bellows organ that played in this same religious temple!
Hotel John Paul II (or Sameiro’s Apostolic Center)
The Hotel John Paul II (in Portuguese, Hotel João Paulo II) – also known as the Sameiro’s Apostolic Center (in Portuguese, Centro Apostólico do Sameiro) – is a 3-star hotel located on the Avenida de Nossa Senhora do Sameiro. Surrounded by lush green spaces, this building is part of a group of tourist accommodations nicknamed “Bom Jesus Hotels”.
The Hotel John Paul II is very sought after by devotees who visit the Sanctuary of Sameiro, to attend solemn events (or participate in them). One of these special occasions is the Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Sameiro, which takes place annually on the first Sunday of June!
Sameiro’s Cross (in Portuguese, Cruzeiro do Sameiro) is a monumental work designed by the architect David Moreira da Silva. Inaugurated on June 7th, 1953, this structure is located at the end of Avenida de Nossa Senhora do Sameiro, at the south end of the Sanctuary of Sameiro.
Sameiro’s Cross is made up of a stone column, which has a cross at the top and rests on a platform with five steps.
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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