This strange building from the 12th century, almost in perfect condition (the roof was rebuilt in the last century, and I'm not too sure about the way it respects the original), is the ex-libris of Bragança.
Still under discussion about its use in old days, it's easy and free to visit, inside the castle's walls.
A XV century building that was a water reservoir and as well it is believed was used as city council. This pentagonal building is still somewhat of a mystery since it is quite different romanesque building.
XIII century castle. One of the towers is the princess tower, where an old princess used to live. It is said she fall in love by a poor man of a nearby village. She refused all proposals of marriage and his uncle became mad. So it is said he disguised himself as a ghost and at the cover of the night he went to scare the princess and make her marry. But once he was there a huge flash of light came from the window and the "ghost" was discovered. The princess lived the rest of her life in the tower.
Nice small village in the border with Spain. It is a community village next to a Spanish village and together they created a very characteristic spirit of union and speak an unique language. The beautiful houses dotted along the river make this a beautiful and lost corner of Portugal to visit.
It is a nice small sheist village lost in the mountains of the natural park. There is a church and some nice houses and some places where to buy local handicraft such as the wonderfull chestnut cookies.
Inside Bragança's citadel there's an old Romanic church, called S. Maria, that in the 18Th century was rebuilt, with baroque details that became predominant in its look.
There's an interesting painting inside.
Built originally by king Dinis, in the beginning of the 14th century, this large castle has a long story, until becoming today a tourist attraction, with its preserved walls and doors, a military museum in the main tower, and some other attractions inside walls.
Situated on the green area of the castle, overlooking the city, there's the six metre tall pillory, which is one of the most antique in the country.
The pillory, a symbol of the village's power and autonomy, was used to punish outlaws in medieval epoch. What is most interesting in this pillory - a common artifact in Portuguese villages from the medieval days - is the figure that stands at its bottom. This figure represents a "berrão" (Portuguese word, don't know the meaning in English, actually not even in Portuguese, had to check what that meant!!) which is a pre-historical (Celtic) idol similar to a pig and its cult it's typical of this area of the country. They call it "Porca da Vila", which may be translated as "Village's Pig (feminine pig)". Besides this figure, the pillory is also decorated with the coat of arms of Bragança.
The medieval castle's wall comprises 15 towers, amongst which two of them stand out: the Princess and the Menagem towers.
. Princess Tower: it is considered an enigmatic tower, as there is no knowledge as to where its name derives from. So, tales and legends are common, being that the most common tales refer to Princesses and not corresponded love. This tower is quite simple and it was inhabited by the governors of the castle.
. Menagem Tower: a 33 metre tall gothic tower that resembles, some say, the English castles and that took 30 years to be built. Nowadays it houses the Military Museum. The upper floor entitles its visitors with fantastic views over the city and the surrounding mountains.
By Domus Municipalis is situated the church, named Santa Maria but also referred to as Nossa Senhora do Sardão (name of the hill where the citadel is situated). This church is of romanic origin but it was totally rebuilt in the 18th century, hence the renaissance and baroque styles we may admire nowadays.
This church is considered to be one of the eldest in the city. When we visited, it was open, but, once again, better check at the Tourism Office for opening hours.
The Domus Municipalis is an ex-libris amongst the city's monuments, being the most visited: it represents one of a kind in Portugal (and also neighbour Spain) in what concerns civil romanic architecture. The Domus Municipalis had two main functions: in the lower floor is situated the cistern whilst in the upper floor there's an ample room that housed the municipal counsel meetings. This room is also refered as being a shelter for the Santiago pilgrims, since Bragança is situated on one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain).
This granite building has five sides, each different in size (ranging from 14 to 3 meters in length) and a lot of arched windows. It has been refurbished over the years and has a mechanism to collect the water from rain into the cistern. Curiously, it hasn't been dated till now nor discovered who built it, but some say it was built in the 12th century against those who defend the 15th century. A few, go even further back and defend roman or grec origin.
We visited this building on a Spring afternoon, and whilst it was already hot outside it was cool inside. The entrance is free of charge - you just go into the open door and visit at ease. But I've read that the building isn't always open, so better check at the Tourism Office for opening hours.
The main must see in Bragança is no doubt the citadel area. Situated on top of a hill - named Nossa Senhora do Sardão -, overlooking the city centre, it is amongst the best kept citadels in Portugal and its main attractions are:
. Domus Munipalis
. Santa Maria Church
. Castle's Walls and Towers
. Pelourinho (pillory)
Wandering its cobbled streets is a delight. Houses are small and date from medieval age, however they are still inhabited nowadays. If you enjoy photography, I'm sure you'll spend some time here as surrounding landscape is awesome and inside the citadel the details are varied and people friendly. Also, a green area is fresh to relax a bit and provides nice views.
We arrived by car - parking is easy and free. Also, we visited on a weekday in Spring and had the place to ourselves, so quiet and calm. It was a pleasure to spend an afternoon here. Next, I'll describe what we visited in the same order that we found it. For those walking from the city, about 10 minutes walk, the order is the reverse one.
there a stopping area just below the Pousada which you can walk down to the paved walkway and look over the houses beside the river below and up to the castle for another aspect
some of these houses look very old and interesting.
and then there are the not so interesting high rises that rise above the old town.
but excellent paved walkways both sides of the river for walking around the town.
Breakfast didnt open until 830 am at the youth hostel so we drove up to the recommended viewing spots above the Pousada up Estrada de Turismo, where we'd been the night before trying to find the youth hostel and had stopped in there directions but with no idea of such views a bit further up the road!
There are two areas - one looking immediately across to the castle/cidadela and one up further looking down over to it and down to farmhouses and lots below it, Braganca behind and also the lovely countryside around the whole area with the serra de monteshinho in the background.
I accidentally found this beautiful riverside park along Rio Fervença when I was walking around the downtown on the day of my arrival. Only a few blocks away from the main square where the cathedral is located, this pretty sizeable park offers a fantastic view of the city, as well as the Citadel castle.
There is nothing much for you to do here. Just take a look at the calm river that flows from the Montesinho Mountains, see the people who come here for jogging, walking, or even talking. Cross one of the footbridges to go to the otherside, go up the stairs to the top of this small hill. On sunny days, you can see the castle and even the surrounding areas whose colors merge with the color of the sky. Sit on the bench for a few minutes to enjoy the evening breeze. Make your travel plan here if you hope to do so; this is the perfect place for it.