Walking in Braga, a beautiful city in the north of Portugal, is like taking a journey from ancient times to the present. The city flourished during the Roman era when emperor Augustus honored it with the name Bracara Augusta. But, with the demise of the Roman empire, Braga fell on hard times. The city emerged again in the 11th century, when the king of Castile and Léon offered it as a wedding present to his daughter Teresa. Her son, Dom Afonso Henriques, became the first king of Portugal.
In the early years of Portugal as a nation, the archbishop of Braga, Pedro Julião, became pope John XXI. Perhaps that is why the city has as many reflections of spiritual power (convents and churches) as temporal power (defensive towers, palaces, and manor houses).
In his book “The Design of Cities,” published in 1967, Edmund Bacon writes that: “Throughout history, architects have lavished much of their tenderest care on the part of the building which meets the sky.” Braga provides many wonderful examples of what Bacon has in mind. Its monuments are made of heavy granite but they rise towards the heavens.