Braga Municipality

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Coordinates: 41°32′25.68″N 8°24′38.80″W / 41.5404667°N 8.4107778°W / 41.5404667; -8.4107778
Municipality (Concelho)
Avenida Central em Braga.jpg
The Avenida Central in the civil parish of São José de São Lázaro
Coat of arms
Official name: Concelho de Braga
Named for: Bracara Augusta
Country  Portugal
Region Norte
Subregion Cávado
District Braga
Municipality Braga
Civil Parishes (see text)
Center São José de São Lázaro
 - elevation 200 m (656 ft)
 - coordinates 41°32′25.68″N 8°24′38.80″W / 41.5404667°N 8.4107778°W / 41.5404667; -8.4107778
Highest point Santa Marta das Cortiças
 - elevation 558 m (1,831 ft)
 - coordinates 41°30′52.42″N 8°23′41.52″W / 41.5145611°N 8.3948667°W / 41.5145611; -8.3948667
Length 21-07 km (17 mi), Southwest-Northeast
Width 12.87 km (8 mi), North-South
Population 181,819 (2011)
Settlement Megalithic
 - Municipality 1040
LAU Concelho/Câmara Municipal
 - location Praça Municipal, , Braga
 - elevation 195 m (640 ft)
 - coordinates 41°33′3.62″N 8°25′42.39″W / 41.5510056°N 8.4284417°W / 41.5510056; -8.4284417
President Francisco Soares Mesquita Machado
Municipal Chair António Fernandes da Silva Braga
Timezone WET (UTC0)
 - summer (DST) WEST (UTC+1)
ISO 3166-2 code PT-
Postal Zone 4704-514 Braga
Area Code & Prefix (+351) 253 XX XX XX
Demonym Bracarense
Municipal Address Município de Braga, Praça Municipal
4704-514 Braga
Location of the municipality of Braga in continental Portugal
Wikimedia Commons: Braga
Statistics: Instituto Nacional de Estatística[1]
Geographic detail from CAOP (2010)[2] produced by Instituto Geográfico Português (IGP)

Braga Municipality (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈbɾaɣɐ] ( )) is a municipality in the district of the same name located in the northwestern corner of Portugal, host to the oldest archdiocese and the third major city in the country.

Founded on the Roman settlement of Bracara Augusta, the region became the capital of the province of Gallaecia, controlling a territory of northeastern landscape of the Iberian Peninsula. The municipality, which includes 62 civil parishes had a resident population of 181,819 inhabitants (in 2011), representing the seventh largest municipality in Portugal (by population). Braga also functions as the administrative centre of Greater Metropolitan Area of Minho, encompassing a population of 826,833 in 2007.


A 1594 map from Civitates Orbis Terrarum, showing the old city of Braga
The 18th century municipal hall that houses the local government authority
The skyline of Braga between 1849-1873
For more details on the Ecclesiastical history of Braga, see Archbishopric of Braga.

Human occupation of the region of Braga dates back thousands of years, documented by vestiges of monumental structures starting in the Megalithic era.

During the Iron Age, the Castro culture extended into the northwest, characterized by Bracari peoples who occupied the high ground in strategically located fortified settlements ( castrum). The region became the domain of the Callaici Bracarii, or Bracarenses, a tribe who occupied the area of Galicia and northern Portugal.

Romanization of the territory began around 136 B.C.E.: the foundation of the first civitas of Braga (dedicated to Emperor Augustus around 20 B.C.E.), then known as Bracara Augusta, which evolved into the urbanized centre of the territory. Bracara Augusta developed greatly during the 1st century, reaching its maximum extension in the 2nd century: by end of the 3rd century, Emperor Diocletianus promoted the city to the status of capital of the newly founded province of Gallaecia.

During the times of the Germanic Invasions of the Iberian Peninsula, Roman influence waned and the region of Bracara Augusta fell into the hands of the Sueves, a Germanic people from Central Europe. The period between 500 A.D. and the first decades of 700 A.D., were associated with a fervent climate of Christianity, resulting in the construction of monasteries, convents and churches through the territory. Normally, this resulted in the destruction of many Roman buildings that survived until this time. In 410, the Sueves established a Kingdom in the northwest of the peninsula (Gallaecia), maintaining Bracara as the capital. By 584 the region had passed into control of Visigothic conquerors from Hispania (who had renunciated the Arian and Priscillianist heresies, at two synods held here in the 6th century). The archbishops of Braga retained their titles as primates, and long claiming supremacy over the Hispanic church. But, their authority was never accepted throughout Hispania. By the 6th century, Christianization had progressed, through great figures like Saint Martin of Braga, a bishop who converted the Sueves from Arianism, founding a monastery near Braga, in Dumio (now an archaeological site). After the 5th century, with the Suebi and Visigothic invasions brought several contributions to the region, that continued during the Moorish invasion of the peninsula until the 18th century.

The territory was finally retaken in 1040 by King Ferdinand I of León and Castile, becoming the location of the Portuguese court from 1093 to 1147. The bishopric was restored around 1070, under D. Pedro who reorganized the Diocese, recognized the city and conceded new fundamental structures to the region around it. While the city developed around the main cathedral, the walls were successively fortified (in the reigns of Afonso Henriques, King Denis and Ferdinand), but yet expanded little.

Braga, in the 16th century, lived on the margin of the discoveries coming from the New World (which favoured the regions of Lisbon, Évora and Coimbra. D. Diogo de Sousa (archbishop), a Renaissance man, was able to transform the Braga, refounding the city, which survived unaltered until the 19th century.

In the 18th century, Braga ressurged during the Baroque, patronized by the archbishops of the House of Braganza and by the artistic genius of André Soares (architect), that conferred and established the Baroque style within Portugal. At the end of the century, along with Carlos Amarante (engineer and architect) he helped to usher in the Neoclassic.

The following centre brought conflict and destruction (the French invasion and Liberal Wars) causing the flow of money and emigrants to Brasil. Meanwhile, a few improvements to infrastructures and equipment did result, moving the civic centre of the city from the cathedral to public garden, today called Avenida Central.

During the 20th century, resulted in the improvements to basic water, sanitation, sewage and transport, while new buildings began to appearing in the urban zone.

The post-Revolutionary period of 1974, resulted in the growth in the economy, culture and population, converting Braga into the third largest city in the country.


Physical geography[edit]

Situated in the heart of Minho, Braga is located in a transitional region between the east and west: between mountains, forests, grand valleys, plains and fields, constructing natural spaces, moulded by human intervention. Geographically, with an area of 184 square kilometres (71 sq mi) it is bordered in the north by the municipalities of Vila Verde and Amares, northeast and east by Póvoa de Lanhoso, south and southeast with Guimarães and Vila Nova de Famalicão and west by the municipality of Barcelos.[3]

The topography in the municipality is characterized by irregular valleys, interspersed by mountainous spaces, fed by rivers running in parallel with the principal rivers. In the north it is limited by the Cávado River, in the south by terrain of the Serra dos Picos to a height of 566 metres (1,857 ft) and towards the east by the Serra dos Carvalhos to a height of 479 metres (1,572 ft), opening to the municipalities of Vila Nova de Famalicão and Barcelos. The territory extends from the northeast to southwest, accompanying the valleys of the two rivers, fed by many of its tributaries, forming small platforms between 20 metres (66 ft) and 570 metres (1,870 ft).

The municipality lies between 20 metres (66 ft) and 572 metres (1,877 ft), with the urbanized centre located at approximately 215 metres (705 ft). In the north, where the municipality is marked by the Cavado, the terrain is semi-planar, the east is mountainous owing to the Serra do Carvalho 479 metres (1,572 ft), Serra dos Picos 566 metres (1,857 ft), Monte do Sameiro 572 metres (1,877 ft) and Monte de Santa Marta 562 metres (1,844 ft). Between the Serra do Carvalho and Serra dos Picos is the River Este, forming the valley of Vale d’Este. Similarly, between the Serra dos Picos and Monte do Sameiro exists the plateau of Sobreposta-Pedralva. To the south and west, the terrain is a mix of mountains, plateaus and medium-size valleys, permitting the passage of the River Este, and giving birth to other confluences including the River Veiga, River Labriosca and various ravines.


Braga has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb) similar to other Iberian cities in the northwest, except for having significantly hotter summer temperatures. The climate is affected by the Atlantic Ocean which influences westerly winds that are channeled through the region's valleys, transporting large humid air masses. Consequently, the climate tends to be pleasant with clearly defined seasons. The air masses have the affect of maintaining the relative humidity around 80%: annual mean temperatures hover between 12.5 °C (54.5 °F) and 17.5 °C (63.5 °F). Owing to nocturnal cooling, frost usually forms frequently between three and four months of the year (about 30 days of frost annually), and annually the region receives 1,659 millimetres (65.3 in) of precipitation, with the major intensity occurring between fall/winter and spring.

Climate data for Braga (1971–2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 22.4
Average high °C (°F) 13.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 8.7
Average low °C (°F) 4.1
Record low °C (°F) −3.4
Precipitation mm (inches) 192.7
Source: Instituto de Meteorologia, IP Portugal[4]

The winters are rainy and cold, with winds moderating from the southwest, while in colder years, there are snow showers. The springs are typically cool, with breezes occurring with frequency, principally in the higher altitudes. During the month of May the region is susceptible to thunderstorms, owing to the warm humid air masses arriving in summer, from the east. On cooler days, there are spontaneous showers that last short periods, which have been important for turning the region rich in vegetation. The autumns, are generally moderately windy, while the temperatures plummet throughout the months until winter. During this period the region is affect by fog, principally in the valley of the Cávado River, which is susceptible to thick fog.

Human geography[edit]

Distribution of civil parishes in the municipality of Braga
Population of the
municipality of Braga
(1849 - 2004)
Year Pop.   ±%  
1849 40,004 —    
1900 58,339 +45.8%
1911 60,836 +4.3%
1920 57,019 −6.3%
1930 60,761 +6.6%
1940 75,846 +24.8%
1950 84,142 +10.9%
1960 92,938 +10.5%
1970 96,220 +3.5%
1981 125,472 +30.4%
1991 141,256 +12.6%
2001 164,192 +16.2%
2011 181,474 +10.5%

The municipality is densely populated, with approximately 962 inhabitants per square kilometre, equivalente to 181,474 residents (2011); it is one of the more populous territories in Portugal, as well as one of the "younger" markets.[1] The majority of the population concentrates in the urban area of Braga, itself, where densities are more than 10000 per square kilometre.

The Bracarense population consists of approximately 78954 male and 85238 female individuals, with 35% of the population less than 25 years of age, while seniors conform to 11% of the population; the working population of the municipality occupies 54% of this structure.[1] Although largely native Portuguese, other segments of the population include enclaves of Brazilian, African (principally from the former Portuguese colonies), Chinese and eastern European peoples.[1]

The urban structure includes approximately 70,268 residences (2001), even as the typical classic representation of family only includes 51,173 members in the municipality.[1] The "extra" homes are primarily temporary residences, normally for students, migrant workers and professionals working in the urban congrum. There is, also, a great number of homes owned by Portuguese residents living overseas (who use the homes periodically while in Portugal) even as constant and development has attracted new growth in the population.[1] Further, the difference in resident to tranistory population means that, on average, the population of Braga hovers between 174,000 and 230,000 individuals annually.[1]

Growth in the population, roughly 16.2% between 1991 and 2001, occurred mainly in the older suburban civil parishes, such as Nogueira (124.6%), Frossos (68.4%), Real (59.8%) and Lamaçães (50.9%).[1]

Administratively, the municipality of Braga is the capital of the district of the same name, encompassing a total of 62 civil parishes equivalent to 164,192 residents in 2001.

Being a municipality that is predominantly urban, the region is dominated by the city of Braga.

The valley of the Este River showing the built-up urban extent of Braga

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Braga is twinned with:


The major industries in the municipality are construction, metallurgy and mechanics, software development and web design. The computer industry is growing rapidly.

Although the region hosts its own airfield (Aerodromo de Braga) in Palmeira, the principal airport of note is Sá Carneiro International Airport located 50 kilometres (31 mi) away, in Porto. Access is made by public transit to the city centre (roughly 20 minutes) or Aerobus (30 minutes).


The remains of the historic keep of the Castle of Braga, a defensive structure that circled the old town
The Chapel of the Coimbras, one of the first Manueline era chapels in Braga
The Arch of Rua Souto, commonly referred as the Arco da Porta Nova, an 18th-century ceremonial arch

The region of Braga is scattered with Neolithic, Medieval and Modernist monuments, buildings and structures that permeates its historical character, attracting tourism and promoting the areas cultural heritage. Although there are many examples of these structures, only the following have been classified by the Instituto de Gestão do Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico as National Monuments:


  • Castro of São Mamede (Castro de Monte Redondo/Castro Monte Cossourado/Castro de São Mamede)
  • Millennium markers (Marcos Miliários), several Roman-era granite markers currently on display at the Museum D. Diogo de Sousa, dating from 41 to 238 A.D., from the reigns of Emperor Claudius to Maximinus II.[5]
  • Roman Thermae of Maximinus (Termas romanas de Maximinos), discovered in the 20th century, the thermae occupy 800 square metres (8,600 sq ft), in the civil parish of Cividade, and were constructed in the 1st to late 3rd century;[6]



  • Castle of Braga (Castelo de Braga), actually the remnants of the castle's keep, constructed during the reign of King Denis of Portugal, which was part of the defensive system of the city of Braga, and included a semi-circular walled enclosure centred on the Sé Cathedral.[7]


  • Cathedral of Braga (Sé de Braga)
  • Chapel of São Frutuoso, also known as the Chapel of São Frutuoso of Montélios or the Chapel of São Salvador of Montélios, is a pre-Romanesque chapel, forming part of group of religious buildings that include the Royal Church originally built by the Visigoths in the 7th century, in the form of a Greek cross.[8]
  • Chapel of the Coimbras (Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição/Capela dos Coimbras/Capela do Senhor Morto), a Manueline chapel, probably designed by Castillian architect Filipe Odarte, with sculptures attributed to Hodart, an altar by João de Ruão and posterior tomb sculptures by the same artist.[9]
  • Cross of Campo das Hortas (Cruzeiro do Campo das Hortas)
  • Cross of Santana (Cruzeiro de Santa Ana/Cruzeiro de Santana)
  • Cross of Tibães (Cruzeiro de Tibães)
  • Monastery of Dumio (Ruínas arqueológicas de São Martinho de Dume)


While the secondary school Escola Secundária Sá de Miranda is one of the older public education institutions, the region is more commonly known for the main campus of the University of Minho, a modern public university founded prior to the Carnation Revolution. In addition, Braga is home to a campus of the nation's oldest private institutions, the Universidade Católica Portuguesa (its Braga campus opening in 1967).

In the late part of the 21th[clarification needed] century, the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory founded an international research centre in the municipality.


Braga's football team, Sporting Clube de Braga, was founded in 1921 and play in the top division of Portuguese football, the Liga Sagres.

The Rampa da Falperra, a round of the European Hillclimb Championship, is held every year in the outskirts of the city.

The Circuito Vasco Sameiro and adjacent the Kartódromo Internacional de Braga are located around the local airfield. The racing track held European Touring Car Cup events in 2009 and 2010, and the KIB has held rounds of the Karting World Championship.

Notable citizens[edit]

  • Paulus Orosius (c.385 – c.420), a Christian historian, theologian and student of Augustine of Hippo, best known for his Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri VII (Seven Books of History Against the Pagans), as a response to fall of Rome from Christianity;
  • Martin of Braga (c.520 – 580), an archbishop of Bracara Augusta, missionary, monastic founder, and ecclesiastical author, canonized for his work in converting the Suebi inhabitants of Gallaecia to Christianity;
  • Diogo de Sousa (c.1461 – c.1532), an Archbishop of Braga, a sponsorer of the Arts and responsible for remodelled the Cathedral, promoting the urbanisation in the Renaissance-architectural style, who was also responsible for the construction of several churches and the São Paulo School;
  • Francisco Sanches (c.1550 – c.1623), born Sephardi Jew and New Christian, physician and philosopher, educated in universities in France and Italy, and responsible for Quod Nihil Scitur (That Nothing Is Known), written in 1576 and published in 1581 a skepticial treasties on science;
  • André Soares Ribeiro da Silva (c.1720 – c.1769), an 18th-century architect and sculptor, who helped design several Baroque/Rococo buildings in Braga and northern Portugal, including the Palace of Raio, Monastery of Tibães, Church of Falperra, and Porta Nova Arch;
  • Domingos Leite Pereira, a politician responsible for assisting in the repproachment between Catholic Church and First Portuguese Republic;
  • Maria Ondina Braga (13 January 1932 — 14 March 2003), an author who of A China Fica ao Lado (1968), Angústia em Pequim (1984) and Nocturno em Macau (1984), as well as a translator for the works of Graham Greene, John le Carré and Anaïs Nin;
  • António Joaquim Rodrigues Ribeiro (3 December 1944 – 13 June 1984), more popularly known as António Variações, despite his short-lived career, was a culturally significant performing artist who blended contemporary music genres with traditional Portuguese rhythms and melodies, creating music which for many is symbolic of the liberalization that occurred in Portuguese society after the Carnation Revolution of 1974;
  • Myriam Lopes (born 8 May 1957), a French singer, winner of 1977 Eurovision Song Contest with her rendition of "L`Oiseau et L`Enfant" (The Bird and the Child), written by Jean Paul Cara and Joe Grace.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h INE, ed. (2010), Censos 2011 - Resultadas Preliminares [2011 Census - Preliminary Results] (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: Instituto Nacional de Estatística, retrieved 1 January 2012 
  2. ^ IGP, ed. (2010), Carta Administrativa Oficial de Portugal (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: Instituto Geográfico Português, retrieved 1 January 2012 
  3. ^ Pereira, P. Gomes (2009), "Caracterização do Concelho de Braga", Diagnóstico do Concelho de Braga (in Portuguese), Braga, Portugal: Unidade de Saúde Pública de Braga, retrieved 21 March 2012 
  4. ^ "Normals Climatológicas" (in Portuguese). Instituto de Meteorologia, IP Portugal. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Sereno, Isabel; Dordio, Paulo (1994). SIPA, ed. "21 Marcos Miliários (série Capela) Braga incerta via (v.PT01130700002)" (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA–Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Sereno, Isabel; Dordio, Paulo (1994), SIPA, ed., Termas romanas de Maximinos/Alto da Cividade/Colina dos Maximinos (v.PT010303070040) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 26 April 2012 
  7. ^ Sereno, Isabel; Dordio, Paulo; Gonçalves, Joaquim (2007). SIPA, ed. "Castelo de Braga, designadamente a Torre de Menagem (restos)" (in Portuguese). Lisbon: SIPA–Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  8. ^ Sereno, Isabel; Dordio, Paulo; Gonçalves, Joaquim (2004). SIPA, ed. "Capela de São Frutuoso de Montélios/Capela de São Salvador de Montélios" (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Sereno, Isabel; Santos, João (1994). SIPA, ed. "Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição/Capela dos Coimbras/Capela do Senhor Morto" (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA –Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico. Retrieved 26 February 2012.