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Introducing Braga

Portugal’s third-largest city is an elegant town laced with ancient narrow lanes closed to vehicles, strewn with plazas and a splendid array of baroque churches. The constant chiming of bells is a reminder of Braga’s age-old devotion to the spiritual world. Its religious festivals – particularly the elaborately staged Semana Santa (Holy Week) – are famous throughout Portugal. But don’t come expecting piety alone: Braga’s upscale old centre is packed with lively cafes and trim boutiques, some excellent restaurants and low-key bars catering to students from the Universidade do Minho. In fact, it's such a young city that in 2012 it was pronounced the European Youth Capital.

Just outside the city stands the magnificent, much-visited hillside church and sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte.