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Braga

History

Founded by Celts, Braga first attracted Roman attention in 250 BC. The Romans named it Bracara Augusta and made it capital of their province Gallaecia, stretching all the way up into Spain. Braga’s position at the intersection of five Roman roads helped it grow fat on trade. Braga fell to the Suevi around AD 410, and was sacked by the Visigoths 60 years later. The Visigoths’ conversion to Christianity in the 6th century and the founding of an archbishopric in the next century put the town atop the Iberian Peninsula’s ecclesiastical pecking order.

The Moors moved in around 715, sparking a long-running tug-of-war that ended only when Fernando I, king of Castile and León, definitively reconquered the city in 1040. The archbishopric was restored in 1070, though prelates bickered with their Spanish counterparts for the next 500 years over who was Primate of All Spain. The pope finally ruled in Braga’s favour, though the city’s resulting good fortune began to wane in the 18th century, when a newly anointed Lisbon archdiocese stole much of its thunder.

Not surprisingly, it was from conservative Braga that Salazar, with his unique blend of Catholicism and fascism, gave the speech that launched his 1926 coup, introducing Portugal to half a century of dictatorship.