Known as Bragantia to the Celts and Juliobriga to the Romans, Bragança is an ancient city. Its location, mere kilometres from the Spanish border, made it an important post in the centuries-long battles between Spain and Portugal. The walled citadel was built in 1130 by Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques I. His son and successor, Sancho I, improved the fortifications by building Bragança’s castle, with its watchtowers, dungeons and keep, in 1187, after reclaiming the city from the king of León.
In 1442 Afonso V created the Duchy of Bragança for his uncle, an illegitimate son of the first Avis king João I, thus launching one of Portugal’s wealthiest and most powerful noble families. The Braganças assumed the Portuguese throne in 1640, ending Spain’s 60-year domination of Portugal. The family went on to reign in Portugal until the dissolution of the monarchy in 1910, and held sway in Brazil through 1889, when the second Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II was deposed in a military coup.
During the Napoleonic Wars, Bragança again served as an important strategic point against foreign invaders: it was from here that Sepúlveda launched his call to resistance against French forces.