Bragança is the capital of the province of Trás-os-Montes in north-eastern Portugal. Unexploited by tourism, this remote, mountainous region offers beautiful scenery, historic towns, natural landscapes and rich local cuisine. Bragança lies on the edge of the Montesinho Natural Park – one of the wildest forested areas in Europe with a great diversity of fauna and flora.
Locals enjoy a strong traditional way of life, especially in small towns such as Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro, Torre de Moncorvo and Freixo de Espada à Cinta. Daily life has not changed for hundreds of years and these isolated stone villages retain a rustic beauty of their own. The region is especially beautiful in spring, when a white mantle of almond blossom covers the valleys. Nearby Mirandela is known for its cured meats and sausages, and you can find many delicious local specialties throughout the region.
The carnival celebrations in Trás-os-Montes are a vibrant and richly-honoured tradition. The festivities last for days preceding Ash Wednesday and feature colourful costumes, lively parades and traditional music, attracting happy revellers from all over the world.
Places to see
Parque Natural de Montesinho (Montesinho Natural Park) (Bragança)
The Montesinho Natural Park is one of the largest protected areas in Portugal, extending over 75,000 hectares (185,300 acres) and reaching an altitude of almost 1,500 metres (4,921 feet). The immense forests offer habitats for many species including wolves, wild boar and golden eagles. Many tiny villages can still be found throughout the park, offering a fascinating combination of human and natural landscapes. Ideal for trekking.
Cidadela (Citadel) (Bragança)
Situated on a hill overlooking the city centre, this well-preserved citadel was built in the 12th century by Benedictine monks. Rebuilt and reinforced in the late 14th century, the outstanding features within its fortified walls include the imposing keep, the Domus Municipalis (town hall), Santa Maria church and the impressive Gothic pillory.
Sé Catedral (Bragança)
The Renaissance cathedral of Bragança was built in the 16th century and occupied by Jesuit priests who founded a college on the site. Featuring a gilded altar and elaborate paintings on the panelled ceiling of the sacristy, it was declared a cathedral in 1764 when the bishopric was transferred to Bragança.
Museu do Abade de Baçal (Abade de Baçal Museum) (Bragança)
One of the best in Portugal, the museum is located between the Citadel and the Sé Cathedral, in the former Paço Episcopal “Bishop's Palace” of Bragança-Miranda Diocese. The extensive collection includes ancient ceramics, animal totems, sacred art and Roman funeral stones as well as religious and archaeological artefacts.