Cathedral in Braga
The Cathedral of Braga, also known as the Santa Maria de Braga Cathedral, holds the distinction of being the first cathedral built in Portugal, constructed several decades prior to the founding of the country. Bishop Pedro consecrated and dedicated the cathedral to the Virgin Mary in a grand ceremony on August 28, 1089, just as construction neared completion at the end of the 11th century. Considered a rival in grandeur to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, it is the pride of the city, with the Chapel of Kings serving as the final resting place of D. Henrique and D. Teresa, the parents of the first king of Portugal.
Throughout its over nine centuries of history, the Cathedral has preserved a collection of artistic relics, including the original Romanesque-style Porta do Sol door, floor-plan with an ambulatory, main portico, and apse of the cloister of Santo Amaro. The architects of the Cathedral were prelates from the Monasteries of Cluny in France, Saint Gerard, and Brudino. The 15th-century Gothic-style entrance porch and the wooden Gothic-Flemish style tomb belonging to Infante D. Afonso, son of King João I and D. Filipa de Lencastre, are other notable features.
During the reign of D. Manuel in the following century, additional decorative elements such as the Baptismal Font, a niche with the statue of Our Lady of the Milk attributed to Nicolau Chanterenne, and baroque-style interior decoration of the altars, gilded woodwork, and monumental organs were introduced. The two distinctive bell towers and the Upper Choir stand add to the exterior grandeur.
For a complete tour, be sure to visit the Cathedral’s Treasure Museum, where you can see the cross used in the first mass celebrated in Brazil, led by Pedro Álvares Cabral.
To visit the upper choir and outlying chapels, visitors must purchase a separate ticket and join a guided tour (some guides speak English).
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