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Braga Travel Guide

Braga History

The town of Braga has been inhabited since pre-historic times. It was the capital of the Callaici Bracarii, or Bracarenses, a tribe who occupied what is now Galicia and northern Portugal. The Romans began their conquest of the region around 136 BC, and during the times of Emperor Augustus (around the year 20 BC) the town of Bracara Augusta was founded in the context of the administrative needs of the new Roman territory. Bracara was dedicated to the Emperor, hence its name Augusta.

In the old times of the Germanic Invasions of the Iberian Peninsula, Roman power was dissolved and Bracara Augusta and the whole region of Gallaecia fell into the hands of the Sueves, a Germanic people from Central Europe. In 410, the Sueves established a Kingdom in the Northwest of Iberia and chose Bracara as capital.

Normally the archbishops of Braga retain the title of primate of Portugal, and long claimed supremacy over the Spanish church also; but their authority was never accepted throughout Spain.

In the middle age, the history of Braga during Visigoth and Arab times is very obscure and represent periods of decadence for the town. From 1093 to 1147 it was the residence of the Portuguese court. The mediaeval city develops around the cathedral and covers only a fraction of the ancient Roman city. The maximum authority in the city remains that of the archbishop.

In the modern age, the town of Braga did not profit from the Age of Portuguese Discoveries, that favoured cities like Coimbra, Évora and Lisbon. This situation was changed by Archbishop Diogo de Sousa, who sponsored several urban improvements in the city, including the enlargement of streets, the creation of public squares and the foundation of hospitals and new churches.


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