Situated in the extreme North of Portugal, next to the border with Spain, in the region known as “Trás-os-Montes” (literally meaning “behind the hills”), Bragança is an historical and quite ancient settlement, where the difficulty of access has allowed the maintenance of traditions and costumes for many centuries.
Bragança was already an important settlement during the Roman occupation period, named at the time of “Juliobraga” and “Brigantia”, and many vestiges of previous occupation, in the Palaeolithic period, were also found.
Bragança, during the Middle Age was also an important defensive and strategic point, due to its long history and for the proximity with Spain, and was also an essential passing point of the pilgrimages up into Santiago de Compostela since the 12th century.
The town is divided in two distinctive parts: a medieval urban centre, fortified, from the 12th century, in the “Cidadela” with the Watchtower, the Pillory, the Santa Maria Church and by the interesting Domus Municipalis, a singular building in the Iberian Peninsula in Romanesque architecture, and also the Princesa Tower, with a marvellous viewpoint over the town and its surroundings.
The other part is the city centre, outside the old medieval “cidadela”, composed by wonderful monuments and sites like the “Praça da Sé” (the Cathedral square), the pillory from 1689, the 16th century Cathedral, or the Calaínhos Small Palace from the 18th century.
The religious heritage is also superb, with several Churches like the São Bento, São Vicente or the Misericórdia Church, and the Convent and Church of São Francisco and, outside the centre, the notable Church from the Castro de Avelãs Monastery from the 12th century.
Bragança is situated next to the Montesinho Natural Park, where nature is still preserved at its best and small rustic villages can still be found, some of them still living in an old and traditional communitarian system.