Bom Jesus do Monte, Braga, Portugal

Bom Jesus do Monte is a wonderful pilgrimage site near Braga. Though not listed under UNESCO World Heritage site we included it in our itinerary of Portugal because of its famous Baroque double staircase. There are several switchbacks and landings that make the whole structure so interesting. Before I get into the details here are some facts.

More About Braga

Braga is one of the oldest cities of Portugal. Cathedral here is the oldest in Portugal and was built in the 12th century by the parents of Portugal’s first King, D. Henrique and D. Teresa. It has an eventful history even before 12th century. The city was founded by Celts (Iron Age). In 250 BC, the Romans named it Bracara Augusta and made it capital of their province Gallaecia, which stretched all the way up into Spain. Its strategic location at the five Roman roads helped it be prominent spot in trade. Today it is populated more with young crowd studying in its universities.

Bom Jesus do MonteBom Jesus do Monte 1

History of Bom Jesus do Monte

Many of Protugal’s hilltops have been sacred destinations since centuries. Bom Jesus hill near Braga is one such scared destination. The timeline of this cathedral begins in the year 1373 when a chapel existed in this location. This was rebuilt in 15th and 16th centuries. In 1629 this rebuilt chapel was dedicated to Bom Jesus and 6 more chapels built to passion of Christ.

Bom Jesus do Monte means Good Jesus of the Mount. The construction of this present cathedral was started in 1722 by the then Archbishop of Braga Rodrigo de Moura Telles. Under his supervision the first stairway was built. Archbishops after him kept adding stairways and chapels. At each landing there is a chapel decorated with terracotta structures dedicated to Passion of Christ.

Bom Jesus do Monte 3

Approach to Bom Jesus do Monte

This is interesting because it can be approached in several ways. We wanted to start from foothill but the GPS took us in such a circuitous way that we found ourselves right in front of the cathedral. To get the grand view of the staircase we went downΒ  and climbed up the staicases again. It was worth the effort. We got to capture lot of scenic frames along the way.

There is an elevator for easy ascend to the hill top. It is basically a water balance Bom Jesus funicular linking the city of Braga to hill. Those on pilgrimage here climb up the stairs on their knees. Tourists are known to trek up the hill to the cathedral too. So you can approach the cathedral in any of these four ways.

From down hill it looks like zigzag staircase!

Bom Jesus do Monte 6Bom Jesus do Monte 5

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58 Responses

  1. viola says:

    Oh I’m admiring the stairways up, very special! πŸ™‚

  2. Cloudia says:

    Such wonderful shots and information!

  3. Arun says:

    The cathedral looks nice and the steps look interesting.

  4. Arun says:

    The staircase looks stunning! Quite an interesting place to visit.

  5. Why Hilltops are chosen for shrines either in East or West….there resembles a human’s real spirit..! Great post…have a nice day..!

  6. Ami says:

    I love the approach to the church. It makes it look soooo impressive.

  7. An architectural marvel it is! πŸ™‚

  8. Mridula says:

    The stairs looks majestic, the view fantastic!

  9. Jeevan says:

    Very interesting site and unique architecture! Obviously the sight from foothill and looking above is marvelous and the ways leading too was impressive.

  10. Priyanka says:

    The stairways, plus the angle of the photograph- both fantastic.

  11. Niranjan says:

    Such a gorgeous cathedral!

  12. Chandan says:

    What a wonderful place.

  13. Magnus says:

    Wonderful photos!!

  14. Peter B says:

    Wow, amazing! Love the zigzag staircase.

  15. Tara Nair says:

    Ooh the inside of church looks a bit gothic… yet intense. The stairs do look zig-zag… wonder how intrinsic and interesting architecture were before. LOVED the CHURCH. Thanks for sharing the info. Indrani. Just willing to know, what place on earth is left yet, that you haven’t covered. Well, guess the answer is to keep reading your blog… yeah?? πŸ˜€ Love it!! Respect!! Enjoy!!

  16. ladyfi says:

    Wow – that staircase is amazing! Great shots.

  17. Amazing Photographs of the Church.. A good Post, Indrani!

  18. Carmen Henesy says:

    Well, I can’t really do stairs anymore…at 71, the next surgeries I’ll have will be the knews. I got my second shoulder replaced in Nov so I’ll be setting off the bells and whistles when I head back to India in May after my transatlantic cruise, Tampa to Barcelona.

    This is a spectacular cathedral. I wish I could see it. I’ve cruised in and out of Lisbon on two occasions but was only there for a day or twoI I’ve seen some magnificent churches – St Peter’s, of course, and the Duomo in Milan and Florence but I especially like the small, peaceful churches and temples that are more serene and welcoming.

  19. eileen says:

    Hello, beautiful images of the cathedral. The view of the stairs is awesome.
    Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

  20. I am so envious. You were able to fully visit Portugal. I hope to be able to do that someday as well, there’s so many architectural and historical places I want to see that I’ve seen featured here on your blog.

    Happy Easter

  21. So glad you posted these images. With health issues my husband and I have, we would not be able to walk all those stairs. What a beautiful site!
    JM, Illinois-U.S.A.

  22. Linja says:

    Wow, that is spectacular! I think I’d probably choose the funicular.

  23. That’s a very interesting staircase. Lovely photos, Indrani!

  24. I am planning Porto and Lisbon. How far is Braga from Porto? How did you reach Braga?

    As ususal, loved the photos.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      Hi Soumya, we drove down to Braga from Porto. It is 55kms north of Braga. We did our tour of Spain and Portugal trip in a hired car in a total of 17 days.
      Have a great trip! πŸ™‚

  25. klara says:

    wonderful architecture, view and infos you provided. and photos of course. πŸ˜‰

  26. wow… this is such an unique cathedral… with such an interesting history…am hooked to your spain trip!!

    myunfinishedlife

  27. Sri Kri says:

    Interesting and impressive architecture Cathedral.:)

    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

  28. Janice says:

    The approach up the steps is beautiful and impressive.

  29. neha says:

    And I thought the GPS used to fool us only in India πŸ˜€ . Jokes apart, the cathedral is so beautiful. I would love to visit such an interesting historical place

  30. Oh this looks so beautiful πŸ™‚ Love the cathedral!
    Nadine Cathleen | Karateandcaviar.com

  31. Amy says:

    We have never been to Portugal, but a reason I love Europe so much is the cathedrals. They are so intricate and beautiful and this one is no exception, such history it has seen! And those stairs are so unique and stunning, would love to climb them someday!

  32. Luca says:

    That perspective of the staircase is fantastic! I’m not a religious kind of guy, so I visit churches and cathedrals only when the entrance is free, but I would be curious about this one, at least to see the staircase. What about the entrance?
    Next time I’ll go to Portugal I’ll try to make a stop in Braga πŸ™‚

  33. Anastasia says:

    The stairs are unbelievable! There are still so many places in Portugal for me to explore outside Lisboa and Porto!

  34. The last but one picture is great, you can see the cathedral in its magnificent beauty; many friends of mine has been in Portugal, none of them to Braga, maybe next travel destination?!? Should be after your great information.
    πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘Œ Thanks for sharing it,

  35. I’ve never heard of this. Thanks so much for sharing. I like visiting churches and architectural destinations when I travel. Pinned for when I go to Portugal!

  36. Wow treking those stairs on your knees sounds like a challenge for those doing pilgrimages. I think it was worth it for you to go to the bottom to get those photos. It looks like a good day to be outside.

  37. Emma says:

    it looks like such a stunning place and I love the steps up to it – it looks magnificent – not sure id want to do it on my knees though. The views from the top look breathtaking too!

  38. Christina says:

    This cathedral looks stunning. And wow, the grand view of the staircase is breathtaking. I am sure it really is worth the hike πŸ™‚

  39. That’s an interesting article. Though I am not a religious person but I love admiring unique architectures and learning about the history of the place.

  40. Joanna says:

    The view from the top is so beautiful! It’s worth the effort of climbing up all those stairs. I love the interior of the church, you have taken a very good decision of visiting it, even if it wasn’t on your list originally.

  41. Ashley says:

    AHHH GPS. Sometimes so helpful and sometimes so very not! Too funny. I love the photos so I’m happy you decided to go back up the steps to capture these views.

  42. Adam says:

    Amazing architecture and fantastic pictures πŸ™‚ Braga is definitely on my travel bucket list!

  43. Sites like this one with a cathedral or a castle is usually the best places for a great view. At least that is my main reason for visiting them. The challenge to climb the steps or the hill usually add to the experience. πŸ™‚

  44. Tasha says:

    Great post and lovely photos! I’m a bit of a history geek with a soft spot for the Baroque, so I especially loved how informative this was. YEAH, FACTS!

  45. A beautful holy city. The names reminded me of Goa but that is only obvious. The stairs do look a bit too steep. I have had such experences in some temples also but eventually the view after the climb always make up for it.

  46. Mansi K. says:

    Beautiful! Love the staircase and the interesting architecture. The interiors are fascinating as well. Can you share the best way to get to Braga from Lisbon?

  47. Very beautiful place, I have only read about on the internet. I would love to visit there, but when is the question? The answer is one day in future for sure.

  48. Been wanting to visit Portugal for quite some time and the more I read about it the more I want to go there. Beautiful place and there are some obvious similarities it shares with Spain, but all in all quite a different place. The Baroque staircase is quite wonderful.

  49. Drew says:

    There are a few famous staircases like this. As I was reading, I recalled a famous double spiral staircase (in a church somewhere) that was supposedly built by a stranger to the church who asked what he could do to help. This example is beautiful and majestic but interesting how staircases in and of themselves can be worth a visit!

  50. This is beautiful. The stairs and architecture are stunning. I’m thinking I’d head for the elevator, thanks for the tip!

  51. I love the stairs – they’re so photogenic! The small cathedral has such so much history – very interesting!

  52. Wow, this is such an interesting site!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a building quite like it – Portugal is on my list for destinations in 2017 and there’s so much amazing architecture throughout that I’m thinking I may have to spend some real time!! Thanks for the intro to Bom Jesus do Monte πŸ™‚

  53. So happy to read this about Braga! It’s one of my favorite places in Northern Portugal… definitely overlooked. Thanks for sharing and happy travels πŸ™‚

  54. Karla says:

    That is a long staircase but wow, its a pretty place. I would definitely trek up as well.

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