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The moment we pass under the Arco da Porta Nova, we sense that our Braga free tour truly begins. It is symbolic, since the monument bears the signature of one of the great names in the city's history, André Soares, and was sponsored by another great figure in Braga's history, Bishop D. Diogo de Sousa. The Arco da Porta Nova never had a door, giving the impression that the city has its door eternally open to visitors who pass by here. ​ Founded in 16 BC, the city of Braga is older than the country itself, and became the capital of the province of Galécia in the fourth century and a relevant urban pole of the Roman Empire. Naturally, Roman heritage is everywhere, from the most recent excavations to the remains of various Roman dwellings, from the archaeological museum to the Roman baths, from the names of bars to the statue of Julius Caesar. On our Braga free tour, as we walk through the granite slabs of Rua do Souto, we soon realize that history lurks around every corner. The history in Braga is also mixed with the aromas that are felt everywhere. The gastronomy is so cherished that for many the best francesinhas are the ones that are eaten here and not in Porto. ​ Did you know that Braga is one of the youngest cities in Europe? Add to that one of the main university poles in the country and imagine the energy and vitality that injects daily into the city. This contrast between ancestral monuments and crowds of young people, between exuberant baroque churches and the emerging technological industry takes perfect shape in Arcada da Lapa and Praça da República. The esplanades are a sight to behold and what we hear the most is the laughter of the people and the bells of the churches. The hospitality of the bracarense doesn't stop at the ever opened door of Arco da Nova and one feels it eating at traditional restaurants, shopping in the new concept stores, browsing the artisan shops. It's a joy for life that comes from within and that contaminates us, like the flowers planted along the Avenida da Liberdade. Braga, the city of the archbishops, the Rome of Portugal, has more than 30 churches and some of the most beautiful Portuguese baroque monuments. But not even the most beautiful Basilica of the Congregados can dare to take the place of the oldest Cathedral in the country, the Cathedral of Braga, in which the parents of the first king of Portugal are buried. The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is one of the religious poles of the Iberian Peninsula and in Portugal it is only surpassed by the Sanctuary of Fátima. The city has a mystical charge and myths and legends abound, some of which we will reveal throughout our free tour of Braga. ​ Braga is a city with a unique route in Portugal and for many, despite being the third city in the country, has more to offer than Lisbon and Porto. It is no accident that Braga has welcomed thousands of immigrants from all corners of the world who quickly take to the streets at Christmas and join the bracarenses to celebrate the strangest Christmas custom you will hear about: the bananeiro.

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