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Braga is one of northern Portugal's outstanding surprises. Founded by the Romans as Bracara Augusta, it prospered in earnest in the 6th century—under the Visigoths—when it became an important bishopric. In the 16th century, the city was beautified with churches, palaces, and fountains, many of which were altered in the 18th century.
Today Braga feels like the religious capital it is. Shops that
sell religious items line the pedestrian streets around the cathedral. The Semana Santa (Holy Week) festivities here, including eerie torchlight processions of hooded participants, are impressive. There are also several interesting historical sights—most of them religious in nature—a short distance from the city. You can visit all of them by bus from the center of town; inquire at the tourist office for timetables.
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Barcelos, a bustling market town on the banks of the Rio Cávado with a population of some 18,000, is the center of a flourishing handicrafts...