Bom Jesus Do Monte is the most popular tourist destination in Braga, and for good reason! This landmark is a series of fantastic baroque stairways which zig-zag their way up Monte Espinho towards the church. This attraction is so unique is has become one of the most photographed churches in the world. Bom Jesus is an important religious site, in fact, Braga is the religious centre of Portugal. But this area is about so much more than religion. This is a fantastic place to visit even if you are not religious (like us). So, the important question is, is Bom Jesus Do Monte worth visiting? The answer is definitely yes, this post takes you through everything you need to know about this sanctuary.
A Bit About Bom Jesus
The sanctuary of Bom Jesus is located 5km east of the centre of Braga, in the woods, in an area called Tenões. This site is one of the most famous sanctuaries in all of Portugal. Bom Jesus has a very distinctive look with its granite staircases with whitewashed walls. Working its way up Monte Espinho, this landmark consists of 573 steps and 17 landings. Each landing is adorned with a unique fountain – many of which are quite strange. Five of the fountains are dedicated to the five senses. One fountain for each sense. Seeing water pouring out of a sculpture’s ears is interesting, to say the least.
Bom Jesus Do Monte is important for religious reasons. thousands of pilgrims have climbed the staircase traditionally on their hands and knees, making their way to the pilgrimage church at the top of the hill. Bom Jesus do Monte translates to ‘Good Jesus of the Monte. The stairway reflects its name as there are six chapels dedicated to “good Jesus’ in the sanctuary. In 2019, Bom Jesus became a UNESCO world heritage site.
What To See
The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus Do Monte is more than a religious site. It is really quite beautiful and recognisable. In our opinion, visiting Bom Jesus is less about the church and more about the signature staircase. When visiting the landmark you simply must get the token picture from the bottom of the stairs, this captures the beauty of this sanctuary best. Gradually work your way up the stairs soaking in all the unique surroundings on each staircase. Every fountain is totally different from the level below.
Eventually, you will work your way up to the top landing where you will find perfectly groomed gardens. This area is also the perfect lookout point over the city of Braga with panoramic views. There is no better place to watch the sun setting over the city than this landing!
Surprisingly there is a small snack bar at the top of the stairs. Eating icecream after hiking up the stairs is a well-deserved treat. The church is surrounded by beautiful grounds which are very well maintained. There is a stunning manmade waterfall you can walk under as well as a lagoon with boats a short walk away.
How to Get there
Although Bom Jesus is situated 5km outside of the historic centre of Braga, it is still pretty straightforward to get to.
The journey from the historic centre of Braga to the sanctuary of Bom Jesus Do Monte only takes around 20 minutes by bus. It is possible to catch the bus from right outside the front of the train station. Look for a number 2 local TUB bus which has ‘Bom Jesus’ displayed on the front of it. Ride the bus all the way to its last stop, by the entrance to the funicular, it only costs €3.35 for a full-day ticket.
The easiest way to get to Bom Jesus Du Monte is by car. There is a free car park at the base of the hill. From here you can choose to walk the stairs to the church at the top or catch the funicular. If you wish to park at the top of the hill, there is a car park which you must pay for. We wouldn’t recommend it as it is quite pricey considering there is a free car park below.
If you visit in the off-season, it is possible to park right at the base of the main set of steps. The parking here isn’t official, but when it is quiet there is no problem parking here and cutting out the less interesting section of the staircase.
There are many companies which offer tours of the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus Do Monte. This is a great option if you are visiting Porto and fancy a day trip to this amazing landmark. Alternatively, it is a great way to get from the centre of Braga to Bom Jesus and back in style.
We recommend climbing the steps as there is so much to see as you work your way up however if you don’t fancy the leg workout, the funicular is the perfect option for you. This runs from the very bottom of the stairs by the car park all the way up to the church at the top of the hill. This funicular is incredibly interesting as it is the world’s oldest water-powered funicular built in 1882.
This fantastic funicular will escort you 300 metres up the hill in style within 3 minutes. The appearance of the funicular is wonderfully cute with its old-fashioned carriages. If you wish to ride the funicular, its opening times are 9 am to 8 pm in the summer and 9 am to 7 pm in the winter. It is very reasonably priced too at €1.50 for a one-way ticket, or €2.50 for a return.
So is Bom Jesus Do Monte worth visiting? Undeniably the answer is yes! We would say that it is probably the main and best reason to visit the city of Braga. No trip to the area is complete without climbing the granite, baroque staircase and gazing out at the viewpoint looking over the city. If you get the chance to visit this stunning sanctuary – treasure it. It really is quite a wonderful place!
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