The Catholic is evident in the historical and architectural heritage of this region that you can visit all year round. However, there are religious events that magnify the mystique. From the Holy Week Events of Braga to the Lady of Agony in Viana do Castelo, through the festivities Gualterianas, in Guimarães, there are many reasons for excitement in Minho, where the cuisine and the genuine character of the people do the rest.
The 'Portuguese Rome'
Visit Braga at Easter, climb to the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte - magnificent place, combining the work of nature and man - and watch the Holy Week celebrations, which take place in the 'Portuguese Rome' since the Middle Ages.
During this festive season, the city transforms itself attracting thousands of visitors. Throughout the city, there are decorations with scenes from the paschal season and beautiful street altars that are adorned with flowers and lights.
The religious program, includes, for example, the processions of the Burial of the Lord, which run through the historical center, and Teofórica, which takes place inside the majestic and oldest cathedral in Portugal. In the first, barefoot men with the head covered - the Farricocos are dressed in purple robes, and walk in a parade with torches in their hands, evoking the public penitents of the XVI century.
Braga lives also the Feast of S. João dating from the fifteenth century. The festival begins on the evening of the 23rd, by 9 pm, and includes parades, folklore, hammers, leeks and basil. You must see the biblical pictures on the banks of the River Este and eat grilled sardines with peppers and bread or codfish.
Finally, in the last weekend of May, it is worth watching the event “Reviver Bracara Augusta, an event that recreates the day-to-day the Roman occupation and gives life to the historic city center. The market at that time, the military camp, processions and traditional cuisine are the highlights of the program, which also includes several shows and street entertainment.
Whatever is the time of year you visit Braga, eat in the restaurants of the city the famous codfish, roasted lamb and the pudding Abade de Priscos. And do not leave town without taking with you “frigideiras” and to ask in a pastry shop for “pão-de-ló” and the “talassas”.
The prayers of fishermen
In August, the paths of devotion will lead you to Viana do Castelo and the Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Agony. The festival takes place on the 20th and dates back to 1772. Since the eighteenth century the fishermen pray to the virgin to give them good sea, but only in 1968 were made the first procession of t Senhora da Agonia to the sea.
On the feast of costume, which began in 1931 in the Public Garden, beautiful girls and boys wear the rich and colorful traditional costumes where you can enjoy the most beautiful bridal outfits, and mordoma wench, as well as the beautiful filigree pieces, known as Gold of Viana. The Ethnographic Parade, the parades of Gigantones and the grand Serenade of fireworks complete the program.
However great bustle is, take time to visit the Sanctuary of Monte de Santa Luzia. Overlooking the city, the imposing Basilica of Santa Luzia started to be built in 1903 and was completed in 1943. The view is absolutely unmissable!
In the birthplace city of Portugal, Guimarães, the first Sunday of July, attend to the Great Pilgrimage of S. Torcato. The allegorical processions parading the streets represent scenes from the life of the saint.
In the city that is the European Capital of Culture 2012, the Fiests Gualterianas in the summer, are another highlight of the religious calendar. The procession in honor of St. Gualter is one of the highlights.
Visit the Shrine of Nossa Sra. da Penha, which is situated at the top of the mountain Santa Catarina, 617 meters high. The chapel was built in 1652 and later, in 1727, went on to serve the adjacent Convent of the Immaculate Conception. The devotion to Nossa Senhora da Penha takes more than a million people annually to visit the shrine.
More to see
In Barcelos, May the 3rd is a sacred day to the Lord of the Crosses and it is a municipal holiday. It is another of the great pilgrimages of Minho and an authentic portrait of the city.
The origins of the Feast of the Crosses are from the sixteenth century and about the miracle of the crosses. With a distinctly religious character until the twentieth century, today the pilgrimage includes handicrafts, carpets of flowers, popular music and the Zés P'reiras.
The gastronomy delicacies to try are the papas de sarrabulho ( pork ingravy thickened with blood),the roast chicken, barbequed octopus, dreams and queijadinhas (cheese cake pastry). As a souvenir, bring pottery and figurative, of course. No wonder that Barcelos is known as the capital of the craft.
How to get there
To Porto there are low cost flights, for example, London (Stansted and Gatwick), Paris (Beauvais, Orly and Charles de Gaulle Vatry), Marseille, Lille, Tours, St. Etienne, Bologna, Bordeaux, Lyon, Toulouse, Madrid, Barcelona El Prat , Tenerife, Valencia and Palma de Mallorca.
In the summer, there are companies low cost flying from Liverpool, Las Palmas, Carcassonne, Rodez and Nantes.
With normal rates, there are flight connections from London - Gatwick, Madrid, Barcelona and Paris - Orly.
From the International Airport Francisco Sá Carneiro, the best way to reach the city center of Porto is by metro. The trip takes about 30 minutes.
To Viana do Castelo, which is 60 km from Porto Airport, take the A28/IC1 or EN13. To Guimaraes, you can reached in about 30 minutes by motorway A7 and A3. To Barcelos, take the A28 and A11 or A11 and A3. The A3 also takes you to Braga.