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BRAGA, a city of northern Portugal, formerly included in the province of Entre Minho e Douro, situated on the right-bank of the small river Deste near its source, and at the head of a railway from Oporto. Pop. (1900) 24,202. Braga, which ranks after Lisbon and Oporto as the third city of the kingdom, is the capital of an administrative district, and an archiepiscopal see. Its cathedral, founded in the 12th century, was rebuilt during the 16th century in the blend of Moorish and florid Gothic styles known as Manoellian. It contains several tombs of considerable historical interest, some fine woodwork carved in the 15th century, and a collection of ancient vestments, plate and other objects of art. Among the other churches Santa Cruz is noteworthy for its handsome façade, which dates from 1642. There are several convents, an archiepiscopal palace, a library, containing many rare books and manuscripts, an orphan asylum, and a large hospital; also the ruins of a theatre, a temple and an aqueduct of Roman workmanship, and a great variety of minor antiquities of different ages. The principal manufactures are firearms, jewelry, cutlery, cloth and felt hats. Large cattle fairs are held in June and September, for cattle-breeding and dairy-farming are among the foremost local industries. On a hill about 3 m. E. by S. stands the celebrated sanctuary of Bom Jesus, or Bom Jesus do Monte, visited at Whitsuntide by many thousands of pilgrims, who do public penance as they ascend to the shrine; and about 1 m. beyond it is Mount Sameiro (2535 ft.), crowned by a colossal statue of the Virgin Mary, and commanding a magnificent view of the mountainous country which culminates in the Serra do Gerez, on the north-east.

Braga is the Roman Bracara Augusta, capital of the Callaici Bracarii, or Bracarenses, a tribe who occupied what is now Galicia and northern Portugal. Early in the 5th century it was taken by the Suevi; but about 485 it passed into the hands of the Visigothic conquerors of Spain, whose renunciation of the Arian and Priscillianist heresies, at two synods held here in the 6th century, marks the origin of its ecclesiastical greatness. The archbishops of Braga retain the title of primate of Portugal, and long claimed supremacy over the Spanish church also; but their authority was never accepted throughout Spain. From the Moors, who captured Braga early in the 8th century, the city was retaken in 1040 by Ferdinand I., king of Castile and Leon; and from 1093 to 1147 it was the residence of the Portuguese court.

The administrative district of Braga coincides with the central part of the province of Entre Minho e Douro (q.v.). Pop. (1900) 357,159. Area, 1040 sq. m.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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