Next to the cathedral, probably the most famous place in Braga is the Sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte, located 5 kilometres from the city, on top of a hill. Its origin is in a chapel built in 1373, but the sanctuary that we can admire today was built in 1722, by the order of Rodrigo de Moura Telles, Archbishop of Braga.
The stairs that take you to the sanctuary are the highlight of the monument. While you climb the 582 stairs, you find various fountains; five of them represent the five senses, and another three symbolize the three virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity). All this while you come across the chapels dedicated to the Way of the Cross. However, you can also go up to the sanctuary using an old hydraulic funicular.
With all this, Bom Jesus seems like a place not to be missed, and it appears in many other blogs and guides. However, we advise you not to visit it. Why?
First, the way to the sanctuary is conceived as a pilgrimage, so it involves climbing the 582 stairs to the top of the hill. This makes sense from a religious point of view, but if you go there as a tourist, this is a daunting climb. In some cases, such as the elderly or those with reduced mobility, it is a definite obstacle.
Added to this is the fact that the chapels that mark the ascent are currently being restored, and many of the scenes of the Way of the Cross have been removed. Likewise, the Church is also in the process of restoration, so we are going to find a canvas instead of an altar. All this comes from the Portuguese initiative to include this place in the UNESCO World Heritage list, something that has not yet been recognized.
In summary, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus is not exactly located in Braga and, in addition, it‘s being reconstructed. So, our advice is to wait for the finish of the transformation and, in the meantime, enjoy the city of Braga with us.