Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte

Braga, Portugal

The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is a Portuguese Catholic shrine in Tenões, outside the city of Braga. Its name means Good Jesus of the Mount. It is a notable example of Christian pilgrimage site with a monumental, Baroque stairway that climbs 116 meters. It is an important tourist attraction of Braga and in 2019 inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Many hilltops in Portugal and other parts of Europe have been sites of religious devotion since antiquity, and it is possible that the Bom Jesus hill was one of these. However, the first indication of a chapel over the hill dates from 1373. This chapel - dedicated to the Holy Cross - was rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1629 a pilgrimage church was built dedicated to the Bom Jesus (Good Jesus), with six chapels dedicated to the Passion of Christ.

The present Sanctuary started being built in 1722, under the patronage of the Archbishop of Braga, Rodrigo de Moura Telles. His coat of arms is seen over the gateway, in the beginning of the stairway. Under his direction the first stairway row, with chapels dedicated to the Via Crucis, were completed. Each chapel is decorated with terra cotta sculptures depicting the Passion of Christ. He also sponsored the next segment of stairways, which has a zigzag shape and is dedicated to the Five Senses. Each sense (Sight, Smell, Hearing, Touch, Taste) is represented by a different fountain. At the end of this stairway, a Baroque church was built around 1725 by architect Manuel Pinto Vilalobos.

The works on the first chapels, stairways and church proceeded through the 18th century. In an area behind the church (the Terreiro dos Evangelistas), three octagonal chapels were built in the 1760s with statues depicting episodes that occur after the Crucifixion, like the meeting of Jesus with Mary Magdalene. The exterior design of the beautiful chapels is attributed to renowned Braga architect André Soares. Around these chapels there are four Baroque fountains with statues of the Evangelists, also dating from the 1760s.

Around 1781, archbishop Gaspar de Bragança decided to complete the ensemble by adding a third segment of stairways and a new church. The third stairway also follows a zigzag pattern and is dedicated to the Three Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity, each with its fountain. The old church was demolished and a new one was built following a Neoclassic design by architect Carlos Amarante. This new church, began in 1784, had its interior decorated in the beginning of the 19th century and was consecrated in 1834. The main altarpiece is dedicated to the Crucifixion.

In the 19th century, the area around the church and stairway was expropriated and turned into a park. In 1882, to facilitate the access to the Sanctuary, the water balance Bom Jesus funicular was built linking the city of Braga to the hill. This was the first funicular to be built in the Iberian Peninsula and is still in use.

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Details

Founded: 1722
Category: Religious sites in Portugal

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

G Roberts (3 months ago)
The site was far better than expected. Only one euro to park, absolutely beautiful architecture and sculptures, shaded trails, a park for young children, and snack bars. We parked at the top, walked the site downwards and then rode the elevator trolly back up for a mere 1.50 each. The site is worth the pilgrimage. ?
Traveling Duo (3 months ago)
A must-see site. The views of Braga from here are stunning. It might seem hard to climb the stairs, but their are not hard to tackle and, if you have physical problems, you can always take the funicular up and down hill (they only take cash). Atop of the stairs there are marvelous gardens and buildings. Also, they have restaurants and bars where you can have a drink paired with an amazing view.
Rafal Kantorek (4 months ago)
Bom Jesus do Monte is a great place for a day trip. It is one of the best places to see in Braga. The view of the city is breathtaking and there are many sights to discover as well as a large park with a playground for children and places to rest, perfect for a picnic. I recommend it to anyone who wants to have a great view of the city (maybe at night) and enjoy the place. There is a paid toilet here behind Bom Jesus church (€0,50) and on the right side, behind the church, if you go up the small hidden path, there is a free toilet. The park offers a small lake, here you can rent a boat. There is also a cafe, an ice cream parlor and a small outdoor fitness park as well as the playground.
Amnah Amjad (5 months ago)
Very colorful, beautiful, pretty sanctuary. Amazing city views from the top. There is also an elevator to go up and down. It hardly take 1 min and it's 1.5 euro. I was not much amused by elevator because there is no views. But the sanctuary is very big and extremely beautiful. There is also a lake. You can ride the boat yourself in just 1.5 euro per person.
Tan Sav (5 months ago)
It church with a lot of historical significance. The grounds are lovley and there is a nice view. Lots of locals exercise here. I got dropped off at the top and walked down to meet my driver. There is also a little tram that can take you to the top and down if you wish.
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