Braga Cathedral

Braga Cathedral

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The Cathedral of Braga is one of the most important monuments in the city of Braga
Braga
Braga , a city in the Braga Municipality in northwestern Portugal, is the capital of the Braga District, the oldest archdiocese and the third major city of the country. Braga is the oldest Portuguese city and one of the oldest Christian cities in the World...

, in Northern Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. Due to its long history and artistic significance it is also one of the most important buildings in the country.

History


The Diocese of Braga
Braga
Braga , a city in the Braga Municipality in northwestern Portugal, is the capital of the Braga District, the oldest archdiocese and the third major city of the country. Braga is the oldest Portuguese city and one of the oldest Christian cities in the World...

 dates from the 3rd century AD, being one of the oldest in the peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 and the centre for the Christianisation of Gallaecia
Gallaecia
Gallaecia or Callaecia, also known as Hispania Gallaecia, was the name of a Roman province and an early Mediaeval kingdom that comprised a territory in the north-west of Hispania...

 (Northwestern Iberia). When Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 power was being dissolved by invading Germanic tribes
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

, Braga (then called Bracara Augusta) became the capital of the Suebi Kingdom (409 to 584). Bishop Martin of Dumio, a great religious figure of the time, converted the Suebi to Catholicism around 550. The importance of Braga diminished during Visigoth
Visigoth
The Visigoths were one of two main branches of the Goths, the Ostrogoths being the other. These tribes were among the Germans who spread through the late Roman Empire during the Migration Period...

 times, and after the arrival of the Arabs (716) it lost its bishop seat.

The bishopric of Braga was restored around 1071, after the city was back into Christian hands, and Bishop Pedro started to build a cathedral, consecrated in 1089 (only the Eastern chapels were finished). Starting in 1093, the County of Portugal was ruled by Count Henry of Burgundy
Henry, Count of Portugal
Henry of Burgundy, Count of Portugal was Count of Portugal from 1093 to his death. He was brother of Hugh I, Duke of Burgundy, and Odo I, Duke of Burgundy, all sons of Henry, the heir of Robert I, Duke of Burgundy. His name is Henri in modern French, Henricus in Latin, Enrique in modern Spanish...

 who, together with Bishop Geraldo de Moissac
Gerald of Braga
Gerald, born in Cahors, Gascony, was a Benedictine monk at Moissac, France. He later worked with the archbishop in Toledo, Spain, and served as cathedral choir director. He later became the reforming Bishop of Braga, Portugal in 1100. Stopped ecclesiastical investiture by laymen in his...

, managed to convince the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 to turn Braga into an archbishopric in 1107. The archbishop of Braga had power over a large region in Northwestern Iberia, including most of Portugal and part of Galicia, in today Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

.

Construction on the cathedral was then resumed and lasted until the middle of the 13th century, but the details are obscure. The original 12th century-building was built in the Burgundian Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 style of the monastery church of Cluny
Cluny
Cluny or Clungy is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France. It is 20 km northwest of Mâcon.The town grew up around the Benedictine Cluny Abbey, founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910...

. It influenced many other churches and monasteries in Portugal in that period. In later times the cathedral was greatly modified, so that today it is a mix of romanesque, Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

, manueline
Manueline
The Manueline, or Portuguese late Gothic, is the sumptuous, composite Portuguese style of architectural ornamentation of the first decades of the 16th century, incorporating maritime elements and representations of the discoveries brought from the voyages of Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral...

 and baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 styles. Particularly important were the addition of new chapels and the entrance gallery in gothic style, the new manueline main chapel, and the various additions in baroque times like the towers, chapels and much inner decoration.

Exterior


The original romanesque Western façade of the Cathedral of Braga has been totally suppressed, except for some archivolt
Archivolt
An archivolt is an ornamental molding or band following the curve on the underside of an arch. It is composed of bands of ornamental moldings surrounding an arched opening, corresponding to the architrave in the case of a rectangular opening...

s and capitals
Capital (architecture)
In architecture the capital forms the topmost member of a column . It mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column's supporting surface...

 of the main portal, heavily decorated with animal and human sculptured reliefs. The figures of one archivolt, with hens, foxes and a minstrel
Minstrel
A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. Frequently they were retained by royalty...

, may be telling a moralistic song like the Roman de Renart
Reynard
Reynard is the subject of a literary cycle of allegorical French, Dutch, English, and German fables largely concerned with Reynard, an anthropomorphic red fox and trickster figure.-Etymology of the name:Theories about the origin of the name Reynard are:...

, of French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 tradition.

Between 1486 and 1501, an entrance gallery (a galilee) in late gothic style was built preceding the main portal. The galilee has ribbed vaulting
Rib vault
The intersection of two or three barrel vaults produces a rib vault or ribbed vault when they are edged with an armature of piped masonry often carved in decorative patterns; compare groin vault, an older form of vault construction...

 and is decorated with statues and gargoyle
Gargoyle
In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved stone grotesque, usually made of granite, with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building thereby preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between...

s, the gargoyles were used for spouts so rain wouldn't ruin the side of the buildings. The beautiful manueline
Manueline
The Manueline, or Portuguese late Gothic, is the sumptuous, composite Portuguese style of architectural ornamentation of the first decades of the 16th century, incorporating maritime elements and representations of the discoveries brought from the voyages of Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral...

 metal gate was originally in the interior of the cathedral, but was moved to the galilee in the 18th century. In the early 16th century, Archbishop Diogo de Sousa modified the main romanesque portal, sacrificing the inner archivolts. The upper part of the façade and towers were totally modernised in the 18th century and are unremarkable. The Southern façade of the cathedral has an interesting romanesque portal.

Notable is the main chapel of the apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

, rebuilt in 1509 under Archbishop Diogo de Sousa by basque
Basque people
The Basques as an ethnic group, primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country , a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.The Basques are known in the...

 architect João de Castilho. The exterior of the chapel has beautiful late gothic and manueline tracery with gargoyles and pinnacles, matched in the interior of the chapel by intricate ribbed vaulting. The outer wall of the main chapel has a beautiful early-16th century statue of the Madonna breastfeeding Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 (Madona do Leite) between the coats-of-arms of Portugal and Bishop Diogo de Sousa, sponsor of the manueline
Manueline
The Manueline, or Portuguese late Gothic, is the sumptuous, composite Portuguese style of architectural ornamentation of the first decades of the 16th century, incorporating maritime elements and representations of the discoveries brought from the voyages of Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral...

 renovation.

Interior



Braga Cathedral has three aisle
Aisle
An aisle is, in general, a space for walking with rows of seats on both sides or with rows of seats on one side and a wall on the other...

s covered by a wooden roof, a transept and five Eastern chapels in the apse. None of the chapels is original romanesque anymore: the main chapel is manueline, while the others are heavily decorated in baroque style. In the North wall outside of the cathedral there is a small chapel, of early romanesque design, that may be a remnant of the late 11th building. This chapel was left outside of the final cathedral, perhaps due to a change of design in the 12th century.

The nave
Nave
In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting...

is essentially romanesque thanks to a "purifying" reform in the 20th century that suppressed most later additions, although most original capitals of the columns have been lost. D. Afonso, son of King John I
John I of Portugal
John I KG , called the Good or of Happy Memory, more rarely and outside Portugal the Bastard, was the tenth King of Portugal and the Algarve and the first to use the title Lord of Ceuta...

, is buried in a 15th-century tomb made of bronze, which can be seen in the nave of the Cathedral.

A high choir was added near the entrance of the cathedral in the baroque period. This choir is beautifully decorated with a painted ceiling and sculptured gilt wood (talha dourada) choir stalls executed around 1737 by Miguel Francisco da Silva. In front of the high choir there are two gilt wood organs, carved by renowned sculptor Marceliano de Araújo in the 1730s, heavily decorated with baroque and fantastic motifs. These are among the most impressive gilt wood works in Portugal.

The main chapel is roofed with stone rib vaulting and its walls are decorated with a 14th-century statue of the Virgin Mary (Nossa Senhora de Braga). During the remodelling of the chapel, Archbishop Diogo de Sousa also commissioned a stone altar, but most of it has been lost. The part still preserved is used as altar table and has beautiful reliefs of Christ and the Apostles. The choir stalls are neogothic.

The other chapels of the apse are decorated in baroque or neoclassical styles. The chapel of Saint Peter of Rates is particularly interesting, being decorated with typical blue-white tile
Tile
A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, stone, metal, or even glass. Tiles are generally used for covering roofs, floors, walls, showers, or other objects such as tabletops...

s that tell the life of the saint. The author of the tiles is António de Oliveira Bernardes, one of the main 18th century-Portuguese tile painter.

Several chapels were built adjacent to the cathedral in the Middle Ages. The Chapel of the Kings (Capela dos Reis) was built around 1374 in the place where Count Henrique
Henry, Count of Portugal
Henry of Burgundy, Count of Portugal was Count of Portugal from 1093 to his death. He was brother of Hugh I, Duke of Burgundy, and Odo I, Duke of Burgundy, all sons of Henry, the heir of Robert I, Duke of Burgundy. His name is Henri in modern French, Henricus in Latin, Enrique in modern Spanish...

 and Countess Theresa
Theresa, Countess of Portugal
Theresa of Portugal was the first ruler of independent Portugal...

, parents of the first Portuguese King, were buried. Their tombs were substituted in the early 16th century by new ones, with recumbent figures.

The gothic Chapel of the Glory (Capela da Glória) was built between 1326 and 1348 to be the resting place for Archbishop Gonçalo Pereira. He commissioned a magnificent tomb for himself to sculptors Master Pero, an Aragon
Kingdom of Aragon
The Kingdom of Aragon was a medieval and early modern kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula, corresponding to the modern-day autonomous community of Aragon, in Spain...

ese, and Telo Garcia, a Portuguese. The tomb, guarded by six stone lions, has the life-size statue of the archbishop, with his head resting over a pillow held by angels. The sides of the tomb are decorated with images of the apostles and clergymen. In the early 16th century the chapel was painted with interesting geometrical motifs of Moorish influence, very similar to Sevillian tiles.

Near the cloisters is located the Chapel of Piety (Capela da Piedade) built by Archbishop Diogo de Sousa around 1513. He is buried in the chapel in a beautiful Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 tomb.

The cloisters were rebuilt in the 19th century and are of little artistic interest, but the Cathedral Museum
Cathedral Treasure
The Cathedral Treasure or Sacred Art Museum is a museum incorporated in the Braga Cathedral in Braga, Portugal.It comprises five collections: Treasure, Carving, Statuary, Azulejos and Bells.-Treasure:The treasure contains a wealth of precious items:...

keeps many interesting items. These include the magnificent manueline chalice of Archbishop Diogo de Sousa (early 16th century), the chalice of Saint Gerald
Gerald of Braga
Gerald, born in Cahors, Gascony, was a Benedictine monk at Moissac, France. He later worked with the archbishop in Toledo, Spain, and served as cathedral choir director. He later became the reforming Bishop of Braga, Portugal in 1100. Stopped ecclesiastical investiture by laymen in his...

 (10th century) and an Arab ivory box (11th century), among others.


Personalities


Important people related to Braga Cathedral include:
  • Saint Peter of Rates (São Pedro de Rates): According to legend, was first bishop of Braga between 45 and 60, appointed by Apostle Saint James the Great
    Saint James the Great
    James, son of Zebedee was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was a son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of John the Apostle...

    . His remains are supposedly kept in a chapel of the cathedral.
  • Saint Martin of Braga (c.520-580): Bishop of Braga in the 6th century. Converted the Sueves to mainstream Christianity
    Christianity
    Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

    .
  • Henry, Count of Portugal
    Henry, Count of Portugal
    Henry of Burgundy, Count of Portugal was Count of Portugal from 1093 to his death. He was brother of Hugh I, Duke of Burgundy, and Odo I, Duke of Burgundy, all sons of Henry, the heir of Robert I, Duke of Burgundy. His name is Henri in modern French, Henricus in Latin, Enrique in modern Spanish...

    (1066-1112): Henry was Count of Portugal from 1093 up to his death. He turned Braga into his capital and promoted the building of the cathedral. He is buried in a 16th-century tomb in the Chapel of the Kings.
  • Theresa, Countess of Portugal
    Theresa, Countess of Portugal
    Theresa of Portugal was the first ruler of independent Portugal...

    (1080-1130): Theresa of León was married to Count Henry in 1094. Her 16-th century tomb is also located in the Chapel of the Kings.
  • Antipope Gregory VIII
    Antipope Gregory VIII
    Gregory VIII , born Mauritius Burdinus , was antipope from 10 March 1118 until 22 April 1121.He was born in the Limousin, part of Aquitaine, Occitania, France. He was educated at Cluny, at Limoges, and in Castile, where he was a deacon at Toledo. In 1098/1099 his Cluniac connections recommended him...

    (d.1137): Maurice Bourdin (Maurício Burdino) was the second Archbishop of Braga. Of French origin, helped organise the diocese. He was involved in a dispute between Germanic Emperor Henry V
    Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
    Henry V was King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor , the fourth and last ruler of the Salian dynasty. Henry's reign coincided with the final phase of the great Investiture Controversy, which had pitted pope against emperor...

     and the Pope, and was elected (anti)Pope as Gregory VIII by the Emperor's followers.
  • Pope John XXI
    Pope John XXI
    Pope John XXI, , born Pedro Julião Pope John XXI, , born Pedro Julião Pope John XXI, , born Pedro Julião (Latin, Petrus Iulianus (c. 1215 – May 20, 1277), a Portuguese also called Pedro Hispano (Latin, Petrus Hispanus; English, Peter of Spain), was Pope from 1276 until his death about eight...

    (c.1215-1277): Born in Lisbon
    Lisbon
    Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

     as Pedro Julião, was Archbishop of Braga in the 13th century. Elected Pope in 1276.
  • Diogo de Sousa (c.1461-1532): Archbishop of Braga between 1505 and 1532, modernised both the city and the cathedral. Buried in the Chapel of Piety.
  • Saint Ovidius
    Saint Ovidius
    Saint Ovidius , also Saint Auditus, is a Portuguese saint. According to hagiographies of the 16th century, Ovidius was a Roman citizen of Sicilian origin. Tradition states that he was sent to Braga by Pope Clement I, where he served as the city's third bishop around 95...

    (martyred 135 A.D.): third Bishop of Braga, buried in the cathedral.

External links