Braga has always been an important centre for culture, commerce and religion. The Romans dedicated it to the Emperor and called it Bracara Augusta and in 216 CE made Braga the headquarters for the province of Galicia. In the 5th century the Romans withdrew in face of the invasion of the barbarians and Braga lived 175 years under Swabian domination where they made it the capital of their Kingdom. In the 8th century, after a brief time under the Moors, the King of Oviedo, Alonso the Catholic, occupied Braga. It became part of the lands that Afonso III, King of Leon gave to Henry of Burgundy. In the 2 centuries between the Moorish invasions and the Christian Reconquest, the city suffered troubles and ruin. It was rebuilt by Bishop Pedro (1070 - 1093). From then on Braga became a very religious town, as attested to by its numerous monasteries, convents and churches. It became the fiefdom of the clergy; the nobility both high and low could not own a house and all industry served the needs of the church. Today the city owes its life to the University of Minho, founded in 1973. It is surrounded by mountains and green valleys. There are 80,000 inhabitants, who are cheerful and love to dance and sing, accompanied by the "viola braguesa" (guitar of Braga).
Work on the Roman "Bracara Augusta", a regional juridical capital, began during the reign of emperor Augustus in 27 bc. It was part of the Empire´s network criss-crossing the Iberian peninsula to link it with Rome. Demonstrating the importance of the settlement, Emperor Caracala raised it to the status of capital of Galician province in 216. In the same century, the Diocese de Braga was established under the rule of Bishop Paterno. With the decline of the Roman Empire, the city was first taken over by the Sueves, who made it their political and intellectual centre, before the Visigoths and Muslims moved in. It was mid-11th century before the city was reconquered by Christians and the archdiocese restored to Bishop Pedro. Throughout Muslim rule, the bishops had moved their place of residence to Lugo (Spain). In 1112, with archbishop Maurício Burbino, the religious history of Braga gained predominance. After a dispute with the Se in Compostela, in 1199, Pope Innocence III transferred jurisdiction over Oporto, Coimbra and Viseu, along with five other dioceses in what is now Spain, to Braga. The Se in Braga is the oldest in Portugal and was the major religious reference point throughout centuries. Thus comes the popular saying "older than the Braga Se", to denote something that is extremely old. Always subject to the ecclesiastical influence that has naturally reflected on the city´s heritage, it is possible to conclude that the 16th and 18th centuries represent peaks in its history and development. First, there was the role of the Archbishop Diogo de Sousa, "the rebuilder of Braga". As from 1505 he took over civil and religious rule and set about transforming the "village into a city" (in his own words). Then came Archbishops Rodrigo de Moura Teles and José de Bragança who left behind the exuberant Baroque style. Industrialisation and the founding of a university did much to contribute to the current development of the city that has held onto both secular and religious traditions. This is played out every year during events in Holy Week or the Festival of St. John the Baptist in June. These are wonderful opportunities to visit Braga, touring its Historic Centre or reliving the Pilgrimages to Santiago that would pass through here. Outside the city, there is the Way of the Marian Sanctuaries or the particular charm of the Cordophone Museum. Just as people did in the Renaissance, enter Braga by the Porta Nova Archway. It is here that the keys to the city are kept - keys to a thousand year-old city whose monuments serve as reminders of the awesome power once wielded by its bishops. Back in Roman times, emperor Caracala raised Bracara Augusta to the status of capital of Galécia, now Galicia. After the Romans came the Sueves, Visigoths and Moors before the Christians took possession in the 11th century. Braga's cathedral is the oldest in the country, a fact reflected in the popular saying "as old as the Braga Se" to refer to anything that has withstood the test of time. The city's ecclesiastical power, in medieval times commonly associated with the sword, extended out across the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal. Around the Braga Cathedral Se, monuments were added with the passing of time. In the 16th century, archbishop Diogo de Sousa, impressed with the Rome of Pope Julius II, set about creating the decorative grace of the Renaissance. Later, the exuberance of the Baroque period would result in other equally splendid buildings. But city has reminders of all eras, such as a mid-street medieval tower, or window shutters designed to hide the female form or a Rocaille palace that looks like a Luis 15th commode. In more recent times, the opening of the University and the quality of the contemporary architecture has generated a youthful influx as well as all the light, colour and unpredictability of the modern world.