Bom Jesus Sanctuary, a place of devotion
Bom Jesus Sanctuary is an amazing place of devotion, which history goes back to the 13th century and is famed for its 116 meters stairway.
Ex-libris of Braga, a northern city of Portugal, Bom Jesus Sanctuary is an impressive pilgrimage place and a mandatory reference to the Baroque style in Europe. The Baroque stairway climbing 116 meters to the Sanctuary will literally take your breath away.
The site of the Sanctuary has been a place of worship ever since the 13th century when a Cross of Christ was placed on the top of Espinho mount. There are also references that indicate the existence of a chapel devoted to the Holy Cross on that same location in 1373. In 1494, under the orders of Archbishop D. Jorge da Costa, another chapel replaced the initial one; in 1522 dean D. Jorge da Guarda, increasing the devotion to the site, enlarged the chapel.
More than a century later, in 1629 a group of devotees created the Friary of Bom Jesus do Monte who carried on the development of the site by replacing the chapel with a pilgrimage church devoted to Bom Jesus (Good Jesus), along with the first six chapels dedicated to the Passion of Christ and shelters for the pilgrims.
In 1722 the Archbishop Rodrigo de Moura Telles, whose coat of arms is placed over the gateway, in the beginning of the stairway, ordered the completion of the first stairway with its chapels devoted to the Via Crucis and of the zigzag segment of the stairway with its fountains representing the Five Senses. At the end of this segment there was built a Baroque church in 1725 according to a project of the architect Manuel Pinto Vilalobos.
The Sanctuary was improved throughout the 18th century and during the 1760s in the area behind the church, the Terreiro dos Evangelistas (the Square of the Evangelists) so called due to the four Baroque fountains with images of the Evangelists there erected, were built three octagonal chapels with statues depicting scenes of the Crucifixion, including the meeting of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
In 1781 the Archbishop Gaspar de Bragança decided to complete the project by adding the final segment of the long stairway that also follows the zigzag pattern and is devoted to the Three Theological Virtues, namely Faith, Hope and Charity. A new church began to be built in 1784 to substitute the older one. The new church, designed by Carlos Amarante, has a Neoclassic style and a magnificent main altarpiece devoted to the Cruxifixion. The church was finally consecrated in 1834.
The Bom Jesus Sanctuary funicular
For those who are not able or are not willing to climb the long, long stairways, there is the funicular that became one of the city’s highlights for itself.
Built in 1882, the funicular links the city of Braga to the top of the hill. As a curiosity let me tell you that this was the first funicular ever built in the Iberian Peninsula and is water balanced.
Bom Jesus Sanctuary gallery