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Braga Monuments: Photo courtesy of Carlos Sa

Wednesday, August 8:
Travel from Porto to Parque Nacional da Penêda-Gerês (Penêda-Gerês National Park, or simply, Gerês) by way of Braga

It’s a two-hour drive by van to Portugal’s only National Park, but we will break up the trip to Gerês by stopping in the city of Bragaalong the way. Founded by the Celts in 300 B.C., the historic city of Bragabecame a Roman center in 27 B.C. as the Roman Empire tried to connect the Iberian peninsula to Rome.With the decline of the empire,Bragawas alternately controlled by the Suevi (a Germanic confederation of people in first century A.D.) and later, the Visigoths and Muslims.Bragawas reconquered by the Christians in the mid-11th century. 

9:00h: Depart for Braga by van.

10:00h: Visit monuments in Braga. 

The diocese (or Se) of Bragais the oldest and most respected in Portugal, as it dominated the religious landscape for centuries. About three dozen historic churches reflect this heritage. We will visit the Sé de Braga (Braga Cathedral), the oldest in Portugal, whose construction began in 1070and features Gothic arches (15th century) but Baroque towers (17th century) and Romanesque and Manueline influences, as well. Adjacent chapels added in the Middle Ages include the Capela dos Reis (Chapel of the Kings) built in 1374 where the parents of the first Portuguese king were buried, and the Capela da Piedade (Chapel of Piety), built in 1513 for Archbishop Diogo de Sousa. 

However, the most notable structure in Braga is a masterpiece of European baroque architecture and the most photographed church in Portugal: the Santuario do Bom Jesus do Monte (Bom Jesus Sanctuary), located three miles east of town. Built in 1784, the twin-spired church sits atop a magnificent zigzag staircase incorporating the Stations of the Cross, a Stairway of the Five Senses and a Stairway of the Three Virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity). Each landing has a fountain. The steps symbolize the spiritual journey believers must undertake (overcoming your senses and embracing the three virtues) to gain salvation. Pilgrims will climb the 600 stairs on their knees. 

Other monuments, chapels, bridges, museums, and castles abound.BragaisPortugal’s third largest city, after Lisbon and Porto. 

12:00h: Pack lunch, and travel from Braga to Gerês (40 mins by van)

Gerês is in the northeastern part of Portugal bordering Spain, and is the only protected land in Portugal to receive the designation of National Park. In 1997 the two governments created a Gerês-Xurés Cross-border Park, promising to mutually protect the land and the plant and animal species inhabiting it.

13:00h: Admittance to a unique and charming hotel in Penêda-Gerês National Park

14:00h: Run 15 km in Penêda-Gerês National Park

17:00h: Visit community olive oil mill, and learn about regional products. Though protected land, Gerês integrates civilization with nature; you will meet people who truly live off — and love — the land, as they have for centuries.

Check out Carlos Sá’s Trail Adventure video: we will run through one of the world’s most rugged, rocky and beautifully serene mountain terrains, featuring bio-diverse flora and fauna, valleys with rivers and waterfalls, and breathtaking landscapes. 

20:00h: Dinner in Hotel in Gerês