North of Porto, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is like no other in Portugal.
Its monumental baroque staircase is quite famous and photographed a lot because it offers visitors great perspectives.
Below is my guide to help you plan your visit to Bom Jesus Braga with photos, tips and map.
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Why visit Braga Bom Jesus in Portugal?
Is Bom Jesus in Braga worth a visit?
Yes, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is worth a visit. It is one of the best attractions in Portugal.
Located on a hill, surrounded by trees and with a giant Baroque staircase: it is a very impressive architectural piece.
Bom Jesus Facts
- Its name means Good Jesus of the Mount.
- It is located on higher grounds above Braga in a magnificent park
- The old funicular is working with a Counterbalancing system using water
- The giant baroque stairway is 116m high
- There was already a chapel in the 14th century, but the current sanctuary dates back to the 18th century.
- The 3 fountains in the zigzag staircase represent the 3 theological Virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity
- The Church has been elevated to a Minor Basilica
- From the church you have great views of the region.
- It is a fantastic playground for photographers with contrasts and geometrical shapes
- It is a Unesco Heritage Site
Below is the famous zigzag staircase of the Sacred way, what do you think?
And here is the view, not bad!
Video Virtual Tour
Below is a short video to give you an idea of what to expect: the Funicular ride, listening to the church's bells, discovering the gardens and admiring the staircase and its statues. Enjoy a virtual tour!
Photos continue after the planning tips
Planning tips & Map - Bom Jesus Braga
Where is the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte - Location & Map
- In North Portugal
- North of Porto, in the town of Braga
- 10min drive from the center of Braga town - on Mount Espinho
- Porto to Bom Jesus Braga - 50min drive
- Braga center to Bom Jesus carpark area - 10 min drive
- Guimaraes to Bom Jesus - 30 min drive
- Below is a map to help you get oriented:
This location is included (with GPS coordinates, map of location and planning info) in my travel guide eBook that helps you easily plan your Portugal road trip:
Plan your ideal road trip around Portugal
How to get to Bom Jesus in Braga
- It is very easy to visit by car
- Large carpark at the bottom
- Or you can book an organized excursion from Porto (day trip). It is combined with Braga and the Unesco Town of Guimaraes. Check out Program and Book
Need to rent a car in Portugal?
- Compare car rental prices on my favorite platform: Discovercars.com - one of the best rated sites!
- Choose the car and company you prefer (remember the villages narrow streets)
- Consider their full coverage option - I always take it for peace of mind!
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
See all my 36 tips in my Portugal car rental article.
- Bom Jesus Braga opening hours - Funicular: 8am to 8pm
- Bom Jesus Braga entrance fee - free access - 2€ for funicular return trip
- Toilets at the parking lot at the bottom and near the church at the top (small fee)
- Café at the top
How many steps in Bom Jesus Braga?
From the carpark to the church, I have counted 575 steps (some sites say 573 or 577).
If you have bad knees, I recommend taking the funicular one way and the staircase the other way.
If you get up to the church with the funicular and want to see the zigzag staircase from the bottom. There is 250 steps down.
Where to stay in Braga & Bom Jesus
- AT BOM JESUS - You can stay at Hotel do Parque Braga (referred to as the Bom Jesus Hotel) in a prime location in the Bom Jesus Park with panoramic views. The hotel has beautiful design and a great restaurant. Check out Photos and Book
- B&B BRAGA CENTER - The Domus 26 B&B is very central to Braga allowing you to walk everywhere in the old city. Large rooms, helpful staff and tasty breakfast. What more do you want? Check out photos and book
- GUESTHOUSE BRAGA CENTER - The Old City Guesthouse is so charming with beautiful furniture and a great atmosphere. They even have a family suite that sleeps 5! Check out photos and book
- AMAZING FLAT WITH VIEW - Found this great flat located at the top of the old city. A fantastic place to stay and admire sunset every evening - Check out the penthouse and book
- Or check out the best rated accommodations in Braga
Access via Bom Jesus Funicular (Elevator)
How to get up to Bom Jesus Church
As you will see in the next section, the traditional way of getting up to the church is via the stairs, the sacred way.
However if climbing 575 stairs is bad for your knees, you can take the funicular.
Just to the left of the entrance is a smaller parking lot with the access.
It costs 2.50€ return or 1.50€ one-way.
The ride up the hill runs every 10 minutes and does not take long.
Construction started in 1880 as designed by Raul Mesnier du Ponsard. And it was such a success that he was asked to design more in Lisbon. It uses 2 tracks and each cabin can transport 30 people.
Each cabin has a water tank that functions as counterweight. At the top of the hill, the reservoir is filled with water to make the cabin descend. Both cars arrive at their stops simultaneously.
Learn more about its history and engineering here.
Note that if you take the funicular you reach the level of the church. To see the perspective on the staircase you will have to either walk down and back up 250 steps or walk down the complete 575 steps back to the parking lot.
Sacred way to Bom Jesus do Monte - Via Crucis
There are 2 sections to reach the church. Here is the first one that leads to the bottom of the zigzag baroque stairway.
Staircase entrance - The Portico
The Portico of Bom Jesus marks the beginning of the climb.
It is a granite structure forming an arch.
At the top you can see a decor: the coat of arms of Archbishop D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles.
And, as you can see in the picture below, there are fountains on each side. One is the fountain of the Moon and the other in the fountain of the Sun.
This first part of the climb is very enjoyable as you are walking under the trees alternating flat path and stairs.
On the way you can see chapels dedicated to the Sacred Way.
If you look inside, you will see that they are decorated with terra cotta sculptures depicting the Passion of the Christ.
- Chapel of the Last Supper
- Chapel of the Agony
- Chapel of the Betrayal
- Chapel of the Darkeness
- Chapel of the Flagellation
Nowadays there are 19 chapels.
Baroque staircases of the 3 virtues and Five Senses
And now I am sharing about the best part of the Sanctuary, the zigzag staircase of the Via Crucis, the Sacred Way.
It is composed of 2 sections.
Stairway fo the 5 senses
The bottom part of the zigzag staircase represents the 5 senses and is even more impressive because of the perspective of 5 levels.
It is full of walls, fountains, ornaments and statues.
The granite buildings have whitewashed plaster façades, framed by exposed stonework
6 fountains are aligned in the middle: the Fountain of Five Wounds and those of the 5 senses.
And here is a photo from the bottom of the zigzag stairway (still have 325 steps to climb down in order to reach the parking lot).
Stairway of the 3 Virtues
The top one has 3 fountains for the 3 Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. In the picture below you can see the alignment of the 3 fountains.
Interior of the Church at Bom Jesus do Monte (Basilica)
And here is the church as the top, a Basilica.
Its style is Baroque. It is not that big, and the real attraction is the staircase.
However I recommend waiting a little bit at the top to hear the bells ring. It is quite nice.
Inside, the design from the 19th century is quite elegant. As you will see below in the photos the main altar is dedicated to the Crucifixion.
Gardens and Statues
Before heading down the stairs, you can enjoy beautiful gardens. You can also go and explore some trails in the dense forest; They will take you to artificial lakes and grottoes.
Take the time to admire the many statues around the garden and staircases. They are all looking towards the fantastic view of Braga and its surrounding hills.
It is facing towards the West, and on a very clear day you can see the ocean.
History and FAQs
Who built Bom Jesus do Monte? When?
The fascinating sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte was designed by André Soares and built by Carlos Amarante.
The church was built between 1784 and 1811. However the ensemble was developed over 600 years (first only with chapels).
What does Bom Jesus mean?
Bom Jesus in Portuguese means Holy Jesus or Good Jesus.
"Do Monte" refers to the fact that it is on a hill.
There are many Bom Jesus church in the World. Another famous one is in Goa, India.
This one is Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga.
Want to see more of the best Portugal has to offer?
- 30 Most beautiful landscapes in Portugal - read article
- Best things to do in Portugal - read article
- The best beaches in Portugal - read article
- The best villages in Portugal - read article
- Lisbon vs Porto - where to go? - read article
- Driving in Portugal - read article
- The best of the Algarve region - read article
- The highlights of Sintra and the Sintra-Cascais Nature park - read article
Planning a trip to Portugal?
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