It's exciting when we see a castle towering majestically above a modern city. It simply adds a bit of drama to the scenery and sparks your imagination. The small city of Bragança in the northeast of Portugal has exactly that characteristic. From the modern part of the city, you can climb a modestly steep hill to be greeted by the medieval Bragança castle. The castle and surrounding fortification walls are very well preserved, which hides its turbulent history and makes it easy to imagine what life must have been like inside the castle many centuries ago.
The castle's military purpose is clear from the outside, and the walls are cold and imposing, but the moment you enter through the main gate, the perception changes. Inside, the castle feels more like a functioning village than a military facility.
It is really worth walking through all the small streets and discover the different aspects of the village. It's very much alive and lived in: stray cats and dogs make the castle their home, residents peek out the window to see who comes and goes — sometimes a greeting; families get together for a coffee, students chill, and curious tourists explore all corners.
The castle's massive walls are fully accessible, and you can — and should — walk around the entire facility. It's an excellent way to take in the surrounding landscape views and see the village from many interesting angles.
Right in the heart of the castle is the tower in which the military museum is located. The entrance costs 3€ and gives you access to many different rooms to see weapons of all kinds and other military equipment — slightly less exciting than its surroundings. If your goal is to climb to the top of the tower to see the view, please be aware that the access is poorly done with steep wooden stairs — not recommended for anyone with mobility issues — and not always open.
Note: The museum is closed on Mondays and bank holidays.
And the best part? Inside the castle, you will find three — yes, three — excellent restaurants, which make it worth planning your visit with a lunch break in mind. "Contradição", whose chefs have a Michelin Star; "Javali", with a Michelin Guide and "Tasca do Zé Tuga" with a Masterchef's Portugal winner and a Michelin Guide as well.