Sanctuary of Bom Jesus, Braga
The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, in Braga, in the Northwest of Portugal, is an architectural and landscape ensemble rebuilt and enlarged over a period of more than 600 years. It consists of a long and complex Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), extending along the slope of Mount Espinho, and leading the pilgrims through chapels that house sculptures evoking the passion of Christ as well as fountains, sculptures and formal gardens. The property is surrounded by a densely wooded area forming a picturesque park of naturalised lakes, artificial caves, buildings and different structures. Sanctuary and woodland are indissociable as the mount was shaped to welcome the Sanctuary; they complete each other creating one ensemble of high landscape and architectural value; together they form a sacred mount with an area of approximately 30 ha.
The architectural and landscape ensemble of the Sanctuaryof Bom Jesus do Monte illustrates a European tradition of creating sacred mounts (Sacri Monti) promoted by the Council of Trent. The sacred mount witnesses different periods in the history of the city and of the archdiocese of Braga. It stands out for its unique formal and symbolic complexity; an unprecedented dimension in the context of European sacred mounts; and also for its Baroque style and a grand religious narrative typical of the Counter-Reformation.
Noteworthy is a monumental stairway combining models of conception and aesthetic preferences of each construction time that are consummated in a piece of great unity and harmony, as the mount and the stairway blend into each other. The stairwayis organised into two sections: (1) the moments prior to the death of Jesus Christ ending at the church, scene of the resurrection of Christ, and (2) the glorious life of the risen Christ which culminates in the Terreiro dos Evangelistas (Yard of the Evangelists), the authors of the entire narrative inscribed along the stairway.
The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is a unique expression of the combination of the tangible and the intangible nature of the sacred dimension of human life and a complete and complex representation of the human constructive genius.