Study in Braga, Portugal



Study in Braga, Portugal

By turns pious and hedonistic, communal and cosmopolitan, Braga is a complex microcosm of Portuguese society. From its scenic location in the Cavado Valley, which occupies the northern extremity of Portugal near the Spanish border, Braga exudes an air of pride and historic majesty, and has a time-honored reputation as one of the main epicenter of Catholicism in Portugal. Depending on the source (some include certain suburbs while others leave them out), it is listed as either the third of fifth most populous city in the country.
 
Braga has been continuously inhabited since the Neolithic period, making it perhaps the oldest of Portugal’s major cities, and over the course of its long existence it has occupied a prominent place in the history of the Iberian Peninsula (i.e. the area that is now Spain and Portugal). Conquered by the Romans in the last century BC, it was Christianized at a very early date – tradition holds that Braga converted to Christianity in the early 2nd century AD, although some historians doubt the accuracy of this claim. Nonetheless, it was unequivocally Christian by the 4th century, still long before the rest of the Peninsula; hence its importance a center of the Christian faith in Portugal today. After being captured and almost destroyed by the Moors, it was restored to its former status by Ferdinand I, and has remained a thriving urban center ever since. This long and desultory history is preserved in the city’s many layers of historic architecture, particularly the churches and sanctuaries that date from nearly every period of Braga’s lifespan.
 
The most noteworthy event in recent memory in Braga was the founding in 1973 of the University of Minho. Perhaps more than any other single event, this has altered the culture and personality of Braga, changing it from a sleepy city of uneventful piety to a lively college town and a major center of research and education. As of now, the University of Minho has 16,000 students  and roughly 1,000 faculty and comprises 10 separate degree-granting institutes including, among others, the School of Engineering, Institute of Education and Psychology, and the Autonomous Department of Architecture.
 
Since the coming of the university of Minho, Braga has earned a place of honor as the premier academic destination in northern Portugal. This is turn has attracted numerous laboratories, colleges, universities, and other academic institutions to set up campuses in Braga – notably the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, which has brought with it a surfeit of high-tech jobs for university graduates and engineering professionals from around the world. Many of these expatriates need instruction in the Portuguese language, and so language schools and institutes have sprung up all over Braga to meet the demand.