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Portugal 2027, A journey among the 12 candidate cities: Braga

Braga27, Composição do Ar Braga27, Composição do Ar Photo by Lais Pereira

Ecocnews continues its journey among the 12 Portuguese cities that are candidates for European capital of culture for 2027. We asked all the application teams three same questions. After Leiria, Ponta Delgada and Evora, today EcocNews makes a stop in Braga.

 Braga (193,333 inhabitants) is a city in the far north of Portugal, northeast of Porto. Braga is a lively city, one of the oldest in the country, and is teeming with young people who study at its universities.

Built more than 2,000 years ago, “Bracara Augusta” was, as the name indicates, founded by Augustus; it was located on one of the main Roman roads in the Iberian Peninsula, since it was the administrative seat of the Empire, and later given the status of capital of the Roman province of Gallaecia, present-day Galicia, by Emperor Caracalla. The Braga Diocese is the oldest in Portugal and, in the Middle Ages, the city even competed with Santiago de Compostela in power and importance. One of the Camiños de Santiago passed through here, when this pilgrimage cult grew with the Christian reconquest and the foundation of Portugal.

Braga’s Cathedral is also the oldest in the country and was built in the 12th century by the parents of Portugal’s first King, D. Henrique and D. Teresa, who are buried there. Braga is to this day one of the country’s main religious centres, having the Holy Week Celebrations and the São João Festival as the highlights in its liturgical and tourist calendar.

In the Braga’27 bid book for the European Capital of Culture, they call for the urgency of having time to act in harmony with art, with the community, with nature, and with Europe.

What is the title of your first bidbook?  

"Time for Contemplaction". Our concept comes from the belief that only contemplative societies and communities can bring forward a new consciousness to set in action a more inclusive, fair, and sustainable Europe. Braga’s history and the built landscape are deeply rooted in faith and religion and, as such, in spirituality. Spirituality is nothing more and nothing less than the opportunity for (re)encounter with fundamental human questions. Individually and collectively.

How are you involving citizens in this journey?  

We see every moment of communication as an opportunity to reach out to citizens and collect their views and wishes. Our social media platforms are a space for dialogue, and our website is always open by inviting contributions, with a special “Take part” menu where people can leave ideas, join our bank of volunteers, or apply for calls. Our bid book itself is the result of a listening process that started in 2018 and included individual interviews, group sessions, 8 editions of our “Let’s talk” newspaper, 8 radio talks, and weekly vox pop at the local radio station, presence at different municipal cultural events, artistic residencies, community concerts and performances, sessions in schools, creative workshops, and more. In total, more than 3000 people attended our talks, activities, and community performances.

We also launched an open call for artists and cultural operators based in Braga to submit artistic projects, that received a significant number of 116 proposals. 40 projects were selected and included in the cultural programme. 

What objectives do you intend to achieve?

The challenge of the European Capital of Culture is our opportunity, as people from Braga, to write a new chapter in the long history that unites our city to Europe. It is a new moment in which culture and well-being – physical, emotional, and spiritual – become key elements of a development strategy according to which local issues are addressed in a global approach. We believe that the recent Covid-19 pandemic has clearly shown us how decisive the moment we live today is: this is the time for change.

 

 

Serafino Paternoster

Ecocnews Founder, Journalist, repentant jazz guitarist, music critic and film lover.

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