025 – Christmas lights in Portugal – PT

In the last article we were visiting the very edge of Europe at Cabo da Roca, close to Sintra and Lisbon. So, before we conclude our visits in Portugal, there are a few more things I want to say. And in this article we shall talk about Christmas Lights.

In this article the following churches are shown:

Click on the map or here to get a better view

One day, while we were driving to Braga to see a movie at the cinema, we saw from the highway that some churches, if not the most of them, were lit with different colors. Back at the time, we were living in Spain, in Galicia, and there the cinemas/movies are in Spanish only. So if we wanted to see a movie with the original sound/voice, we had to cross the border to Portugal.

The next day, back at work, I asked my Portuguese colleagues, why is it that the churches have “Christmas lights” decorations on them and not just projectors (as seen in big cities) but hundreds of light bulbs. They said that this is the tradition in the north, and there are many churches who do that, in fact the number keeps going up (this was in 2017).

Then I returned for holiday home, and when we came back we had little to no time to visit again Portugal and make some photos.

By some luck, the next year we were still in Galicia, so did a few errands to Porto and Braga. During those trips I pinned on my Maps.me app some churches that looked promising (or that I thought looked good, because they were kind of far away).

So one night, we packed the cameras, a tripod, a flashlight and lots of coffee. We left Vigo (Galicia/Spain) and headed towards Braga in Portugal. Rechecked on the road that the churches that I pinned are where I think they are (used a compass for the first time), and as the night was coming fast we reached Braga. We left the main road and went towards our first stop:

025.1 Martim Church, near Braga

Next we drove slowly on the dark department roads until we saw, up on a hill, a bright lit church. It was just a little bit north of Cervaes. From there we could even see Braga and the most brightly lit spot: Bom Jesus Cathedral.

025.2 Santuário de Nossa Senhora do Bom Despacho

Also at this church we were not alone, so we actually followed more cars, as this church, apparently was well known, or the park from where you can see the whole Braga, is famous.

025.3 View over Braga and the Bom Jesus

While driving on the narrow streets we came to the conclusion that it is very easy to spot the churches from the highway, but not that easy when you are on regular roads, as we are climbing down a hill, or going up, always surrounded by trees (forest), and it was pitch dark. It is true that seeing Christmas Lights does help, but there are so many roads to take and in some cases we even ended up on the wrong direction.

025.4 Igreja Nova (Igreja Paroquial de Santa Maria

For Arcozelo we even stopped on the side of the road as almost no cars were passing. And when we heard one coming from afar, so we got this long exposure photo:

025.5 Igreja de Arcozelo

After multiple churches that had no lights on them, (meaning that the one I saw in the area from the highway, was not really in that town) we decided to go faster to Anais, and then head back home.

The church from Anais is also in the classing White walls, Grey stone pillars and Azulejos ceramic tiles decorating the façade. Also it was on top of a hill, surrounded by a garden of flowers. We took many photos with the flowers also, but while processing the photos, the coloring did not look right, so we chose this detail shot instead.

025.6 Igreja de Anais (Santa Marinha)

From here we found our way back to the main road.

Somehow, being back in the traffic, with “civilization” around us, gave us a bit more energy. So curiosity pushed us to Ponte de Lima, the historical roman city, featured also here.

025.7 Ponte de Lima Old Town

As you can see, the community of Ponte de Lima did not really go for the multicolored Christmas lights, but dressed the central area in uniform white bulbs.

025.8 Capela Santo Antonio

Does look more classy doesn’t it?

025.9 25 de Abril street

Now if you search on the internet, you will see that Portugal is not be unique in this tradition, and surely there are bigger Cathedrals in the country that are filled with lights, not just small churches, but I did not see them, yet.

What I wanted to capture, was that even the smallest of the communities, would go on the trend, decorate the church and even the road leading to the church, and give quite an unique spectacle to be watched at night, from the highway.

Do note that the most churches I saw were from Galicia (Spain) to Braga. There are also towards Porto, but they were even more scarce back in 2017. And this tradition is seldom seen in the south of Portugal as most Christians live in the north. Having said that we never went more south at night, than Porto. I just trusted what my colleagues told me.

I will end this article for now and see you at our next destination. Thank you for visiting our website!


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