This is the place where it all started. This is where my passion for walking arose. It was faith (or coincidence or the universe or whatever you call it) that brought me to the place where I live now, at the foot of Bom Jesus in Braga.
Very soon after moving here I discovered I could walk up to the Pórtico, the entrance of the staircase. It’s at about 2 km of walking distance from my place. I also discovered that walking up there, climbing the stairs and taking another road through the village back home had a particular impact on my mindset, time and time again. Like if something magical happens. Actually it’s ‘just’ the effect of walking and being in this particular surrounding that causes this soothing effect. When you clear your mind, there is space for new ideas. Inspirational, that’s the least you can say!
The site of Bom Jesus do Monte is so much more than this magnificent historical construction. It is so much more than the 600 stairs that lead to the basilica on top of the mountain. It is much more than the monument that was added to the list of Unesco World Heritage a couple of years ago. It is so much more than the symbolism the construction shows.
Bom Jesus do Monte is a metaphor for life. You step through the main gate down at the stairs. You can’t see the top from down there. It feels like the top is hard to reach. So, you know you’ll have to climb and that you will have to make an effort. You have to climb 200 metres and when you start climbing you can only see the first bend. You walk from bend to bend, just like it happens in life. What comes after the bend only reveals at the time when you get there. The first part of the stairs is very wide and pretty easy to climb. You are protected from sun, rain and wind by the trees alongside the stairs. At some points the trees are in the way to have a good view. But where trees have fallen, the view is wide and clear. Dead trees are replaced by new ones but the roots of very old trees are not removed. They all make a whole.
When you’re halfway you can have a rest. Literally, but also in a figurative way. You can look back at the way you walked. And you can look ahead at the way you still have to go. The second part of the stairs is narrow and steep. And you can choose your path, either left or right. Just like you always have choices to make in life. And every choice has its consequences
When you arrive at the top, you are overwhelmed by the view of the static basilica and the beautiful square. The garden is very well kept, every day of the year. And when you turn around, you have this phenomenal view over the city of Braga. And an enormous sense of accomplishment because you have reached the top.
The square is a meeting point for tourists. In summer it is very crowded and everyone wants to find a spot on the terrace where you have this magnificent view over Braga.
What very few people know is when you walk further on, you end up in a beautiful park behind the basilica. Just like when you’re caught by surprise in life. You don’t expect it and you don’t see it happen, but all of a sudden it is there for you to enjoy.
In my job, when I guide companies and entrepreneurs, I like to use metaphors to explain things in a simple and understandable way. In this respect Bom Jesus is a gift from heaven. Insights and overviews simply pop up when you’re walking the stairs of Bom Jesus. You take the enrichment with you.
Visiting Bom Jesus is more than a visit of a tourist attraction to me. It’s an experience with a deeper dimension. Time and time again. An experience I want to pass on and share with others. When we climb the stairs together it’s the start of a story. Every meeting with people I don’t know, is the start of a new, heartwarming connection.
So, when you’re in Braga or if you plan to visit, let me guide you!