Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Capacity Building
Credibility of the World Heritage ...
Inscriptions on the World Heritage ...
International Assistance
List of World Heritage in Danger
Operational Guidelines
Outstanding Universal Value
Periodic Reporting
Reinforced Monitoring
Tentative Lists
Working methods and tools
World Heritage Convention

Decision 43 COM 8B.31
Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga (Portugal)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/19/43.COM/8B and WHC/19/43.COM/INF.8B1,
  2. Inscribes the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, Portugal, on the World Heritage List as a cultural landscape on the basis of criterion (iv);
  3. Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

    Brief synthesis

    Located in the city of Braga, in the North of Portugal, the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is built facing west and has expansive views, at times of the ocean itself, overlooking the whole city of Braga, the Bracara Augusta founded in roman times of which it is historically inseparable. The sanctuary is a type of architectural and landscape ensemble rebuilt and enhanced throughout a period of over 600 years, mainly defined by a long and complex Viae Crucis expanding up the hill, leading pilgrims through chapels that house sculptural collections evoking the Passion of Christ, fountains, sculptures and formal gardens. It is inscribed in an enclosure of 26ha, totally accessible to the public. It belongs to the Confraternity of Bom Jesus do Monte, the institution that continuously overlooks the place for almost 400 years.

    The landscape and architectural ensemble of the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is part of a European project for the creation of Sacri Monti, spurred by the Council of Trent, embodying a sacred mount which has witnessed several moments in the history of the city of Braga and its archdiocese, reaching a unique formal and symbolic complexity and an unprecedented monumental character and dimension in the context of European sacred mounts, with a baroque style and a grand religious narrative, typical of the Counter-Reformation.

    It is a complete and complex manifestation resulting from a creative-genius, a monumental stairway where the conception models and esthetic preferences clearly represent the different periods of its construction, culminating in a piece of great unity and harmony. It is organized in two sections: (1) the moments before Jesus Christ’s death, ending in the church and (2) the glorious life of Christ resurrected culminating in the Yard of the Evangelists. Enclosure and sanctuary blend together resulting in a cultural landscape.

    The study made on Bom Jesus do Monte has shown that the history of its construction is extremely rich in events and initiatives, highlighted by important personalities, allowing for several time periods to be defined, since its inception to the present day. Its evolution throughout the centuries has allowed for a continual integration of the elements, within the same religious narrative, reaching its highest point during the baroque period. Its execution was possible through an extraordinary mobilization of resources, namely through alms and offerings, representing a continual and determined effort throughout generations, over a period of more than six centuries. The result is a high quality and solid construction, where we find a concentration of artistic and technical expression, a landscape where, together with water, granite is celebrated, sculpted within a luxurious “nature”, perfectly integrated into the landscape.

    Criterion (iv): The sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte is an extraordinary example of a sacred mount with an unprecedented monumentality determined by a complete and elaborate narrative of the Passion of Christ of great importance to the history of humanity. It embodies traits that identify roman Catholicism such as externalization of celebration, community sense, theatricality and life as a permanent and inexhaustible journey.

    The sanctuary stands out due to its impact and affirmation in the landscape, the architectural and decorative originality of its stairways, the strong sensations generated when visiting it, characteristic of its baroque character. The unity of the sanctuary within its enclosure is a distinctive factor, that generates tremendous formal and functional harmony. It is a masterpiece, resulting from creative genius, integrating a set of monumental stairways, displaying models of design, taste and aesthetic preferences of each period of construction, consummated in an ensemble of great unity and harmony leading to a cultural landscape. The unity of the architectural ensemble and its high artistic quality don’t only result from its overall design and organization, structure and composition, but also from the predominant use of granite, which endows the sanctuary with a significant sculptural and plastic dimension. Retaining and dividing walls, stairways, buildings, fountains, pavements, ornaments and an impressive and unprecedented set of statues are all made of granite, resulting in a work of high construction quality. The contrast between the whitewashed granite, on the one hand, and the surrounding lush green park and wood, on the other, decisively contributes to the sanctuary’s baroque character. The property reflects also a concentration of technical ingenuity (hydraulics, supports for the terrain, built structures, mechanics) and of artistic expression (architecture, sculpture, painting).


    The formal and functional composition of the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte and its enclosure remains intact and its essential character has been preserved.

    The historical physical context has remained practically intact up to the present day and, although it combines several stages of evolution of significant artistic interest, the ensemble has retained its overall integrity, in terms of materials and modes of execution. The history of the locale reveals that the sanctuary’s physical dimension has evolved to ensure its religious dimension, while it has simultaneously affirmed itself as a place of villegiatura. This physical expansion has broadly encompassed the legacies handed down from previous historical periods. Today, the sanctuary and its enclosure retain all the elements that reflect the values and importance of the locale.

    The attributes of the structural and ornamental materials: granite walls, stairways, patios, gardens, chapels, church, fountains and statues, associated with the presence of water and of decisive importance for the locale’s artistic and symbolic dimension and for interpretation of the overall narrative of the locale, as well as the surrounding woodlands and park have remained intact, and guarantee the completeness of the narrative and integrity of the ensemble. In other words, the property is in a good state of preservation.

    From an overall assessment, it follows that the general state of preservation of the property is good. Recently a project regarding the requalification of the heritage was carried out, namely through the preservation and restoration of the façades and roofing of the church, ten chapels of the Viae Crucis, including its exterior and the interior sculptures and murals, and some stretches of the stairways. A new phase is about to start bringing the property to a general state of good condition. The hotel units and other facilities surrounding the Sanctuary such as the funicular, Casa das Estampas, Colunata de Eventos recently underwent some restoration works and are thus in a good state of preservation. The park and the wood are also in a good state of preservation but for some steepest areas and the presence of old decaying trees and some invasive species, typical of a 150 years old park.

    The sanctuary of Bom Jesus and its enclosure represent almost four centuries of continued management of the property by a single entity: the Confraternity of Bom Jesus do Monte, established in 1629. The attributes of the property within the enclosure, which has clearly defined limits, are not subject to threats.


    The sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga dates back to at least the fourteenth century. It progressively acquired importance and religious and cultural significance, especially from the early seventeenth century onwards, after the Confraternity of Bom Jesus do Monte was founded. Since then, documents relating to the initiatives that were taken to enhance the sanctuary, including those which made it possible to expand its physical space and enhance the complexity of its forms and composition, have been recorded in the minutes of the meetings of the Board of the Confraternity. Monographs written about the sanctuary, descriptions provided by travelers and scholars, engravings and paintings, pilgrims’ manuals, technical drawings of building works, photographs, among other records, constitute significant primary sources of information.

    The visual and written information of illustrations - of which only those produced since the end of the eighteenth century (e.g. the survey by Carlos Amarante in 1790 and the engraving of the sanctuary, undated, possibly from the 1770s or 1780s), drawings and descriptions constitute records of significant rigour. These elements can be compared with the historical buildings that now exist and thereby confirm the authenticity of these information sources. In fact, there is significant physical evidence of the various stages of the sanctuary’s evolution - the property itself constitutes a document that testifies to its evolution over time.

    Protection and management requirements

    The protection mechanisms of the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte are defined nationally and locally, under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, through the Directorate General of Cultural Heritage (DGPC), in coordination with the regional structure, the Regional-Directorate for Culture - North (DRCNorte) and supported by a robust legal framework. The Notice no. 68/2017, of May 10, triggered opening of the procedure to extend the classification of the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, so as to encompass the entire sacred mount including the funicular, and its reclassification as a national monument. Since that time all legal provisions regarding the protection of a national monument apply to the property.

    The heritage protection instruments apply at a national and local / municipal level. National legislation ensures compliance with the requirements for protection of the listed heritage site and its buffer zone, thereby ensuring that the Outstanding Universal Value is preserved over time. Law no. 107/2001 of 8 September establishes the basis for the policy and regime for protection and enhancement of cultural heritage, in particular by indicating the classification objectives for safeguarding cultural assets, and their protection and management. On the other hand, Decree-law no. 309/2009 of October 23 defines the procedure for classification of immovable cultural property, the regime of protection zones and the establishment of rules for drawing up a detailed plan to safeguard such sites.

    At the local level, Braga City Council operates under the recently revised Municipal Master Plan which contains clear rules both for the sanctuary and the buffer-zone. National and local legislation ensures compliance with the requirements for protection of the property and its buffer zone, thereby ensuring that the Outstanding Universal Value is preserved over time.

    The Confraternity of Bom Jesus is the entity responsible for managing the monument’s heritage and religious worship. The management is made in an ecumenical manner, since the monument is simultaneously managed as a religious place and a space dedicated to the arts and culture. It is understood that only through a peaceful coexistence between these two realities a sustainable management is possible, without deteriorating its tangible and intangible assets.

    The overall objectives of management are to preserve and enhance the attributes of the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte and define sustainable practices for the management, maintenance and use of the sanctuary, the park and the wood as a cultural landscape, meaning a combined work of nature and of man.

  4. Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:
    1. Improving the documentation by fixing the inventory of heritage elements and archiving the full range of documents, improving the action plan to include all works currently in progress and those being planned, and improving the institutional links between the two municipalities and other stakeholders for fire prevention and firefighting,
    2. Finalizing the process of classifying the whole site as a National Monument,
    3. Securing funding to undertake future planned conservation works in a timely manner,
    4. Supplementing management planning in order to control visitors, including within the park,
    5. Developing additional monitoring indicators to address identified threats to the property (including its woodland), and monitoring and addressing potential threats to the property such urban expansion/development and visitor impacts,
    6. Providing a firm and more precise commitment about the timing for the removal of the terrace bar,
    7. Developing a more complete and detailed study on the understanding of existing plants supplementing the landscape attributes based on this work, and using this information to update management planning for the landscape,
  5. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2020 a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2021.
Decision Code
43 COM 8B.31
Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties 1
Decisions adopted during the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee (Baku, 2019)
Context of Decision