It’s one of the most important baroque architecture constructions of the country and the “ex-libris” of Braga. With over 250 years, the Palace of Raio (Palácio do Raio), or House of the Mexican (Casa so Mexicano) as it is also known, starts in December a new chapter of its history, opening to the city as the Interpretive Center Memories of the Mercy of Braga (Centro Interpretativo Memórias da Misericórdia de Braga).
Built between 1752 and 1755 under the design of André Soares, the palace was home to João Duarte de Faria’s family, first owner, and was acquired, already in 1853 by Miguel José Raio, that ended up giving it its name. In the late XIX century, the building, classified today as Property of Public Interest, went to Braga’s Holy House of Mercy (Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Braga. And it stayed like that until 1974.
Suring several decades received hospital services and, in 2012, returned to the Holy House of Mercy that entirely rehabilitated it, in a co-funded project by the ON.2 – O Novo Norte.
In this Interpretive Center, it will be possible to travel over the multi-century history of the Holy House of Mercy, through ten thematic groups. From Sacred Art to painting, going through the sculpture and pottery, until the jewelry and archival documentation, the permanent exhibition of the collection is presented in an interactive and dynamic way, with ambient sound effects, videos and other elements that also allow contemplating the architectonical and artistic beauty of the building.
The visit starts with the evocation of two of the biggest symbols of Braga’s architecture: André Soares e Carlos Amarante. The visitor is invited to know the story of the Sisterhood and of the Mercy of Braga, with the focus on the role played in the assistance and support to the neediest. And because talking about the Mercy is like talking about the Hospital of S. Marcos, founded in 1508, the Interpretive center shows articles linked to the apothecary and former hospital’s medical devices. Also exposed are documents from the XVI, XVII and XVIII centuries that keep the past of the health care given to the Hospital of S. Marcos.
It also stands out the immaterial heritage of the Holy House of Mercy linked to lanterns and processional flags, the farricoco and bonfires send the visitor to the procession of Lord “Ecce Homo” (Senhor Santo Cristo”, organized since the old times of the Mercy.
Director: Manuela Machado