Santarém, Portugal

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Santarém, Portugal

Region: Santarém

Geographic Coordinates: 39.233900, -8.686100
Climate: Seasonal climate and weather patterns in Santarém, Portugal.
Population: 62200
Language: Portuguese

Santarém, Located in the heart of Portugal, Is a charming city that beautifully blends history, Culture, And natural beauty. Known as the Capital of Gothic, Santarém boasts a rich heritage dating back to Roman times. This historic city lies on a hill overlooking the Tagus River and offers visitors an enchanting journey through time. One of Santarém’s most iconic landmarks is the stunning Gothic-style Church of Santa Maria da Graça. Built in the 14th century, This architectural masterpiece showcases intricate stone carvings and breathtaking stained glass windows that transport visitors to another era.

The church also houses the tomb of Pedro Álvares Cabral, The Portuguese explorer credited with discovering Brazil. For history enthusiasts, A visit to Santarém’s Castle is a must-do. Perched atop one of its hills, This medieval fortress provides panoramic views over the city and surrounding countryside. Wander through its ancient walls and discover remnants from different periods in history while imagining battles fought centuries ago. Santarém’s historical center is brimming with narrow cobblestone streets lined with traditional houses adorned with colorful tiles known as azulejos. These tiles depict scenes from local folklore and historical events—a visual feast for art lovers.

To delve deeper into Santarém’s past, Head to The Municipal Museum located in an old prison building near Portas do Sol viewpoint. Here you can explore archaeological artifacts that reveal fascinating insights into ancient civilizations that once thrived in this region. Nature enthusiasts will find solace in Santarém’s vast agricultural fields filled with vineyards and olive groves stretching as far as the eye can see. The region produces excellent wines renowned for their quality worldwide—don’t miss out on tasting some during your visit!

Furthermore, Santarém hosts several annual festivals celebrating its cultural heritage such as Festas de São José (St Joseph’s Festival) or Festas de São Pedro (St Peter’s Festival). These events bring the city to life with vibrant processions, Traditional music, And delicious local gastronomy. Santarém is a captivating destination that offers a perfect blend of history, Culture, And natural beauty. Whether you are exploring its medieval castle, Admiring Gothic architecture, Or immersing yourself in the local festivals and traditions, This city promises an unforgettable experience for all who visit.

Important Landmarks

  1. Santarém Cathedral (Catedral de Santarém): This medieval cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic architecture and features beautiful stained glass windows.
  2. Church of São João de Alporão: This Romanesque church dates back to the 12th century and is known for its intricate carvings and imposing bell tower.
  3. Portas do Sol viewpoint: Located on a hilltop, this viewpoint offers panoramic views of the city and the Tagus River.
  4. National Exhibition Center (Centro Nacional de Exposições): Known as CNEMA, this exhibition center hosts various events throughout the year, including agricultural fairs, concerts, and festivals.
  5. The Garden of Portas do Sol: Situated near the viewpoint, this garden is a peaceful spot with beautiful flowerbeds and sculptures.
  6. Casa-Museu Passos Canavarro: This museum is dedicated to José Augusto da Silva Passos Canavarro, a Portuguese politician from Santarém who played an important role during the Carnation Revolution in 1974.
  7. Igreja da Graça: Also known as Church of Grace, it is one of the oldest churches in Santarém with notable architectural elements from different periods such as Gothic and Manueline styles.
  8. Municipal Market (Mercado Municipal): A bustling market where visitors can find fresh produce, local products like cheese or wine, handicrafts, and traditional Portuguese delicacies.
  9. The Gothic Convento de São Francisco: This former Franciscan convent now serves as an arts center hosting exhibitions and cultural events throughout the year.
  10. Museu Diocesano de Santarém: Housed in a former Episcopal Palace building dating back to the 16th century; it exhibits religious art pieces including paintings by Portuguese masters.

These landmarks and attractions showcase the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of Santarém, making it a worthwhile destination for tourists.

Primary Industries

  1. Agriculture: Santarém is located in a fertile agricultural region known as Ribatejo, which is famous for its production of crops like wine grapes, olives, cereals, and fruits. The area also has a significant livestock industry with cattle breeding and dairy farming.
  2. Food Processing: Due to its rich agricultural resources, Santarém has a thriving food processing industry. Numerous companies are engaged in activities such as wine production, olive oil extraction, fruit processing (e.g., jams and preserves), meat processing (including traditional Portuguese sausages), and dairy products.
  3. Forestry: The region around Santarém has extensive forests that contribute to the forestry sector’s growth. Timber production, wood processing (such as furniture manufacturing), and cork extraction are important activities in this industry.
  4. Manufacturing: Santarém hosts various manufacturing companies producing goods like machinery parts, metal products (including aluminum), textiles (especially clothing), ceramics (tiles and pottery), paper products, plastics among others.
  5. Services: As a regional hub with historical significance and cultural attractions like monuments and festivals, Santarém attracts tourism-related services such as hotels/restaurants catering to visitors exploring the city’s heritage sites or attending events.
  6. Retail Trade: Being an economic center for the surrounding rural areas also means that there are numerous retail businesses serving both local residents’ needs and tourists visiting the city.
  7. Transportation & Logistics: Due to its strategic location between Lisbon (the capital) and other major cities in Portugal’s interior regions like Coimbra or Évora , transportation infrastructure plays a vital role in facilitating trade activities within Santarém; it serves as a transit point for goods moving across Portugal via road or rail networks.

These industries contribute significantly to Santarém’s economy by creating employment opportunities and fostering economic growth in the region.

Noteable History

  1. Roman Occupation: Santarém was originally founded by the Romans in the 2nd century BC and was known as Scallabis. The city served as an important administrative center during Roman rule.
  2. Battle of Aljubarrota (1385): One of the most significant battles in Portuguese history took place near Santarém. It was fought between the forces of King John I of Portugal and King John I of Castile during the Portuguese Crisis of 1383-1385. The Portuguese emerged victorious, securing their independence from Castile.
  3. Pedro Álvares Cabral: Born in Belmonte near Santarém, Cabral is known for leading one of the first expeditions that discovered Brazil in 1500.
  4. Fernão de Magalhães (Magellan): Although not directly associated with Santarém, Magellan’s expedition circumnavigating the globe started under Spanish patronage but included several Portuguese sailors, including Francisco Serrão from Santarém.
  5. Convento de Santa Clara-a-Nova: This convent houses the tomb of Pedro Álvares Cabral and is considered a significant historical site in Santarém.
  6. Gothic Architecture: The city boasts numerous examples of Gothic architecture, including its cathedral (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição) dating back to the 12th century.
  7. Salazar Bridge: Inaugurated in 1960, this iconic bridge connects Santarém to Almeirim over River Tagus (Rio Tejo). It stands as a symbol representing Portugal’s Estado Novo regime led by Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar.
  8. Festas do Milagre or Festa Grande: A religious festival celebrated annually on Easter Monday in Santarém. It commemorates a Eucharistic miracle that allegedly occurred in the 13th century.

These are just a few examples of historical events and notable people associated with Santarém, Portugal. The city has a rich cultural heritage and offers much more to explore for history enthusiasts.

Museums and Things To See

  1. Igreja de Marvila: A beautiful church located in the heart of Santarém, known for its stunning Gothic architecture and intricate details.
  2. Museu Diocesano de Santarém: This museum showcases a collection of religious art and artifacts from various periods, including paintings, sculptures, and tapestries.
  3. Portas do Sol viewpoint: Offering breathtaking panoramic views of Santarém and the Tagus River, this viewpoint is a must-visit spot for photography enthusiasts.
  4. Convento de São Francisco: A former Franciscan convent that now houses the Municipal Museum of Santarém. It features archaeological finds, historical artifacts, and exhibitions on local culture.
  5. Igreja da Graça: Another impressive church in Santarém with a mixture of architectural styles including Gothic and Manueline influences.
  6. Casa-Museu Anselmo Braamcamp Freire: This museum displays an extensive collection of Portuguese ceramics from different regions and eras.
  7. Torre das Cabaças (Tower of Skulls): Located near the city walls, this tower offers an interesting historical site to explore along with great views over the city.
  8. Jardim das Portas do Sol: A lovely garden located next to the Portas do Sol viewpoint where visitors can relax amidst beautiful greenery while enjoying scenic views.
  9. Centro Cultural Regional de Santarém: An art center that hosts various exhibitions, performances, concerts, and cultural events throughout the year.
  10. Roman Ruins at Villa Cardílio (Alpiarça): Just outside Santarém lies these well-preserved Roman ruins featuring mosaic floors and other archaeological remains from ancient times.

Sports Teams

  1. União Desportiva de Santarém (UDS): UDS is a football club founded in 1914 and has a rich history in the sport. The team has competed in various regional leagues throughout its existence and has had occasional appearances in national competitions such as the Portuguese Cup.
  2. Clube Amador de Miralente (CAM): CAM is a cycling club founded in 1982 and is one of the most successful cycling teams from Santarém. Over the years, CAM has participated in numerous national races, including the prestigious Volta a Portugal, producing talented cyclists who have achieved notable results.

While these are just two examples, it’s important to note that Santarém may not be as renowned for its sporting achievements compared to larger cities like Lisbon or Porto.

Cultural Events

  1. Festa de São José: Celebrated in March, this festival honors Saint Joseph, the patron saint of Santarém. It includes religious processions, traditional music and dance performances, as well as a fair with food stalls and amusement rides.
  2. Festas de S. Pedro: Held in June, this festival celebrates Saint Peter with a wide range of activities such as bullfights, live music concerts, street parades, fireworks displays, and traditional gastronomy.
  3. Festival Nacional de Gastronomia: Taking place in October or November each year since 1980, this national gastronomy festival showcases the best traditional dishes from all over Portugal. Visitors can taste a variety of regional delicacies and attend cooking workshops.
  4. Feira Nacional da Agricultura (National Agriculture Fair): This agricultural fair takes place annually in June at the National Exhibition Center in Santarém. It is one of the largest events dedicated to agriculture in Portugal and features livestock exhibitions, machinery displays, agricultural products marketplaces, conferences on farming techniques and sustainability.
  5. Semana Santa (Holy Week): During Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday each year various religious processions take place throughout Santarém’s historic streets showcasing ancient traditions dating back centuries.
  6. Festas do Almonda: Held every August in nearby Torres Novas (around 20 km from Santarém), this festival celebrates local culture through music concerts by renowned Portuguese artists along with folklore performances representing different regions of Portugal.
  7. Feira da Ascensão (Ascension Fair): Taking place around May or early June each year since medieval times; it is one of the oldest fairs held in the region offering handicrafts exhibition stalls along with traditional games like rooster fight and stick fighting.

These are just a few examples of the cultural events and festivals in Santarém, Portugal. The city has a lively calendar throughout the year, offering visitors a chance to experience its rich traditions and heritage.


  1. Sopa da Pedra: This traditional stone soup is a specialty of Santarém. It is a hearty soup made with various meats, sausages, beans, vegetables, and spices.
  2. Leitão à Bairrada: Although not exclusive to Santarém, this roasted suckling pig dish is widely enjoyed in the region. The tender meat with crispy skin is a delicacy.
  3. Açorda de Sável: Açorda is a bread-based dish often cooked with fish or seafood. In Santarém, Açorda de Sável (shad fish) is particularly popular due to the abundance of this fish in the nearby Tagus River.
  4. Pastéis de Feijão: These bean pastries are one of the most famous sweet treats in Santarém. They have a unique flavor and texture derived from combining beans with sugar and eggs.

As for restaurants that serve these local specialties:

  1. Taberna do Quinzena: Known for its authentic Portuguese cuisine, Taberna do Quinzena offers traditional dishes like sopa da pedra along with other regional favorites.
  2. O Forno d’Oro: This restaurant specializes in wood-fired oven dishes such as leitão à Bairrada (suckling pig). It has gained popularity for its delicious roasted meats.
  3. Confeitaria Nacional de Santarém: This historic bakery has been serving Pastéis de Feijão since 1897 and remains one of the best places to try this local delicacy.
  4. Casa das Enguias – Tasquinha do Pescador: Located near the Tagus River, this restaurant serves excellent seafood dishes including açorda de sável among other fresh catches from the river.

These are just a few examples, but Santarém offers a wide range of local cuisine and restaurants to explore and enjoy.

Parks and Recreation

  1. Portas do Sol Park: Located on a hilltop, this park offers stunning views of the city and the Tagus River. It has walking trails, picnic areas, and a playground.
  2. Jardim das Portas do Sol: Situated near the old town walls, this garden provides a serene environment with beautiful flowers, fountains, and benches to relax.
  3. Jardim da República: A popular park in the city center with lush greenery, trees, ponds, and sculptures. It is an ideal spot for leisurely walks or picnics.
  4. Parque da Ribeira de Santarém: This riverside park offers scenic views along with cycling paths and walking trails along the riverbanks of Tagus.
  5. Parque Urbano da Ribeira de Santarém: A large urban park featuring sports facilities like tennis courts and football fields as well as playgrounds for children.
  6. Parque Verde do Bonito: Located by the river Alviela, this park has picnic areas with barbecues available for public use along with hiking trails through nature reserves.
  7. Praia Fluvial dos Olhos d’Água: Although not technically a park but rather a river beach located nearby in Alcanede (a civil parish of Santarém), it is a popular spot for swimming during summer months.
  8. Canoagem no Rio Tejo (Canoeing on the Tagus River): The Tagus River provides opportunities for canoeing or kayaking excursions organized by local companies where visitors can explore its natural beauty from water perspective.

These are just some examples of parks and recreational activities available in Santarém; there may be more options depending on personal preferences or specific events happening at different times throughout the year.


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