Santarém is an important and historical town situated in the centre of Portugal, in the once called Rebatejo (meaning “above the river Tagus”) region. In fact, Santarém is one of the most ancient and historical cities in the country, which foundation has mythical origins, reporting to the Greco-roman mythology and also Christian. The first documented archaeological vestiges date back to the 8th century b.C.. In 138 b.C the Romans arrived to the previous village, designating it of “Scallabis” and transforming the locality in the major trading centre in the Middle Tagus river region and one of the most important administrative centres in the Lusitânia province.
Santarém also possesses a strong heritage from the Moorish occupation period, that here developed military, cultural and artistic basis, and afterwards, during the Christian conquest, the already quite developed town of Santarém was re-conquered by the 1st Portuguese King, D. Afonso Henriques, in 1147, setting the basis for the solidification of the Country.
Santarém has several notable Monuments, and is also known as “Gothic Capital” for its many monuments built in the Gothic Period, according to this architectural and decorative style, although many of them were destroyed or changed over the centuries.
The religious feature is quite visible all over town, with all its many churches, monasteries and convents, like the Nossa Senhora da Piedade, Marvila, Santa Clara, Santíssimo Milagre, Misericórdia, Jesus Cristo, Seminário, Santa Cruz, Santa Iria, São João de Alporão (with a good archaeological museum), Santo Estevão and São Nicolau Churches, or the fantastic gothic-style Graça Church, or even the São Francisco Convent, or the lovely Nossa Senhora do Monte Chapel: religion and artwork are present all over Santarém.
The historical centre is characterized by its lovely narrow and winding street net, with different colours and shapes, where history seems to be present on every corner, providing pleasant walks, with small traditional shops and services.
The “Portas do Sol” is the most famous and notable viewpoint in the town, with a nice garden, providing a wonderful panorama over the Tagus river and its estuary and all the surrounding nature. It is possible to observe part of the ancient defensive town walls.
The Gastronomy of the region is quite famous and present on the many restaurants in all the Santarém borough. Every year takes place in Santarem the most famous culinary festival in the country, in the second half of October, and also the quite prestige National Agriculture Fair, on the first week of June.