Vila Franca de Xira is a lovely town in the Greater Lisboa region, situated in the right bank of the Tagus river, characterized by its fertile Plain terrains, called “lezírias” (a tract of marshy land alongside a river), and by its agricultural feature, very attached to horses and bulls.
The human occupation vestiges date back to very ancient epochs, even from the Lower Paleolithic, finding here the good survival conditions and the fertility of the land, along with the richness of the great Tagus river. The roman epoch also marked the region, having at that time a strong commercial activity in the region. Since early times this was a region that attracted many population, rural and piscatorial and already in the 19th century was marked by history due to the French Invasions, initializing a defensive system with lines of forts projected in secrecy between 1810 and 1812 known as “Torres Vedras Lines”.
The strong presence of the equestrian and bull influence can be observed anywhere in town, with its main exponent in the Bullring, with a interesting Ethnographic Museum, but also with the many “Ganadarias” (farms specialized in the breed of determined horses and bulls) and the Equestrian Centres of Lezíria Grande and the Morgado Lusitano. Nevertheless Vila Franca de Xira has more to offer, its simple and rural houses inhabit nowadays with manor houses from the land masters, side by side with uncharacterized high buildings from the 20th century, but also with the lovely Mother Church (1677) and Misericórdia Church, the Manueline Pillory, the charming building of the Town Hall (1893) or even the delightful Railway Station decorated with glazed tiles.
Nearby Vila Franca de Xira and not to be missed in the most ancient Sanctuary of the region: the Senhor da Boa Morte Sanctuary, in the top of a hill with a marvellous view over town and the amazing Tagus estuary.
Every year in July takes place the popular “Colete Encarnado” Fairs, when Vila Franca de Xira breads its own essence and pays homage to the countryside, with Bull races, Bull fights, shows and lots of food and beverage, receiving a large number of visitors in one of the most famous Fairs in the country.