Santarém – Accessible Tour
In the heart of Ribatejo, a region of great traditions linked to the breeding of horses and bulls, the city of Santarém is situated on a plateau, with a wonderful view over the course of the River Tagus and the surrounding flat floodplain. The best viewpoint is the Jardim das Portas do Sol within the precincts of the castle, which is also the starting point for the route that we suggest.
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Although long, this route follows streets that are mostly flat and have a regular and stable surface, in a good state of repair, allowing safe and relatively trouble-free movement. It begins right at the highest point of the city - the Jardim das Portas do Sol (1) - an extensive, fully accessible space. However, not everyone can enjoy the view from the battlements of the walls since the access to this area is only possible by means of steps.
Jardim das Portas do Sol - Santarém © Shutterstock | StockPhotosArt
The route continues along Avenida 5 de Outubro and goes past the Torre das Cabaças where the Núcleo Museológico do Tempo (Museological Centre of Time) (5) is housed. This museum is inaccessible to people with impaired mobility, because the interior is quite small and you have to climb some stairs to reach the top floor. A little further ahead is the Church of São João de Alporão where we find the Núcleo Museológico de Arte e Arqueologia (Museum of Art and Archaeology) (4) but at present you can only admire it from outside as it is closed to the public. This is one of the many Gothic monuments in Santarém, the profusion of which has earned it the title of "Gothic capital”, and it is even possible to appreciate the different phases that have characterised this style.
Igreja de São João de Alporão - Santarém © Shutterstock | StockPhotosArt
The next place to visit is the Igreja da Graça (Church or Grace) (2) in the Flamboyant Gothic style, clearly seen in the exuberance of its main doorway and the magnificent rose window. Access to the inside involves going down some steps that cannot be negotiated without help. However, the interior is spacious and obstacle free. In this church you will find the tomb of Pedro Álvares Cabral who discovered Brazil in 1500. Next to it is the house where he is thought to have lived for some time. It was turned into the Casa Brasil (Brazil House)(3). This space, which cannot be accessed independently, evokes the connection between the two countries and offers a cultural programme with various activities, which can be adapted for people with special needs by prior appointment.
Igreja da Graça - Santarém © José Manuel
Nearby is the Igreja de Santa Maria de Marvila (Church of Santa Maria de Marvila) (6). It was founded by the Knights Templar in the 12th century and boasts a beautiful Gothic doorway dating from the 16th century. At the entrance there is a step that prevents independent access to the interior, which is completely covered with panels of tiles that show the different variants of this decorative art in the 17th century.
Praça Sá da Bandeira - Santarém © Shutterstock | StockPhotosArt
Continue along Rua Serpa Pinto as far as Praça Sá da Bandeira (8) to visit the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição) (9) (also known as the Seminary Church), which is the Cathedral of Santarém. This Mannerist temple has a flight of steps at the entrance, but people with limited mobility can enter the Diocesan Museum by means of a ramp. Inside, it is spacious with the occasional barrier. The Baroque style predominates. The Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Piedade (Church of Our Lady of Mercy) (7) stands in the same square. It has a centralised floor plan in the form of Greek cross and is completely accessible.
Igreja de Santa Clara - Santarém © Shutterstock | StockPhotosArt
Continuing down the street 31 January we will find the Convento de São Francisco (Convent of São Francisco) (10) founded in the 13th century, in the Gothic style. Entry via a ramp enables access for all, but although the interior is spacious there are obstacles at various points. A little further on is the Igreja de Santa Clara (Church of Santa Clara) (11), which, because it belongs to an enclosed order has no door in its main façade, so access is only possible through a side door that has a ramp. It is another Gothic church but in this case the style is more austere and known as “mendicant Gothic”. And it is the last point on our itinerary, located at one of the limits of the city of Santarém.