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Santarém, the belvedere city of Ribatejo

Igreja N.Sra Marvila
Place: Santarém
Photo: Turismo de Portugal
Photo: Turismo de Portugal

Don't miss
  • do the Gothic tour of Santarém
  • taste sopa de pedra in Almeirim

Standing on the top of a plateau, Santarém is a belvedere over the fertile wetland region, the River Tagus valley known for farming, cattle breeding and bullfighting.

The city incorporated the lands of the Order of Christ, which supported the Portuguese Discoveries financially. This was a highly developed region at the time, evidence of which is still visible today in its monuments, which are key features in the history of Portuguese art.

The point of departure for a tour of Santarém is usually the Portas do Sol Gardens, the citadel of the old castle which D. Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, captured from the Moors in a surprise attack during the night in 1147. After admiring the landscape from this natural viewpoint, where the UrbiScallabis Visitor’s Centre is located, you can set out exploring the city.

Heading towards the historic centre, you will find the 14th century Clock Tower, today the Time Museum. It is also called Cabaças Tower, evoking the objects at its top, which served to magnify the sound of the bells that chimed the hours, said by some to represent the hollow heads which designed it.

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