Santa Maria da Feira

Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira
Photo: Paulo Magalhães
Santa Maria da Feira

Towns and Villages

Situated in the centre of a region that, in the 11th and 12th centuries, was known as "Terras de Santa Maria" and provided the link between the north of the country and Coimbra, this place gave its name to a fair that was held in the area at that time. The city's most distinctive feature is its castle, built in the 15th century with a design and layout that is unusual amongst Portuguese castles, looking more like something that has been plucked straight out of a book of fairy tales.

Nowadays, Santa Maria da Feira is a city that boasts some excellent infrastructures, such as Europarque - a modern conference centre with a varied programme of cultural events - and the Visionarium - an interactive science museum. Equally worthy of special attention is the Paper Museum.

In the calendar of traditional events in this town, the most important is undoubtedly the Festa das Fogaceiras. This is a popular festival held on 20 January each year, which has as its high point the parade of the fogaceiras, the name given to the girls who carry on their heads the local delicacy known as fogaças (a kind of sweetened white bread).

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