Santarem is known as the Portuguese Gothic capital and lies on the Caminho Português, a Catholic pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
The city was founded by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Between the 8th and 12th centuries, the Moors were settled here. In the years 1325–1357, it was a royal residence and the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal. After the damage caused by the Lisbon earthquake in 1755 and the Napoleonic invasions at the beginning of the 19th century, the city then experienced some urban improvements. At the end of the 19th century, the previous small town was elevated to a city.
Santarem (Santarém) is named after Saint Irene of Tomar (in Portuguese: Santa Iria) who was martyred for her Christian faith in Tomar in the 7th century and now is the patroness saint of the city.
Located in the historic center of the city, the Cathedral of Santarem (Sé de Santarém) is a Roman Catholic church built between 1672 and 1711 in the Mannerism (facade) and Baroque (interior) styles; it is classified as a National Monument. The Diocesan Museum is located in the Episcopal Palace, in a building adjacent to the cathedral.
Address: Praça Sá da Bandeira, 2000-135 Santarém, Portugal.
Opening hours: 10:00–13:00, 14:00–18:00 (Monday to Friday); 10:00–13:00, 14:00–19:00 ( Saturday); 14:00–19:00 (Sundays).
Admission: 4 € (full), 3 € (reduced).
Convent of St. Francis
The Convent of St. Francis (Convento de São Francisco) is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Portugal. The monastery was founded in 1242 by King Sancho II of Portugal when the Franciscans settled in the city. The extinction of the male monastic orders in 1834 and the fire in 1940 ultimately lead to the state of degradation in which the complex is at the moment, even though the main intervention of restoration has been going on for several years. In 1917, the building was classified by the Portuguese Institute of Architectural Heritage as a National Monument.
Address: Rua 31 De Janeiro, 2005-188 Santarém, Portugal.
Opening hours: 10:00–18:00 (every day).
Admission: 2 €.
Stairs of the Miracle
Stairs of the Miracle (Escadinhas do Milagre) rise the hill on which stands the Church of the Holy Miracle, one of Portugal’s most-visited pilgrimage sites. Near the church is the house of a woman who experienced a eucharistic miracle in the 13th century, and it is open to visitors.
Address: Escadinhas do Milagre, 2000-069 Santarém, Portugal.
Church of the Grace
Built-in the 14–15th century, the Church of the Grace (Igreja da Graça) is one of the most important examples of Gothic art in Portugal; it is classified as a National Monument. Pedro Álvares Cabral (1467–1520), the European discoverer of Brazil, is buried in the church.
Address: Largo Pedro Álvares Cabral 12, 2000-096 Santarém, Portugal.
Opening hours: 9:30–12:30, 14:00–17:30 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday); 10:00–12:30, 14:00–17:30 (Thursday and Friday); closed on Mondays and Holidays.
Church of Marvila
The Church of Marvila (Igreja de Marvila), representing Gothic, Manueline, and Mannerism architecture, was built in the 13th century, rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries; it is classified as a National Monument.
Address: Largo de Marvila 9, 2000-115 Santarém, Portugal.
Opening hours: 9:30–12.30, 14:00–18:00 (Tuesday to Friday); 9:30–12:30, 14:00–18:30 (Saturday); 9:30–12.30, 14:00–17:30 (Sunday).
Useful information about Santarem
Area: 552 km² / 213 sq m
Elevation: 35 m / 115 ft
Coordinates: 39° 1′ 49″ N, 8° 41′ 11″ W
Official language: Portuguese
Santarem is located on the right bank of the Tagus River in the Alentejo region, the central part of Portugal, just 69 km (43 mi) northeast of Lisbon.
Where to stay: Best Hotels in Santarem, Portugal
I spent a few sunny days in this white city and I liked it so much – Santarem is beautiful! Portugal is mainly a Catholic country (I am not religious), I respect other people’s beliefs (as long as they do not harm others) and enjoy visiting old churches from an architectural point of view. Santarem is rich in them, especially in the Gothic style. Highly recommended!
I hope you enjoyed my Top 5 attractions in Santarem post. If you like Portugal and its cities with a unique atmosphere and historical heritage, here are a few more posts that I recommend you read next:
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