Santarem – Ribatejo’s capital city – is located on a plateau, which King Afonso Henriques climbed in the middle of the night, in 1147, in order to surprise the Moors and take their castle.
Castle of Santarem Wall in Portas do Sol
Very little remains of the Castle, which was once one of the most important fortifications in the central stretch of the Tagus River. The Castle’s origins are unknown; the only thing known is that the city of Santarem was already inhabited in the 8th century B.C. Romans, Suebi, and Muslims went through it up to the Christian Reconquest, after which the city was handed over to the Portuguese for good.
Throughout the centuries, the Castle was subjected to reconstruction works; however, nowadays only the Portas do Sol (Sol Gates), Portas de Santiago (Santiago Gates), and some walls remain. Although it is not possible to see a castle as we imagine it, the garden in Porta do Sol is worth visiting.
GPS 39°14'0.50"N 8°40'33.62"W
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
Convent of St. Francis
Founded in the 13th century by King Sancho II, the Convent of St. Francis is one of the most important Mendicant Gothic constructions in Portugal. The Convent became particularly relevant in the 15th century after King John II had the oath of allegiance there.
In 1844, the Convent was turned into the barracks of the Cavalry Corps of Santarem. Nowadays, it is possible to visit the Convent and see some centenarian decorations, such as the Renaissance arch from the Chapel of Santa Ana or the rood screen, which was funded by King Fernando in order to accommodate his tomb as well as his mother's tomb.
GPS 39°14'20.98"N 8°41'3.49"W
Church of Our Lady of Conception
One of the most important sacred monuments in Santarem’s heritage, the Church of Our Lady of Conception was built between 1672 and 1711. This church, which only has one aisle, comprises eight lateral chapels. In 1975, the Holy See awarded the Church of Our Lady of Conception with the honour of a See.
GPS 39°14'13.31"N 8°41'8.54"W
Church of Santo Estevao
The Church of Santo Estevao is closely linked with the Legend of Santarem’s Miracle. This Church was subjected to remodelling and campaigns throughout the centuries and it is nowadays a pilgrimage and religious site.