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Nike Mckinnon

Modified & Updated: 09 Sep 2023


Santarém, a vibrant city nestled in the heart of Portugal, is a treasure trove of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its rich heritage dating back thousands of years, Santarém is a city that captivates visitors with its enchanting charm and intriguing stories. From ancient Roman ruins to Gothic churches, from picturesque landscapes to traditional gastronomy, Santarém has something to offer for everyone.

In this article, we will uncover 46 fascinating facts about Santarém that will take you on a journey through time and showcase the undeniable allure of this remarkable city. Whether you’re planning a trip to Santarém or simply curious about its history and traditions, this article will provide you with a comprehensive insight into this captivating destination.

Table of Contents

The Origins of Santarém

Santarém has a rich history dating back to the Roman era. It was originally known as Scallabis, and later became an important stronghold during the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula.

The Southern Gateway

Santarém is often referred to as the “Southern Gateway” to the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. It is conveniently located just 65 kilometers northeast of Lisbon, making it easily accessible for day trips or weekend getaways.

The Gothic Capital

Santarém is considered the Gothic capital of Portugal due to its numerous Gothic-style buildings and architectural wonders. The city’s historic center is a treasure trove of medieval structures that will transport you back in time.

The Land of Festivities

Santarém is renowned for its vibrant festivals and celebrations. The city comes alive during the annual National Agricultural Fair, the Festivities of the Sacred Blood of Santarém, and the Procession of the Corpus Christi.

The Ancient Bullfighting Tradition

Santarém is famous for its bullfighting traditions. The city’s bullring, known as the Campo Pequeno de Santarém, hosts thrilling bullfights that showcase the bravery and skill of the matadors.

The Gothic Jewel: Church of Santa Maria da Graça

The Church of Santa Maria da Graça, located in Santarém, is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture. Its stunning rose window and intricate carvings will leave you in awe.

Home to the Gothic Route

Santarém is part of the Portuguese Gothic Route, a cultural itinerary that highlights the country’s most important Gothic monuments. Exploring this route will take you through Santarém’s fascinating history and architectural wonders.

The Pride of Bullfighting

Santarém is home to the School of Portugal Bullfighting, where aspiring bullfighters learn the art and techniques of this traditional sport. The school plays a crucial role in preserving the bullfighting heritage of the region.

The Legendary Ribatejo Cuisine

Santarém is located in the Ribatejo region, known for its delicious cuisine. Indulge in mouthwatering dishes such as “sopa da pedra” (stone soup), “bacalhau à brás” (codfish with potatoes and eggs), and “arroz doce” (sweet rice pudding).

A City of Legends

Santarém is steeped in legendary tales and folklore. One of the most famous legends is that of “Inês de Castro,” a tragic love story that unfolds within the walls of the city.

A Transit Hub

Santarém serves as a major transportation hub in Portugal, connecting various regions of the country. Its strategic position along major highways and railway lines makes it an ideal base for exploring the surrounding areas.

The Birthplace of Pedro Alvares Cabral

Santarém proudly claims to be the birthplace of Pedro Alvares Cabral, the Portuguese explorer who discovered Brazil. A statue honoring Cabral can be found in the city, commemorating his significant role in world history.

The Garden of Portugal

Santarém is often referred to as the “Garden of Portugal” due to its lush green spaces and beautiful gardens. Take a leisurely stroll through the Jardim da Liberdade or the Jardim das Portas do Sol and soak in the natural beauty.

A City of Manuscripts

Santarém has a rich literary history, known for its abundance of manuscripts. The city’s Municipal Library houses a vast collection of rare and ancient books, attracting scholars and book lovers from around the world.

The Gothic Sé of Santarém

The Sé Cathedral of Santarém is a magnificent Gothic-style cathedral that dominates the city’s skyline. Its imposing structure and intricate details make it a must-visit attraction for architecture enthusiasts.

The Famous Stone Soup

Santarém’s traditional dish “sopa da pedra” (stone soup) is renowned throughout Portugal. Legend has it that a friar traveling through the region asked for a stone to make soup, leading to a delicious meal shared with the locals.

A Center for Handicrafts

Santarém is known for its skilled artisans who create beautiful handicrafts. From intricately designed ceramics to handmade tapestries, the city is a haven for those seeking unique and locally crafted souvenirs.

The Magnificent Portas do Sol

The Portas do Sol is a stunning viewpoint that offers sweeping panoramic views of Santarém and the surrounding countryside. It is the perfect spot to capture breathtaking photographs and witness the beauty of the city.

The Land of Pines and Cork Oaks

Santarém is surrounded by vast pine and cork oak forests, creating a picturesque landscape. These forests not only contribute to the region’s natural beauty but also play a vital role in the production of cork, a significant industry in Portugal.

The Gothic Monastery of São Francisco

The Monastery of São Francisco is a significant religious and architectural landmark in Santarém. Its ornate Gothic-style cloister and stunning frescoes make it a captivating site for history enthusiasts and art lovers.

A Mecca for Equestrian Enthusiasts

Santarém is a paradise for equestrian lovers. The city hosts various equestrian events and competitions throughout the year, attracting riders and horse enthusiasts from far and wide.

The Historic Bridge of Santarém

The Bridge of Santarém, also known as the “Old Bridge,” is a medieval bridge that spans the Tagus River. It has served as an important transportation link for centuries, connecting Santarém with the neighboring towns.

The Land of the Ribatejo Bull

Santarém is located in the Ribatejo region, which is known for breeding the magnificent Ribatejo bulls. The region’s bull breed has distinct characteristics and is highly prized in bullfighting circles.

The Enigmatic Crypt of the Church of Marvila

The Church of Marvila in Santarém is home to an enigmatic crypt that was rediscovered in the 19th century. It remains a mysterious and intriguing place, attracting visitors who are fascinated by its history.

A City of Cultural Events

Santarém hosts a wide range of cultural events throughout the year, including music festivals, art exhibitions, and theatrical performances. These events showcase the city’s vibrant cultural scene and provide entertainment for both locals and visitors.

The Stone Pillars of the Buracas do Casmilo

The Buracas do Casmilo is a unique geological formation located near Santarém. These stone pillars, sculpted by erosion, create a surreal landscape that is a photographer’s dream.

A Haven for Water Sports

Santarém’s strategic location near the Tagus River makes it a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Whether it’s kayaking, canoeing, or stand-up paddleboarding, the city offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy thrilling water adventures.

The Famous Bull Festival: Feira de Outubro

The Feira de Outubro is a famous bull festival held annually in Santarém. It attracts bullfighting enthusiasts from all over the country who come to witness the exciting bull runs and traditional bullfighting competitions.

The Wonders of Natural Parks

Santarém is surrounded by stunning natural parks, such as the Natural Park of Serras de Aire e Candeeiros and the Natural Reserve of the Estuaries of the Tagus River. These parks offer incredible biodiversity and opportunities for outdoor activities.

The Monumental Fountain of D. João V

The Monumental Fountain of D. João V is an impressive Baroque-style fountain located in Santarém. It is adorned with intricate statues and intricate designs, representing the grandeur of the era.

A City of Archaeological Sites

Santarém is home to numerous archaeological sites that provide insights into its ancient history. The Roman Villa of Cardílio, the Tapada do Arneiro Archaeological Site, and the Alviela Cave are just a few examples of these remarkable sites.

The Traditional Bullfighting School: Academia de Toureio do Campo Pequeno

The Academia de Toureio do Campo Pequeno in Santarém is a renowned bullfighting school that trains aspiring bullfighters. Established in 1966, it plays a significant role in preserving the art and cultural heritage of bullfighting.

The Ancient Torres do Carvalhal

The Torres do Carvalhal is a set of ancient towers that once served as defense structures during the Middle Ages. Their architectural significance and historical importance make them a fascinating attraction for history buffs.

A City of Archaeological Museums

Santarém boasts several archaeological museums that showcase the region’s rich historical and cultural heritage. The Museu Municipal de Santarém and the Museu D. Diogo de Sousa offer captivating exhibits that take visitors on a journey through time.

The Feast of the Sacred Blood of Santarém

The Festivities of the Sacred Blood of Santarém is a religious event that takes place annually in Santarém. It commemorates the miracle of the Eucharistic host turning into actual blood, an event that occurred in the city in the 13th century.

The Impressive Castle of Santarém

The Castle of Santarém is a majestic fortress that overlooks the city. With its imposing walls and towers, the castle offers panoramic views and is a testament to the city’s strategic importance throughout history.

The Fascinating Stone Carvings at Alcobertas

Alcobertas, a village near Santarém, is famous for its unique stone carvings. The intricate designs depict ancient symbols and scenes from daily life, creating a fascinating open-air museum for art enthusiasts.

A City of Book Fair

Santarém hosts an annual book fair, known as the Feira do Livro. Book lovers can explore a wide range of literary works, attend book signings, and engage in discussions with authors.

The Cultural Haven: Casa do Brasil

The Casa do Brasil is a cultural center in Santarém that celebrates the close ties between Portugal and Brazil. It hosts events and exhibitions that showcase the cultural exchanges and influences between the two countries.

The Traditional Handicrafts Fair

Santarém holds a traditional handicrafts fair, known as the Feira Nacional de Artesanato. The fair provides a platform for local artisans to showcase their craftsmanship and offers an opportunity to purchase unique handmade products.

The Joaquim Grilo Ceramic Museum

The Joaquim Grilo Ceramic Museum in Santarém is dedicated to preserving and promoting the art of ceramics. Visitors can admire a vast collection of pottery and learn about the techniques used to create these exquisite pieces.

A City of Horse Fairs

Santarém is known for hosting some of the largest horse fairs in Portugal. These fairs attract horse breeders, traders, and riding enthusiasts who come together to celebrate the equine world and showcase their prized horses.

The Natural Beauty of the Tagus River

The Tagus River, which flows through Santarém, offers breathtaking natural beauty. From tranquil boat rides to riverside walks, it provides a serene escape from the bustling city life.

The Historical Lapa Quarter

The Lapa Quarter is a historic neighborhood in Santarém that preserves its traditional charm and architectural heritage. Stroll through its narrow streets and admire the beautiful old houses and picturesque squares.

A City of Music Festivals

Santarém hosts several music festivals throughout the year, showcasing a diverse range of genres and artists. From classical music concerts to contemporary music festivals, there is something for every music lover to enjoy.

The Santa Iria Watermill

The Santa Iria Watermill is a restored 16th-century watermill located in Santarém. It offers visitors a glimpse into the past and demonstrates the importance of watermills in the region’s history and economy.

These 46 facts about Santarém highlight just a fraction of what this captivating city has to offer. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a food enthusiast, Santarém is sure to leave a lasting impression. Plan your visit to Santarém and discover the rich heritage and enchanting beauty of this Portuguese gem.


Santarém, known as the “Pearl of the Tapajós,” is a city that is brimming with fascinating facts and captivating history. From its rich cultural heritage to its stunning natural beauty, Santarém offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience.With its strategic location at the confluence of the Tapajós and Amazon rivers, Santarém has always been a significant trading hub, attracting merchants from far and wide. Today, the city showcases a vibrant blend of indigenous, Portuguese, and African influences, making it a melting pot of cultures.From exploring the pristine beaches of Alter do Chão to witnessing the majestic meeting of the rivers at the Ponta Negra viewpoint, Santarém has no shortage of breathtaking landscapes. Visitors can also delve into the city’s past by visiting historic sites like the Museu Dica Frazão and the Jesuitic Complex of Tapajós.Whether you are a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply someone seeking a unique adventure, Santarém has something for everyone. Its charm, beauty, and welcoming people make it a destination worth exploring.


1. What is the best time to visit Santarém?

The best time to visit Santarém is during the dry season, which generally runs from July to December. This period offers pleasant weather with lower chances of rain, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploration.

2. How do I get to Santarém?

Santarém has its own airport, the Maestro Wilson Fonseca Airport, which receives domestic flights from major cities in Brazil. Additionally, you can reach Santarém by boat from cities along the Amazon River or by bus from nearby towns.

3. Are there any cultural events in Santarém?

Yes, Santarém hosts several cultural events throughout the year. One of the most popular is the Alter do Chão Sairé Festival, a traditional celebration that showcases music, dancing, and the local culture. The festival takes place in September and attracts visitors from all over.

4. What are some must-visit attractions in Santarém?

Some must-visit attractions in Santarém include the Alter do Chão Beach, the Meeting of the Waters at Ponta Negra, the Tapajós National Forest, and the Maicá Lake. Each of these offers unique experiences and stunning natural beauty.

5. Can I experience the Amazon rainforest in Santarém?

Yes, Santarém is a gateway to the Amazon rainforest. Visitors can venture into the nearby Tapajós National Forest, go on river cruises, or take guided tours to explore the diverse flora and fauna of the region.

6. Is Santarém a safe city for tourists?

Like any other city, it is always advisable to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings. Santarém is generally considered safe for tourists, but it is important to take normal safety measures, such as avoiding isolated areas at night and keeping an eye on your belongings.

7. What are some local delicacies to try in Santarém?

Santarém is known for its delicious cuisine. Some local delicacies to try include fish dishes, such as pirarucu (giant river fish) and tucunaré (peacock bass), as well as exotic fruits like cupuaçu and açaí.

8. Are there any eco-friendly tours available in Santarém?

Yes, Santarém offers a range of eco-friendly tours that allow visitors to explore the region’s natural beauty while minimizing their impact on the environment. These tours often include activities such as jungle hikes, canoe trips, and visits to indigenous communities.

9. Can I go swimming in the rivers near Santarém?

Absolutely! The rivers near Santarém offer excellent opportunities for swimming. The crystal-clear waters of Alter do Chão Beach and the refreshing Amazon and Tapajós rivers provide a perfect spot to cool off and enjoy the natural surroundings.

10. Are there any accommodations options in Santarém?

Yes, Santarém has a range of accommodation options, including hotels, guesthouses, and eco-lodges. Whether you are looking for luxury or budget-friendly options, you will find a suitable place to stay in the city.