GOLEGÃ, on the west bank of the Tejo, midway between Tomar and Santarém, is a pleasant riverside town which touts itself as “Capital of the Horse”, a claim it backs up with black-horse silhouettes hanging outside virtually every business. It is best known for its Feira Nacional do Cavalo (National Horse Fair), held during the first two weeks in November. The fair incorporates celebrations for St Martin’s Day on November 11, when there’s a running of the bulls and a grand parade of red-waistcoated grooms. During the evening, people crowd into Restaurante Central on the main square to mingle with the haughty cavaleiros who have survived the bullfighting.
Golegã is one of the main crossing points to the east bank of the Rio Tejo – a bull-breeding and vine-growing territory of rich plains and riverside marshes. The N118 marks the most attractive route along the river, taking in several small towns and quintas en route to Santarém, 45km away. There’s nothing much to stop for in Chamusca, Alpiarça or Almeirim – the latter once the site of a royal summer palace – but local wine producers line the road at intervals, open for sales to the public; look for signs saying “vinho do produtor”.Read More