Explore Estremadura and Ribatejo
SANTARÉM, capital of the Ribatejo, rears high above the Rio Tejo, commanding a tremendous view over the rich pasturelands to the south and east. It ranks among the most historic cities in Portugal: Moorish Santarém was regarded as impregnable (until Afonso Henriques captured it by enlisting the aid of foreign Crusaders in 1147); and it was here that the royal Cortes (parliament) was convened throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. All evidence of Moorish occupation has vanished but, with its two exquisite churches and surviving old-town alleys and squares, modern Santarém remains a pleasant place to visit – not least for the famous view from the miradouro known as the Portas do Sol.
The agricultural plain above which Santarém stands is the home of Portuguese bullfighting: here, the very best horses and bulls graze in lush fields under the watchful eyes of campinos, mounted guardians. Agricultural traditions, folk dancing (especially the fandango) and bullfighting come together in the great annual Feira Nacional da Agricultura, held at Santarém for two weeks starting on the first Friday in June, while dishes from every region in Portugal are sampled at the Festival de Gastronomia (third and forth week of October). In addition, a large market sprawls around the bullring on the second and fourth Sunday of every month.Read More