The Town of Santarém, Portugal

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The Town of Santarém, Portugal is along the Camino Portugués and is a charming stop on your journey. Regardless of how much time you spend here, you should at the very least see the Portas do Sol.

The view from the citadel over the Río Tejo is one that is not to be missed! You could even take your morning pastry here to eat on your walk out of town, as the Camino brings you right up to the park! (See our day four description.)

"The difference between pilgrim and tourist is the intention of attention, the quality of the curiosity." ~ Phil Cousineau The Art of Pilgrimage

The time my husband and I spent in Santarém, Portugal was definitely not enough, in my opinion. After our long day three, we just didn't have a whole lot of energy left over to tour the town. And since we were only three days into our pilgrimage, we decided to see what we could see on the evening of our arrival, and walk onward the next day. 

What you see in this article is only a small portion of the great Gothic buildings that make up the town. For a great reference on what to see and do in Santarém, Portugal, look at this website,

The street names in Santarém are long, difficult to remember, and even more difficult to pronounce! 

On our walk coming into town, on day three of our Camino Portugués, looking for our hotel, we passed by the church, below, the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Piedade, or The Church of Our Lady of Mercy, on the Praça Sá da Bandeira. We did not go in it, but it was built in 1664 by King D. Alfonso VI in gratitude for victory in the famous Battle of Amexial in 1663, against the Spaniards.

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da PiedadeIgreja de Nossa Senhora da Piedade

Just down the street a wee bit from the church, above, on the Rua Dr. Jaime Figueiredo, is the wonderful blue-tiled building of the municipal marketplace, below. The market is only open two days a week, if I recall correctly, and we were not there on a day it was open. But the edifice can be admired from the outside, with its Azulejo murals depicting many different scenes. 

Igreja de Marvila MarketplaceIgreja de Marvila Marketplace Building

I absolutely loved wandering around the narrow city streets with their granite pavings! Below are two shots of the Rua Capelo E. Ivens, a particularly charming and narrow street.

Rua Capelo E. Ivens, Santarém, PortugalRua Capelo E. Ivens ~ 1
Rua Capelo E. Ivens, Santarém, PortugalRua Capelo E. Ivens ~ 2

And dominating the center of town is the Church and Jesuit College of Our Lady of the Conception:

Church and Jesuit College of Our Lady of the Conception, in Santarém, PortugalIgreja do Seminário ou Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição do Colégio dos Jesuítas

Shortly after finishing our dinner, we visited the Portas do Sol at sunset. The Portas do Sol are the prominent feature of the town of Santarém, Portugal. The name means "Doors of the Sun" and it is easy to see why.

The captivating views over the town walls to the Río Tejo at sunset is absolutely stunning. For us, indeed this was Santarém's best attraction.

The following photos are of my journey from the center of town to the Jardím Portas do Sol as it is called. The nicely designed granite setts (aka "cobblestone," however, it is not true round stones, but manufactured ones) on the street I followed first was the Rua Serpa Pinto Porto, below. 

When you join the Rua de São Martinho in the next photo, the brown signs for the Portas do Sol and the museum are in view. Lots of folks were migrating to the Castle for sunset!

Rua Serpa Pinto Porto, Santarém, PortugalRua Serpa Pinto Porto
Signposts on the Rua de São MartinhoSignposts on the Rua de São Martinho

At this intersection if you look up on the wall, high and to your left you see this attractive sign. 

Azulejo Sign Post to Portas do Sol, SantarémAzulejo Sign Post

The next major sight that we beheld in the glowing evening sunlight was the Municipal Museum. 

The Museu Municipal de Santarém, in the next photo, is housed in a Romanesque-style church, but has been a museum since 1876. For more information about it, click here. 

Museu Municipal de Santarém, PortugalMuseu Municipal de Santarém, Portugal

As I walked closer to the park, the fading light glowed on another prominent building, the cultural building, or Círculo Cultural Scalabitano in Portuguese, a center for performing arts. 

The street we were walking on is called the Avenida 5 de Outubro and the spring blooming trees were so inviting, lining the way. The pink petals, fallen from the trees, glistened under our feet as we walked by! It felt like a fairyland!

Círculo Cultural ScalabitanoCírculo Cultural Scalabitano on the Avenida 5 de Outubro

Walking onward towards the park, we finally came to the gates of the garden, below.

Entrance to the Jardím Portas do Sol, Santarém, PortugalEntrance to the Jardím Portas do Sol

The ramparts and old city walls delineate the park. In addition, the last remnants of the fortress/castle that is here create the relaxing space to have a picnic or view the sunset. This old castle here was captured from the Moors by Dom Alfonso Henriques, the first Portuguese king, in 1147, in a surprise nighttime attack.  

Because of its strategic location on a hill along the River Tagus, many an army over the millennia have attempted to take the prize that was this city. The Romans, the Visigoths, the Moors, the Spaniards and of course, finally, the Portuguese. 

Here is a photo of the central portion of the park, with the statue of Dom Alfonso Henriques just off to the left, barely visible in the photo. 

Jardím Portas do Sol, Santarém, PortugalJardím Portas do Sol

Walking ever closer to the city walls, you can see the vista opening up:

Garden of the Doors to the Sun, Santarém, PortugalGarden of the Doors to the Sun, Santarém, Portugal

Lovers abounded in the park and on the remaining city walls:

The Ramparts Overlooking the Tagus RiverThe Ramparts Overlooking the Tagus River

I rushed around, snapping photos as the light faded quickly! I almost didn't even make it here! That would have been an incredible shame, so plan your time here wisely! 

Stairs Leading to the Ramparts Overlooking the Tagus RiverStairs Leading to the Ramparts
More Remnants of the Citadel in the Portas do Sol, Santarém, PortugalMore Remnants of the Citadel
The Old Walls of Santarém, PortugalThe Old Walls of Santarém, Portugal

The best view of all is the extreme Eastern end, with the view over the Tagus River. We were graced with a full moon at the sunset! Spectacular indeed!

Full Moon Rising Over the Tagus River, Santarém, PortugalFull Moon Rising Over the Tagus River

And to think I had barely made it here in time for this glorious view as the moon was rising over the Tejo at sunset. Peering out over the ramparts was a special treat that I will always treasure!

Another View over the Río Tejo from the Old City Walls, Santarém, PortugalAnother View over the Río Tejo from the Old City Walls

May your own time spent in Santarém, Portugal be momentous, peaceful and may it be a treasured stop along your own Portuguese Camino! You will not regret any time spent here in the historic atmosphere. May your level of curiosity always be that of a true pilgrimage traveler!

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And the Journey Continues:

~ Lisbon to Porto

~ Porto to Santiago Via the Coastal Route and/or the Sendal Litoral

~ Porto to Santiago Via the Central Route

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Carbon Trekking Poles

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