The city of Santarem is in southern Portugal, approximately 65 kilometres northeast of the capital of Lisbon. Santarem has a population of nearly 29,000 residents, which is roughly 40% of the population of the municipality of Santarem.  The city lies on the Tagus River in a plateau about 50 kilometres east of the Atlantic Ocean.

Having Santarem a favourite destination for kings led to significant advancements of the city.  Numerous monasteries and ornate churches were built in Santarem.  Several are still standing and show why Santarem is nicknamed the “Capital of Portuguese Gothic.”  Sadly, many structures were destroyed by the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.

Among the structures from the Gothic era still in Santarem are:

Old Castle of Santarem:  Located on the Tagus River, atop a high slope over the surrounding area, the site of the castle is now home to a nice garden that offers amazing views. Part of the original walls and towers from the existing castle are still preserved.

Church of Saint John of Alporao:  Constructed between the 12th and the 13th centuries by the Knights Hospitallers, the church is a magnificent example of transitional architecture, featuring Romanesque, Gothic, and Arab influences. It is now home to a small archaeological museum.  The most important piece is the (empty) Gothic tomb of Duarte de Meneses.

Convent of Saint Claire:  Built in the 13th century, this female convent provides a stunning example of Portuguese Gothic architecture.

Church of St. Stephen – Church of the Holy Miracle:  A popular destination among Catholics worldwide, the church is home to the 13th century Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem.

Weather in Santarem features mild winters and warm summers.  Daytime high temperatures in July reach a very nice 31 degrees.  Night time lows range from 16 degrees in summer to five degrees Celsius during the winter.

When you are travelling to Santarem, you will likely arrive at the Lisbon Portela Airport.  You will want to consider car hire at Lisbon Airport in order to make your trip to the city more convenient.

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