Santarém, the belvedere city of Ribatejo
Standing on the top of a plateau, Santarém is a belvedere over the fertile wetland region, the River Tagus valley known for farming, cattle breeding and bullfighting. It was an important town during the Portuguese Alentejo’s Golden Age and a bishopric seat until 1333. With its rich history, medieval architecture and strategic location, Santarém is one of the most pleasant towns in Portugal.
The old quarter, on the north side of town, is a good place to start exploring. The 13th century Gothic cathedral, with its two steeples and Manueline doorways, dominates the skyline. Nearby is the 12th century São João Baptista church, with its beautiful azulejo (painted tile) facade. The Pelourinho (pillory), a symbol of medieval justice, is one of the most popular photo ops in town.
For the best views, take a walk or drive out to the miradouro (viewpoint) on the south side of town.