Santarém, Portugal

Last updated
Cabaças tower, formerly part of the city's fortifications
Coat of arms
Coordinates: 39°14′02″N08°41′10″W / 39.23389°N 8.68611°W / 39.23389; -8.68611 Coordinates: 39°14′02″N08°41′10″W / 39.23389°N 8.68611°W / 39.23389; -8.68611
CountryFlag of Portugal.svg  Portugal
Region Alentejo
Intermunic. comm. Lezíria do Tejo
District Santarém
Parishes 18
   President Ricardo Gonçalves (PSD)
  Total552.54 km2 (213.34 sq mi)
  Density110/km2 (290/sq mi)
Time zone WET/WEST (UTC+0/+1)
Local holiday March 19

Santarém (Portuguese pronunciation:  [sɐ̃tɐˈɾɐ̃j] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a city and municipality located in the district of Santarém in Portugal. The population in 2011 was 61,752, [1] [2] in an area of 552.54 km². [2] [3] The population of the city proper was 29,929 in 2012.

Santarém District District of Portugal

The District of Santarém is a district of Portugal, located in Portugal's Centro Region. The district capital is the city of Santarém.


The mayor is Ricardo Gonçalves (PSD). The municipal holiday is March 19, the day of Saint Joseph (São José). The city is on the Portuguese Way variant of the Way of Saint James.

Social Democratic Party (Portugal) political party in Portugal

The Social Democratic Party is a liberal-conservative and liberal political party in Portugal. Commonly known by its colloquial initials PSD, on ballot papers its initials appear as its official form PPD/PSD, with the first three letters coming from the party's original name, the Democratic Peoples' Party. Alongside the Socialist Party (PS), the PSD is one of the two major parties in Portuguese politics

The Portuguese Way

The Portuguese Way is the name of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes starting in Portugal. It begins at Porto or Lisbon. From Porto, along the Douro River, pilgrims travel north crossing the five main rivers—the Ave, Cávado, Neiva, Lima and Minho—before entering Spain and passing through Padron on the way to Santiago de Compostela.


Main portal of Igreja da Graca Santarem May 2015-12.jpg
Main portal of Igreja da Graça
The Tagus River as seen from Portas do Sol Santarem May 2015-9a.jpg
The Tagus River as seen from Portas do Sol

Since prehistory, the region of Santarém has been inhabited, first by the Lusitani people and then by the Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and later Portuguese Christians. Of the various legends related to the foundation of Santarém, the most famous tells of the Visigoth Saint Iria (or Irene), who was martyred in Tomar (Nabantia) and whose uncorrupted body reached Santarém. In her honour, the name of the town (then known by its Latin name Scalabis) would later be changed to Sancta Irene, from which Santarém would eventually be derived.

Ancient Greece Civilization belonging to an early period of Greek history

Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.

Ancient Rome History of Rome from the 8th-century BC to the 5th-century

In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants ) and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.

Visigoths Gothic tribe

The Visigoths were the western branches of the nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples referred to collectively as the Goths. These tribes flourished and spread throughout the late Roman Empire in Late Antiquity, or what is known as the Migration Period. The Visigoths emerged from earlier Gothic groups who had invaded the Roman Empire beginning in 376 and had defeated the Romans at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. Relations between the Romans and the Visigoths were variable, alternately warring with one another and making treaties when convenient. The Visigoths invaded Italy under Alaric I and sacked Rome in 410. After the Visigoths sacked Rome, they began settling down, first in southern Gaul and eventually in Hispania, where they founded the Visigothic Kingdom and maintained a presence from the 5th to the 8th centuries AD.

The foundation of the city is attributed to the Romans, who occupied the region in the 2nd century BC and named the city Scalabis . During the Roman period Scalabis was an important commercial post in the mid-Tagus region and was the administrative capital of one of the regions (Conventus Scalabitanus) of Lusitania. Julius Caesar ordered the creation of a military camp in Santarém in 61 BC. The city takes at this time the designation of Scallabis Praesidium Iulium.

Scalabis Roman name of Santarém

Scallabis was the Roman name of Santarém, Portugal.

Lusitania Roman province

Lusitania or Hispania Lusitana was an ancient Iberian Roman province located where modern Portugal and part of western Spain lie. It was named after the Lusitani or Lusitanian people.

The 3rd century crisis and the decline of the Western Roman Empire affected the civitas and in the 5th century the town was conquered by Germanic tribes (Vandals and Alans). In 460, the Visigoths, led by Sunerico, conquered the city and expelled the Alans. [4]

Vandals East Germanic tribe

The Vandals were a large East Germanic tribe or group of tribes that first appear in history inhabiting present-day southern Poland. Some later moved in large numbers, including most notably the group which successively established Vandal kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula, on western Mediterranean islands and in North Africa in the 5th century.

The Alans were an Iranian nomadic pastoral people of antiquity.

After the period of Visigoth domination, Santarém was taken in the 8th century by the Moors, who named it Shantarin. Under the rule of the Moors the city became an important cultural centre. Important Moor personalities born in Santarém include the poet and historian Ibn Bassam (died 1147) and the poet Ibn Sara (1043–1123).

Moors Medieval Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta

The term "Moors" refers primarily to the Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors initially were the indigenous Maghrebine Berbers. The name was later also applied to Arabs.

Ibn Bassam or Ibn Bassam Al-Shantarini (1058-1147) was a poet and historian from al-Andalus. He was born in Santarém and died in 1147.

The period of Moorish domination was finished in 1147 by the first King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, who conquered the city on March 15. According to period chronicles, the King and a small army managed to take the city after some men climbed the walls during the night and opened the gates. The story of the conquest of Santarém is told in a heroic tone in the medieval chronicle De expugnatione Scalabis, which celebrates and justifies the power of the first Portuguese King. From a military point of view, the conquest of Santarém and, in that same year, of Lisbon were crucial steps in the Reconquista of Portugal.

The most notable Almohad ruler, Abu Yaqub Yusuf (patron of Averroes and Ibn Tufail), died in Santarém while trying to recapture it during the siege of 1184.

After the reconquest of Santarém, the city was frequently visited by the successive monarchs and many feudal parliaments ( Cortes ) were held in Santarém. King Fernando I, in particular, was very fond of the city and chose to be buried in the Convent of Saint Francis (Convento de São Francisco). His tomb is now in the Carmo Museum in Lisbon. The city was one of the most important in medieval Portugal, as attested by its large number of monasteries and its royal palace (no longer in existence but was located where the Cathedral currently stands). There are still enough examples of Gothic buildings in the city for it to be known as the "Capital of the Portuguese Gothic".

In the 15th century, during the period of Portuguese discoveries, expeditions like the conquest of Ceuta (1415) were planned in the royal palace of Santarém. Many important personalities related to this historical time are buried in the churches of Santarém. Pedro de Meneses, first governor of Ceuta (1415–1437) after the Portuguese conquest, is buried in a magnificent Gothic tomb in the Church of the Grace (Igreja da Graça). In the same church is also buried Pedro Álvares Cabral, the navigator that discovered Brazil in 1500.

The city was hit by earthquakes twice: one in 1531 and the other in 1755, which damaged the city and many historical monuments were lost. During the Napoleonic invasions in the early 19th century the city was invaded and pillaged.

In the second half of the 19th century many improvements reached Santarém, like running water, gas light, the building of a bridge over the Tagus and the railway in 1861. In the 20th century, the infrastructure of the city (education, housing, commerce) continued to improve and the economy of the city remained mainly dedicated to the production of agricultural goods.


Cityscape of Santarem Santarem1.jpg
Cityscape of Santarém

The city of Santarém stands is situated on a plateau, located on the right bank of the Tagus River 65 kilometres (40 mi) northeast from Lisbon. This city, the urbanized portion, includes the former-parishes of Marvila, São Nicolau, São Salvador and Várzea, united in the green paper on administrative reform.


Administratively, the municipality is divided into 18 civil parishes ( freguesias ): [5]

  • Abitureiras
  • Abrã
  • Achete, Azoia de Baixo e Póvoa de Santarém
  • Alcanede
  • Alcanhões
  • Almoster
  • Amiais de Baixo
  • Arneiro das Milhariças
  • Azoia de Cima e Tremês
  • Casével e Vaqueiros
  • Gançaria
  • Moçarria
  • Pernes
  • Póvoa da Isenta
  • Romeira e Várzea
  • Santarém (Marvila), Santa Iria da Ribeira de Santarém, Santarém (São Salvador) e Santarém (São Nicolau)
  • São Vicente do Paul e Vale de Figueira
  • Vale de Santarém


Santarém, Portugal has a Mediterranean climate (Csa).

Climate data for Santarém
Record high °C (°F)20.6
Average high °C (°F)14.3
Average low °C (°F)4.9
Record low °C (°F)−4.4
Average precipitation mm (inches)91
Average precipitation days11.911.68.910.
Average relative humidity (%)87858377767167687380878578
Source: Weatherbase [6]

Sister cities


Santarém city centre has several monuments, including the largest and most varied ensemble of gothic churches in Portugal. These include fine examples of transitional RomanesqueGothic, mendicant (plain style derived from the mendicant orders) and late (flamboyant) Gothic. In addition, the city has nice examples of Manueline, Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque architecture.

Notable citizens

Statue of Captain Salgueiro Maia in Santarem Salgueiro Maia1.jpg
Statue of Captain Salgueiro Maia in Santarém

See also

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  1. Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  2. 1 2 excluding the parish Pombalinho, that changed from the municipality of Santarém to Golegã in 2013
  3. "Áreas das freguesias, concelhos, distritos e país". Archived from the original on 2018-11-05. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  5. Diário da República . "Law nr. 11-A/2013, page 552 108" (pdf) (in Portuguese). Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  6. "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Santarem, Portugal". Weatherbase. 2011. Retrieved on November 24, 2011.
  7. Singer, Isidore; Adler, Cyrus (1907), "Moses Navarro", The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, p. 193, retrieved 5 June 2015
  8. Kayserling, Meyer (1867). Geschichte der Juden in Portugal [History of the Jews in Portugal] (in German). Leipzig: Oskar Leiner. p. 25. Retrieved 5 June 2015. During his stay at the court of Lisbon, he made the acquaintance of then Portuguese Chief Rabbi Don Moses from Santarem, who was the king's personal physician, and who took on the name Navarro by royal permission. Während seines Aufenthaltes am Lissaboner Hofe lernte er den damaligen portugiesischen Oberrabiner D. Moses aus Santarem, der auch zugleich des Königs Leibarzt war und mit königlicher Erlaubniss den Beinamen Navarro führte, persoehnlich kennen.
  9. Fuller biography at Portuguese Wikipedia url=