It was our last day in Portugal and we lingered for a few hours in Santarém before reluctantly boarding the plane at Lisbon Airport. We managed to see some of the wonderful churches in this ‘must return’ town.
The Church and Monastery of St Francis dates from the 1240s and even only viewed from the outside is a stunning sight. It was devastated by fire in the 1970s and reconstruction is only partial. Currently the building is closed to the public.
Nearby is the Church of St Clara, all that remains of the Convent of that name, a closed order established in 1264 by King Afonso III for his daughter. The Convent closed in 1902 and the Cloister was demolished in 1906 – what a tragedy!
On the other side of the town we found the Church of Santa Maria de Marvila which is tiled from floor to ceiling. It has been suggested the Church was built on of the site of, or even using the remains of, a Mosque dating from Arab time. And it was rebuilt in the 13C, and refurbished in the 16C
And then there was the magical Church of Grace which was part of an Augustinian Monastery created by D. Afonso Telo de Menezes, the first Count of Ourém. Buried in the Church is Pedro Álvares Cabral, one of the intrepid navigators and explorers in the 15C and 16C, and who is credited as the discoverer of Brazil. His statue stands in the square outside the church. But the memorable sight for me was the tomb of the founder’s grandson and his wife.
The tomb of D Pedro de Meneses and his third wife, Beatriz Coutinho.
We walked back through the town, past the Cathedral, and then it was time to go.