Alentejo plains, ALENTEJO

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SANTARÉM
What to See
NOSSA SENHORA DA GRAÇA CHURCH

This is a great example of the powerful religious construction skills that were available during the Middle Ages. The church has three naves, the central one being taller than the other two. This structure is quite visible from the outside. The main façade has a central, taller body with a flamboyant Gothic style portico, and a most beautiful starred rose window. One notices in this church a very careful construction attitude towards its robustness, although that trait is softened by the aforementioned Gothic characteristics of its adornments.
Also worth mentioning are the mausoleums and tomb slabs found in the interior of this old convent church, which are also decorated according to a rigorous Gothic style of the utmost quality.

NOSSA SENHORA DE MARVILA CHURCH

When the Templars and king Afonso Henriques conquered Santarém in 1147, they had this church built. However, it was in the reign of Manuel I that it was wholly refurbished, and the style it has today comes from that time. You are welcomed by a lavishly made portico, in Manueline style, with a leaf-shaped, curtain-like arcade, enclosed between two sectioned columns.
The vaults in the inside have many ribs, filled up with crosses and armillary spheres. The ribs integrate twelve Ionic columns, in the middle of the three naves, and the light pours in, quite accordingly to the Gothic principles, by the slim slits all along the church’s body. Also worthwhile discovering are the tiles from the 17th century that cover the walls.

PORTAS DO SOL (LIT. “THE DOORS OF THE SUN”)

This is what is left from a very large castle construction: it used to have seven doors, but they were replaced during the centuries with the construction of new houses; there are only two remaining, this being one of them. However, in the Middle Ages the castle was destroyed and a very pleasant garden emerged in its place, from which you can have an immense view over the plain below. The Tagus, with its serpent-like body of water and sand, stretches across the green landscape. Far away on the horizon, everything dissolves into bright lights. This is a completely different landscape from the south. Light bathes the valley, with warm temperatures. The whole land seems under a spell of a grand summer's day lulling the houses to sleep. A few lines are seen interrupting the landscape: the small roads amidst the green. The world has come to a standstill here.
It is an immense pleasure to find a terrace in this garden-castle, where one can rest, chat or meditate under the shadow of the trees.

TORRE DAS CABAÇAS

This is a clock tower from the 16th century. It is a very tall square tower, with eight windows at the top. Above its ceiling is a structure which was made of clay and acts as box for the bells.

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