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Igreja da Graça
Igreja da Graça

| The Monuments | | Archaeology within the Historical Center | |... More Monuments |

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The Monuments   The importance and prominence that Santarém has always enjoyed has made it one of Portugal 's leading cities and one that has been closely involved in some of the most crucial events in the country's history.

The Royal Residence and Capital of the Kingdom in the reign of King Afonso IV (14th Century), was located in Santarém. Its significance is well documented by the innumerable privileges that are written into its charters and by its:

* sixteen convents and monasteries,
* about thirty hospices and hospitals,
* more than forty hermitages,
* Royal palaces such as Alcáçova and Terreiro da Piedade,
* Palaces and manor-houses of the realm's highest nobility.

The number and importance of its monuments are a testimony to its sui generis artistic and cultural opulence at a national level.

The compounding of different political, economical, social and cultural situations in the 13th and 14th Centuries gave rise to the building of Gothic style monuments of mendicant (unelaborate) features in Santarém and their unparalleled quality and homogeneity have led to the city receiving the epithet of Portugal 's Capital of Gothic. Despite the damage caused to its medieval buildings by violent natural and human causes and the destruction and alterations that were wrought during the 19th and 20th Centuries, some monuments of this period still stand in Santarém, the most outstanding being the
Church of São João de Alporão (13th Century), the Church of Graça (14th Century), the Churh of Marvila (Manueline reconstruction), the Church of the Convent of Santa Clara (1260), the Convent of São Francisco (1242), the Church of Santa Cruz da Ribeira (14th Century), the Figueiras Fountain (13th Century), the Fortified Square of the Alcáçova and the Gates of Santiago and do Sol, among others.

Even when the tragic accident that ended the life of Prince D. Afonso at the Mouchão de Alfange, by the end of the 15th Century, cooled the former liking of the Portuguese monarchs for Santarém, the city lived in a stage of great favour during the first Centuries of the Modern Era (between the 16th and the 18th Centuries) and great figures of Science, Arts, Letters and War graced it with their presence.

This is why Manneirist façades in the Portuguese "Chão" style (with very simple and straight lines) and the erudite Renaissance planning give the city as one of the most interesting urban layouts in Portugal.

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Archaeology within the Historical Center   The Town Hall of Santarém has been showing an ever-increasing interest and concern for the preservation and enhancement of the city's historical and cultural heritage, which can be seen in several decisions taken, one of them being its candidature to be considered as a part of "World's Heritage". A systematic urban archaeology project planned for the historical centre was begun in 1992.

The archaeological heritage is a part of our collective memorebilia, besides being an unrenewable resource that must be studied by experts so that we may obtain a better understanding of the city's past.

Several works have been undertaken and archaeologists have been on the spot when land has been removed prior to the construction of new buildings so that important vestiges are not lost and the subsoil can be mapped in order to plan the work of archaeologists.

Of the work undertaken so far, mention must be made of that in Church of Santa Maria de Alcáçova (a restoration project is under way). A cemetery in the interior of the Church and archaeological vestiges from the Roman period have been brought to light. A group of young people from the Youth Institute collaborated in the work. The Church has been open to the public and local schools so that the results obtained can be disseminated.

An archaeological work recently executed in the Alcáçova de Santarém have brought to light a 15 meters-square podium (foundation) of a Roman Temple, which is presumed to be from the 1st Century BC. It is a find of the greatest significance that opens new perspectives for a deeper knowledge of the Roman Scallabis. The work in the Alcáçova is being executed by the Town Hall with the collaboration of the Lisboa University Archaeological Centre and the baking of IPPAR (Portuguese Institute of Architectural and Archaeological Heritage).

As a follow-up to the project for the restoration of Convento de S. Francisco, archaeological diggings were also carried out (IPPAR) and once more demonstrated the rich cultural heritage the city prossesses. This work also counted on the support of the Town Hall, thus revealing its interest in the archaeological research that is under way in the city.

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