The sense is one of welcoming and comfort, special feelings that makes us want to live the experience in a intense way and over and over again.
A mutual fascination and a deep surrender between land and river, but above all the discovery that the Tagus River offers in abundance to be enjoyed by us. It is a call to our most intimate self.
Besides this feeling, we have in the Tagus valley an omnipresent trilogy composed of horse, bull and campino (Portuguese cowboy). We also have the ancestral flavors from the land and Tagus river, and finally Santarém the capital of the gothic style in Portugal. All this scenery favors the active use of body and spirit in terms of our free time.
Enogastronomy in the Tagus Valley
One of the main tourist attractions of Tagus Valley is the Food and the Wine, the taste of which is connected to fishing and rural work. The connection to the river has therefore taken over various periods of history irrefutable importance. Among other relevant factors, the Tagus was and still is, a source of wealth and livelihood for many families.
Today the Tagus Valley is the land of gastronomy campaigns and popular festivities that allied to the cult of bullfighting attract large numbers of visitors.
The Tejo region has been known as a wine-producing region since middle age. The name of the province, Ribatejo (meaning Tejo Bank in Portuguese) was chosen 15 years ago to call the new wine region, which was being created from the joining of smaller Denominations.
In the meantime, substantial improvement has been achieved, both in the vines and in the winemaking, and it was decided to return to TEJO, the original name for this wine-producing area, to highlight the region’s tradition and new ambitions.
The terroir is marked by the main river, Tejo. The river separates the 3 distinct zones of wine production:
‘Bairro‘ – on the right bank of Tejo, where there are two different kinds of soils: soils of limestone and clay, located in more irregular fields where the hills alternate with plains reaching out until the north border of the region, here, the vine and olive-tree dominate; schistose soils are located up north, in a small area near Tomar.
‘Charneca‘ – on the left bank of Tejo, further down south, these are not very productive sandy soils. It is a very dry zone, with higher temperatures than the rest of the region, and where the maturation of the grapes is faster.
‘Lezíria‘ – it is a zone of plains, flooded periodically by Tejo River. These floods are responsible for the high fertility of the area.
Heritage in the Tagus Valley
Bathed by the majestic Tagus River, Santarém capital of the Gothic and Ribatejo was always present in key moments in the history of Portugal: from the entry of D. Afonso Henriques in the city on March 15, 1147, until the departure, towards Lisbon of the tanks commanded by Captain Salgueiro Maia, on the morning of April 25, 1974, that in a few hours won a free and democratic country.
Attesting to the importance of the city is the fact that it was considered the headquarters of the Roman provinces of Hispania (the Conventus Escalabitanus); economic warehouse in the Phoenicians, one of the most flourishing cities of the Muslim Al-Andalus and one of the main medieval villages of the Kingdom of Portugal, when it acquired the status of “Always Noble and Loyal”.
This is why we like so much Santarém: when you dwell in its big historic center you feel all these influences on the churches, the castle, the balconies of old houses, and the tiles that in Santarém have received a unique expression and treatment.
We will guide you through the capital of the Portuguese Gothic and take you off the beaten track; that´s our promise.
One of Tagus Valley’s images is the Castelo de Almourol, built on a small granite island in the middle of the Tagus, close to Tancos. It reminds us of distant Nordish lands with castles built close to lakes. Nearby we have Constância; the hometown of the biggest Portuguese poet: Luis de Camões. Constância also hosts a Science park from where you can see the stars at night and learn about the constellations after a nice walk close to the Tagus River.
And when it comes to the Templars there´s a place that immediately comes to our minds: the Convent of Christ in Tomar (World Heritage status). It has always been a mythical place and the headquarters of the Knights Templar in Portugal. In its interior the Infante D. Henrique developed the strategy for the Portuguese maritime expeditions of discovery, King D. Manuel I left his marks and his imperial mark on the architecture (Manueline style), Filipe II of Spain marked his coming to power and some tragedies of the 18th and 19th centuries unfolded against the background of the Napoleonic invasions and the Liberal Revolution. A must for anyone who wants to know the history of Portugal.
In the splendor of the countryside, you will find typical villages, with houses built from schist stone, and even traces of dinosaur tracks in the Serra d’Aire classified as a Natural Monument.
Visit and experience this magical territory…
Nature in the Tagus Valley
The vastness of the barren lands, the cork oak plantations that soothe the hot climate, and the weirs and small dams that allow taking breaks from the cavalcade across the Tagus River lands, offer a unique experience filled with unforgettable memories.
Ribatejo is marked by the river Tagus. In its name, in its geography, and even in its culture, Ribatejo is molded by Portugal’s largest river.
In the North of the region, you can fully enjoy nature close to Castelo do Bode water dam. It is one of the largest Portuguese water reservoirs. This giant artificial lake has been ever since its construction, the main water supplier of the big Lisbon area, a privileged zone for practicing nautical sports and enjoy breathtaking views, while you relax with a nice glass of wine.
Then you have one of the most typical features of the landscape: the “lezíria” or plains, where bulls and horses roam, a unique sight from this region of Portugal. The great pastures that abound in Ribatejo have a very special feature: the raising of horses and bulls. This tradition is deeply rooted in rural life and marks its culture. Ribatejo is the land of the world-famous and unique pure-blood Lusitanian horses, and it is also a region of bullfights and bull-running festivals; still very popular in Portugal. To understand the genuine traditions of Ribatejo, one needs to fend off pre-conceived visions and go to a bullfight to feel the thrill of the bull running at one of the many summer festivals held in the region.
As a very viable alternative, you can also ride on horseback through the fields and realize why the Ribatejo has a National Fair dedicated to horses. If you visit Portugal in November it´s mandatory to attend the Golegã Horse Fair where horses, riders, and visitors embody the passion for these animals.
You should also pay a visit to the large dominating limestone massive of the Aire and Candeeiros Mountain Park which, with its ravines, caves, and small nooks, dazzle those seeking moments of evasion in full contact with nature.
Close to the city of Lisbon, on the other side of the fantastic Vasco da Gama Bridge and perfect for the bird watchers is the Reserva Natural do Estuário do Tejo, a protected area of more than 45 thousand hectares, considered the largest wetland in Portugal and one of the most important in Europe.
To discover another unique tradition of the region, we must take time to visit the Casa Típica Avieira – Museu do Escaroupim, in Salvaterra de Magos. In other locations in the Ribatejo you will also find some of these stilt houses. These wooden homes built on piles over the river are still inhabited by local fishermen.
As written by the poet Miguel Torga ‘…in any adventure, what matters is to set off…’