Abrantes is a city in the Santarém district, situated just over 140 km from Lisbon. This means that this Abrantes itinerary is the ideal choice for a day trip from the Portuguese capital, or even the perfect stopover on a multi-day road trip through the Médio Tejo sub-region (in the Central Region)!
Despite not being as touristy and popular as Tomar, Fátima, or even Santarém, the city of Abrantes is a destination with more than eight centuries of history and a unique Ribatejo culture, based on its military architecture, convent sweets, and dozens of river activities practiced on the banks and in the bed of the Tagus River!
So, do you want to know more about 1 Day In Abrantes: The Perfect Abrantes Itinerary? Keep reading!
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Brief History of Abrantes
The history of Abrantes has a deep relationship with its strategic geographical location, as the city is installed on a hillside next to the right bank of the Tagus River. And it was precisely at the highest point of this slope that the Moors built a castle, which would eventually be conquered by King Afonso Henriques, in 1148!
In 1173, the first king of Portugal donated the fortress to the Religious and Military Order of Saint James of the Sword, so that it could defend the local population. And six years later, Abrantes received a charter from King Afonso Henriques. After that, the town grew and developed into an important river port, which became its main economic activity.
Already in the 19th century, on November 23rd, 1807, Abrantes was invaded by the French troops, led by General Jean-Andoche Junot. Interestingly, Napoleon Bonaparte granted him the title of 1st Duke of Abrantes, for which he’s still known today! Finally, the town of Abrantes was elevated to the category of a city on June 14th, 1916.
As I mentioned earlier, the best way to enjoy this Abrantes itinerary is on a day trip from Lisbon. For this, you can travel by car or, if you don’t have that possibility, you can travel by train on the Beira Baixa Line (a historic railway line that connects Entroncamento and Guarda).
First, take the train (Intercidades or Regional) at the Lisbon-Santa Apolónia or Lisboa-Oriente stations and get off at Abrantes (3.2 km on foot). As there are few direct trains, you can also travel from Lisbon to Entroncamento and then change to a second train bound for Abrantes or Alferrarede (2.4 km on foot).
TIP: This trip has a minimum cost of €10.5, but check all prices, timetables, lines, and services on the official website of CP – Comboios de Portugal.
However, you can also visit Abrantes on a road trip through the Médio Tejo sub-region or the Santarém district! In this case, I suggest you explore these towns and cities in the surroundings: Sardoal (12 km), Constância (14 km), Vila Nova da Barquinha (26 km), Entroncamento (31 km), Mação (31 km), Tomar (31 km), Torres Novas (34 km), and Golegã (35 km).
Abrantes Castle (in Portuguese, Castelo de Abrantes) is the main attraction of the city and, therefore, the first stop of this Abrantes itinerary. Also called the Abrantes Fortress, it’s made up of the Governors’ Palace, the Church of Santa Maria do Castelo (which houses the Almeida Pantheon), the Keep, and the East (in the photo) and South Entrances.
Abrantes Castle is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 5 pm (winter time) or from 10 am to 6:30 pm (summer time), with the only official closing days being the holidays of January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th – in addition to Mondays. And entry is free for everyone!
The Castle Garden (in Portuguese, Jardim do Castelo) is one of the most photogenic sites in Abrantes. Opened at the end of the 19th century as a public garden, this green space offers breathtaking panoramic views, not only over the historic center of the city but also over the Ribatejo plains, on the other side of the Tagus River!
The Abrantes Castle Garden (or Garden of the Castle of Abrantes) is very popular with locals for sports (running and walking), friendly meetings, and family picnics. Apart from the Castle, this public park is just a few meters from the Skate Park, the Abrantes Swing, and the “Outeiro de São Pedro” (ie, Saint Peter’s Hill).
TIP: If you have time, include these three places I mentioned in your Abrantes itinerary!
I decided to include Ferraria Square (in Portuguese, Largo da Ferraria) in this Abrante itinerary for two reasons: the first is because it’s on the way to the next point of interest (Saint Vincent’s Church); the second is because of the monument placed in the center of the site.
The “Centenaries Celebration” is a structure consisting of a rectangular stone column, crowned by an iron armillary sphere.
The same number of arms were inscribed on the four sides of the pillar, following fundamental dates for the history of Abrantes (and Portugal): 1140 (year of the Foundation of Portugal); 1148 (year of the Conquest of Abrantes); 1640 (year of the Restoration of Independence); and 1940 (year of the Centenaries Celebration).
Saint Vincent’s Church
The foundation of Saint Vincent’s Church (in Portuguese, Igreja de São Vicente) dates back to the moment of the conquest of Abrantes by King Afonso Henriques, who ordered its construction one year after having taken the castle from the Moors – that is, in 1149. However, the town was attacked by a new Moorish army in 1179 and the early church was one of the targets destroyed in this onslaught.
The Catholic temple that has survived to the present day is a church in the Mannerist style, designed by the Portuguese military architect Mateus Fernandes. Promoted by King Sebastião, the works began in 1569 and lasted until 1605. Saint Vincent’s Church was classified as a National Monument in 1926.
Raimundo José Soares Mendes Square
The Raimundo José Soares Mendes Square (in Portuguese, Praça Raimundo José Soares Mendes) is the city’s most central square, housing the Abrantes City Council building. And it’s in the 200 meters that separate it from the Barão da Batalha Square, that you’ll find the largest number of confectioneries, pastry shops, cafés, and restaurants, where you can buy and/or taste the famous Palha de Abrantes!
TIP: If you like convent sweets, don’t forget to also taste the Broas de Mel e Nozes (Honey and Nut Breads), the Castanhas Doces (Sweet Chestnuts), the Lampreia de Ovos (Egg Lamprey), the Limas (Limes), the Mulatos, and the Tigeladas!
Nevertheless, the reason why I included the Raimundo Soares Square in this Abrantes itinerary has to do with the fountain you see in the photograph. Erected in 1891, this fountain has since gained a sculptural set in bronze, created by the sculptor Óscar Guimarães and which gives it the name Fountain of the Three Marys (in Portuguese, Fonte das Três Marias)!
Iberian Museum of Archaeology and Art of Abrantes
This Abrantes itinerary ends at the Iberian Museum of Archaeology and Art of Abrantes (in Portuguese, MIAA – Museu Ibérico de Arqueologia e Arte de Abrantes), based in the Former Convent of Saint Dominic. Although it only opened to the public in July 2021, this museum is already one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city!
The IMAAA has six permanent exhibition rooms, presenting a collection of Prehistory and History, with archaeological pieces and artifacts older than Portugal! Another space worth visiting is the Maria Lucília Moita Room, which displays works donated by this local painter.
The MIAA – Iberian Museum of Archaeology and Art of Abrantes is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 12:30 pm and from 2 pm to 5:30 pm. The ticket costs €3 (adults) or €2 (children and young people aged 12 to 18, and over 65).
Map of the Abrantes Itinerary
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