Torres Novas is a city and municipality in the Santarém district, situated just over 110 km from Lisbon. This means that this Torres Novas 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 or Fátima, Torres Novas has an impressive historical, artistic, and cultural past. And, in this Torres Novas itinerary, you’ll have the opportunity to prove it in monuments such as the Castle of Torres Novas, the Carlos Reis Municipal Museum, or the Roman Ruins of Villa Cardillio!
So, do you want to know more about 1 Day In Torres Novas: The Perfect Torres Novas Itinerary? Keep reading!
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Brief History of Torres Novas
The region where Torres Novas is located today has been inhabited since prehistoric times, more precisely, since the Paleolithic. Nonetheless, the first vestiges of greater interest were discovered in the Roman Ruins of Villa Cardillio, outside the city’s perimeter.
After the Romans, the Visigoths and the Arabs followed. The latter were expelled by Afonso Henriques after the conquest of the Muslim fortress in 1148, which is now known as the Castle of Torres Novas. Even so, Turris – as it was called – only received a Charter on October 1st, 1190, by King Sancho I.
It was this sovereign who ordered the reconstruction of the castle. And in the following reigns, the town continued to grow and gain importance, becoming a meeting place for the Kingdom Courts and other important events in the History of Portugal. Such expansion and development led King Manuel I to grant a new charter to Torres Novas in 1510.
In recent centuries, Torres Novas has assumed a prominent role in the industrial and agricultural sectors. Two examples of such are the Fábrica de Papel do Almonda and the Companhia de Fiação de Torres Novas (founded in 1818 and 1845, respectively). And in 1985, the town was elevated to city status!
Visiting Torres Novas
As I mentioned earlier, the best way to enjoy this Torres Novas itinerary is on a day trip from Lisbon. And to get there from the Portuguese capital, you have two options: travel by car (about 115 km) or by public transportation (1h15 by bus).
However, Torres Novas is also an excellent stop on a road trip through the Médio Tejo sub-region or the Santarém district! In that case, I suggest you explore other destinations in the vicinity: Entroncamento (8 km), Golegã (13 km), Alcanena (14 km), Vila Nova da Barquinha (19 km), Chamusca (20 km), Constância (22 km), Ourém (26 km), Tomar (28 km), or Abrantes (36 km).
Torres Novas Itinerary
This Torres Novas itinerary starts at Santiago Church (in Portuguese, Igreja de Santiago), a Catholic temple whose origin dates back to the 12th century! Legend has it that Afonso Henriques built a chapel in honor of Santiago in this place when the Castle of Torres Novas was conquered.
Around 1203, King Sancho I transformed the small hermitage into a church. But many of the current decorative details refer to interventions carried out in the 16th to 18th centuries.
For example, the holy water fonts date back to the 16th century; the gilded woodcarving pulpit is Renaissance; the interior walls are covered with 17th-century tiles; the paintings were created in the 17th and 18th centuries; and the chancel received its altar and altarpiece in gilded woodcarving in the 18th century!
Santiago Church is open for cultural visits every day (except on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays), from 9 am to 6 pm!
5 de Outubro Square
The next stop on this Torres Novas itinerary is 5 de Outubro Square (in Portuguese, Praça 5 de Outubro), the most central square in the city. After all, it’s in this area that the main cafes, pastry shops, bars, and restaurants in Torres Novas are concentrated – not to mention shops, banks, and accommodation!
At other times, 5 de Outubro Square hosted the weekly fair and the antique fair, as well as the buildings of the City Council and the Judicial Court. Nowadays, these have been replaced by covered terraces and garden benches. And the name, which honors the Day of the Implantation of the Republic, was only given to it in the 1970s.
Carlos Reis Municipal Museum
This Torres Novas itinerary continues at the Carlos Reis Municipal Museum (in Portuguese, Museu Municipal Carlos Reis), a museum named after one of the greatest naturalist painters. Its permanent collection includes a nucleus of Torres Novas, an exhibition about Carlos Reis, prehistoric and Roman artifacts, and a collection of sacred art!
The Carlos Reis Municipal Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, with two different schedules: from 9 am to 12:30 pm and from 2 pm to 5:30 pm (from Tuesday to Friday) or from 2 pm to 6 pm (on Saturdays and Sundays). In addition to Mondays, the museum is closed on holidays. But admission is free for everyone!
Read my complete guide to the Carlos Reis Municipal Museum, a must-see tourist attraction on any Torres Novas itinerary!
The next stop on this Torres Novas itinerary is the Salvador Church or Parish Church of Torres Novas (in Portuguese, Igreja do Salvador or Igreja Matriz de Torres Novas).
This Catholic temple was designed at the end of the 16th century, after the demolition of a primitive church from the 13th century, which was installed on the same site.
In architectural terms, the Salvador Church combines Gothic, Mannerist, and Baroque features.
Outside, the oculus and the statue of Saint Saviour stand out; inside, it’s worth admiring the 16th (or 17th) baptismal font, the walls covered with 17th-century tiles, the high altar in gilded woodcarving, and the paintings on the ceilings.
Municipal Garden of Torres Novas
This Torres Novas itinerary continues in the Municipal Garden of Torres Novas (in Portuguese, Jardim Municipal de Torres Novas), a green park conceived on both banks of the Almonda River and composed of numerous leisure and recreation areas, such as the Gustavo Pinto Lopes Municipal Library, the Fernando Cunha Municipal Swimming Pools, and the Rose Garden.
There are also cafes and restaurants serving light meals, as well as a children’s playground, an open-air amphitheater, and dozens of winding paths for walking or jogging. And there’s a free car park between the library and the swimming pools!
Castle of Torres Novas
The next stop on this Torres Novas itinerary is the Castle of Torres Novas (in Portuguese, Castelo de Torres Novas), the most iconic monument in the city. Constructed in the Middle Ages as part of the Tagus Line, this military fortress helped to defend the southern border of the Kingdom of Portugal during the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula!
The Castle of Torres Novas is open every day, from 9 am to 5:30 pm (from Monday to Friday) or from 10 am to 5:30 pm (on weekends and holidays). As far as tickets are concerned, admission is free for everyone and the visit to the interior of the Castle and the Garden is done in no specific order.
Read my complete guide to the Castle of Torres Novas, a must-see tourist attraction on any Torres Novas itinerary!
The next stop on this Torres Novas itinerary is the Lapas Caves (in Portuguese, Grutas de Lapas), a network of artificial caves excavated almost 3 km from the historic center of the city. Composed of a rock formation of limestone tuff, these winding caves seem to have served as a shelter or quarry, already since medieval times!
The Lapas Caves are open every day (including holidays), from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm. Inside, there’s an Interpretation Center and several points of archaeological interest, with information panels and objects on display. And entry is free for everyone!
Roman Ruins of Villa Cardillio
This Torres Novas itinerary ends at the Roman Ruins of Villa Cardillio (in Portuguese, Ruínas Romanas de Vila Cardílio), an archaeological site located about 3 km from the historic center of the city. Excavations at the site began in 1962 and, since then, foundations, floors, and columns belonging to a Roman country house have been found!
The Roman Ruins of Villa Cardillio are open from Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 12:30 pm and from 1:30 pm to 5 pm. This means that the archaeological site is closed on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as on holidays – even if they fall during the week. Nevertheless, entry is free for all!
Read my complete guide to the Roman Ruins of Villa Cardillio, a must-see tourist attraction on any Torres Novas itinerary!
Map of the Torres Novas Itinerary
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