Santa Maria da Feira
Santa Maria da Feira is a city and municipal seat in Northern Portugal, located in the region between the Douro and Vouga rivers, with luxuriant natural surroundings and benefiting from good means of communication since ancient times.
This is a region of ancient human occupation, with many ruins such as Roman camps and Portuguese-Roman stations, such as the city of "Lancóbriga", considered the predecessor of the ancient Roman-Christian-Portuguese city of Santa Maria of the Feira. Indeed, the Roman civilization has left its mark, like a taste for thermal habits, sections of roads and bridges and agricultural knowledge. At the beginning of the eleventh century, the Castle was erected in the site of an old Roman camp, and the whole village developed around it. The Castle became immensely important as time went by, as the core of the Lands of Santa Maria, and owner of a famous market ("feira") where the most important products were sold, whose name extended to the village "Vila da Feira", and remained so until the 1980's.
Santa Maria da Feira is located in a region with fertile soils, which were the main mark of local development, mainly due to the flourishing cork industry, and for its development it was dubbed "Terra de Santa Maria".
The towering Santa Maria da Feira Castle , dating from the 10th century, is well worth a visit, as well as the beautiful and eighteenth-century Parish Church, the sixteenth-century Misericórdia Church.
Or just relax, stroll and get to know the beautiful Historic Centre. Being a fertile region, its surroundings boast several elegant and emblazoned houses which formerly belonged to the great agricultural and commercial lords, such as Solar Condes de Fijo, Casa da Portela or Quinta da Torre, with its romantic gardens of great beauty.
Nowadays the region of Santa Maria da Feira is equipped with excellent facilities, such as Europarque (a congress centre which hosts various cultural events), Visionarium (an interactive science museum), as well as the collections in the Paper Museum, the Lóios Convent Museum or the Museum of Santa Maria de Lamas.
The festivities of Santa Maria da Feira are full of tradition and devotion, the most famous being the Fogaceiras Feast, every January 20th, with its high point, the procession of the fogaceiras, the girls who carry the fogaças (a kind of sweet wheat bread), and the grandiose "Medieval Journey", which makes the whole city seem to travel back in time to the Middle Ages, with its many activities, moments of entertainment and performances, attracting large crowds.