Santiago do Cacém Alentejo | Portugal Visitor
Santiago do Cacém, Alentejo
Portugal City Travel Guide: Santiago do Cacém
Santiago do Cacém is a picturesque town with an historic castle in the municipality of Setúbal in the Baixo Alentejo region.
It is 55 km south of Alcácer do Sal and not far from the beaches of the Tróia Peninsula, Sines and Porto Covo. It is also just a short drive from Grândola.
The town now has a population of around 30,000 inhabitants.
The area around Santiago do Cacém has a long history and is believed to have been settled from at least the Iron Age and probably the preceding Stone Age.
During the Roman period the nearby settlement of Miróbriga seems to have been an important Roman town. The ruins are, indeed, some of the most well-preserved in Portugal. There are two bath buildings, possibly for men and women, temples, houses, shops, a bridge, paved roads and the foundations of a Hippodrome or Roman Circus used for chariot races.
The Forum or temple dedicated to the Imperial cult is the most impressive structure with a few of its original, decorative columns still standing.
A modern Interpretative Centre has been constructed which provides information on the entire site.
After the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, Santiago do Cacém was occupied by the Visigoths and then by the Moors during the period of Islamic control of Iberia.
The town fell to the forces of Portugal’s first king Afonso Henriques in 1158 but was subsequently retaken by the Almohads during the reign of Afonso’s son, Sancho I.
Before the Almohads resumed Muslim control, the area had been given to the knights of the Order of Santiago who also controlled nearby Alcácer do Sal, Grândola, Palmela Castle and Almada.
When the town finally fell again to the Christians during the reign of D. Afonso II (1211-1223) it was named Santiago do Cacém, after the Order of Santiago, the religious and military order founded in 12th century Spain. Cacém possibly derives from the Moorish name for the town, Kassen.
The main attraction in Santiago do Cacém is the magnificent castle, the Castelo de Santiago do Cacém which dominates the hilltop around which the town has grown.
Parts of the Moorish walls still survive but the castle was enlarged and strengthened during the medieval period.
The castle is basically rectangular in layout with ten square towers and an impressive keep.
Nearby on Rua do Castelo is the white-washed Igreja Matriz de Santiago do Cacém now classified as a National Monument. It dates originally from the 13th century and was founded and built by the Order of Santiago. The building houses the Museum of Sacred Art of Santiago do Cacém and relief sculptures depicting Santiago fighting the Moors.
Other historic structures close to the castle are a pillory which stands in front of the Antigos Paços do Concelho (Old Town Hall) and the Palácio da Carreira with fine azulejos tiles dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Another church of note is the 19th century Igreja Paroquial de Abela in the village of Abela, 20 km east. Built in the French style the bell tower forms part of the façade.
Abela also has a fine pillory and the Museu do Trabalho Rural, dedicated to the history and culture of agriculture in this part of the Alentejo. Various agricultural implements are on display with the agricultural cycle and festivals of the region explained in colorful wall panels. The museum opened in 2008 in a former GNR post.
The Museu da Farinha (Flour Museum) in the village of São Domingos was a once a former flour mill in operation until the 1980s. It is now a museum with all the machinery still in place. The former granary next door has been converted into luxury accommodation, the Casas da Moagem with a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, a bar and lounge.
The Municipal Museum of Santiago do Cacém (Museu Municipal de Santiago do Cacém) has exhibits collated by Dr. João Gualberto da Cruz e Silva, who led the early excavations of Miróbriga in the 1930s. On display are Roman coins, ceramics and stone inscriptions. The building itself is a former 19th century jail which was later used to detain enemies of the Salazar regime.
The Moinho da Quintinha is a small windmill built in 1813 that was in operation until 1966.
6 km northwest of town is the fun Badoca Safari Park with a variety of animals to experience on guided tours by jeep. These include antelopes, buffaloes, giraffes, ostriches and zebras living in a savanna-style environment. Visitors can also see a family of chimps, lemurs, enjoy falcon shows and see a variety of exotic and carnivorous birds including cranes, hornbills, parrots, eagles, owls and vultures.
Local buses run out the 15 km to the attractive, sandy beach at the lagoon in Santo André – the Praia da Costa de Santo André. The beach is part of the Reserva Natural das Lagoas de Santo André e Sancha with beautiful pinewoods and stretches of reeds.
Santiago do Cacém Tourist Office
Parque da Quinta do Chafariz
7540-135 Santiago do Cacém
Tel: 269 826 696
Getting to Santiago do Cacém
Bus Travel in Portugal
Buses to + from Santiago do Cacém
There are buses from Santiago do Cacém to Lisbon (Sete Rios; 2 hours, 15 minutes), Almada (1 hour, 55 minutes), Setubal (1 hour, 25 minutes), Beja (2 hours), Grândola (25 minutes), Porto Covo (1 hour) and Sines (40 minutes).
Buses to + from Setubal
There are frequent bus services from Setubal to Lisbon (Sete Rios) as well as to Évora (95 minutes) and Faro (4 hours for the quickest buses).
Buses to Setubal also run from Cacilhas and Palmela. From Sete Rios Bus Station Rede Expressos buses to Setubal take 45 minutes and cost 6 Euros. There are buses from 7.30 am to 8.30 pm.
Transportes Sul de Tejo (TST) buses run from outside the main station. These are the 413 to Freeport, the 561 to Campolide and Praça de Espanha in Lisbon, the 562 to Gare do Oriente, the 563 to Praça de Espanha and Gare do Oriente, the 605 to Palmela, the 609 to Vale Ana Gomes, the 614 to Alto da Guerra, the 767 to Azeitão and the 768 to Palmela and Azeitão. The wine-producing town of Palmela, 10 km north, is worth visiting for Palmela Castle.
Train Travel in Portugal
Santiago do Cacém Station is now no longer in use but is a picturesque sight in itself with lovely azulejos tiles.
The most convenient railway station is now in Grândola which has connections to Setúbal, Lisbon and Faro.
Trains to Setúbal
There are daily trains to Setúbal Station from Entrecampos Station in Lisbon. The private commuter rail network Fertagus connects Lisbon (Entrecampos, Sete Rios & Campolide) with Setúbal over the River Tagus on the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge.
Car Travel in Portugal
Santiago do Cacém is approximately an 80-minute drive from Setúbal on the A2 (IP1) and A26 highways.
Setúbal easily connects with Lisbon via the A12/IP1 and A1 motorways and to Faro and the Algarve via IC1 or E1/IP1.
To get from and to Sines take the A26 road. Travel time is around 20 minutes for the 22-km journey.
Beja is 80 km east on the N121 and IP8.
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From the Airport
The nearest airports to Santiago do Cacém are Lisbon Airport and Faro Airport. Lisbon Airport is 145 km north on the A2 and IP8. Faro Airport is around 173 km to the south on the A2 and N261 highways.
Portugal Hotel & Hostel Accommodation
Other recommended places to stay in Santiago do Cacém include the Casa Santiago, Casas de Miróbriga, close to the Roman ruins at Miróbriga, Residencial Covas, a comfortable and affordable guest house and Quinta de Malmedra, a farm stay a short distance west of the center with pool, garden and games room.
See a listing of all available hotels and guesthouses in Santiago do Cacém.
Book Hotel Accommodation in Santiago do Cacém
If visiting on a day trip from Setúbal, there is a cluster of hotels located near Setúbal Station including the recommended four star Meliá Setúbal Hotel, the Hotel Arangues, three stars and the four star Luna Esperanca Centro Hotel.
See a listing of all available hotels in Setúbal.
Some recommended places to eat are Retiro do Escova on Rua Machado dos Santos, Mercado A Mesa on Rua Moçambique and o Arco at Estr. do Fidalgo 5.
For a drink try Novo Império at Rua Machado dos Santos 57.
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The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
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