Circular Routes Stage
This route takes us to the historical center of the city with probablythe highest historical-cultural interest of the Alentejo Coast, passing by the Roman Ruins of Miróbriga. The castle, from the Islamic period, and the mother church, from the 13th century, are both national monuments.
The village was ruled by the Moor Kassem from the 8th to the 12th century, when it was taken over by troops loyal to King Afonso Henriques. It was later donated to the Order of Santiago de Espada. The medieval town of Santiago de Kassem acquired great importance in the 13th century, and received its first Formal Charter from King Dinis I, a monarch who donated the village and castle to Vetacia Lascaris, a Greek princess responsible for the education of his daughter Constança. After the death of Vetacia, in 1336, the village returned to the ownership of the Order of Santiago.
The quaint narrow streets are examples of common architecture of the time, but you can also find imposing manors from the time of the great feudal lords. Agriculture was based around wheat, fruits and cork, while livestock centered on horses, mules, donkeys, cattle, sheep, goats and swine. In the 19th century, the town was very prosperous. There were cork factories, sawmills and carpentries, mills, forges, workshops, ironmongers and sawmills. The village attracted lawyers, pharmacists, grocers and farm traders, and allowed cafes, cultural and recreational associations to flourish, such as “Sociedade Harmonia”, the oldest community in the country.
The first car in Portugal, a Panhard & Levassor, arrived to the city in 1895, imported from Paris by the 4th Count of Avillez. At the beginning of the 20th century, the widowed Countess Maria Carolina, initiated the creation of the Tapada gardens between the palace and the castle barbican wall, intending to combine a botanical garden with a park of romantic inspiration. The Condes’ Tapada, which is now a public park, includes curious buildings such as St. Jorge’s Chapel and a Tea House with a Neo-Manueline portal and a neo-Gothic greenhouse, which is now in ruins.
The route crosses the ruins of the Roman city of Miróbriga, abandoned in the 5th century AD. These ruins include dwellings, a hippodrome, thermal baths, a forum, multiple temples and a bridge. Well-preserved Roman cities are not common in Portugal, which makes Miróbriga a special archaeological station. You can see the sophistication of the bath system, with public bathrooms each at different temperatures. The forum and the commercial area are also both well preserved, with several shops and a tavern.
Where to start
Santiago do Cacém
On the road of the urban park Ria da Figueira, next to the municipal swimming pools.
Rules and Recommendations
Next to the mother church, take a stroll around the castle and visit the Tapada.
The Miróbriga Ruins visiting hours
► From Tuesday to Sunday, 9 to 12 am and from 2 to 5.30 pm;
► Closes on Mondays and holidays.
Stay on the lookout for the white, red and yellow markings on the Circular Routes that run together with the Historical Way, as well as the signage marked with yellow and red for Circular Routes.