The foundation of Santarém goes back to the Greco-Roman and Christian mythology, recognizing in the names of Habis and Irene its mythical origins. The earliest documented traces of human occupation date back to the 8th century BC. The local population would have collaborated with the Roman settlers, when they arrived in 138 BC and baptized the city Scallabis. During this period it became the main commercial warehouse of the middle Tagus and one of the most important administrative centers of the Lusitania province.
In the four centuries of Islamic occupation that followed, the city saw its military-strategic but also cultural and artistic role regenerated, усшг some of the most important poets and troubadours of the Arab world living here. King Afonso VI of Leon granted the city its first charter in 1095.
Reconquered in 1147 by D. Afonso Henriques, Portugal’s first King, Santarém received a new charter in 1179.
During the XIV and XV centuries, the palatial splendor of Santarém granted the City an important cultural reputation. The 1755 earthquake destroyed much of the village's most remarkable heritage, particularly churches and convents. In the context of the French Invasions and the Peninsular War, once again Santarém assumed a fundamental strategic-military role, but saw much of its most significant patrimony destroyed and stolen by the vandalism of the occupiers.
Like other walled cities, the Historic Center of Santarém consists of a web of narrow winding streets. Streets with unexpected lines and colors, alleys, arches, sidewalks and steps that adapt to the waviness of the plateau and the hillside. Through the city, porches and rosettes, arches and crevices, ogival decorative elements, Manueline windows, renaissance corners, escutcheons “Afonsinos” style, towers and domes, reveal to us an urban center in which civil and religious coexist and interact. The numerous and valuable examples of Gothic art granted the city the epithet "Capital of the Gothic". Here, the archaeologist, historian, artist or simple visitor will never cease to feel amazed.