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Alenquer



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Whenever passing through the road that overlooks Alenquer, the Portuguese always tend to exclaim: «Oh, it looks just like a Nativity scene!» And it has become known as such because of Vila Alta, the old part of the town that climbs steeply up the slopes of a hillside, leaving behind the newer areas built by the river.

This idea of Alenquer has always conditioned the image of the town, and yet it affords other motives of interest. The region is fruitful, covered with vineyards, orchards and forest lands. Densely populated, there are also groups of small picturesque houses, as can be seen in the beautiful Aldeia Galega.

In the center of Alenquer, the 15th-century Church of Saint Peter contains the tomb of its native son, the chronicler of the Discoveries, Damião de Góis (1501-74). Pêro de Alenquer, a navigator who accompanied Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama, was also born here.

Near the ruins of the 13th-century castle, the Monastery of Saint Francis exibits a Manueline cloister and a 13th-century portal. It was the first Franciscan monastery built in Portugal, founded during the saint's lifetime.

Nearby, at Meca, the huge church of Santa Quitéria is where animals are blessed each May.

Due to its reputaion, Alenquer exibits every Christmas the enormous figures of the Holy Family and other traditional figures.

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