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Santa Maria da Feira

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Santa Maria da Feira owes its name to a long tradition: already in 1117, a document made reference to the «Land of Saint Mary, a place people call Fair», alluding to the fairs and markets held at the bottom of the hill where the castle rises and where peasants could find grain, agricultural implements, tools, cloth and all that was necessary for their daily existence.

Nowadays, a monthly fair still takes place each month at the broad Rossio, from where a double stairway leads to the Lóios Church (with beautiful 17th-century decorated tiles) and to the Convent of Santo Elói.

The enchanting castle proudly exhibits its pinnacles and crenels, crowning this town of winding streets with 18th and 19th-centuries houses, the 18th-century ornamental fountain at the Old Square and the Miserichord Church, from the same period.

Prosperous namely due to the cork industry, and in spite of the influence of nearby Oporto, Santa Maria da Feira presents a tranquil atmosphere of the past which is palpable at the historical center and at the wooded park surrounding the castle.

In January there is the Festa das Fogaceiras, a popular and traditional festival where the local speciality, fogaças (a sweetened wheat bread with delicate flavour), is sold.

The region is full of pine-woods mingled with maize fields and crossed by streams, with wood granaries fixed upon stone pillars and 19th-century farmers' houses bearing an enormous doorway to allow ox-carts to pass.

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