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Santarém is the lively capital of Ribatejo: in contrast to Alentejo, vast green plains stretch into the horizon, often flooded by the river Tagus. The whole region is proud of its tradition of horse and bull-rearing; the bullfights in Santarém are famous as well as its large, annual agricultural fair.

In itself, Santarém offers interesting churches and the well-known Portas do Sol, a gardes enclosed by the city's medieval walls and with magnificent views over the river and the vast plains.

Golegã is a quiet town which, in November, gathers crowds of horse-lovers in its colourful annual horse fair.

The great, fertile plains, known as lezíria, offer other sites of interest, like Alpiarça, with its fine church and the Casa-Museu dos Patudos (a museum with a fine art collection and decorative tiles), or Almeirim, known for its wines and, specially, the sopa de pedra (stone soup, made from vegetables and meat according to a legend of a beggar monk).

In the same district, do not miss Tomar: a small, quiet city with the charm of the narrow cobbled streets of the old town and beautiful gardens, bathed by the river Nabão. But its main attraction is the Convent of Christ, a dazzling monastery with church, cloisters and castle built in various styles, founded in 1162 by the grand-master of the Templars.

Near Tomar, you can also enjoy boating, fishing and water sports in the large dam of Castelo de Bode, surrounded by small, isolated villages and eucalyptus forests, or visit the sanctuary of Fátima, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three shepherd children and which attracts thousands of pilgrims each year.

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