Santa Maria da Feira

Travelling the network



Santa Maria da Feira is located at the crossroads of the north-south and coastal-interior axes of Portugal, a strategic location that, since ancient times, has made this region a meeting place and passage for many peoples. Between the eleventh and twelfth centuries it was known as ‘Land of Santa Maria’ (Terra de Santa Maria), and at the beginning of the nationality it was a link between the Condado Portucalense, in the north of the country, and that of Coimbra. It owes its name to a trade fair that was held at that time in these lands, attested by letter by the mother of  Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal.

Today, it is a city with important infrastructures such as the Europarque, a modern congress centre with varied cultural events. Also noteworthy is the Museum dedicated to the History of Paper in Portugal. This space aims to enhance the historical, cultural and socio-economic values of a paper region with almost three centuries of activity.

In addition to its Holy Week, the calendar includes the traditional Festa das Fogaceiras, as the young women who carry the fogaças (a type of sweet bread) on their heads are called. It takes place every January 20, in honor of San Sebastián, patron saint of the municipality, and has become one of the cultural manifestations most linked to the identity of Santa Maria da Feira, with more than five centuries. The event is made up of three acts: the Civic Procession, the Solemn Mass with the Blessing of the Fogaças and the Procession of the Fogaceiras. The Fogaça da Feira holds the Protected Geographical Identification seal, and there is a brotherhood to protect and promote it (Confraria da Fogaça da Feira), as well as an association of producers (Agrupamento de Produtores da Fogaça da Feira).


Among its architectural heritage, we cannot miss the Castle of Santa Maria da Feira, considered one of the most complete examples of Portuguese architecture, as it represents a wide range of defensive elements used in Romanesque architecture. The first documentary reference to its fortification dates back to the twelfth century. The diversity of the defensive resources that were used there, between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries, make it a unique piece of military architecture, having been fundamental throughout the process of autonomy of the Condado Portucalense. The complex, in Gothic style, is an imposing, austere monument, and built on a granite platform. It was declared a National Monument in 1910.

Also noteworthy are the city’s museological spaces, full of history, among which we find the Museum of the Paper of Terras de Santa Maria, the Museum of Convent of Lóios and the Museum of Santa Maria de Lamas, started by a private individual, which brings together a wide collection of art, especially sacred art.

On the other hand, it is worth highlighting the Zoo Lourosa, the only ornithological park in the country, which provides a journey through the wild world of birds.

Santa Maria da Feira is close to large urban centers, although inside it preserves a great tranquility that invites you to enjoy nature. In the São Jorge Hot Springs, visitors find the ideal refuge for the care and well-being of the body and mind.

You cannot visit the city without tasting the traditional Fogaça, the traditional and representative bread of the city, and the Easter Regueifa (sweet bread), which is tasted and given to family and friends.

Al last, it offers a very varied cultural program throughout the year, including the Imaginarius, the International Street Theatre Festival, the Viagem Medieval and the Perlim Christmas theme park. As cultural spaces, we find the Europarque and the Cineteatro António Lamoso.


Holy Week in Santa Maria da Feira is an experience full of beauty and originality with the main promoters who consolidated this tradition in 1998: the Grupo Gólgota, the Municipality of Santa Maria da Feira, the São Nicolau da Feira Parish, the Santa Casa da Misericórdia da Feira and the Passionists, religious congregation of the eighteenth century, whose charism is rooted in the Passion of Christ.

Around Holy Week, a set of cults and events are held annually that allow the public to experience moments of special relevance with a diverse and comprehensive program that unites tradition, contemporaneity, theater, music and heritage, where its historical recreations that are carried out in various architectural spaces of the city stand out, having the Castle of Santa Maria da Feira as a highlight.

The tradition of Holy Week in Santa Maria da Feira can be traced back to the Blue Canons or Friars Lóios, a congregation that settled in these lands in the second half of the sixteenth century. In the mid-eighteenth century, the Brotherhood of Senhor dos Passos, began to organize the Good Friday Procession, which has been extinguished in time, while the Santa Casa da Misericórdia da Feira organized the Holy Thursday Procession, known as the Endoenças Procession, or Triumph or Ecce Homo Procession.

Historical re-enactment of the “Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem”

On the afternoon of Palm Sunday, Santa Maria da Feira joyfully welcomes the re-enactment of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. With olive branches, blessed at the beginning of the procession, it commemorates the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem and the crowd came out to welcome him, recalling the acclamations and gestures of the Hebrew children who went to meet Jesus singing ‘Hosanna’. This biblical representation, carried out by the Grupo Gólgota, from the Convent of Lóios, is divided into five acts: “Jesus in Bethphage”, “Jesus and the children of Jerusalem”, “Jesus is the Son of God!”, “The tears of Jesus when he sees Jerusalem”, and finally, “Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem”, in the Church of the Passionists.

Historical reenactment of the “Last Supper, Gethsemane and Sanhedrin”

Originated by the Grupo Gólgota, it is a unique recreation that takes place entirely in the gardens of the Convent of Lóios, inviting the public to participate in these moments of deep intimacy and interiority of Jesus with his disciples, on the night of Holy Wednesday.

In an act of humility, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and shares the bread and wine at this Last Supper, which represents the first scene of this recreation, anticipating the prelude to the Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and the prison of Jesus, which makes up the second scene of the representation. The third and final act recreates Jesus before the Jewish court, the Sanhedrin, where he is tried and found guilty of blasphemy, opening a process that will lead him to Pilate and the consequent crucifixion, which takes place on the Way of the Cross, on Good Friday.

Procession of the Endoenças or the Triumph or Ecce Homo Procession

The Procession of the Endoenças, organized by the Santa Casa da Misericórdia da Feira since the mid-eighteenth century, is one of the highlights of Holy Week for its deep introspection and the symbolism it entails. This ancient Procession in Santa Maria da Feira, on the evening of Holy Thursday, after the Celebration of the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, from the Church of Misericórdia to the Church of the Convent of Lóios with its return, carries the Lord Ecce Homo, Saint John the Evangelist, the Lord of the Steps, the Reclining Christ and the Lady of Sorrows, together with the Banners and Flags and representative figures, in a demonstration of the deep popular religiosity, particularly visible in the symbols and rituals of this penitential celebration.

Historical recreation of the “Way of the Cross”

On the night of Good Friday, the path of Jesus, from Pilate’s Praetorium to Mount Calvary, has been recreated by the Grupo Gólgota for more than 30 years. The tour begins at the Palace of Justice with the ‘Trial and Condemnation of Jesus’. Subsequently, the road to Calvary begins with a stop at various points in the city, recreating and congregating the different stations of the Way of the Cross: on the stairs of the Church of Misericórdia, Jesus meets his Mother, Veronica and the Women of Jerusalem; later, in an extra scene to the stations of the traditional Way of the Cross, the ‘Trial of Jesus in the public square’. Then, on the stairs of the Church of the Convent of Lóios, ‘Cireneu helps Jesus to carry the Cross’, following the road, to the Castle of the city, where the Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus is recreated.

On the other hand, it is worth highlighting the important work carried out  in the academic and scientific field and thanks to it documentary collection, the Santa Casa da Misericórdia da Feira, recently organized within the framework of the MISERERE project, as well as the documentation treasured by the Municipal Archive and the Museum of the Convent of Lóios. Equally important is the work of disseminating and revitalizing the religious and architectural heritage, with guided tours, exhibitions or concerts of sacred music hosted by the Convent of Lóios, the Church of Misericórdia and the Church of the Passionists.