Santo Tirso is a cosmopolitan city, where contemporary art and history challenge us through the streets! The stunning green spaces and the Ave river invite us to both leisure and cultural activities. The public works of modern sculpture and the historical monuments are remarkable, but there is much more to know in Santo Tirso!
The city of Santo Tirso is part of the district of Porto, in the North of Portugal. It is about 30 km from Porto, Braga and Guimarães, which are three other northern cities to visit. It has great accesses, either by car, train or bus.
WHAT TO VISIT IN SANTO TIRSO?
Museums, churches, monasteries, parks, castros… and so many other charms. It’s worth discovering! Here is a map with the main attractions of Santo Tirso so you can organize your sequence of walks. We hope you find it useful.
MONASTERY OF SÃO BENTO (MONASTERY OF SANTO TIRSO)
On the banks of the Ave River stands the grandiose S. Bento Monastery, better known as the Santo Tirso Monastery, classified as a National Monument since 1910. This temple impresses both for its architectural beauty and its great size. It occupies such an extensive space that nowadays, besides the parish house, it houses the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture, the Abbot Pedrosa Museum, the Conde São Bento Agricultural Professional School and several public services. According to existing documentation, the original building was built in 978 and in 1092 was donated to the Benedictine order. In the 12th century Count D. Henrique, father of the first king of Portugal, donated the land surrounding the monastery, and it remained so until the 19th century, when religious orders were extinct in Portugal. The imposing Mother Church, which we can see today, dates from the 17th century. The year 1679 is inscribed on the facade, recalling the date of the end of the works on the church.
SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF THE ASSUMPTION
The Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Assunção is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Santo Tirso. It is located on the summit of the Mount of Nossa Senhora da Assunção. It is sought not only for religious reasons, but by all travelers looking for a beautiful landscape or just to admire the monumentality of the Church. The sanctuary dates from the beginning of the 20th century. Its layout is of Romanesque and Gothic inspiration, giving it great architectural beauty. Despite the great devotion to Our Lady in Portugal, this is one of the few temples dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption.
CHURCH OF MONTE CÓRDOBA
The Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Assunção is one of the biggest attractions of Santo Tirso, but a few kilometers away we find the Church of Monte Córdova. This is the parish church, which does not have the prominence of the sanctuary, but is a beautiful example of the neo-romantic revival of the religious architecture of the twentieth century.
SANTA CRUZ CHAPEL
The chapel of Santa Cruz, or Capela do Bom Jesus, is a small and beautiful stone chapel, built in the late 17th century by the Confraternity of Santa Cruz. The chapel opens rarely, only on the occasion of the Romaria do Bom Jesus. It is located in Burgães, in the municipality of Santo Tirso, on the side of the road that leads to the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Assunção.
SÃO PEDRO DE RORIZ CHURCH
It is one of the most picturesque churches in Santo Tirso. It may be one of the most relevant examples of Romanesque architecture in the Douro region. It is located in the parish of Roriz. It was founded in the eleventh century, in the twelfth century was given to the canons regents of St. Augustine and later passed to the custody of the Society of Jesus. In the 18th century the Jesuits were forced to abandon the site and in the 19th century the chapel was acquired by the Viscount of Roriz. Since then, the chapel is accessible to the public, serving the local community.
SÃO MIGUEL DO COUTO CHURCH
In this church remains the baptismal font where S. Rosendo, who was born in 907 in Santo Tirso, was baptized. Because of this history, the Church of São Miguel do Couto is also known as the Church of S. Rosendo. S. Rosendo came to be Bishop of the ancient diocese of Dume and administrator of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. From here starts the footpath Camino de S. Rosendo, with 15 km, which ends in the Chapel of Santo André, in Vila das Aves.
SÃO MIGUEL DE VILA DAS AVES CHURCH
Vila das Aves is a parish in Santo Tirso that grew in the meeting of two rivers, the Vizela river and the Ave river. The patron saint chosen for the village was S. Miguel Arcanjo and, therefore, the Mother Church received the name of São Miguel de Vila das Aves Church.
25 DE ABRIL SQUARE
The Praça 25 de Abril is in front of the City Hall of Santo Tirso. This is the largest square in the city and, in summer, it becomes the stage for several concerts, especially in July, during the São Bento festivities. In the square is a sculpture of MIECST called The Keeper of the Sleeping Stone. In the gardens surrounding the square there are many other contemporary art sculptures.
INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY SCULPTURE OF SANTO TIRSO (MIECST)
This is a beautiful space of contemporary architecture, which is integrated in the Abade Pedrosa Municipal Museum. Here we witness the perfect symbiosis between classical and modern architecture, in the setting of the unmissable Santo Tirso Monastery. The Abade Pedrosa Museum goes through the history of the region, from the Paleolithic period to the industrial age. To this museum the MIECST space was associated, with the mission to promote symposiums of sculpture, and to guarantee the preservation of the estate that is displayed in different public spaces of Santo Tirso. In 1990 the sculptor Alberto Carneiro proposed to the City Hall of Santo Tirso the realization of symposiums of contemporary sculpture, focusing particularly on public sculpture. From this initiative was born the MIECST that today occupies an innovative space, designed by the architects Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto de Moura. The museum always has very interesting temporary exhibitions. It is worth going to see both the exhibitions and the space. To discover the works of the permanent collection, just take a walk through the urban parks of Santo Tirso.
SARA MOREIRA URBAN PARK
The Parque Urbano Sara Moreira, or Rabada Park, is a pleasant green space, embraced by the river Ave. It is about 2,5Km from the center of Santo Tirso. If you go by car, it only takes 5 minutes. However, you can take the opportunity to take a nice walk along the Ave Riverbank Walkway, which connects the city to the park. The park occupies an extensive area of more than 96 000m2. The different zones have different attractions, some more inviting in winter, others in summer. The truth is that there is always a good reason to go to the park. Here you can find a forest where cork oaks and oak trees abound, welcoming us in their shade. There is a huge lawn, and the most pleasant space is by the lake, where there is also an amphitheater. The Café do Rio terrace is open late all week long. You can go for a coffee during the day, and if you keep an eye on the schedule, you may have the opportunity to attend some cultural event, such as a concert, dance show, or even a lively karaoke night. In the space of this park you will find 10 of the sculptures from MIECST’s permanent exhibition.
STROLL ALONG THE BANKS OF THE AVE RIVER
The Ave Margens Walkway is a very pleasant pedestrian path, which begins near the old train station in Santo Tirso and ends near the Sara Moreira Urban Park, also known as Rabada Park. Those who enjoy cycling can enjoy the bike path that accompanies the footpath. Although it is a short path, with only 1.4 km, it is framed by beautiful landscapes, surrounded by the serenity and charm of the river Ave.
DONA MARIA II PARK
This is a charming park, with naturalistic lines and leafy vegetation, in the center of Santo Tirso. The romantic atmosphere corresponds to the initial project of 1872, but in 2001 the space was given a new life. To accentuate the romanticism of the place, there is a bandstand and a lake with ducks crossed by a small bridge. The new elements that stand out are a sculpture by Fernanda Fragateiro, which is part of the collection of the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture of Santo Tirso, and a huge water panel that connects to the Adjacent Gardens. In the park, there is a pleasant Tea House and a children’s playground.
GEÃO URBAN PARK
This is a green area of about 70,000 m2. It is a very pleasant space whose design meets urban leisure. It has large lawn areas, pedestrian walks, bike paths, a spacious playground and the best skate park in the surrounding area. Skaters from outside Santo Tirso come here on purpose to enjoy these facilities. In this space, there are three sculptures from the collection of the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture. The Urban Park of Geão is next to the Municipal Library of Santo Tirso.
RABADA URBAN PARK
There is a lot to do in the Rabada urban park. A park with an area of almost 100,000 m2 right next to the river Ave. Perfect for walking or biking. It has a picnic area, a very nice lake and an amphitheater. Perfect for a walk after lunch!
NOSSA SENHORA DE VALINHAS LEISURE PARK
This park is in the parish of Monte Córdova in the municipality of Santo Tirso, less than 3 km from Monte de Nossa Senhora da Assunção. It is a very nice place for those who like to enjoy nature. It has an extensive oak grove with a welcoming shade and a picnic park that invites you to have a picnic. From this place start several footpaths, properly signaled that lead us to discover the river Leça and the beautiful Fervença Falls. Next to the park is the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Valinhas, the name by which Our Lady of Mercy is known here. In September, this place is the stage of the ancient pilgrimage of Nossa Senhora de Valinhas, which joins festivity and faith, attracting thousands of people to the place.
NOSSA SENHORA DA ASSUNÇÃO MOUNT
Monte de Nossa Senhora da Assunção is only 7 km from Santo Tirso, in Monte Córdova, one of its parishes. It is a forested area that invites you to nature walks. The hill is crowned by the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Assunção, from where you can see a beautiful landscape, especially at dawn.
CASTRO DO MONTE PADRÃO
The parish of Monte Córdova, in Santo Tirso, contains several points of interest. One of them is the Castro do Monte Padrão. Here, a few meters from the Chapel of Senhor do Padrão, are important archaeological remains of a fortified settlement that would have been occupied since the ninth century BC until the sixteenth century. From this place, it is possible to see the sea and the Basilica of Senhora da Assunção. To learn more about the settlement, you can visit the Interpretive Center of the Castro do Monte do Padrão, near the archaeological site.
CITÂNIA DE SANFINS
Citânia de Sanfins is a 15-hectare area along which are archaeological remains of an ancient fortified settlement dating from the 1st century BC. In this place, there are some particularly curious aspects, such as the feet of a statuette of a warrior fixed in the rock, the necropolis and the public baths. Those who want to know a little more can visit the Archaeological Museum of Citânia de Sanfins, about 2.5 km from the site, in Paços de Ferreira.
CALDAS DA SAÚDE THERMAL SPRINGS
A thermal spa opened in 1891 and that offers its visitors the benefits of its natural mineral waters! It underwent a major renovation in 1994 and reopened with more and better services. It is open all year round. The thermal circuit (15€ in 2019) gives access to the hydromassage pool, the Turkish bath, the Jacuzzi, the sauna and a thermal water steam room. Those who have frequented it highly praise the quality of the space and the friendliness of the staff.
SANTO THYRSO SPINNING MILL
It began operating in 1898 and was built on land that belonged to the Santa Casa da Misericórdia of Santo Tirso. It closed its doors in 1990 and was reconverted into an entrepreneurial space. Among other facilities, the Fábrica de Santo Thyrso offers a fashion and design incubator, a cultural center that hosts several events and an innovation center that hosts several companies.
MONUMENT TO THE TEXTILE WORKER
It was in Santo Tirso that the textile industry first arrived in Portugal. In 1845, the Rio Vizela Spinning and Textile factory became the first unit in the country. Later, it became the largest Portuguese factory. The textile industry had an enormous impact on the social fabric of Santo Tirso and thus justifies the existence in the city of a monument to the textile worker!
MONUMENT TO THE HERO OF ULTRAMAR
A monument built in 2002. It seeks to keep history alive and to honor the 9000 men who died fighting for Portugal during the overseas war (1961 – 1974).
VIRTUAL TOUR TO SANTO TIRSO
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR SANTO TIRSO?
To visit and get to know the city calmly and quietly, we suggest a 3-day tour. If you have time to spare, take one (or more than one) of the following suggestions. Below is a map to help you gauge distances. Have fun!
31 kilometers and 37 minutes separate Santo Tirso from the city of Barcelos. All the Portuguese should get to know the city of the Barcelos rooster (symbol of the city and of Portugal in the world). Welcoming, beautiful, full of monuments and history. If you accept our suggestion, among other attractions be sure to visit: the field of the republic, the church of our lady of the third, the garden of Barrocas and the temple of the Good Jesus of the Cross.
From Santo Tirso to Guimarães is 23 kilometers, a distance that can be covered in 26 minutes. Knowing the cradle of Portugal should be mandatory! Its importance in the foundation of Portugal is complemented by the friendliness of its people and naturally by its tourist attractions. If you go there, be sure to visit the historical center (one of the most beautiful in the country), the castle, the Padrão do Salado and the church of São Miguel do Castelo. Guimarães is a city with charisma!
From Santo Tirso to Penafiel are 32 kilometers, a distance that can be covered in 37 minutes. Penafiel is located between hills, valleys, mountains and the magnificent Douro and Tâmega rivers. As it is located in a region with traces of occupation since pre-historic times, Penafiel has a very rich historical heritage. If you go there, among other magical places, be sure to see: the castro of Monte Mozinho, the Roman baths, megalithic monuments, the municipal museum of Penafiel and the shale village of Quintadona.
From Santo Tirso to Ermesinde is only 21 minutes and a distance of 29 kilometers. Ermesinde is a city with a very rich historical heritage that deserves a very attentive visit. History, heritage and natural scenery of great beauty are the hallmarks of what was once called the “Sintra of the North. If you accept our suggestion you can’t miss the São Silvestre chapel, the Santa Rita church, the Mesquita’s palace and the Ermesinde Urban Park.
HISTORY OF SANTO TIRSO
In distant times, Santo Tirso was a small village called Moreira de Riba de Ave. In the 10th century a large monastery was built here, which was in the care of the Benedictine order. The monastery took the name of Santo Tirso, who at the time was a very popular saint throughout the Iberian Peninsula. Because of the monastery, the land became known as Santo Tirso, a name it holds to this day. Still, only in 1833 is that appears for the first time a written record of the county of Santo Tirso.
The territory lies in the transition between the coastal strip and the interior of the country (more mountainous and diverse). A geographical position that contributed to the economic development of the region because the proximity to the sea and several rivers (used in the past as communication routes), was an important economic engine.
GASTRONOMY IN SANTO TIRSO
The sweets are the maximum exponent of Santo Tirso’s gastronomy. The limonetes and the jesuits are the most famous of the region. But there are still to detach the conventuals with special emphasis for the liquor of Singeverga and for the cookies of Santa Escolástica. A final note for the octopus and baked codfish dishes.
RESTAURANTS IN SANTO TIRSO
ADEGA DO ZÉ
Cheap restaurant. With more than 140 comments and an overall rating of 4.4 stars. A good option for those who like traditional Portuguese food. The friendliness of the owners, the quality of the food and the quality / price ratio is highly praised by customers.
HOTELS IN SANTO TIRSO
Let us start by mentioning that we did not find many options for accommodation in Santo Tirso. Most of the hotels we analyzed don’t have a good Google rating or don’t have a high enough number of online reviews to be able to reference them. Here is our suggestion.
SANTO THYRSO HOTEL
Very central 3 star hotel. Over 95 reviews on google and an overall rating of 4.2 stars (out of a maximum of 5). the most complimentary comments mention the large size of the beds, a very friendly staff and impeccable cleanliness.