Book Now


Santar: The history of Portugal passes through here

It is known that populations of hunters and gatherers have settled in these fertile and beautiful lands since the Neolithic period, around 5,000 years ago. Then came the Iberians, the Celts, the Romans, who left more traces of their presence, and the descendants of the Moors who were converted to Christianity by the sword of King Afonso Henriques. It is said that the origin of the name Santar is possibly associated with the stay of the Visigoths in the Iberian Peninsula, as it derives from a proper name of Germanic origin, Sentarius, mentioned in documentation since the 10th century, in the form of Senteiro.

The origin of Santar dates back to the Middle Ages and to a legend that tells of the happy passage and rest in these lands of a king, believed to have been D. Afonso II, and his army, after a victorious battle. But it was during the reign of King Manuel, in 1514, that Senhorim received a new charter and replaced the one of 1253, then granted by King Afonso III.  By 1527, there were around 250 inhabitants living in Santar. Diogo Soares de Albergaria II, a lineage of privilege dating back to the 12th century and the conquest of Lisbon, was the lord of these prosperous lands at the time. They were dismissed with the excuse that they had no descendants, but it was actually a consequence of supporting the Portuguese king against Philippine rule in the 16th century. The first King Philip (II of Spain and I of Portugal) appointed the Cunha family in his place, and Luís da Cunha, lord of Sabugosa, Óvoa and Barreiros, moved to Santar in 1609. 

It was at this time that Santar prospered. The "Cunhas", as they are known, brought attention to this very fertile part of the country, where agriculture flourished, and even more so the production of wine, which brought many people to the area. In the first half of the 17th century, Santar was an exporter of wine and corn to Brazil, via the port of Figueira da Foz, and wine-growing survived generations who built up the respectable Dão demarcated zone, which still holds part of the local economy today, with wines full of character. The descendant D. Pedro da Cunha, loyal to the Spanish king D. Felipe II, built the Paço dos Cunhas, and Santar became known as "Cortes da Beira", because soon afterwards other manor houses were concentrated there, unusually far from the capital. For having taken part in a failed conspiracy against King João IV, his son Lopo da Cunha was forced into exile in Spain after the Restoration of Portugal's Independence in 1641. As a result, the region's most important family sees its assets confiscated and the coat of arms removed from the façade of the old palace, destroyed by the fury of the population.

On the other side, and in reward for their stand against Spain, the Duke of Bragança brought other aristocratic families and members of the upper bourgeoisie to power. In the center of the town, the house of the Counts of Santar and Magalhães became very important, not only for its vineyards, but also for its social work. They set up the Sopa dos Pobres (soup kitchen) and collected money from the nobility for the benefit of the population. Today, this manor house belongs to descendants José Luís and Pedro de Vasconcellos e Souza. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Novais arrived, whose original family home now houses the Town Hall, and the Ibérico Nogueira, who founded the Santar Philharmonic Band and carried out social work. They are well known in the area for the benefactions of the renowned doctor Francisco Ibérico Nogueira, who was also a professor at the University of Coimbra. Together, these two families created the town's nursing home, day care center and long-term care facility (which works with the Misericórdia, whose church was built by D. Lopo da Cunha four years before his exile). 

Today, Santar has around four times as many inhabitants as it did in the 16th century, but in the 19th century it had twice as many as it does today (in 1864, for example, there were around 2,283). Similarly, although for centuries it was in the territory of Senhorim, since 1852, the date of an administrative reform, it has belonged to the municipality of Nelas, in the district of Viseu. It became a town on the first day of spring in 1928 and continues to be one of the noblest and most distinguished for its magnificent heritage. To come to Santar is to take a journey back in time, walking through winding cobbled streets where an unusual and intertwined set of religious buildings, farms and houses line up, from the most popular to those of the literate and wealthy bourgeoisie and the large manor houses, resistant in the tradition of the granite of the Beiras.

It is in this Beira town full of history, which surprises with its cultural heritage and the beauty of its landscape marked by vineyards, topped on the horizon by the Serra da Estrela to the south and the Serra do Caramulo to the north, that you will find our hotel.

We use first-party and third-party cookies for analytical purposes and to show you advertising related to your preferences, based on your browsing habits and profile. You can configure or block cookies by clicking on “Cookies settings”. You can also accept all cookies by clicking on “Accept all cookies”. For more information, please consult our Cookie Policy.

Cookies Settings:

Cookies and other similar technologies are an essential part of how our Platform works. The main goal of cookies is to make your browsing experience easier and more efficient and to improve our services and the Platform itself. Likewise, we use cookies to show you targeted advertising when you visit third-party websites and apps. Here, you will find all the information on the cookies we use. Furthermore, you will be able to activate and/or deactivate them according to your preferences, except for any cookies that are strictly necessary for the functioning of the Platform. Keep in mind that blocking certain cookies may affect your experience on the Platform, as well as its functioning. By clicking “Confirm preferences”, the cookies selection you have made will be saved. If you have not selected any options, clicking this button will be the same as blocking all cookies. For more information, please consult our Cookie Policy.

Cookies Settings
Accept all Cookies