This railway town in the Tagus Valley was born in the industrial age when camps were set up for workers at one of the junctions of the network (“entroncamento” is Portuguese for junction). It soon became a hub for freight and passenger trains traveling north and east. The most famous figures of the period would get off at the restaurant at the station before transferring.
The Portuguese National Railway Museum is naturally in Entroncamento, a perfect document of the age of steam. The wider Tagus Valley is also fascinated by the pretty villages that breed Lusitano horses, and a series of medieval castles, two of which are not far from town.
Let’s explore the best activities in Entroncamento:
1. Museu Nacional Ferroviário
Entroncamento was formed around railways, which have been the lifeblood of more than a century.
During the heyday of steam train travel and transportation in the 1940s, more than half of the town’s population was employed in some form of the industry.
So there is no better location for a railway museum.
It reopened in 2015 and showcases 160 years of railroad heritage, including locomotives, carriages, tools, photographs, and memorabilia such as posters and tickets.
There are several presidential carriages, but the highest peak has to be Dom Luiz, the train of the Portuguese monarchy in the 1800s.
2. Locomotive 094
The railway of Entroncamento has another monument, shaped like a steam locomotive, in the center of the fountain, illuminated at night.
This is the 070-097 series train first introduced in Portugal in 1916. They are considered the best and most balanced steam locomotives ever run in Portugal.
As the numbers will tell you, this locomotive is the 25th of 28 and has a very interesting story to tell: it was built in the 1920s by the Henschel & Sohn company in Kassel and served as Germany’s first A portion of the World War II reparations was delivered to Portugal.
3. Parque Verde do Bonito
Only inaugurated in 2013, this new city park is just right for slow, sunny days.
There are gardens, a small tree-lined square, a playground for teenagers and a fishing area on a reservoir fed by the Santa Catarina River.
Add in a restaurant, observatory, mini golf and picnic area and you have a peaceful and affordable place to spend an hour or two with your family.
At the end of June, some of Entroncamento’s São João festivities also unfold in this picturesque space, with evening events in the amphitheater.
4. New Torres Castle
Although only the outer walls of this medieval castle survive, they create a very romantic scene next to the town of Torres Novas.
The park is free to enter, and the lawns, pines and cedars are populated by pigeons and peacocks.
You can climb stone steps to the nine jagged towers and observe the site like a guard 1,000 years ago.
The walls are from the Moorish period, and the castle was finally conquered by the Portuguese in the 1130s.
The gardens and ramparts are the stage for the medieval fair held every October, with markets and reenactments.
5. Casa-Estúdio Carlos Relvas
Carlos Relvas was a 19th century landowner who helped modernize agriculture in the Ribatejo region.
But his fame came from his hobbies, which included strenuous sports such as bullfighting.
His greatest passion, however, is the emerging art of photography, and he is a distinguished member of the French Photographic Society, where his photographs have won several awards.
In 1872 he commissioned this stunning home studio to pursue his hobby.
It combines a beautiful home with an iron and glass canopy that infuses his studio with light.
Photos of Relvas are on display, and new images will appear when they are restored.
6. Almorro Castle
One of the most dramatic images in Portugal is a few minutes walk along the Tagus River.
Almourol Castle is located on a rocky river island, and the scene belongs to the Sword and Magic movie.
You can climb over the rocks to get to it, but a boat ride is definitely a more grand way to experience this stunning structure.
The cliff would have been easy to defend, and there are signs of human habitation in the Celtic era.
It was a Roman, Visigothic and Moorish stronghold until it was occupied by the Portuguese in 1129 and then controlled by the Knights Templar.
There are interpretive boards around the castle to navigate the stairs and passages, and the view from the tower is nothing short of heroic.
7. Igreja Matriz da Golegã
This church in the center of Golegã is a Portuguese National Monument and a shining example of the Manueline style popular in Portugal in the 1500s.
It was a fusion of late Gothic and Spanish Plate styles, boldly reflecting the country that was discovering the New World at the time.
The man named after this style, King Manuel I, visited the church several times, and you can see his coat of arms and personal symbol, the armillary sphere, in several carvings around the church.
The main entrance is furnished with ornate masonry, flanked by twisted columns, and the nave has a marvelous vault.
8. Museu Municipal da Máquina de Escever
As you stroll around Golegã, an elegant painted building with pointed arches will catch your eye; this is the Palacete Marques de Almeida, which has been the town’s library since 2006.
Inside there is a small attraction to visit, a museum entirely dedicated to typewriters collected by local collector Artur Azinhais. It opened in 2013 and has 350 works dating from the late 1800s to the 1960s and 70s.
For older visitors, visiting brands such as Olympia, Bennett, Remington, Royal and Corona will be a memory trip.
9. Golegã National Horse Show
Entroncamento is surrounded by a rich luistano equine and equestrian tradition.
This is reflected in the famous horse fair held in Golegã every ten days in November.
A discreet town took center stage, hosting a series of riding shows and model and gait competitions.
The place is also classy, with the crowd dressed in traditional Portuguese riding uniforms.
Shops and stalls sell cycling gear, and Golegã’s bars and restaurants become warm and social on cold nights.
Known as the Capital do Cavalo (Capital of Horses), Golegã is a city inspired by its equestrian ancestry as its cultural and artistic center.
The complex is contoured as two horses and houses a museum, a gallery for short-term exhibitions, an auditorium and a riverside green space.
The museum is the reason to come, it is dedicated to the 20th century sculptor and painter Martins Correia, who has public works in Lisbon and exhibits in Portugal’s top modern art museums such as Soares dos Reis in Porto.
11. Centro Ciência Viva de Constância
For the curious, there is a superb observatory and science museum on the hilltop just outside Constantia.
What is unusual about the center is that many of its exhibits are outside.
There are moving models of a solar system and a celestial sphere, as well as some other interactive modules surrounded by pine forests.
You can watch the show in the planetarium (sunk into the ground), and there are regular stargazing evenings where images from the observatory telescope are streamed live to screens in the auditorium.
12. Festas de São João e da Cidade
If you have time to visit Entroncamento in the second half of June, there will be a jubilant atmosphere around the town when the town holds its annual festival.
They usually start a few days before St. John’s Day on the 24th and end a few days later, during which a small city of tents and stalls is erected in front of the town hall.
Many of them are for food and drink, but some will sell local handicrafts and there is a tent for children to play.
It feels like the whole town is involved in the festivities, with evening concerts, traditional parades and folk dancing.
13. Castelo do Bode Dam
Less than 20 minutes from one of the tallest buildings in the country, on the way to Tomar.
This massive arched gravity dam was built in the late 1940s and houses a hydroelectric power station.
Once off the A13, the drive through the high country countryside is great.
If you’re in awe of gigantic structures, the dam is truly worth seeing, as is the view of the Zezero River from the 115-meter-high walkway.
But there is a second reason, because the 33-square-kilometer artificial lake is a summer recreation spot.
You’ll find a small but lovely beach with its own swimming area, bar, campsite and picnic area.
14. Horseback riding
It would be wrong to list equestrian events and attractions around Entroncamento without letting you know you can join too.
There are several stables nearby catering to both newcomers and more experienced riders, but a highly rated option is Ride and Escape, just 15 minutes from Constantia.
This center has an arena where you can learn equestrian skills, but will also lead you into steep eucalyptus forests and valleys of vines where Lusitano horses can demonstrate their dexterity and reflexes.
15. Local Food
Ribatejo’s cuisine is vibrant, and each town has its own signature dishes.
In the Portuguese staple Entroncamento, cod is on the menu, usually baked and eaten with “crushed” potatoes made with garlic and olive oil.
Snack empanadas are pastry bags filled with ground beef.
Another local preparation is roast duck in the oven, served with rice and sausages.
Rice pudding is a common dessert, as is tigeladas, a sweet pie composed of eggs and flour and flavored with cinnamon.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Entroncamento, Portugal
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